My Journey To Financial Independence: Planning And Managing Expenses

A decade ago, one of the companies I was handling as a financial analyst was registering a red bottom line figure for six consecutive months. It was very alarming and the financial committee members were looking for ways to turn the company around. I was tasked to look into the financial statements and make recommendations on how we could save the company. It was a tough time for the company and there's nothing much we could do with the sales. But we could somehow do something with the expenses. It was a difficult time for all of us. Inasmuch as I do not want to decrease the salary and compensation expenses, I had to do it to save the company. The company stayed in operation for two more years and then we had to shut it down.

I attended the 2nd session of Brighter Life Institute workshop with coach Aya Laraya last July 16, 2016 about Planning and Managing Expenses. I signed up during the launch of SunLife's Money for Life Initiative. Suddenly I remembered what happened ten years ago. The employees I had to let go. It was business decision. Nothing personal. But still painful because some of them are my friends. Somehow I felt like I failed to save the company. I was partly responsible.

Fast forward, last Saturday's session made me assess my own financial standing. Last April was very challenging. My father was hospitalized and we spent P375,000 on hospital bills. I must say my parents have prepared for their retirement. Good for them. They financially survived my mom's battle with cancer twice. Dad has more than enough money left for his hospitalization and just this morning I claimed his health insurance check. He also has a monthly pension from his employer and from SSS.

I want to be like my parents. Retired with own house and living a comfortable life.

Me and my husband will be turning 40 in a few months. They say life begins at 40. In our case, planning for retirement begins at 40. When do we plan to retire? If only NOW is a realistic reply. But we have some retirement concerns to consider. We should have more than enough money to pay for the expenses we will incur after retirement. 

Coach Aya Laraya was looking straight to where I was seated as if directly asking me the question, "Alam mo na ba ang expenses mo?" Thanks to my diligent husband, yes we do. Let me share with you the expense questions and my answers. Do the exercise with me. Get a notepad and answer these questions too.

What is your biggest expense?

We have a housing loan we applied for last July 2012 payable in 25 years. That means we need to work until we are 60 years old to have money to pay for the monthly loan amortization. 

Were you surprised?

No. We really planned this expense. We sold the house we bought when we got married and bought another house. More expensive than our previous house that's why we had to loan some money. 

What can you do to modify?

We both know that if we wait for 25 years to pay off the loan, the total amount of interest we paid is greater than the amount of money we loaned. The goal is to pay off the loan in 5 years. 

Feasible? Yes. 

How? Manage our expenses.

We usually travel outside the country once every two years and within the country once or twice a year. We had our last trip abroad last 2013 and decided to cut down on travel expenses. Let me get this clear, cut down on travel expenses and NOT totally remove travel and recreation in our life. We all need that! What we do instead is go to places where we need not spend on plane tickets. We take advantage of hotel promo for staycations. 

We have a PLDT DSL line, postpaid SmartBro LTE, postpaid Globe and CIGNAL subscription. We had our CIGNAL subscription downgraded considering we don't watch much television anymore.  I'll be having my SmartBro LTE plan terminated this September upon fulfillment of the contract and settle for a prepaid Globe account for pocket wifi.

Limit fast food deliveries to twice a month. There was a time we would call delivery every other day! It is cheaper to plan and prepare home-cooked meals.

Avoid unnecessary purchases. This is a bit challenging for me because I'm an impulsive buyer. So far, I can restrain myself from buying things I don't really need.

What challenges do you foresee?

We have already saved enough money to pay off a huge chunk of the loan this July, the loan's anniversary month. We project that by 1st quarter of 2017, the loan will be fully paid. The challenge will be after paying off in 2017, we will start all over again to save money. 

We are giving ourselves 5 years to retire from the corporate work. We want to save money for investments, probably have freelance work to keep our brains active and of course earn, and it would be great if we could start travelling again and enjoy spending time together. 


  1. Wow you have a lot of expenses! I really hate all those bills too! My partner and I also bought a townhouse unit which is payable in 30 years. We bought it last November 2014. Right now we're paying both the equity and the PAGIBIG housing loan which is really difficult especially now that our baby is in school na rin. Mahirap pero hopefully we can go through this talaga! Hehe

    xx, Wandering Ella

  2. When it comes to finances, there are two fronts that should be taken.

    1. As you posted, look at your current expenses, do a projection of coming expenses, and scrimp or take away unnecessary expenses. There may be other expenses that could be lessened.

    2. Increasing income by adding another stream is NOW a necessity. When one is forced to look at expenses (although this is really a good practice for everyone), that says a lot about the source of current income. It could be more and more is appreciated.


  3. Whoah. Your family has a lot of expenses. If I were in your shoes, I won't cut off the trips because that's an experience money can't buy everrrrr but I will cut one of the phone lines for that. Anyway, it is still your call and your financial management. I hope you have a happy retirement at 60 😊

    1. We still go on trips but within the Philippines na lang and we really enjoy staycations sa hotels. But I really miss the out of country travel.

  4. Sounds like you really thought this through! Great plan. It's always wise to think about your expenses and how you will pay for everything. And there will always be surprises.

  5. I love budgeting and expense tracking! Yes, I really do. It's unusual to say that but I love this article of yours. :) I'm also a financial advocate so I really recommend for everyone to follow the expense tracking you've listed here. ;)
    I'd just like to add the following:

    1. Follow a wealth formula that compliments expense tracking. Meaning, you need to 'pay your self first' or SAVE before spending. It's better to plan your savings then whatever's left that's what you allocate for spending. Para hindi kulang. (You are never in lack.)

    Wealth Formula:
    100% Income - [10& Tithes (Church, charities etc.) + 20% savings] = 70% expenses

    2. If you can not reduce your spending or change your lifestyle, then you must increase your cash flow. You only have 2 solutions: decrease your lifestyle/dreams or increase your cash flow. Learn where to create passive income and make your money work for you. ;)

    Related post: |

    1. Thanks for the additional tips and I love the article you shared!

  6. You know, I was also supposed to attend that workshop. I love listening to Aya's talks. Like you, the biggest chunk of our household budget goes to our home mortgage.

  7. I was amazed how you were able to manage and hit your target, and especially you really make sure to travel instead of a very tight situation, amazing. I'm not really good on organizing, planning and all, but you nailed this, I hope for the best of you. Godbless

  8. The biggest chunk of our expenses goes to our home mortgage too. We have a big family with 3 young kids but we are aiming to travel comfortably when they grow up. Hope You Make your money work for you soon!

  9. Thank God we don't really have to loan that much to purchase or pay off something that is really expensive. But we are also trying to cut down our expenses to manage our finances. I believe everybody needs a financial literacy session to help them in this aspect. Fortunately, we've already attended some sessions that's why we appreciate Life Insurances or Stock Investments.

  10. being the breadwinner in my family, I'm the one managing our bills too but this made me realized that I should start thinking about establishing a retirement plan as early as this age...

  11. That's what I am also thinking for months already. I don't know where to start but I guess I should research by now for me to finalize everything and start now.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)