I have always thought there’s only one formula in making money. That is work hard and at the end of each month, you get your paycheck. Growing up in a family of farmers, I have seen what working hard really means. I’ve experienced waking up early in the morning, go to the farm, plant or harvest rice until the sun sets in. When you go home after a long day of working, the aching muscles says it all. It is HARD work. I’ve learned from my parents that if you want to have some money, you have to work for it. Often times, I’d go along with my mom to harvest tobacco leaves from a nearby town, and afterwards, she’d pay me for how much I was able to harvest. That’s always been my training in terms of making money. That was my first money habit – work to earn.
When I was in College, I wanted very much to help my parents pay for my education. I was fortunate to have been granted a full scholarship, so that took care of the tuition. Even then, making money from a far away province, and spending it in the most expensive city in the country is no easy task. It is an uphill battle similar to walking up to a going down escalator. So in my own little way, I also tried to make money by applying as student assistant to one of the university’s projects. It doesn’t pay much since it is a government project but enough to pay some of my daily expenses and grow my confidence.
After graduating, I immediately started work as a mainframe programmer for a multinational IT company. The offer I got then was around 16,000 pesos which was BIG money then for someone who’s fresh out of college and don’t have much working experience. I worked very hard and was fortunate enough to be promoted almost every year.
As my paycheck increased, my appetite for consumption also increased. I bought a refrigerator, a washing machine, gas stove, shoes, etc, ALL at the same time, EVEN when I didn’t have the money to pay for it. I just used my new credit card! That’s when my debt started to pile up. The “easy” monthly payments never lived up to its promise. No monthly payment was easy, especially when you only have your paycheck to rely on. As my debt seemingly increased every month, I also had to worry about paying my monthly house rental, buying groceries, eating out with friends, and more. There were times I was so out of money I even had to do “cash advance” on my credit card. As some of you might know, you get to pay a hefty “fee” for doing a cash advance. This is on top of the amount of money you actually “advanced”. My already big debt, ballooned even more! I was so ashamed of having to do cash advance, I promised right there and then, I had to pay for my debt no matter what. It was like a having compound interest working against me. I had to learn how money works. I had to figure it out no matter what. I had no choice.
While pondering my huge debt, I tried to look for ways to earn more money. I tried doing some programming projects for friends. I even entered the world of network marketing, tried selling wellness products and failed miserably. I remember that my only “downlines” (a term indicating those you’ve recruited into the business) was my mother, my aunt, and a few of my friends. It was a learning experience. The thing that struck me most, was that my “need” for money, was being transferred to my “clients”, without me being conscious of it. It was hard “selling” something you don’t 100% believe in and it’s even harder when your motivation is “making” more money without necessarily helping other people. I think this mindset barrier is one of the reasons why I was not able to make it work. Everyday, I had to battle with myself. Am I here to really help other people? Or is it just because of the money?
One time, while me and my friends were hanging out at a bookstore, I saw the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I heard my friend say it’s a great book, so I bought it, took it home and devoured the stories and financial lessons in the book. The book opened my eyes to the world of money I never knew existed before. That’s when I realized that the rich have different sets of money habits from the poor and the middle class. For the first time, it finally made sense why I can’t seem to be making a dent on my credit card debt; why I can’t seem to sell anything at all. Because I had the wrong money habits. I had to learn rich money habits to achieve financial freedom.
After that, it got me excited to learn more about money. First, I signed-up for our company’s savings plan. I started really small. At first, only about 2% of my paycheck is automatically deducted and kept under my savings account. I don’t even get to hold the money. After a month, I increased it to 5%, then to 10%. After a year of saving, I was able to set aside 20% of my paycheck without necessarily scrimping myself too much. That was rich money habit #1 – pay yourself first.
With the savings, I had, I was able to pay my debt slowly buy surely. More than that, it gave me confidence to know that I can do it, with the proper discipline and rich money habit. When the opportunity came for me to be assigned to the US for a 6-month stint in my company, I was able to save even more and pay-off the rest of my credit card debt. That was rich money habit #2 – get out of bad debt as soon as possible!
I also started to take serious notice of the numerous calls I got from insurance agents offering life insurance. Before, I would always make up numerous excuses just to avoid talking to them. But now, I wanted to know more how I can use the different insurance products to protect myself and my family. I also started reading more on business, money, investing and personal finance. After a few years, I managed to save up for an emergency fund. That’s rich money habit #3 – Get some protection!
I’m still a long way to go from financial freedom. That is my goal. I am in the process of learning how to build passive and semi-passive income, and I am loving every minute of it.
Original article published @ Rich Money Habits Blog - http://www.akosiallan.com/building-rich-money-habits-101-my-personal-finance-story/
Rich Money Habits