Each month we reflect on our financial lives because it helps us be more intentional with our financial well-being. We hope that by opening up the conversation, we can break down the social stigma around talking about money. Check out the rest of the series here.
If someone were to ask me, “Do you think about your personal finances often?” my answer would probably be yes and no. Yes in the sense that I am conscious of how I spend my money and how I save up money, but also no because that’s the extent of my thoughts on personal finance.
You may have noticed that I haven’t written any finance related posts on the blog yet. I feel like everyone has similar habits and/or goals like budgeting and saving up, so I wouldn’t have any new insights to share. Today I want to do a bit of reflection on how I thought about my finances in the past because looking at the past will help me figure out how I can improve in my personal finance journey.
The first time my parents introduced me to this whole money business and how to handle money was in high school. I was given an allowance each month that I could spend on whatever I wanted. I learned how to budget so I didn’t end up using all my allowance before the month was over. It also taught me to really ask myself before I purchased something if I really needed that or if I just wanted it. To this day, I still use this method every time I’m thinking about spending money on something.
At the beginning of college, I created an arbitrary budget to manage my money. I didn’t think too much about spending a few dollars here and there. It wasn’t until I really sat down to calculate how much I actually spent that I realized everything adds up quickly. I became better at budgeting by adjusting them based on how much things usually cost in the US.
It wasn’t until I went to college in the US that I realized how blessed I was to not have to worry about money. Before I graduated college, my dad and I had a “gentleman’s agreement” in which he would stop supporting me after I graduated. He wanted me to learn to be financially independent, but he would set aside some money to pay for graduate school if I ever decided to go. I didn’t think too much of it in the beginning. Come the end of junior year, I realized I definitely wouldn’t have enough money to support myself so I began figuring out a way to work in the US.
I worked at Starbucks from the summer before senior year up until I graduated. The money I made at Starbucks allowed me to support myself through the summer until I found a job. I was also able to purchase my first car. Once I started working, I made sure I didn’t spend more money than I made each month.
After I moved back to Taiwan, I slacked off a bit. I became lazy at writing down all my expenses. Everything is paid by cash and a lot of times with no receipt so sometimes I’ll forget to write down an expense and then it’d be hard to really know how much I really spent. I’m still very much aware of where my money is going, but I want to figure out new ways to increase my salary, find new ways to save up, and really think about my long-term financial goals.
I hope you’ll come along with me on this personal finance journey and I’d love to hear about yours too!
Check out other posts in our Money on Our Mind series!