40 Financial Habits for Life You Really Need to Know
Last Update January 29, 2019
Two years ago I published 40 Financial Habits for Life.
My goal is to come up with a list of good financial habits everyone can adapt too. I was inspired with the number 40 which describes a period of testing and battle in the Bible.
Some of you may have been in a battlefield right now, financially. I hope you can treat the financial habits below as a test to bring out your true character in the area of finances.
Know your Purpose in Life
Many are living life without knowing their purpose. They feel feel easily exhausted, unmotivated and unsure of themselves. Not knowing your purpose in life has a direct effect on your finances. The lack of purpose will result to lack of financial outlook too.
To begin with finding your purpose you must prepare a sheet of paper and a pen to write. Then ask the following questions to yourself and answer as honest as possible:
- What makes you happy?
- What achievements whether small or big wins are you most proud of yourself?
- What are the things, activities you want to do/to try but you keep on holding back?
- How do you see yourself 10-15 years from now?
Having a purpose to live is the ultimate foundation of a good financial life. You will begin to see things differently and to view any money problems as a challenge.
Track Your Spending
Make it a habit to list down all your expense, small or big from the start of the day until the end of the night. Use a simple tool like a notebook or the notes on your phone or even a legit mobile up to do the tracking.
Having a list of what goes out from your cash flow will give you the sense of knowledge whether you are spending above your means. It will also help you realize where exactly your money is going.
Create a Budget
I can’t stress enough on how important a budget is when it comes to managing your finances. This is one of the best financial habits you must master to get out of debt and take full control of your money! There are a ton of effective ways to budget you’ll find on the internet. But, my most recommended are as follows:
1. Envelope Budget. With an envelope budget technique, you will need any envelope to place your money with. Each envelope corresponds to your budget category. I, for example, will have an envelope for transpo allowance, food allowance, bills, miscellaneous, savings and investments. From there, I will start allocating how much my budget will be.
2. Notebook Budget. This works with any any notebook or together with your spending tracker. You will create simple columns for your budget categories, your budget amount and your actual expenses.
3. Printable Budget. You can search for free budget templates in the internet suitable to what you need. Working with templates will simplify your budgeting routine because all you have to do is fill up the details.
Develop a spending plan
Now that you know the financial habits of tracking your every day expenses and creating a monthly or weekly budget, next to be discussed is a spending plan.
Spending plan works as your schedule when you will purchase something whether big or small. Dedicate a separate calendar for this and mark the days of your paydays and when you need to top up your savings, invest in stocks, pay your bills, get a pamper day, do grocery shopping and/or buy your toiletries and supplies.
It is ideal to keep a record on how you will spend your money on six-month basis so you are guided spending every bit of your money.
Stop living paycheck to paycheck
Do you constantly find yourself worrying how to make ends meet? Do you always run out of money even before the month ends? Living paycheck to paycheck is a real phenomenon and everyone, including me, have found ourselves in that difficult situation before.
Break the cycle and stop living from paycheck to paycheck doing the following:
- Track where your money goes.
- Keep a budget that works. Tweak your budget every now and then to determine what really works for you.
- Cut back on unnecessary expenses like the usual 170peso cup of coffee just because you feel like having it.
- Save first, spend later. Here’s where the usual leak on your finances goes, failing to prioritize your savings. Try this: automatically save at least 500pesos every time your paycheck comes! Not only will you begin to live within your means but you will also slowly build a proper savings.
Take charge of your debt
Being in debt is an awful and stressful situation. It will keep you awake at night thinking how you can pay for tomorrow. You owe it to yourself and to the person or entities you credited for, to pay.
Taking charge of your debt will enable you to have positive finances once and for all. And this is one of the best financial habits you should follow. Here are some related resources about paying debt you might want to read:
- Here’s a Strategy to Pay Debt with Low Salary
- 25 Ways to Pay Off Your Debt
- Pinoys Guide on Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover
Always pay with cash
Stop using your credit card for every purchase you make. Credit cards should not be taken as an alternative to cash. It should be reserved for bigger purchases that could satisfy or level up your current living.
Pay with cash so you’ll know exactly what coming in and coming out of your wallet. This will limit you from impulse shopping having prior knowledge of the money you are left with after every purchase.
Build an Emergency Fund
Emergency fund works like a cash buffer when emergency situations arise. The financial habit of building an emergency fund as early as now will help you be prepared in case unwanted bills that can ruin your finances happen.
How much should your emergency fund be?
3-6 times worth of your monthly expenses. It means if your monthly expenses is around 10,000pesos you need either 30,000pesos or 60,000pesos reserved in your emergency fund.
