When I started this blog last year, I had three financial goals for 2015: 1) to save $10,000 for a house deposit fund, 2) to invest $10,000 in shares and 3) to increase my net worth to $50,000. I did well with 1 and 3 but tanked on 2 because I was a noob investor and was too scared to invest regularly.
I was too focused on achieving my goals that I hardly wanted to spend money. My stress levels towards the end of the year went up (because, money + family issues), that I even refused to make a December update because I honestly had enough of it.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
Balance, specifically the lack thereof. That’s where I failed. I made a plan of saving money and increasing wealth without considering other aspects of my life such as studies, special occasions, travel, fun, etc. I committed to put all my extra money (net pay minus monthly expenses) to my financial goals. There was no other fund for extra spending. Spending guilt eventually developed. I was saving money and was on track to achieve my financial goals but I was also gradually feeling burnt out. Saving was no longer fun and instead of looking forward to it, I dreaded it and wished from then on that I could reach my financial goal sooner so I could move on and start spending my money again.
Our trip to Tasmania at the end of last year was an eye-opener for me. I realised how much I value travel and how much it helps me regroup, especially during stressful times. I knew right then that I want it to be a part of my financial map in 2016 and that I need it to be a part of it so I could keep my sanity. I spent a huge chunk of January evaluating how 2015 went for me, financially and otherwise and used the result of my reflections to write how I want my 2016 to be.
NEW YEAR, NEW GOAL
In February, I finalised my 2016 financial goal of saving 50% of my net pay. Unlike other bloggers, I’m not putting the entire 50% into retirement fund and instead, I subdivided it into subcategories. On top of building wealth (investing in shares) and saving for a house deposit, I also created funds for things that most to me: 1) fun and travel, 2) education (CPD), and 3) charity. I collectively call these 3 categories my Financial Sanity Fund.
FINANCIAL SANITY FUND
I set up this fund to work like an emergency fund, only it is for non-emergency spending but for planned spending. I don’t know exactly when I will spend the monies in the fund but I know that I eventually will. Like an emergency fund, this fund helps me sleep better at night, knowing I can still live the life I want to now while building a better one for my future.
So far, I can say that this strategy works very well for me and has helped me reduce, if not eliminate, spending guilt.
Grandma suddenly decided she wants us to go see her in Sydney? l have funds for that!
Enjoyed level 1 Mandarin and wants to attend at least until level 3? I also have funds for that!
Want to help make the world a better place? I certainly have funds for that!
Similar to an emergency fund, I set a limit to both travel and education funds so I can redirect my savings to other categories once the limits are reached. My education fund will probably reach its cap in September or October, depending on my savings rate. When this happens, I will stop funneling savings to it this year and start again in January 2017. I also review my allocation every now and then to match my current needs and plans. At the moment, I’ve changed the allocation to this:
I’ve never been as relaxed with money as I am now. This strategy has definitely helped me become more at ease with spending, not only with the things I’ve mentioned above but also for miscellaneous and unplanned expenses. I’m enjoying working on my finances again and no longer see it as a chore. Borrowing ONL’s words: I think I finally found the balance with my small stoke and big stoke. This certainly makes money things easier and funner for me.
LET’S HEAR YOUR STORY
Did you suffer from financial burn out when you first started your personal financial journey, too? What were the changes you had to make? Or were you one of the wise ones who knew from day one balance is your friend? I’d love to hear your stories!