I may be an accountant by profession but when it comes to finances, I was wise to advise my clients but foolish in handling my own, until recent years.
It all dawns down to habit. And habits are not easy to kick especially when you have them for years. And when money comes easy, it would be even harder to get rid of those bad spending habits.
Those days when I was a wage earner, spending was so easy because I know how much I will get at every end of the month. And when bonus time draws nearer, there would be a lot of expectations and planning of the windfall.
The more I earned the more materialistic and careless I spent. At one time, I would have matching earrings, brooches, necklaces, rings and bracelets. Then it was matching handbags and shoes. Later it was branded clothes, handbags and shoes.
Then it was about good taste and good life. I would go for fine dining. Only eat the more expansive brand of butter, cheese, milk, cooking oil and the list went on. You name it, I have done it. I was a spendthrift!
I started feeling the pinch of better financial planning after I ventured into my own business. Income was so unpredictable. One month there would be too many jobs to handle, next we would be calling clients for jobs and referals. After each job was completed, next would be the collection hassle. There was just no fixed amount of income at the end of each month but bundles of fixed overhead to cover.
It was during one spring cleaning of my wardrobe and shoe rack that I realised that there were always that few favourite coats, pants, jackets, scarf, shoes, earrings, T-shirt that I would wear and most of the rest were worn only about once or twice. Some were even bought, tugged into the cupboard and forgotten. Eventually, I outsized most of them and need to buy new ones that fit. Then why did I need to have so much?
And when I did a kitchen and fridge clean up, I realised that there were so much rotten, wasted and expired stuff. During the supermarket shopping I would be buying whatever that was fresh, cheap and what I think I would be eating the next few days or so. There were times when I would even buy and stock for a week. But how often was there cooking in the house? It was always meals out with friends! Yes, I sinned again.
I kind of learned from the hard way to be more realistic in my spending. I had a hard time when two of my trading businesses failed. There were debts to clear, monthly instalments to make and paying for my daily needs. It was all about money, money, money. That was the time when I needed to budget and plan before I spend. Thank goodness, I only needed to sell one property to get over this huddle.
Before the property was successfully sold, times were tough, really, really tough because I have to learn to cut and trim expenses and to make decisions of what to buy, when to buy, where to buy and how to buy. To buy only what I need, to buy only when there is a discount, to buy only where the price is lower and to buy only with cash. If it is paid by credit card, to make sure the monthly due is fully settled for each month.
But things always happen for a reason. These business failures resulted me to learn and it was fruitful learning, learning to be a thoughtful person, learning to value money, learning to value what we have and learning to give to the needy.
Are you like the old me? If yes, it may be time for you to check your wardrobe, shoes rack and kitchen. If you are being oversupplied and underutilising whatever you have, you may want to take time to reflect yourself.
I believe, irrespective if you are poor, rich or very rich, it is useful to understand that we should not waste what we do not need. When there was abundance, we do not know how to appreciate but once it is scarce, we start to ration.
Why do we need to lose something to learn to value?