My Do-Over List
I'm pretty content with my life as a whole, because as someone who grew up feeling rich, there's not really much I would change about my upbringing. It was only when I first tried my hand at this adulting business that some things didn't turn out quite the way as I planned. Thus, if I could hop into Doc Brown's time traveling DeLorean, I would definitely stop my past self from doing the following:
1. Buying investment linked life insurance instead of term insurance- I started looking into life insurance about ten years ago because all my research showed that life insurance was important once you got married. Investing was also highly recommended by the personal finance bloggers I followed, so when I saw a life insurance product which had an investment component, I was sold. Take my money!
Buuuut.... some more digging showed that investment linked life insurance or variable unit-linked life (VUL) insurance was ridiculously more expensive than its term insurance counterpart, even if they offered essentially the same thing. As for the investment component, personal finance rockstars almost unanimously recommended a Buy Term Invest the Difference approach, which they guaranteed would yield higher returns than getting the insurance company to invest in your behalf.
By this time, I was already investing regularly in stocks using the peso cost averaging approach so I slapped myself silly and bemoaned all the money I wasted on excessive premium payments!
But as it turned out, buying VUL wasn't a completely bad decision because I stopped investing in stocks for a few years to focus on debt repayment. Because I had VUL, I was still invested in the equity market and was able to take advantage of the bull run a few years back. Another good thing I experienced about VUL which I didn't anticipate was that I was able to dip into the fund value to pay for a medical emergency.
Nonetheless, if I could have a chat with my younger self, I would still discourage past-Jill from buying VUL insurance, to buy term insurance instead and to continue buying stocks on a monthly basis. However, I would also tell younger me that if her sister, as a newly minted life insurance agent, approaches her for one of her first sales, then she should just go ahead and buy as much VUL insurance as she could afford.
(Recommended read: How Much Life Insurance Do You Really Need?)
2. Blogging as myself instead of anonymously- it never occurred to me to blog anonymously when I first started this blog because coming from my past blogs where I wrote with my heart on my sleeve, I didn't know any other way to blog. But as I became more personal about my finances, I found myself holding back and being deliberately vague on my numbers (which is ironic as this is a personal finance blog after all!).
As it turned out, I wasn't comfortable in fully revealing my net worth because of safety reasons. Which is not to say that I'm worth tens or hundreds of millions of pesos (because I'm not!), but I would rather not attract the attention of criminals and potential criminals thankyouverymuch.
So because this blog is associated with me and I'm associated with other things, certain topics are off-limits. Now imagine if I wrote anonymously from the start, oh the fun we could all be having right now!
3. Buying all sorts of junk instead of saving or investing my money- I had no choice but to embrace minimalism because my husband and I moved to a small apartment immediately after we got married, so most of the stuff I accumulated were left in my parents' house. We then moved to an even smaller space a year after we got married forcing us to discard even more stuff. When our first son was born, we had to make room for his stuff, so I had to fit my clothes into 3 dresser drawers instead of 5, leading to even more downsizing.
All that downsizing made me realize that I don't really need a lot of things. So when I look back now at how much I spent for fast fashion and other bits and bobs just because they were cute and only cost a few hundred bucks, I die a little inside at how profligate I was. For all we know, if I funneled all that cash into investments instead of clothes, accessories and eating out, I would be FIRE (financially independent retire early) by now.
But for what it's worth, I have fully embraced my past mistakes and idiotic behavior so here's hoping that present-Jill will see past-Jill's misadventures as a learning experience so that future Jill-will soon be sitting pretty while sipping chilled rosé in some tastefully furnished and fully paid for beachhouse.