Monday, May 31, 2021

How I Saved More Money Than Ever During the Pandemic

It's no secret by now that I have moved out of my parents' house. However, if you know me well, you might have been surprised to learn that I did. After all, I was Little Miss Spend-a-Lot. How could I have saved any money to make it this far? (On a side note, did you know that American household debt has hit $14.6 trillion, while here in the Philippines it has reached $41.4 billion? I was one of those people... just to put that into perspective.)

I was literally that person who would buy something if I decided I liked it - without thinking about the price, without thinking about whether I'd actually end up using it, and without thinking about how long it would take me to pay it off on my credit card. I was also the "I can pay for it" person in my friends' group, especially after getting drunk, whipping out her card here and there without a second thought. It was baaaaad. I always felt like, "We only live once, might as well make the most of it and spend my money while I can."

That changed when COVID hit. My social life practically died because of COVID, which meant that I was no longer going out with friends and spending more money than I should be on food and drinks. A few months into it, I realized that I had actually saved quite a bit of money without meaning to. And it felt good. Nay, it felt GREAT. That feeling made me decide to take things up a notch so I took a few extra steps to save... and here I am now, at a new place, with more than enough money to survive without any help.

I made the coffee switch.

I had long avoided making the coffee switch. If you follow me on social media, you'll know how much I love Starbucks and how much I have loved it since I was 14. Yeah, I cut that out. In its stead, I discovered a whole slew of more affordable online stores that offer delicious coffee and I now have more money because of it.

I cut down on unnecessary spending, in general.

It wasn't just coffee, though. I cut down on unnecessary spending, in general, and learned how to say "no" to my mini-me. Moms will know how hard that can be sometimes, but I put my foot down when it wasn't a need and only focused on the things that we really needed. I still got takeout every now and then as a reward or when there was a celebration, but that was about it.

I took on more side gigs.

Pandemic life has been all about the side gigs for me. Back in the day, even when an opportunity for a side gig dropped onto my lap, I wouldn't really jump at it because I valued my social life a lot and didn't want to spend too much time working. With more time to myself during the pandemic, I explored new things and took on more jobs with one specific end goal in mind: to move out and live comfortably, and I am oh-so-proud to say that I am able to do that now.

I took note of all of my expenses.

This is something that not a lot of people that I know do, and I honestly didn't do it myself, either. However, I started doing it during the pandemic and it has made me be more stingy with my money. Oftentimes, we spend and spend and spend without realizing how much we're spending until it's too late. If you keep a log of how much money you spend, you'll actually reach a point where you look at yourself and say, "Okay, you've reached your limit. It's time to stop."

It helps to use an online calculator for this, too. Fortunately, there are a ton of different financial calculators out there to suit your personal needs, including mortgage calculators, auto calculators, credit card calculators, and savings calculators. It will be a huuuuuge help - trust me.

I reminded myself of my goal every single day.

Most importantly, I never stopped reminding myself of what I wanted to achieve every single day. On days when my body seemed to be craving Starbucks (usually during "that time of the month"), I stood my ground and said "no". 
On days when I was ultra tired or felt like I was burned out, I reminded myself why I was doing everything that I was doing. And it paid off in the end. I was tired sometimes, but I am exactly where I longed to be.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

I haven't written for myself in a while.

It has been four months to be exact.

I used to write for myself almost every day, but even my journal is now dying in a pile of dust - forgotten and alone. That's kind of how I've been feeling lately. Lonely. Inspiration-less.

To be honest, it has been a tough last few months. In case we're not friends on social media, I've been preparing to move out these past few weeks. And the struggle to move during a pandemic has been real. This isn't the first time I've moved out, but this is the first time I'm doing it with a fully-grown child and with the innate need to provide her with the best kind of life possible.

I first moved out when I was in college and my place basically consisted of a bed, a desk, a bathroom, and a balcony. I hardly lived in it, to be honest. It mostly just served as storage for my stuff. I spent most of my time at my then-boyfriend's apartment and life was beautiful. And crazy. And spontaneous. I was a different person then.

I moved out again when I was pregnant. But let's not talk about that. That was a difficult time. And I apologize to my pregnant past-self for putting her through that when I really didn't need to.

I moved out again with Syrena and the babydaddy when we moved to the Philippines. That was equally crazy. But not as beautiful. All of the money I made went to rent, utilities, and baby food. The babydaddy didn't help with expenses. Nor did he treat us well.

Looking back at that last experience, I knew I wanted to do things right this time. And that's why, when I decided I really couldn't live here anymore, I dived headfirst into a ton of new jobs. And while I usually pour myself into work with the utmost passion, other things suffered because of it. I hardly spoke to my friends and I had zero time to work out. I lost myself in a crazy busy schedule filled with meetings, events, and deadlines to keep myself sane with this end goal in mind. Keeping my mind busy with other things has helped, though. It ensured that I don't lose myself in my own thoughts. Thoughts that could lead to other things, if you know what I mean.

But today, I'm taking some time off to write a little something for my future self to look back on.

Today, I am writing to remind myself of how proud I am of myself. For that extra push that I made to make it here. For having the strength to put myself first for a change. For finally saving myself after decades of being treated like shit and being told that I am not good enough. For making it through all of the verbal and emotional abuse that I have endured through the years. And for holding on to dear life when all I ever wanted to do was to end it all.

These are my last few days here and words cannot explain how much I look forward to cutting off all of the bad juju and living a free life - free of evil, free of narcissism, free of pain, and free of negativity.

I look forward to raising my daughter the way I want to raise her and the way she deserves to be raised. In a place full of nothing but pure love. A place where she will never be screamed at for petty things, where she will never feel like she is a burden, and where she doesn't have to put her headphones on to drown out the world. A place where we will both feel free and safe. A place where we can put whatever we want to in the fridge. Lol. A place where we can eat anything what we want without worrying whether anybody will get mad. A place where we can procrastinate and leave the dishes for a little later because we want to finish watching what we're watching. A place where we can stay up as late as we want to because we can. A place where we can eat what and when we want to without hearing a barrage of complaints about our uselessness and laziness. A place where we can wake up to a world of peace and quiet. A place where our dog can roam freely inside and feel the same love, care, and safety.

Some people have commented that I've been sharing too much about my life online, claiming that I do it for attention or that I'm playing the victim. You can believe what your narrow mind wants to believe, but that's not what it is at all. I share what I share because I want you to know that that kind of treatment is not okay. You don't have to settle for that kind of life. You deserve better.

I share my struggles and my experiences in the hopes that just in case someone out there is going through the same thing and feeling the same kind of way, you'll realize that you need to get away from that. It doesn't matter if it's a boyfriend, a girlfriend, or a relative; don't take their shit. YOU DESERVE A HAPPY AND PEACEFUL LIFE. PERIOD.