Related read: 11 Ways to Build an Emergency Fund from Scratch
Have a retirement fund
How do you picture your retirement age? Most of us get comfortable retiring with just government mandated pension through SSS or GSIS.
But, you have to know as early as now that what you’ll get on your pension will never be enough to support you 20-30years from now.
Why? Because of inflation.
So it is better to save and invest now on your retirement fund while you still can. Your retirement fund doesn’t have to be big right away.
Again, it should be an instrument that will appreciate in value over time like Personal Equity Retirement Account of P.E.R.A. or other investment fund.
Write down your goals
I’ve always been a big fan of setting goals and writing them down. This financial habit makes me accountable to myself on what I want to do in life. It sets clear outlook on what’s ahead.
Work on creating goals based on the the acronym S.M.A.R.T.
Specific – Are your goals specific enough that it contains the right keywords and figures you need to visualize?
Measurable – Do you have a way to track your progress?
Attainable – Is your goal achievable based on the current situation and the resources you have?
Realistic – Is your goal worth-it to begin with?
Time-bound – What is your deadline for reaching your goal?
Read Next: My Goals for 2019
Get a side hustle
If you are living on one source of income the you’re doing something wrong. Now more than ever is the right time for you to get a side hustle.
There are so much sources available today that will help you generate income from multiple sources. All you need is the willingness to hustle.
Live below your means
Living within your means is one of most important lesson you need to learn in personal finance. It is making sure your expenses are below what you actually earn. Try to be intentional when making a purchase and ask yourself if it is something you really need or you just want. READ: 4 Useful Tips To Live Within Your Means
Follow the golden formula Income – Savings = Expenses
Make it one of your financial habits to save first before you allocate your income on your expenses.
Always follow the golden rule of Income – Savings = Expenses. This is one of the easiest way to pay yourself first.
Every payday, transfer an amount to your savings or emergency fund first then go with the second most important item – your investments. Then adjust what’s left to your expenses.
It will be hard at first but in the long run you’ll be able notice how massive the change it’ll bring to your cash flow.
I started investing at 19. I have no formal education whatsoever about mutual fund but I still opened an account in FAMI-SALEF through reading reviews from other bloggers.
It turned out to be a wise decision because now at 24, I have built a humble retirement fund.
It may seem hard and scary at first but if you don’t try, you’ll never know.
Find out the kind of investment that will suit your financial goals and your budget and open an account right away. You can now invest in stocks as low as 5000pesos.
Diversify your investments
Warren Buffett suggests to never ever put all your eggs in one basket. Put your money in various investment vehicles so you have better chances to grow abundantly. Below are ways you can diversify your investments:
1. Invest in different instruments like stocks, mutual fund, UITF, P.E.R.A., etc.)
2. Invest in different company like Jollibee, Ayala, SM, Puregold, Megaworld, etc.)
3. Invest in different field like transportation, telco, real estate, commodity, etc.)
Live a frugal life
Frugal living is all about being careful on how we spend our money. It is finding happiness in spending less than what one will normally spend.
Spend less than you earn so you are also able to use the excess to pay debt or invest.
There are plenty of ways you can live frugally but the most common and the easiest will be any of the following:
- Pack your own lunch at work
- Look for secondhand or used items first
- Build a minimalist wardrobe
- Stop buying online
- Cut your cable
- Commute by bike
- Cancel any monthly subscriptions you don’t really need
- Go on budget-friendly travels first
- Choose service water instead of ordering beverage
Live and stay frugal even if you have an option not to.
The easiest and most effective way to save is to do it automatically. Transfer a fixed amount from your paycheck to your other savings account. Most online banking in the Philippines offers this option so all you have to do is apply.
Why should you take advantage of automation when it comes to saving money?
First and foremost, it follows the golden rule Income – Savings = Expenses
Second, it prevents you from spending your money elsewhere.
Avoid impulse buying
One of the worst financial habits common to everybody is making impulsive purchases. This is a situation wherein you make an unplanned decision to buy a product or service. Impulsive shoppers often than not find it hard to control their emotions when they spend.
But you can actually avoid being an impulsive shopper by trying the following:
1. Create a list before shopping for groceries
2. Avoid going to mall after work
3. Write what you want to buy on a paper. Keep that listed in the next 30 days. If you still like the item after 30 days then you can purchase it without much guilt.
SIDE STORY: I found out a new way to go home from work which allows me to save 8pesos on jeepney ride. This means I’m saving almost 320pesos a month on transportation allowance. Not only that, my new found ride is point-to-point so it decreases my chance of having impulse dining out instead of having dinner at home. I am so amazed by how it dramatically changed my day to day expenses.
