$avvy $undays: The Best Investment that You’ll Ever Make

I had another post planned for today’s Savvy Sundays series, touching on how to make a budget for beginners, since I have been promising that for a while now. But many things have happened over the last week or so for me, and I thought this was a more appropriate topic for my mood today.

I can talk a lot about how to make a budget, how to save money, how to make that last dollar last a little longer. But no matter what you do, I think the best thing you could do monetary wise is to invest in yourself. Because ultimately – you need to earn money to save money, and the way to earn more is to invest in yourself to make yourself better.  The more you can earn, the more you can save.

I just got into a Masters programme in one of the schools at the top of my wish list last week. It’s going to blow a lot of my savings away, a lot of time and a lot of energy. I may have to quit my job for a short while to pursue it. But at the end of it, I think it will be worth it. Plus, I actually enjoy going to school.

I’m not saying that everyone should go back to school, take on more debt to study in order to earn a/another degree. There are many vocations out there that does not require one. What I mean is to invest in Yourself – so that you are better at what you do, what you know, and worth more.

Investing in yourself does not have to be expensive. It could be going on Coursera for free courses, or even spending an hour every evening to read up on something that you don’t understand. I love beauty so I read a lot on makeup and skincare, but I also read a lot of newspapers and on current affairs.

Beyond “investment in real assets” – putting money in savings, or in stocks, or property, I think the truly best investment that you could ever make… is in yourself. Set aside a little time this evening, to read a book, to understand how many people there are in the world, what are the countries that you’ve never heard of. Simple little things that you never bothered to find out.

$avvy $undays #5: Budgeting the Unexpected because Sh*t Happens All the Time

Food, entertainment, phone bills, rent/mortgage – these are some of the things that we can easily plan and budget for every month, and even several months in advance. Of course, we don’t usually budget to perfection – so I always add a margin of safety to my budgeting. So assuming that I need S$80 for my phone bills every month, I will put aside S$100 – just in case I incur additional charges like I sometimes do by going over my data limit.
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$avvy $undays #4: Expecting Unexpected Income and Saving for an Unexpected Rainy Day

In about two weeks time it will be Chinese New Year… and that usually means UNEXPECTED INCOME! If you’re not familiar with what goes on during Chinese New Year, basically our parents or elders will give the children who are still single, or younger family members, a red packet filled with MONEY. Of course, it doesn’t always have to be Chinese New Year to have unexpected income; it could be more bonus than you thought, or birthday gifts, or even striking the lottery. So what do you do with these extra unexpected income comes your way?
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$avvy $undays #4: Avoiding the Upsell/Bundle Deals and Buy What You Want To Get More

I have to admit that I used to be one of those people who always fall for the upsell. Give me a bundle deal, or tell me that I just need to top up a certain amount of money to get a higher quality item, and I would always choose to take it – even if I don’t need anything else that is bundled with the item that I really need, or that I don’t really know if the so-called better quality item is really any better.

It always sound like a fantastic deal to me until lately, while I was going through my beauty stash, I found a lot of random products from the same beauty brands and it hit me. I have so many similar products, or products from the same brands because I always, always bought “deals”; such as “buy the second one at half price”, even though it takes me years to finish the first, or “buy up to a certain amount to get a gift”… which are things that I never really wanted or needed.
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The Bridezilla Chronicles Vol. 1

If you’ve paid attention an earlier post, I mentioned that the bf (now fiance), proposed! So I said yes – obviously, or there wouldn’t be this post – yada yada, fireworks and all. But now excitement and giddiness aside and the champagne’s drunk, I have to say that we have absolutely no clue what to do now. Yes, I have the (insanely beautiful) ring. But what next?

Unlike a lot of women, I have never thought of what I wanted for my wedding. I was always the odd one out amongst my girlfriends when they talked about the ring that they wanted, the kind of wedding reception to hold, and all their expectations… I never really thought about them; to me, I just want to be happy! Of course, I want to get married – but with 2 older sisters who have had marital problems, I think who I’m marrying is a lot more important to me than how I’m marrying!

Or at least that was what I thought before I got the ring! So, now that I have the ring, I’m feeling excited! And scared! And worried! What do I do? Do I have enough time? Where do I start? I’m not even starting at the same baseline as all my friends who have spent years of their life dreaming up their perfect wedding! What about me!?! The one thing that I’m so glad about is that the fiance managed to pick up an amazing ring without any inputs from me! I think I got lucky there!

So just like any decent researcher, which is what I do in my day job, I decided to buy a few magazines for research purposes and see where they bring me. I thought this whole wedding planning process will be interesting to write down – even for myself. When the wedding is over, I can read back and see all the things that I’ve done, and maybe laugh at it! From planning, dieting, everything!

This is just the beginning…

$avvy $undays #3: Stop Saying that You’re Broke if You’re Still Wasting Money

One of the things that annoy me is how some people claim that they’re broke yet fritter away their money. It makes me wonder if they’re looking for sympathy, or hinting me to lend them some? I mean sure, we can’t totally cut back, go cold turkey and live on bread alone just because we’re broke, but if you’re still wasting your money then you are clearly not broke (so you should stop saying it), and if you are truly broke and wasting money without realising it, here are some things you can cut to save you some money (and keep friends who are tired of hearing that you’re broke):
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$avvy $undays #2: Keeping Track of Your Expenses

I lived on my own for 4 years in London – 3 of which as a student, and 1 as a working adult. For the first year, after paying rent and buying groceries, I had barely anything left. I didn’t even take public transport, instead walking everywhere because I would rather spend that money on food and trips. I used to look at my friends and wonder if they get a lot of pocket money given their lifestyles. But after awhile, I realised that my finances weren’t actually that tight! I had a fair amount of allowances, my parents paid for my school fees, so there was no reason that I had nothing left at the end of the month!

I realised that I had no clue where all my money was going. So I decided to write down every single cent I used. I started off with a little notebook where I penciled in every purchase, no matter how much or how little it costs. I quickly found out I was buying 3 quid Lattes once or twice every single day; it doesn’t seem like much but that’s nearly 30quid in one week, which as a student it’s ridiculous. Back then, 3 quid can get you a full meal set from Subway. I also have a thing for pretty pens and papers, which on their own are pretty cheap, but nobody buys just 1 pen or 1 piece of paper – so it all adds up.
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$avvy $undays #1: You Don’t Have to Be in Debt to Look Good

A lot of women shut off when it comes to the topic of finance or wealth planning. Because it’s boring. Because it’s just too complicated. Because there are too many things to buy and life’s too short to wait. But it doesn’t have to be! I think that we can look good without getting in debt; we just need to learn how to be financially savvy. And it can be interesting and fun!

With my frequent hauls, I might not look like the best person to be discussing about personal finance. But believe it or not, I have never been in debt and I like to keep my finances clean and well planned. I buy a lot of things because… well, I plan and budget for them so that I can comfortably afford them. Now and then I slip up and overspend, but over the long term, the averages work out for me.

How do I sustain my crazy spending? I am not rich, not sponsored, and not subsidized. I don’t get money from others to buy things. I do get a couple of beauty gifts a year from the boyfriend, but he makes a point not to buy me beauty products; he prefers to help out with holidays and experiences. I appreciate that, but that also means that I have to rely on myself to get what I want. So how do I do it?
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