saving lessons from 2014
Pay off your debt, invest your money, set realistic financial goals, and reward yourself.

Over the last year, we’ve shown you more than a few tips, tricks, and lessons on how to save more, spend wisely, and improve your personal finances. Here we compiled a small list of money lessons you’d do well to remember as you get ready for another year!

1. Set financial goals.

Set realistic financial goals. It can be big (buy a car in five years), or it can be small (save enough money for a new smartphone by the end of the year). Whatever the goal is, be sure to keep it clear and strive toward it. You know that feeling you get when you accomplish a goal? It’s like winning the World Cup!

2. Seek financial help.

They always say that no man is an island, and we can’t survive alone. This is very true when it comes to finances. Financial advice can help you manage our money better, and direct them to better outlets: a time-deposit account, a stock or bond investment, or even through real estate. Never be afraid to ask questions about your money!

3. Stick to a budget.

Learn how to manage your finances. Budget your monthly salary and allocate your money properly among your regular expenses: groceries, utility bills, the rent, credit card dues, and so forth. Don’t forget to allocate some of your money to personal savings and your emergency fund!

4. Build or repair your credit.

Get a credit card to start building your credit. Pay your credit card dues every month in full and on time so banks know that you’re trustworthy with money. With good credit, you can be assured that banks won’t turn you down when you request for loans, an increase in credit limit, and other financial services you might need in the future.

5. Protect your assets.

Your assets can mean your home, your car, or whatever investments you’ve made. It’s definitely worth getting insurance for your bigger expenses, be it education, the house, your car. Get health insurance for your family, as well. Invest your money in mutual funds.

When you protect your assets with insurance or a fund, you’re assured that you’re always prepared for any unexpected incident—even acts of nature!

6. Monetize your skills.

Got a hobby? Why not start a small business around it. It could be for anything: knitted scarves, pet food cupcakes, hand-made mason jar candle holders— anything! Put your creations on e-commerce websites such as peer-to-peer marketplace Etsy. You can even sell art you create as t-shirt designs, mugs, bags, or even mobile phone cases on sites like Redbubble, Zazzle, CafePress, Society6, and so forth. Earning a little extra from these places by using skills you already have can give you an extra line of money that can you can put into your savings account, emergency funds, or even your retirement plans.

Need capital to start a small business? Apply for a personal loan with your bank and get the jumpstart you need.

7. Donate.

In 2014, one of the most viral events was the #ALSIceBucketChallenge. It called the attention of millions around the world to donate for the research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The Ice Bucket Challenge aimed to help people experience what people with ALS has, and asked them to donate money for the cause.

Find a cause that you believe in and support that cause . You can always donate in small amounts every few months, or once with a huge amount. Donations shouldn’t be forced, it should be given, like a gift.

8. Get debt in control.

Resolve to pay off all your debts, slowly but surely. Begin with the largest amount of debt you have, then work your way to the smaller ones. Do your best to pay off your largest debt as soon as you can, while making minimum payments on your smaller debts. Some people would prefer to pay off the smaller ones before tackling the bigger debts. You can do either—as long as you consistently put in money toward paying off debt, you can expect to be able to live debt-free in time.

9. Invest in retirement.

Don’t forget about your future! Plan for your retirement as early as now. Open a time-deposit account with your local bank, or invest in a mutual fund that will help your assets grow over time. This way, when you reach the age of retirement, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of your working years, and you can live life as comfortably as you wish.

10. Understand taxes.

It might be confusing and difficult at first, so much so that you hire an accountant or depend on your employer to take care of the whole process—but learning to do it on your own can help you more than you know. For one, you won’t have to hire anyone to do your taxes for you.

For another, you’ll be able to see where all your money goes to within the year. Be able to see how much you’ve been spending, and where you’ve been putting your money, as well as where your money comes from. When you do your taxes, you’ll be more financially conscious, and it will help you save more for the future.

Find out if you can avail of tax loans from banks, too, to help you fulfil your civil obligations.

11. Shop around for insurance.

Be it health insurance, car insurance, personal accident insurance, or travel insurance, an insurance policy is a definite must-have for every family and individual. But don’t just settle for the most popular or the most convenient choice; you might be missing out on an insurance plan that offers the same coverage as another, but at lower premiums or more flexible payment plans. Just like when you shop for groceries or clothes, it pays to do a survey of all offers available before making a choice.

12. Find ways to grow your wealth.

Make your money work for you. If you’ve mastered the art of saving and budgeting, the next step would be to invest your money and grow your wealth.Consult a financial adviser to determine what investment opportunities can bring good returns and at the same time, suit your risk appetite.

13. Do what you love.

What is it that you would really want to be doing? We’ve heard one too many stories of successful people giving up high-paying jobs to pursue what they love to do. Yes, it involves some risk but if you’re smart and never give up, the payoff could be greater than you can imagine. Making money can be enjoyable if you work doesn’t feel like “work” at all. Create opportunities to actually earn money from doing what you love.

14. Pay yourself back.

Saving money, getting for insurance, paying taxes, paying off your loans, and investing money are definitely satisfying but rewarding yourself, whenever you can, comes with a different kind of satisfaction. Work hard but don’t forget to enjoy life! After all, this is what all the financial advice we’ve given you over the year have been about—for you to improve your way of living and have the opportunity to really enjoy the good things that life has to offer.

Cheers to the year that was. Here’s to a fruitful and prosperous 2015! What money lessons did you learn?