For 26 years, my youngest sister and I lived together. We shared the same house until I got married, gave birth, and when the time came – when she became a Mrs. herself. Her recent marriage was a happy day for me, it did not make a dent in my life because she and I would continue to live together – just like nothing happened. Her spouse worked abroad and flew a few days after the wedding.
My not so little sister Liza and her temporary home in Australia
For the longest time my sister and I happily shared stories and bills. And when we were just getting the hang of being a financial duo in managing household finance from electric bills to Internet bills, her immigrant visa to Australia got approved. Suddenly, both my sisters are now in Australia. I, the middle child left all alone in a house that used to be filled with girl sounds of sisters chattering, laughing, and bickering.
Money changes when family members move abroad
No matter how hard I tried not to cry and be lonely when she boarded the plane, tears could not be controlled. What I can control though is my mindset and what better way to distract oneself than with the thought of saving more money. I love my sister but at this time, the thought of reduced electric consumption, trips to the grocery, and faster Internet connection were more welcome thoughts versus living in the past.
It’s just like how the song goes, now that you’re gone I have more room in my closet. In the case of bills, I’d like to think that having one less individual in the house would mean more room in my budget. If you are in the same situation like me, focus on this thought and not the thought of paying “all by myself”. Now that you are alone, you are more in control of the expenses and how you want to reduce them.
1. Is it okay to downgrade your Internet connection now that there’s one less person using it?
2. Does your cable subscription need to remain on the same plan now that one less person is watching the TV?
3. Are you willing to rent out the now empty bedroom to a qualified bed spacer?
Using Apps to Manage Household Expenses
Although there is no app to cure the heartbreak of being left behind, there are now apps that can offer support in managing expenses. This app came highly recommended by personal finance expert and #Money4Life mentor, Aya Laraya. It is called Wally (available in iOS and Andoid) and it allows users to enter every single expense made on a daily basis. Aya says that listing down expenses is one of the first steps towards financial literacy.
I use Wally to record all household expenses, even purchases from the sari-sari store
My sister and I never listed down expenses, we were so focused on how to split and pay them. That is how comfortable living with siblings are, you know there’s always each other to count on (and blame) that you get away not paying attention to details. Well today, I no longer have the luxury to be lax about expenses.
Taking Financial Responsibility
With both my sisters now working abroad, it is always a passing thought that I lost the race, that relatives will see me at the odd one out. According to Aya Laraya, it is common practice for OFWs and migrants to offer financial support to family left in the Philippines. Many offer to support the education of nephews, nieces, and younger siblings.
Aya Laraya to OFWs: “It is not wrong to say no. Make relatives responsible for their own finances.”
While the prospect of lounging around the house doing nothing and waiting for money transfers and pera padala sound amazing, the more dignified road to take is one that develops responsibility and ability for one’s finances. There’s a saying, it’s not how much you earn but how much you save. Regardless of your location and the currency of your income, it is not impossible to improve your financial situation and quality of life.
Setting a Clear Financial Goal
Many of us already know how to save, maybe even invest in financial products like mutual funds. The question is, do you have a clear financial goal? I always told myself, I don’t have any goal because I don’t want to buy anything. I just want to have enough for my son’s education, our healthcare, and my retirement. But how much would these costs? I am sure it would be a LOT of money, so huge of a number that I am afraid of even thinking about it – hence I always answered to my financial advisor that no, I don’t have a specific number in mind.
Now that I am in the cusp of change (much like our country with the new incoming president), change should also begin with ourselves. When it comes to financial goal setting, I challenge myself to start putting numbers beside each of my financial goals. #Money4Life coach Aya Laraya recommends to start with something small and rewarding, maybe a trip to Australia to visit my siblings?
Example of a short-term financial goal:
In the next 6 months, I want to have enough money to visit Australia with my son. For this I will need Php 100,000 (cost of 2 roundtrip tickets). I am willing to save x amount every month.
This will not only inspire me to be financially responsible but one that can allow me to actually be with the sisters I dearly miss. To be continued.
How about you, what do you want to achieve in the next 6 months and how much are you willing to save for it? How do you feel about investing? Please share your thoughts on your own financial journey