3 Ways to Get Your Money on Track for 2021

Cover photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Nowhere on the planet has been untouched by coronavirus during the 2020 pandemic. Not only has this had a massive impact on public health but mental issues, family instability, and financial uncertainty have befallen many people.

Almost two million people have died because of COVID-19 and due to the aggressive nature of the virus, many countries worldwide have imposed strict lockdown measures. This has caused many people to lose jobs and become financially broken.

Some have been hit harder than others, but if you are lucky enough to still have some semblance of an income, there are some measures you can take to make your money go further in the new year: 

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Of human luxuries.

I have received criticism for my tastes. When people see the brand of my pen, my clothes, my shoes, or my bags, I have been called frivolous, with matching raised eyebrows. They would often say stuff like “Ikaw na. Ikaw na naka Marc Jacobs” (a common Filipino phrase reserved for people who brag) when they see my new lunch bag. What’s irritating is that I never even brag!
Sure, I have designer stuff. It’s something my family invests in, but not regularly. Because of the high price of luxury goods, my family can only afford a few items a year.
Many people buy Gucci for the sake of buying Gucci. They would buy monogrammed items (Louis Vuitton, Fendi) to show off, but to me, buying Prada or Lanvin is not for effect. Whenever people complain to me about spending an arm and a leg for a bag, I answer that I buy them for the quality. As Oscar Wilde once said, I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best. Things are usually expensive because they are crafted carefully with the best materials. But honestly, I get uncomfortable talking about these things because I don’t like to talk about the money I have and spend.
I find it frustrating how people criticize my spending habits when theirs are just as questionable. I buy singular items that lasts a lifetime and looks glamorous. They spend tons of money on food, books, cab fare, or tons of clothes that when you add up is a dress from Valentino. To each his own. It just so happens that I like quality stuff. And if you say something about my Marc Jacobs bag again, I swear I’ll slap you across the face with it.

Russian roulette is not the same without a gun

I can still remember the first time I went to the casino. I don’t remember when it was (I’m bad with dates), but I can still remember the way I felt. I was nervous because they might not let me in, and I was excited at the thought of entering a casino. I’ve only seen them in movies and I was thrilled to be part of the glamour. I wanted to wear a suit but I went straight from the mall so it was out of the question.

I went to Club Tropicana, the joint across SM Southmall with two of my friends. When I went in, I was dazzled by the colors and lights of the slot machines. It wasn’t as noisy as I thought it would be, or as glamorous. I expected men in tuxedos and women in long and expensive gowns. One of the things that worried me was the fact that I was only in a polo shirt and sneakers, but it turned out I was more dressed up than many of them. All the games were run by machines (even the roulette and baccarat), which at first disappointed me. I wanted to have a real casino experience complete with dealers and women who blow on your dice but I realized a machine is easier and more organized.
I played the roulette. B insisted I try the slots but I never enjoyed it. He kept telling me that’s where the money is but I find the slots dull. There’s nothing exciting about repeatedly pressing buttons and looking at patterns I don’t understand. I like the roulette because there’s the thrill of not knowing where to bet and praying to God that you’ll win as you watch the ball spin around the wheel. It requires thought (if thoughts are required at a game of chance – I honestly don’t believe in the probability theories of statistics), and the game can get very tense. And besides, I’m not there for the money. I’m there for the fun.
And I had fun. It’s nice to know that you can double your money, which I did on my first night, by betting on the right numbers at the right time. I was so happy that I wanted to come back. I mean, I liked the idea of just sitting there, drinking free Milo (which I think gave my age away), talking to my friends while I earned money. It was a great night.
Two nights later, I was back with my friend. It was also her first time the other night so we were both excited to win big. Perhaps it was my win, but I was convinced that I would win that night, too. I was thinking about the other gamblers who seemed so tense, who were twitching in their seats and carefully watching the roulette spin. It was funny, but I also felt bad, because it defeats the purpose of going to the casino. Why would you go to a place where you’re going to end up a nervous wreck? I swear, some of the people were so nervous that they could have a heart attack on the spot.
That night, I lost half the money I put in. And I found myself tense, twitching in my seat and carefully watching the roulette spin. And then it hit me. I was now one of them. I could now empathize with the gamblers I used to make fun of. At that point, it’s not for the fun anymore. It was for the money. I realized that the casino is only fun if you’re winning. When you’re not, you become this crazy hell-bent person out to redeem what you have lost. It was a scary thought.
Luckily, I’m a stingy person. I’m so cheap, that I spend about half an hour deciding if a purchase is worth the money, even if it’s just a notebook or a pen. I’m not like most gamblers who put in thousands of pesos on something so unpredictable. My maximum bet per night is P200 and I still feel decadent.
I was back at the casino last night. We brought another friend, who had her first time. I lost two-thirds of the money I put in, but when I cashed out my last hundred, I still felt like a winner. It’s not because I was able to leave with a portion of my original money or that I could say that I still “won” something, but it’s because I realized I still know my limit, and that I’m sane enough to know when to back out of a deal.

