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3 spending mistakes to avoid – my personal mistakes too!

Sometimes I feel it is not a coincidence that I am a Certified Financial Planner and Islamic Financial Planner today. In class back then when I was learning CFP and IFP, I learnt about all of the financial planning theories to implement into one’s financial plan. Wished I had learnt these theories earlier so that I could cut short my years of making mistakes. Ah well, better late than never.

When I was still employed, I was constantly working towards a raise in my salary and to also have good bonuses. Finally, in my last year of employment in year 2015, I finally achieved these two on the same year. More than 20% increment and a 6 months bonus. Instead of jumping for joy, I quit employment the same year and began my transition into becoming self employed. If it wasn’t because of self employment, I think I’d still be making these mistakes.

Here are the top three mistakes that I have personally made when it comes to spending money.

Mistake #1

What I realised in 2015 was I had never tracked my expenses. Whatever I spent = whatever I earned. To anyone who wants to be self employed, take note on this mistake #1 and don’t repeat what I did.

In order to quit, I needed to have sufficient funds to pay my monthly expenses. In order to know how much money I needed, I obviously need to know how much I was spending = track my spending, right?!

Monthly spending (common for all) = bills, mortgage, credit card, financing, kids’ education, takaful, fuel, groceries, etc

Thought I was ahead of my game. Thought I was aware of how much money I needed to allocate for my first year of entrepreneurship. Guess what I forgot to factor in?

Other monthly expenses = beauty skincare products, ad hoc visits to clinic, medication, supplements, kids related items

Other annual expenses = roadtax, car takaful, holiday, kids’ term fees if any, raya, duit raya, shopping raya (see the emphasis on raya?!), birthdays, anniversaries, festive gifts

Other expenses = unexpected entrepreneurship hidden cost like subscribing to technology, courses, etc

Suffice to say I was short of few thousands per month (in my tracking). This is quite a common leakage I see in my clients’ plans too. When shortage of funds per month is large, multiply that by 12 months, this is why we can’t seem to get out of debt because we will use facility like credit card to pay for the deficit.

Mistake #2

Do you at least have savings that could pay three months worth of your monthly expenses?

I realised it was not easy to quit employment within a short period of time. It required a careful planning especially when I had just given birth to my eldest child the year before. Quitting meant I needed to have something that still paid me my salary for at least the next half to one year, while I establish myself as a self employed.

I had never saved for emergencies before. My definition of emergency before year 2015 was = ASB. Whatever extras went into ASB, and will be withdrawn the following month. Sampai Abang Jamil mampus.

My ASB days are gone. I don’t have ASB. My kids don’t have ASB. Will share why if we get the chance to connect. Whatever your choice of instrument is, save three months (minimum) worth of monthly expenses in a platform that generates dividend between 4 to 6% yearly. Never ever save it in savings account, what can you do with a 0.3% dividend anyway?

Mistake #3

A mistake that I still do til today (can a conscious mistake be considered a mistake?) but not as bad anymore is to go on a splurge and consider it as ‘self reward’.

I work hard, that’s for sure. But working hard should not equate to going bonkers on spending. I used to buy things that were considered a ‘want’ rather than ‘need’. Then I’ll justify and tell myself I worked hard, I deserved the purchase.

What a BS I could tell myself. What happened weeks later was I’d regretted the purchase but there wasn’t a way to turn back time. Hence the spiraling debt.

I learnt the hard way. Seriously nothing beats these mistakes because now I don’t splurge unnecessarily. Even if I do, it would be on courses to upskill or supplements. Aiyo being older sometimes also means one becomes high maintenance lah. Bones breaking and all.

What can you do

To help others to have a smooth transition between employment to self employed or simply to take charge of their finances, I have developed a pre recorded 6-hour course with a one time fee at bit.ly/aisyacourse. This way, more Malaysians can DIY and create their own financial plan at the comfort of their own home.

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Independent Financial Adviser. [F]

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