Avoid being in debt no matter what. As soon as you are able to take charge and ultimately pay your current debt, do your best not to be in any debt anymore.
Be cautious on your spending and try live a simple lifestyle.
Remember that it is easier to save and invest when you don’t have any financial obligation.
Do the envelope setup for your allowances
Remember the envelope budget I mentioned earlier? Well, you can apply this in distributing your weekly or monthly allowance too.
For example if your budget is 90pesos a day on lunch at work then put 90pesos on five envelopes or 450pesos on a single envelope.
You are only allowed to spend based on your budget and how much you have on the envelope.
You can also do this on your other budget categories like transportation and grocery.
Support your financial knowledge
Read more about financial literacy so you will have a better hold on your financial bucket lists.
Back when I was just starting SavingsPinay, I always visit bookstore to read business and finance books. I try to take quick notes on my cellphone on the tips the author mentioned.
Including this on your financial habits is a form of investing in yourself. My most recommended books will include:
- Mag-titipid na Talaga Ako…Promise by Roselle Ruig
- Pisobilities: Gabay sa Buhay Pinansyal by Francisco Colayco
- Ang Pera na Hindi Bitin by Eduardo O. Roberto, Jr.
- Kakasweldo Mo Pa Lang Ubos Na by Vic and Avelyn Garcia
- It’s Your Money by Entrepreneur Philippines
- The Law of Leverage by Rane Panaligan
- My Maid Invests in the Stock Market by Bo Sanchez
- Stock Smarts Stock Investing Made Easy by Marvin Germo
Avoid any form of bad vices
Vices like smoking and drinking can cut a big chunk of your overall cash flow so learn to stop any bad addictions. Instead of wasting your attention to these, make time for activities that will make you healthier.
Go to the gym, start running or running. Or better yet, use the time and money you will save avoiding your bad vices on making extra income instead.
Go for discounts and free stuff
Have you actually tried saving money when shopping? Do you use discount coupon when ordering online or booking online? Did you ever try signing-up for free stuff?
You can actually maximize being a consumer by doing any or all of the above. Try saving money and going on a shopping spree on year-end or month-end sales instead.
Stop impressing others
Trust me, impressing others will cost you more than you could ever afford. Just stop worrying about how others will perceive you.
As long as you have the basics done like good hygiene, good attitude and good relationship then you’re off to good start.
Trying hard to please your classmates, friends or workmates will not only ruin your finances but will also stress you out soon.
Learn to let go
If you have items you don’t need then you might want to sell them out through garage sale or online. This way you get rid of the stuff you don’t use and make extra income.
SIDE STORY: I recently bought a secondhand book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo and I’ve been learning a lot about decluttering. I am on the process of letting go of things that doesn’t spark joy.
Pay bills on time
Be organized when it comes to your bills. Know your due date and amount to pay in advance so you can prepare your budget in advance too.
Paying bills on time promotes financial peace and give you a strong foundation on your financial habits in life.
Automate your bills. Again online or e-banking will be your best friend for this. Automatically pay your bills online instead of going to payment centers for bills like telephone, electricity, mutual fund portfolio, phone plan, etc.
Automating your bill payment will saves you time and effort plus assure that you will pay your bills on time.
Invest on Things that Appreciate Value
Most of us spend our money more on those that depreciate in value like a new gadget or going out on dinners.
Here’s the deal:
You might find enjoyment on those items now but soon you’ll need to throw or to sell them away. And when that time comes they have less market value than what you paid for them.
If you have extra money invest it on stocks, save it as down payment to a property or recycle that extra income by lending with minimal interest to your friends/workmates.
Have a Clear Outlook on Your Finances
Achieving each financial habits in this will be easier when you have clear outlook on your finances. Assess how your spending habits is. Dedicate a day to go on a review.
Simply ask yourself the following:
- Where do I want my money to go?
- Where don’t I want my money to go?
- What purchases made you happy?
- What purchases didn’t make you happy?
Make sure that you have defined your attitude first so that it will be easier for you to take charge of your finances.
Related read: How to Take Control of Your Finances this 2019
Stop wasting your money
We all have excuses and reasons why we deserve a treat, a meal or a splurge on a particular day. Even though deep inside we know that we should be saving money instead of wasting it, spending just feels so good.
To avoid wasting your money, do mind over matter. Think about the bigger picture, your goals, your financial plans in life.
It is better to spend on experience rather than the physical things. If you can sacrifice some financial habits that waste your money then do it.
Learn to Say “No”
The powerful two-letter word that can make a big difference in your everyday life is NO! You need to stop saying yes when you want to say no.
