I'm entering my fourth week in the Senate this week and I still can't believe that we're doing fine financially. To recap, it's SOP in government service to have a delay of about two months before a new employee can receive her salary. I actually have no idea why it takes that long because when I was in the private sector, I received my salary without delay. Maybe there's a lot more paperwork to accomplish in the government? I really don't know.
Anyway, this is exactly one of those times when having an emergency fund makes perfect sense and I'm so thankful that I managed to set aside about 2 months worth of expenses in savings and another 2 months worth in my VUL account (although I really hope I won't need to draw on that account). I also applied to monetize my leave credits from my last employer and am supposed to receive that within the next few weeks (crossing fingers). With the monetization of those leaves, I can even afford to replenish what I took out from my emergency funds and use the remainder of my leaves to tide us over until my paycheck comes in.
There's a big probability that I'll be going through the same thing this time next year since my boss is serving her last term as a Senator and will be stepping down by 2016, and if I don't transfer to a new Senator I'll be a new employee again in another government agency and will be subjected to the two month salary delay again. Hence the need to build up our emergency funds again.
These past few weeks have been such an eye opener for me because the limited supply of funds has forced me to confront my spending triggers and bad habits, those being emotional and aspirational spending.
I tend to spend more when I'm happy, and I'm happiest when I'm spending for my loved ones. A quick review of my credit card bill showed that I tend to spend the most in Toy Kingdom more than any store. The usual story is that I would go to Toy Kingdom to buy a gift for an upcoming birthday party we're invited to, and I see something cute that I know my son or nephews will like and include that in my cart. The situation becomes worse when I have my son with me and he takes a liking to a toy and it's not really that expensive, so what's 200-300p more right?
It's also the same with eating out with friends and family. I get so happy spending time with them that I don't think twice about footing the bill, that is until my credit card statement comes it. Ulp.
As for aspirational spending, this is where the stack of books I have yet to read comes in. I buy books and picture myself in a coffee shop, leisurely going through my new book or leafing through the pages of a cookbook, diligently planning the following week's menu. But the truth is, I only get to read a few pages each week while I'm scarfing down my breakfast right before I get ready for work. And forget about having a weekly menu. At most, my husband or the yaya comes up with 3-4 viands that we eat and reheat throughout the week. I'm sadly just a domestic goddess wannabe.
Faced with my triggers, I now make an effort to think through my purchases and not let my emotions get the better of me. For example, I'm attending a wedding soon and since I know my wardrobe inside and out, I know that I really don't have anything appropriate to wear. But instead of picking up the first dress that looked good on me (price: Php2,000), I shopped around some more and came upon a rose printed sheath dress on sale for Php850.
It was a little loose along the sides but I knew that my trusty modista could easily bring in the excess fabric to make it fit. And paired with a blazer or cardigan, I could even wear it to work. Smart shopper alert!
It's honestly a constant struggle having to deal with my spending demons. Most of the time I can rein in my spending, but there are those days when I am plagued with shopper's remorse and find myself with another pair of cheap sandals or yet another striped top. But now instead of cursing myself, I treat each slip-up as a learning experience and move on, while taking the time to celebrate my own successes as well.
I wish I could end this post with some sort of fantastic anecdote but I don't have any. Like an addict, everyday I have to deal with my spending issues and sometimes the best way is to avoid my triggers altogether so that means minimizing mall trips, unsubscribing from shopping sites and creating goals that will divert my attention from accumulating more things. Whatever works.