Monday, May 20, 2024

Personal Finance Fails (and How to Fix Them) | BankBazaar


Let’s face it, talking about money isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. We all dream of financial freedom, but the road there can be paved with some pretty epic stumbles. From the infamous “bottomless cocktail brunch” every Sunday that mysteriously drained your savings account to the “surely-I’ll-win-the-lottery” mentality, personal finance fails are a universal experience. But hey, the good news is that we can learn from (and maybe laugh at!) our mistakes. 

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Let’s be real. When it comes to personal finance, most of us are just figuring it out. We’re bombarded with the pressure to get that swanky new phone to capture those envy-inducing vacation spots that flood our Instagram feeds (after all, aren’t influencers just regular people like us? *Insert eye roll*). Not to forget having to constantly dodge the relentless Shaadi ka pressure from every meddling aunty or uncle we come across! But amidst all the chai breaks at work and endless social gatherings, where does financial planning even fit in? Well, for yours truly, it came after a series of epic fails that would make my mum clutch her pearls and my dad unleash a series of financial wisdom proverbs. 

I remember the time I maxed out my Credit Card buying that “designer” lehenga for my best friend’s Shaadi!  Yeah, turns out “designer” just meant a hefty price tag and several months of instant noodle dinners. Lesson learned: There’s a difference between looking good and looking broke.  

As you navigate through the twists and turns of societal expectations, you might find yourself reaching for that Credit Card a little too often, chasing after that elusive “Desi Dream” of success and status. But beware! This rollercoaster of financial frenzy can quickly turn into a wild ride of debt accumulation and budget breakdowns.  

Before I became a reformed budgeting champion (okay, maybe champion is a strong word…), I used to be a master of impulse purchases. Remember that impulse buy of gourmet ingredients for a fancy recipe, even though your pantry was already stocked with perfectly good essentials for everyday cooking? Yep, that was me. My bank account wept. There was also the time I convinced myself a weekend getaway to a luxurious (read: expensive) resort was a great idea – until the Credit Card bill arrived. Let’s just say instant noodles became my best friend for the next month. 

Additional Reading: Confessions Of A Shopaholic | How To Curb Your Spending Habits 

We all know a Sharma uncle whose kids seem to have everything – fancy cars, foreign education, the whole shebang. Trying to keep up with their “perfect” lives almost made me contemplate embarking on a financially reckless trip to Europe (because apparently, that’s the ultimate flex). Thankfully, I realised happiness isn’t measured in Instagram stories.  

We’ve all been there. That colleague who seems to have a brand-new car every year, or the friend whose social media is a constant stream of #blessed vacation photos. It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap and convince yourself you need those same things to be happy. But here’s the secret: their seemingly perfect lives are often a carefully curated facade. Meanwhile, you’re drowning in debt trying to keep up. 

All right, all right, enough with the cringe-worthy confessions. Now let’s talk about how to turn those financial fails into wins. Here are some tips to get you started: 

Embrace the Budget: Budgeting doesn’t have to be a boring chore. There are tons of free apps and resources to make it fun and user-friendly. Track your income and expenses for a month to see where your money is actually going. You’ll be surprised when you cut back. 

Prioritise Needs vs. Wants: That fancy gadget might look tempting, but ask yourself: is it a need or a want? Learn to differentiate between the two and prioritise your spending accordingly. 

Debt Snowball or Avalanche? Choose Your Weapon: If you’re struggling with debt, there are strategies to help you conquer it. The debt snowball method involves paying off those small debts first to gain momentum. The debt avalanche method focuses on paying off the debts with the highest interest rates first to save money in the long run. Choose the approach that best fits your situation and financial goals. 

Check your Credit Score: It is essential for understanding your financial health and creditworthiness. It allows you to monitor changes, detect errors or fraudulent activity early and take corrective action. A good Credit Score increases your chances of loan approval and may qualify you for better terms and lower interest rates.  

Additional Reading: The Three-Digit Summary Of Financial Wellness 

Invest in Your Future: Even if it’s just a small amount each month, start investing for your future. Talk to a financial advisor about options that align with your risk tolerance and goals. Remember, time is your biggest asset when it comes to investing – the sooner you start, the better. 

Additional Reading: Investing 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Building Wealth 

Automate Your Finances: Set up automatic transfers to your savings bank account and for managing bill payments. This way, you’ll never miss a payment (and avoid those pesky late fees) and ensure you’re consistently saving towards your goals. 

Look, financial blunders happen. The key is to acknowledge them, learn from them and develop healthy financial habits. Don’t be afraid to seek advice from a financial advisor or talk to your parents (because let’s face it, they probably have some wise words from their own financial struggles!). 

 

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