Real talk: Money matters

Let’s talk about something that makes us all supremely uncomfortable: money. If you’re anything like Becky Bloomwood (ref: confessions of a shopaholic.. such a fun book btw) you probably also pretend that credit card bill isn’t yours!

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I remember an Oprah show from years ago where O. said that if women don’t know their full financial situation, inside and out, they can only blame themselves.

Our finances as desis are always kept top secret- from fear of nazar or downright theft (both very real threats). But don’t you think we should be a little more transparent about money and budgeting sometimes? You never know if sharing your story could help somebody take stock (and control) of their own situation.

I have been earning through a full time job for about 4 years now and I’ve been terrible at managing money, ashamed to admit. My definition of ‘managing’ cash is being able to meet all living expenses but I have 0 savings. Nada! I am not scraping by (alhamdulilah), but I am also not bathing in $$.

Here are a few things that work for me and my family, they aren’t universally applicable and definitely not the only ways to keep your financial health in check, but have afforded us a comfortable, debt free life.

Don’t keep up with the Joneses

We live in the ultimate era of “keeping up with the Joneses” where Instagram influencers show off dreamy holiday destinations and their new skincare collection, everyday! (So you are telling me you tested a new product for 1 day and are confident enough to review/rate it? I digress.)

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Work hard to multiply your earnings as much as you can but don’t get caught up in the more game. It’s exhausting and is costing you your happiness, peace and satisfaction.

We started with a simple budget

We sat down and figured out a simple budget (inflow minus outflow), then stuck to it. I find that starting with our recurring living expenses (e.g. rent, groceries, fuel and utilities) makes sense and makes us feel ‘covered’, at least we are able to afford all that!

Then consider specific future expenses (e.g. rent cheque to be encashed after 6 months / school fees due in 3 months’ time) and give yourself a monthly amount to put aside for those expenses. Now don’t touch this money!

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Becoming more mindful of your finances and taking control isn’t stressful. Its empowering and transformative. I personally love to plan and organize, so money has become another thing I can spreadsheet the shit out of!

We decided who would be in charge of the finances

I was so wrong when I thought I was a spreadsheet and budgeting addict. It turns out, hubsy had excel budgets dating back to 2014 and up to 2019! I had met my match- so we decided he would be in charge of budgets.

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We make time to talk about and go through our finances once a month together so we can take stock of our cash situation. It’s a great way to get cosy, snuggle and plan for the future. Exciting! Its also surprisingly easy to overspend using credit cards!

We decided things we can and cannot compromise on

I love accountability, I love sticking to budgets and finding more ways to do so but not to the point of depriving or restricting myself from the things I really value.

E.g. our trips to Pakistan are a necessity since we both are very close to our parents, but we decided that we could cut some monthly trips but be available to support them financially and emotionally (the latter being much more important to us). We could rent in a really posh locality and drive a Porsche with our salaries but would have to reduce the money we send back home.

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It all boils down to priorities, no matter how much you earn, there will always be something you can and cannot compromise on. Always a shinier new car than yours but also always 1 more person you could help with your money. Don’t give your possessions more power than they deserve.

Understand where you’re at and what you value more in life, then take sensible steps to control your spending and take control of your money.

Until next time.. Cheers!

10 thoughts on “Real talk: Money matters

Add yours

  1. I loved reading this one. You’re point on about everything. I think changing our mindset (about comparisons with lives of others) and setting our priorities right are the most important things. At the end of the day, we could be happy with little or miserable with much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You summed it up so well and my new moto in the world of instagram is ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ so I am really not getting so bogged down looking at seemingly perfect lifestyles while my day seems like a mess!

      Like

  2. A much-needed discussion for desi families, especially women–great you’re taking lead.
    At least in middle-income families, we hardly see teenagers making their own money or elders laying groundwork for a healthy money mindset. Consequently, we don’t learn the basics of personal finance or the value of money. Combine that with the hauls and reviews saturating our social media feeds and there are spending disasters all around.
    There is a post sitting in my drafts titled personal finance 101. I can never get to finishing it. Reading this post has given me the motivation to get started. Thank you. 🙂

    Like

    1. First, thank you for getting in on this conversation! I know what you mean, to a large extent social media is pushing consumerism to new heights, which is why I consciously try not to show too many products on my insta and blog.

      Please publish your article, I’d love to see more women openly discussing their financial situation and stories!

      Like

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