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.