Budgeting and being debt-free in a post-pandemic world

The 2020 COVID outbreak has done quite a number on the economy. A lot of companies closed, people lost their jobs, and many of us were and are still at a loss… not quite sure on how to go on. It was the first time we had gone through a worldwide pandemic after all. Though it’s now 2023, and things seem to be looking up, not everyone has recovered from this blow. We’re all still navigating this new post-pandemic chapter. Prices have gone way way up so we need to do more in terms of budgeting and managing our finances.

budgetingI’ve been frequenting forums a lot since the 2020 lockdowns. It was a way to connect with people despite being cooped up at home. The harsh reality is, most are having trouble making ends meet and taking out loans left and right became a quick fix. Budgeting is like dieting. You think you’re eating / spending a little, but all together it’s actually a lot. Simple and practical lifestyle changes can help bring down expenditures so there won’t be a need to borrow money to pay the bills. Are you ready?

  1. Identify your needs and wants. It shouldn’t be so hard. It goes something like this… I need food. I want a new dress. Obviously, we can’t live without eating so food is a need. We’re not running out of things to wear anytime soon so a new dress is a want. Make a list of wants and needs so you can easily cross out things from the wants list that do not fit in your budget.
  2. List down everything you spend money on. There was one time I went to a slimming center. They gave me a notebook and told me to list everything I put in my mouth. At the time, I thought I wasn’t eating much so I couldn’t understand why I was overweight. Lo and behold, when I took note of every single bite I took, it was actually a lot. I filled up an entire page easily. If you list down where every cent goes, you’ll be better able to see where you can cut down. This will make budgeting a simpler task.
  3. Be mindful of how you use utilities. It’s all as simple as turning off the lights when not in use, unplugging appliances that are off, making sure your plumbing fixtures don’t have leaks, and so forth. Save on transportation expenses by avoiding rush hour whenever you can. Every little bit counts.
  4. Avoid taking out loans in order to pay for other loans. It will be a neverending cycle. Instead find ways generate money. For example, you can declutter your house and sell off stuff you don’t use or unwanted gifts that have been languishing in a corner.
  5. Learn to say no to people who ask you for money. This is a very common scenario here in the Philippines. Friends and relatives are ALWAYS borrowing money from someone who they deem is earning better than they are. A lot of us are so nice we feel obliged to lend what we actually cannot afford. Some even take out loans for the sake of lending a relative or friend. Just say NO.
  6. Set aside something for your savings so you have something in case of emergencies. It doesn’t matter how small the amount is, what’s important is you set something aside every month.
  7. Limit your credit card usage. My husband and I started paying for everything in cash when the lockdowns started in 2020. We didn’t want to get stuck with debts while our business was closed. This helped us avoid spending for things we didn’t need. If you do charge something on your card, make sure to pay in full before the due date. Late fees and interest charges can easily double the amount you need to pay.
  8. Shop for essentials during sales. Here in the Philippines, there’s always a Payday Sale every 15th and 30th of the month. Doing this lets you maximize your budget and stretch it as far as it can go. You can save even more by shopping online since most sellers offer free delivery.

Managing personal finances efficiently takes a bit of practice and a lot of discipline but it can be done. Budgeting, saving, and generating extra income whenever you can will tak you there eventually. There is nothing quite like the feeling of being free from all debts so you can live life to the fullest without being bogged down by financial obligations.

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