For 2020, my Ipon Challenge is a list of five exercises that will shift your money mindset in three areas: discipline, resourcefulness, and abundance. These five challenges can be seen as boring, but some are actually fun and exciting.
I’ve gotten some e-mails from other moms who want to know how to catch up with the rising cost of goods – diapers, milk, groceries, medicine, utilities all add up. As a busy mom of three kids under five, I’ve listed these simple, practical ideas that will help you make 2020 your best Ipon Challenge year yet.
If you’re the mom who has tried other Ipon Challenges before, but weren’t able to follow through for one reason or another, don’t feel guilty or discouraged.
The 2020 Ipon Challenge is as straightforward as it gets – doable exercises where we can all improve our saving skills and have more cash at the bank by the end of the year.
Ipon Challenge #1 Dream Small.. At First
The starting point for every Ipon Challenge is to know where you are financially. Everyone dreams of earning, spending, and saving big. But if you’re just starting to get your financial life in order, you have to know where you are and start small.
List down your expenses. DO NOT IGNORE THIS. Knowing is half the battle.
How can you save if you don’t know what where your money is going? Start a simple list, whether on paper or on an app, and analyze your spending patterns. I’ve started listing my expenses last year and was shocked to find out how much we spent on eating out. It was easily double of what I imagined.
After you list your income and expenses, set realistic and attainable goals that are customized to your own situation.
Small wins like saving P100 a week will help you boost your confidence and continue the habit of saving. If P100 is too easy for you, you can increase the amount to whatever is more challenging but still doable.
Don’t Compare, Keep Improving (Huwag Magkumpara)
Don’t fall for trends or compare yourself with others. Everyone is on a different page when it comes to their financial life. Keep making adjustments to your spending until you’re slowly increasing your savings.
I am in Debt (May Utang Ako)
If you’re in debt, this is the same principle. Tackle your smallest debts first to get the ball rolling. Part of winning the money game is having the discipline and self-confidence in knowing you can reach your goals, one baby step at a time.
Once you’ve accomplished your small dreams, it gets easier to have higher goals and reach those bigger dreams. Remember: fail to plan, and plan to fail. You can’t succed in the Ipon Challenge if you don’t know where your start and finish lines are.
Ipon Challenge #2 Clean Your House
This sounds like an unusual task for an Ipon Challenge, but believe it or not, it works.
When we start to declutter our home, we are also making more room for financial growth. I’ve started doing the Marie Kondo method of keeping only what sparks joy.
My house is cleaner and more organized, and I am less stressed because I don’t have to take care of so many things. My mind is clearer to think about our family goals and take action.
When you declutter, you can give away your things and be a blessing, or even sell them to make extra cash. What’s important is that you feel lighter, and more confident and energized to pursue your Ipon Challenge goals.
Everything is connected. Having a joyful home environment gives you the motivation to be more disciplined and responsible with your financial situation.
Ipon Challenge #3 Learn, Live With, Then Let Go Your Luhos
When I read other Ipon Challenges that say “Don’t buy this!” , or “Don’t do that” , I feel that this is a recipe for disaster. If you keep telling people what not to do, it makes them want to do it even more!
Example: Don’t think about an elephant.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? AN ELEPHANT.
Acknowledge your personal luhos. If you’re not sure, ask your partner what they think is your “weakness”. Sometimes our spouse or family members can see our behavior clearly and more objectively than we can.and
If there’s anything excessive in your lifestyle (like online shopping for things that will end up as kalat sa bahay), take an honest look at yourself and STOP being wasteful. If it’s eating out, scale down eating lunch out every day to three times a week, then once a week. It’s important to do this gradually if you feel you can’t quit “cold turkey” so you don’t resent the concept of saving.
Look For Alternatives
We are creatures of habit, so be patient with yourself if you can’t let go of your luho immediately. It took me a few months before I stopped going to coffee shops for a hot decaf drink. What helped me the most was finding a good brand of decaf coffee (P600 pesos for a whole jar of instant decaf coffee mix), and replacing it with my P180 cup of coffee per drnik habit.
If you’re having a hard time scaling down your luhos, present yourself with a choice: Do I want to get that P180 cup of coffee NOW (which is just empty calories and will dehydrate your beautiful skin), or do I want to have an extra Php 10,000 or Php 100,000 tucked away for a rainy day?
If you can’t really give it up, make it a prize for achieving your savings goals. If your goal is to save P2,000 every month and you’ve achieved it, go and treat yourself for a job well done!
Ipon Challenge #4 Get a Credit Card
And pay it FULL. Every month.
This is my favorite piece of advice to give because credit cards are great.
But note: credit cards are awesome only if you pay the bill in full every month. Because of the competitive environment these days, credit card companies give so many benefits to their customers.
If you’re resourceful and check regularly for promos, credit cards help you save by offering 1) discounts 2) rewards points, 3) instant rewards, 4) and even free airplane tickets! Credit cards give up to 40-50% discounts on restaurants. I’ve exchanged my credit card reward points for gadgets and appliances.
Other credit cards offer P100 gift certificates if you can spend P3,000 per transaction. I’ve even gotten free airline tickets to China, Hong Kong, and USA, just for applying for a new credit card or reaching the spending requirement.
Of course, you have to be smart! Just because you have a credit card, doesn’t mean you have license to spend. Review Ipon Challenge# 1, and just use your credit card bill for existing, necessary expenses.
Again, pay the bill in full and on time! If you can’t do both, don’t bother applying for one.
Ipon Challenge #5 Give
Give? Wala na ngang pera eh. This is another unusual piece of advice, but nothing gives me more perspective about my own financial life than when I stop worrying about money and start giving.
When I stop being self-centered and open my eyes to what the real world is like, it’s humbling to remember how blessed we are in big and small ways. Giving makes me more responsible with my budget. I am less prone to make foolish spending decisions, knowing my money can be used for a greater purpose. It helps me “get over myself” and focus on what I have instead of what I lack.
Giving also motivates me to earn and save more so that I can give again. As a bonus, when our kids see that we give and share, they will be givers and sharers too.