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New year, new spending habits |

Fashion and Beauty

New year, new spending habits

Chonx Tibajia - The Philippine Star
New year, new spending habits
"Keeping a separate account for savings increases your chances of actually saving," writes the author.
Mastercard / Photo Release

MANILA, Philippines — The start of a new year is always a good time to reassess one’s spending habits. That’s not always a pleasant conversation to have with yourself, but it reveals patterns of behavior that could be keeping you from being financially comfortable.

I started mine exactly on the first of January, still a bit woozy from partying the night before — and by partying I mean enjoying a cheese platter while watching "Bird Box." I had just read a meme that said: “If you don’t have children, your 30s is just like your 20s but with money,” which is alarming because it’s 100 percent true. My crazy 20s lifestyle, now replaced by Netflix, a seven-step skincare regimen, superfoods and KonMari, is, although healthier, just as expensive.

I took out a ledger I had made for tracking finances and started charting. Here’s what I discovered:

Keeping a separate account for savings increases your chances of actually saving. Towards the end of last year, I transformed an old payroll account into a “savings” account. This is where I go to pay myself every month.

In the past, I would just store any extra cash in a tin can behind my bookshelf, but I would always end up using the cash because it was so accessible. Having this account helps keep money for spending and money for saving separate. It’s not automated, so the idea of taking money from it after having had to make an effort to physically go to the bank to put the money in, keeps me from spending.

Going cashless for everyday transactions with Mastercard means not stressing about carrying a lot of cash. It’s safer and more secure too. Mastercard/Photo Release

Create a debit account that you can also use for online transactions, to track your monthly budget and keep spending in check. I have a deposit account linked with my Mastercard debit card that I replenish every month with my monthly budget for groceries, utilities, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses. Sometimes I put a little extra in for online shopping, or when I have to make any online bookings. This really keeps me from spending beyond my budget. Going cashless for these everyday expenses also spares me the stress of carrying a lot of cash.

In addition, it’s a safer and more secure way of going about day-to-day transactions.

When you pay with your card, the EMV chip (the metallic plate on the front of your card) generates a unique code to the retailer, preventing any hacker from accessing or cloning your card, thereby taking your transaction security level up a notch. In the blink of an eye, your transaction is completed.

Finally, the clearing and settlement phase of the process uses an additional layer of payment protection. This includes all the activities from the time that a commitment is made for the transaction to the actual movement of money from your account to the merchant’s. By the time you’re billed, your card information has passed through many checks to ensure that the amount you get charged is accurate.

SMS alerts let you keep track of your card activities, so you’ll know if it’s been used without your knowledge. Mastercard/Photo Release

Enroll in online banking. Sign up for notifications. Mind your passwords. Sometimes, while trying to fall asleep, my mind would randomly want to know how much my balance is. To avoid losing precious zzz’s over this (or any other card related questions), it helps to have online access to your account. Signing up for bank apps and notifications for your Mastercard would also keep you up-to-speed on your card’s activities. SMS notifications let you keep track of your card transactions, so you’ll know if your card was used without your knowledge.

Keep a keen eye out for any discrepancies on your transaction histories. And in the event that you lose your Mastercard, all you need to do is make a quick phone call to your issuing bank to report it. Once card is blocked, no more transactions could be made with it.

Mastercard continues to work on more technology that safeguards your electronic payments. Biometric payment authentication methods are becoming more popular in addition to your using your PIN for ATM withdrawals and signature for cashless transactions.

New Year, new resolution: Start on safer and smarter spending habits. Mastercard/Photo Release

Be vigilant. Keep your ledger up-to-date. Check on it every week.

It’s easy to fall back into old habits and forget about your ledger completely once life takes over. Don’t. Keep the ledger in a place that you always see. Log your balance, expenses and savings weekly. Seeing my own progress keeps me, not just motivated, but aware of where I am financially, and knowing is half the battle.

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