Imagine going on a holiday and realizing you're utterly broke. Broke as in you have zero dollars in the bank. Broke as in you've wrecked up over $15,000 in debt. Broke as in having trouble sleeping every night and you're wondering how you will pay for the next incoming bills. And you were just about to head off to Japan for a 2 week vacation with your partner who has zero clue you're that broke.
That was me in Oct 2019. After a series of bad financial decisions that got me into that terrible predicament, I came back from the holiday (in one piece thankfully) and decided enough is enough. My never again moment actually happened in Japan, where I saw so many items I wanted to buy, but I knew I could never afford it. I have, thankfully, budgeted enough for the holiday and whatever I spent there in cash, but my credit cards were at their max. I was worried that the payments for the car rental and lodging in Hokkaido wouldn't go through. I would so be embarrassed if it didn't. It was my partner's birthday trip after all, and I spent a ton of money which I didn't have, to try and make it the best trip for both of us. I was absolutely miserable though.
Back from the trip, I knew that things had to change for me. I had to learn to get my finances right if I wanted to move forward in life for the both of us. My partner is like a budget genius. In our relationship, he is the saver, I am the spender. He budgets, I don't give a rat's arse about needing to budget. Or at least I used to. He considers what he wants to buy, I'm the one who whips out my credit card and swipes without thinking. He earns at least double of what I do and manages his finances well. I don't earn much, and I got myself into debt. We had money fights once in a while. Oh you know, because he earns more than me, he should buy this and that for me. Yah, that's how selfish and very spoilt I was. Thankfully he is wiser and smacks me into reality from time to time.
After the Japan trip, after my never again moment, I devised my own budget to get myself out of debt and start saving. I was very confident about my plan. Maybe a little too confident. I told my partner I was going to save $70,000 in a year. He looked at me wide-eyed and asked how was I going to achieve that when I don't even earn close to that in a year. So I was a little too optimistic about my own finances. Bite me.
Nonetheless, I started working on my plan. I started cutting down my expenditure. I looked through all my bills, which I usually never bothered to, and started terminating services which I don't require any more. I changed my mobile plan, which helped me save $100/month. I stopped a couple of subscription services which saved me another $100/month. I stopped using my credit cards unnecessarily. In fact, I keep one credit card at home now to prevent myself from swiping. I'll terminate that card soon.
Instead of eating protein bars which cost $2/bar, I've resorted to eating Snickers bought from the Value Store at 50 cents per bar. Instead of spending $12 at Daily Cuts, I eat at the food court cai png store and limit my spending to $4.50. Though once in a while I splurge at the cai png store and order up to $6. Still half of what I'd pay at Daily Cut. And then there's lesser visits to Starbucks, eating at fast food and fewer tubs of ice cream. All these little sacrifices added up. I started paying off my bills at a much faster rate.
I had a plan. It was all laid out that I would finish paying off my debt earlier in the year. Then Covid hit and all my plans had to change. I was out of work for almost 3 months. I got a pay cut. Though I was paid my basic salary, it was enough to protect my four walls, pay the minimum on my bills and put food on the table. I was thankful to find part time work during the 3 months at Cold Storage to supplement my income. That meant I was able to throw more money into my bills to keep things going. I was going to do whatever I can to survive. Then my parents got retrenched from their jobs, which made things a little more complicated. Slowed my progress dramatically, but I was still able to trudge on.
Now that it's Oct 2020, I'm debt free. Work has resumed for 3 months and salary is actually up from pre-Covid due to me teaching more classes. I've paid off all my debt and am currently growing my emergency fund. I don't have the $70,000 that I declared to my partner, but I do have $7,000 in my bank account. Still better than the $0 I saw a year ago. I'm still learning to work on my finances, and I'm sure my plan to grow my wealth will allow me to retire peacefully when the time comes. I sleep better now knowing my needs are taken care of. I am debt free, and that makes me feel invincible.