Are you a few years' away from hitting adulthood? How are your finances shaping up?
If you're already in your mid or late 20s and always short of money, it's time to take a long, hard look at your spending habits.
Filipino millennials spend more freely than older generations and are the least financially literate, according to a survey by the Social Enterprise Development Partnerships, Incorporated (SEDPI).
We can do better, right? It takes curbing these 10 bad spending habits that hinder financial independence.
1. Splurging to Keep a YOLO Lifestyle
Live in the moment. Enjoy the present. Because you only live once.
This seems to be the mantra of young adults today. Living in the moment is actually good for your overall well-being. But what's the point of enjoying life when you spend sleepless nights worrying about money problems?
An online survey by Rappler reveals that most millennials choose passion (43.1%) over financial independence (37.9%). Many other studies on millennial spending habits found that this young generation is more willing to spend on experiences (travel, hobbies, dining, gym memberships, etc.) rather than prepare for their future.
Life is meant to be enjoyed, but it shouldn't make you broke. Strike a balance between enjoying life today and saving for tomorrow.
Spend within your means. If you want to explore the world but aren't earning much, limit your travels in a year and find ways to save money while traveling.
There are many other ways to enjoy new experiences without spending much. You just have to know where to look.
2. Impulse Buying to Relieve Stress
When you're stressed, bored, or feeling down, the struggle to control your spending becomes so real.
Yes, you worked hard for your money, and you deserve to treat yourself sometimes. But using that as an excuse for constant frivolous spending? It isn't a trait of a financially responsible adult.
Putting a limit to each of your expense—be it essential or not—is the best way to avoid overspending and killing your budget.
3. Borrowing Money for the Wrong Reasons
The SEDPI research on millennial spending habits shows that 50% of people in their 20s and 30s are debt-ridden. They get loans to fund short-term needs such as sustaining their YOLO lifestyle instead of financing long-term investments.
Taking a loan isn't bad at all—as long as you do it for the right reason. Ideally, you borrow money to earn more income, like starting or growing a business.
4. Spending to Impress Others
In this social media-crazed country, people try to project a favorable image on social networks, with their profiles filled with #blessed, #OOTD, and #wanderlust posts. The pressure to look good and successful on social media drives some 20-somethings to spend unnecessarily.
Trying to impress people can be costly. Rather than be motivated by others' opinions of you, focus on what matters more: your personal and career growth.
It's also a great idea to take a social media detox sometimes. Try it!
5. Failing to Track Expenses
You had PHP 5,000 in your wallet a few days ago, and now you're shocked that it's empty. Easy to forget where your money went, right? Not when you keep track of your expenses.
Millennials are known to be tech-savvy, so why don't you use technology to keep your budget on track? Plenty of free mobile apps for budgeting can help you stay on top of your expenses.
6. Spending First Before Saving
What's the first thing you usually do with your salary?
If you always spend first and then save what's left, you've got a serious problem. More often than not, you're struggling to make ends meet, especially during Petsa de Peligro.
Each payday, deduct a fixed amount for your savings before you start spending your salary.
Here's an easy-to-remember formula: Income – Savings = Expenses.
To automate your savings, open a separate bank account where you'll transfer a certain amount from your pay as your savings every month. Use the bank's online banking service to automatically transfer funds from your payroll account to your other savings account every payday.
7. Paying for Convenience All the Time
Nothing wrong with swinging by your favorite coffee shop, eating out, or booking a ride-hailing service once in a while. But if you do it day in and day out, that blows your budget faster than ordering a macchiato frappe.
Speaking of coffee, a survey found that people in their 20s to mid-30s spend on their daily caffeine fix more than they invest for retirement.
You pay more for the price of convenience. If you're trying to control your spending, review your expenses and see which ones you can cut back on. For example, instead of riding a taxi or Grab to work every day, find cheaper means of transport such as carpooling, riding an e-bike or e-scooter, and using the P2P bus service.
8. Racking Up and Ignoring Credit Card Debt
A responsible adult knows that anything owed should be paid back on time. That includes your credit card balance. Overspending with your card and failing to pay your credit card bills on time is a dangerous combo that you'll regret when you hit your 30s. Are you on track with your credit card payments? Make sure to include them in your monthly budget.
If you're still searching for your first credit card, get one that suits your needs and spending habits. Use a comparison tool to find the right credit card for you.
9. Never Saying No
Because of pakikisama or hiya, Filipinos find it hard to decline any invitation that involves spending money, as well as family and friends who ask to borrow money. Add to that the millennials' fear of missing out (FOMO). Letting money slip through your fingers is easy that way.
Say no to each temptation to overspend. Or you can be one step ahead—let your family and friends know that you're trying to get a grip on your finances.
10. Spending Too Much on Vices
While a cigarette stick or a bottle of beer may not cost you that much, the yearly cost of smoking, drinking, and other vices can hurt not just your finances but also your health.
Quitting smoking is easier said than done. But with the right motivation, you can definitely break the habit. For one, consider how much money you'll save if you quit smoking.
Read more: Living the Post-Pandemic Life: What to Do After COVID-19
Which of these spending habits are you guilty of? Remember: it's never wrong to use your hard-earned money to enjoy life—as long as you do it in moderation. While you're still young, take the first steps in your journey towards financial independence. It's never too early!