Money4Life Challenge is a program created by Sun Life Financial that I signed up for. It spans for 6 months and includes 6 sessions with financial expert Aya Laraya. If you are interested, please ask Sun Life about their financial education programs.
Exactly 4 months ago, I set out a goal to save and invest for a trip to Australia. This was followed by tracking my expenses, creating a budget, looking for additional income, and enlisting the help of a financial advisor.
At first glance, the financial exercises I did are not new or never heard of. In fact, it is something we see and hear on Facebook, blogs, and TV shows. But the question is, ginagawa ba natin o bakit hindi natin ginagawa? These were the same questions that financial expert Aya Laraya would ask fellow participants of the challenge.
First session palang, I already decided for myself that I am either in or out. It is not a joke to travel from Cavite to BGC every Saturday, I told myself if I will not take it seriously and not practice what I learn then I will just be wasting my time and my P94 fare to and from BGC.
These are the things that I have started and continued doing since the challenge began 4 months ago:
- Set a clear goal
- Track my expenses
- Create a budget
- Always talk to my financial advisor
- Look for additional income
You can check the links above for a detailed blog post for each.
Something’s got to give
Investing is foregoing (sacrifice) something good for now, to gain something better in the future. All of these financial tips are just theory if I will not share with you the reality. Please know it is never easy to share anything related about money, money is very personal, but I also have a dream to inspire and empower ordinary women like myself. In the last 4 months, nobody was more surprised than I was. Kaya ko pala at pwede pala.
Here are the things I have learned to forego to achieve my goal:
- Unused and sentimental stuff – to jumpstart the first month of my journey, I started selling unused items around the house. Some belong to me like my favorite dresses but I never really wear anymore and some are sentimental items like my son’s stroller, baby clothes, etc.
Up to now and whenever my room, especially my closet starts to look cluttered, I continue to pull out stuff to sell. Life happens and we will always outgrow some belongings that we no longer need but others who are in their unique stage in life might benefit from.
- Space- if time is money, I say – so is space! I gave up space for leasing opportunities i.e. bed space. It is something that I would not consider before (read: privacy) but I have courageously tried and now I am convinced that I made the right decision.In fact, I wish I have leased out space sooner. This is one of the new things that this challenge has pushed me to make, especially when we discussed about when a property becomes a real investment or an expense.
- Social media – before the challenge, I would spend hours scrolling down endless Facebook posts from my Facebook friends, some I don’t even remember meeting in person. I am also guilty of spending several minutes composing the perfect caption for my Instagram feed. Now I still enjoy social media but use most of my time for work and my family.
- Hobby 1: Gym – I use to spend 3 hours in the gym, three to four times a week. I value my health and are into body building, lifting weights, gaining muscle, etc. I did not really want to give up my gains BUT decided to cut training time to 2 hours. This means lifting heavier but with fewer sets. It is hard adjustment (I now lift 40lbs) but I am able to finish an hour earlier so I have more time for my online jobs.
- Hobby 2: Blog activities – Masaya maging blogger, maraming events, activities at iba pa. I wish I can afford to enjoy being a full-time blogger but my budget says otherwise. When I began this challenge, I decided that I have to say “pass” to many blog related activities and focus on my online work for now.
- Hobby 3: Teleserye – aside from online work, I have committed to teaching my son the same lessons I learn from this challenge. Instead of watching teleserye, I continue to study and work for my online writing jobs PLUS finish the book Junior Ipon with my son. It’s a financial literacy text and workbook for kids. Money management is still not taught in schools so I am doing something about it. Like I said, time is the greatest asset to have and if my son will learn how to handle finances early, then it would be to his best advantage.
Work is really God’s blessing, kailangang alagaan at mahalin natin. Nobody knows when work opportunities will disappear, strike while the iron is hot kumbaga. I also believe that God is watching us and how we are managing the opportunities He gives us (including how we raise our kids!). That said, something’s got to give in order for us to fulfill our duties and at the same time, progress towards our dreams.
In short and uulitin ko, time is money. You cannot take back time nor buy it. Another thing I learned in this challenge so far is the real value of time. We can waste time dreaming, thinking of what ifs, and being afraid to try or start using time to make our dreams come true by praying, trying, and doing – most of the time dapat!
My 4 Month Progress
With all the things I learned and applied from this challenge, I was able to save and invest P10,000 every month, sometimes more than the amount, for 4 months. If you do the math, I have now set aside more or less P40,000 it may be small to many but for a mother like me – this is already a huge amount.
The plan was to save enough to travel to Australia with my son, there are two more months left in the challenge and by then, I hope to have P60,000+. It may not be enough to buy two round trip tickets (we also need our visas to be approved) but at the end of the day, I would still have funds that if I don’t use for travel – I can use for my son’s tuition fee or remain invested in Index Funds.
Index Fund Performance
Oo nga pala, I do not put the P10,000 every month in a coin bank or in a bank account. My SunLife Financial adviser recommended that I start and invest in the Index Fund. I began last June and regardless of whether the market is up or down, I still invest every month. By investing in the index fund, it is probable that my money will earn more compared to putting it in a bank.
Note that it is important that you understand the risk and not just the returns of investing. For one, the Philippine Stock Market recently dropped and other people have started to panic or create panic. Sabi nga ni Mr. Aya Laraya, aral muna bago invest.
I admit I was also troubled by the decline and felt a level of uncertainty, however I believe in my heart (and based on reading credible sources) that our economy will only get better in time. In our most recent session, I was very happy that our mentor discussed the issue and shared his own views. Including the analysis that historically, the market is down in the months of August and September (Ghost month) and start to pick up again by November-December (Christmas).
It made me feel more confident to continue working hard so I can continue to invest.
Stay tuned for the last two months of my #Money4Life Challenge, I thank God for the grace of attending all the sessions so far!
I look forward to the next sessions and hope to share a positive result of my #Money4Life challenge soon.