Recently, I took a trip down memory lane and found my past savings passbooks. I browsed all my passbooks (which also comes with an ATM) from the past up to the present. I have four passbooks all in all, starting 2009 when I got my first job.

In the first two, I noticed the numbers go up during paydays then dwindle down to just the maintaining balance. This pattern went on for two passbooks. I bought tons of books (which I haven’t finished reading until now), booked trips one after the other, and swiped my ATM for clothes I could not wear on a regular day. And yes, I dined out too often.

I was on a spending frenzy. I kept telling myself then that I deserve to spend my hard earned money on things that would make me happy because, as the saying goes, you only live once. But truth be told, it was an unhealthy spending cycle and I was too embarrassed to admit it even to myself.

It was not until late 2012 that the numbers on my passbook started to go up and ceased to dwindle. The numbers no longer dropped to the bank’s maintaining balance. My savings account went full swing and not a single debit was made.

How did that happen?

During a fateful morning of general cleaning, I unearthed a notebook I had in college where I wrote my bucket list, filled with goals such as drive my own car, buy a condo unit, and travel to New Zealand for the Hobbit Houses.

Images of my dreams flashed before my eyes. Looking back, I can’t help but feel sorry for the hapless girl who had dreams that are almost close to impossible. I can’t even get past the maintaining balance of a bank, how on earth can I buy a car?

I started to ask myself: Was I just going to leave this bucket list unchecked? Whatever happened to living life to the fullest? I wouldn’t want my dreams to be just that – dreams. So I resolved to myself to make my dreams a reality because, as the saying goes, you only live once. But in order to do that, I HAVE TO PLAN.

With the mindset to prepare and work for my dreams, I slowly started to take these steps to brighten up my finances. Let me share them with you:

  1. Plan – Create a spending and saving plan, with a timeframe. Write down your goals and when you want them to happen, then look for ways on how you can achieve them.
  2. Research – Read up or ask your friends and relatives about financial instruments. You can attend seminars, visit personal finance sites, or even consult a financial advisor.
  3. Budget - When it comes to budgeting, I use the 50-30-20 formula, where I allot 50% of my monthly income to living expenses, 30% to recreation and wants, and 20% to savings.
  4. Save –It doesn’t matter if you start small, what’s important is that you commit to save regularly. Make saving a habit, and it will take you closer to achieving your goals.
  5. Invest – As with saving, it is also important to make your money grow. We work hard every day to earn money, but did you know that your money can work harder for you? Invest in financial instruments such as mutual funds, life insurance, or even stocks to help you fund your dreams.

Now, I can confidently say that I am well on my way to achieving the things on my bucket list. All it took was the decision to start. Because #PYOLO - Plan, You Only Live Once.

How about you, what’s your #PYOLO story?

Image used under Creative Commons from Fahim Fadz

Mika Amador Mika Amador

Mika Amador

Mika is a writer by heart, a digital marketer by profession, a wellness enthusiast by belief, and a sketcher in progress. She is part of the Sun Life’s Digital Marketing and Brighter Life Team. Follow her adventures through her IG @mikaelaamador.