Most often than not we get caught in a difficult situation that involves money. A friend who would like to borrow, a family member who asks for a gift and so on.
Before you agree on anything try to assess first if it is in your budget. If it is not then politely say, no.
“Tsaka na lang ako magsi-save pag may pera na ako”
Now that’s a lie!
If you don’t start saving your money now then you are missing a big chance of a better tomorrow. The earlier you save the better because of compounding!
- Save and invest as early as possible in your working life. No matter how small or big the amount is.
- Invest in stocks, mutual fund or any instrument that can give you positive return of investment over time.
- Do it long-term. Like in the next 20-30 years 🙂
Save based on your salary
The higher your salary is the bigger your savings should be.
Don’t let the additional spending power you have cause you to lose money. Continue saving and living within your means even if you just made a salary increase.
Create Your Own Money Principles
What are your principles on money?
Your view about money shapes your financial wheel for life. Money principle stands as your basis when it comes to how you use and allocate money.
It is a concept that you try to remember, follow and pass to others as it works for the betterment.
Two of my core values about money that I like to share to you are the following:
1.Money is the easiest problem to solve. Unlike love, family, work and business— conflicts about money have the easiest solutions. You can borrow from a friend, swipe your credit card or even ask for a loan. That’s why whenever I have a money problem I don’t really stress out that much. I don’t let money ruin my mood.
2. Give back. Remember to tithe. The beauty of tithing is that the more you give, the more you will gain in return. You will notice how your finances became better and better and better. You will never worry about any bills or an expense for God is securing you all the way.
Invest in the basics
Don’t just go for cheap items but those that truly works and serves it’s purpose well. Before I always buy secondhand when it comes to clothing and then soon I realized that investing on great pieces work.
It turns out buying clothing, bags, shoes, makeup that suits me and works for me are way better than going for cheap items I don’t really like; just because I want to save.
Master Your Time
It goes to show that the most successful people manage their time well. Good time management should be in anyone’s financial habits list. It should even be on top of the list!
Why mastering your time makes you rich?
People who often claim they do not have enough time to accomplish what they really like to do, can’t make any progress in their life at all. We all have 24 hours in a day and so it is up to you how you will make each minute and hour count.
When you know how to manage your time well you have the right work-life balance to do more of what makes you happy. And based on experience, the things that makes us happy are the ones that makes us rich, too.
Earn from Your Talent
Know what you are good at, develop it and earn from it. The best way to make extra income is to earn from your talent. You will definitely enjoy working on the side on what you are an expert of.
- Have an eye in taking good photos? Become a photographer for hire.
- Have the voice to sing any type of song? Become a wedding singer.
- Have writing skills? Become a freelance content writer.
Your talent can make you rich. And many have found stable income through what they love to do. Take time assessing what talent you have that you can use for side hustle.
Always find inspiration from others or from your life goals. Don’t give up easily on your financial bucket lists.
How do you stay motivated with your financial goals?
1. Break up your goals to smaller, short-term actions. This works best in managing your debt. Breakdown your debt to smaller amount you can pay monthly first and then move to the big debts next.
2. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Those people who you adore and who you get inspired to.
3. Give yourself a reward for small wins. Participate on small money challenges or seven day financial habits for example and go for a nice treat to keep yourself motivated.
Try and Try Until Your Succeed
If a certain habit or tip in this doesn’t give you the result you need then don’t hesitate to try again until you have succeeded.
Always review your goals, assess what you really want in life and tweak the way you budget your money.
It is through constant trying that you can build strong financial habits for life.
Don’t Believe in “instant wealth”
Becoming wealthy doesn’t happen overnight.
If someone told you you’ll be instant rich after you invest, run! Don’t believe in the word “instant” for it takes time for your money to multiply.
I am not fan of the word “instant”, personally. I love slow but sure progress when it comes to my finances. For me, it is better to build wealth with passion and purpose.
Final Notes from SavingsPinay
I hope this 40 financial habits for life help you in your way to financial freedom. And thank you for reading until the end. Don’t forget to share this post if you feel like it is worth sharing.
Which of the 40 Financial Habits mentioned in this post is your favorite?
Izza of SavingsPinay helps Filipinos bridge the financial literacy gap one content at a time by providing insights and tips on budgeting, saving, investing, side hustle and growing your net worth. Aside from this blog she also writes at www.izzaglinofull.com, a beauty and lifestyle blog for frugal Pinays and manages, www.izzagevents.com, a wedding and event business since 2011. For inquiries, topic suggestions or future collaborations email her at firstname.lastname@example.org