I’m selling my babies because I have no money

I am drained. Having a clearance sale is tiring work, even if I’m doing it online. I just sat in one place the whole day, taking pictures, calculating, typing, encoding, cataloguing but I’m beat. The reason why I kept at it was the promise of money, money, money.

This summer was a total bore. I kept telling myself that it’s better that I spend most of the time at home so I could recharge my batteries when school starts again, but I realized I’ve made the wrong choice. I took a break from everything: academics, the paper (not so much the paper), going out, and partying. I figured, if I was going to take a break, I might as well go overdrive and cut back on all things. I still went out but I was mainly at home.

Looking back, I realized it wasn’t about choices because I didn’t have any. It was really because I had no money. My mom still gave me, but it didn’t compare to having a steady allowance when there were classes. I have no money in the bank because I spent a whopping P11,000 (don’t ask) on my birthday last February, and my wallet? What wallet?

So now I’m reduced to this. Having a “clearance sale”, which is just a fancy way of saying I’m selling my stuff so I could support my lifestyle. It’s pathetic because I’m like a credit card holder being repossessed. I’m selling my CDs, DVDs, clothes, and yes, even my books. I’m having a hard time parting with them because as a booklover, parting with my books is like parting with my heart. I agree with what my friend Victor said, they’re like my babies. But I have no choice. Here are other reasons why I’m selling my babies:

  1. I have too much of them. There are literally books everywhere. On the shelves, on the side table, under the computer, on top of the DVD player, and on the floor. My room is a pyromaniac’s fantasy. It has Danger Zone written all over it.
  2. I have a lot I haven’t read. I have this annoying habit of buying books by the bulk so my reading list drastically rises everytime I make a purchase. I once bought 17 books. Also, I tend to be impulsive. If my attention is caught even for the briefest of seconds by a title, a synopsis or a cover, I find myself heading to the cashier with a grin on my face. There have been many cases where on my way home, I find myself wondering: What was the title of the book I bought? I also buy online so I get carried away. All you do is click and ta-dah! You get a book. Aaah, technology.
  3. Because of my vast reading list (last time I checked I had 100+ and this was a year ago), I don’t have time to read the books I really want to read. I’m obligated to read the ones I bought on impulse. So it might take a few more years before I actually read Twilight. When I was in Mall of Asia the other day, there were books I really wanted to buy but couldn’t because of my unread books. I mean, besides the fact that I couldn’t afford it.

From a different perspective, being broke has been good for me. It taught me the value of money. You can’t live without it. I learned an important lesson in splurging, and I learned it the hard way. At least the whole experience has taught me to be more aware financially. Just a few days ago, I joined this group that pays to write articles. I think it’s important that I utilize what I have and market myself. I’m very passionate about writing so I decided, why not make money out of it? It’s not a lot, but at least I’d make dough. After all, it would be a terrible shame if I grow old and not use my potentials. And my possessions.