I get a lot of “love” because I am a bit… uh, how should I say it… cautious about money. Most often than not, my colleagues and acquaintances will say the same thing: that I am too cautious with money.
People also take note of how I usually take note of whatever I spend in a day, be it a few coins or bills, I see to it that I save it somewhere on my phone, and by the end of the day, save it on an Excel file. I use this data to look at how much I spent on a given month, and where I spent the most for that particular month, and why. For some, seeing me do this is too much, especially when they see me write down “1 Peso for candy”. This gets everyone in stitches.
So, they call me tight fisted. In our vernacular Filipino, they call me “kuripot”. In English, stingy or parsimonious. Although, I do believe that these words are too negative. I like to describe myself as an obsessive financial self-analyst. I always have my money on my mind.
I never really paid much attention to it, until one recent meeting, they talked about me and my activities to monitor my daily expenses, and some more things that I do that they find, uh, quirky. Listed below are some of the things that they mentioned:
1. My Financial Excel File (FEF) – One particular morning, when everyone was about to go home, I stayed a little bit longer to update my FEF. I normally do this by the end of each day, if I have time. One of my colleagues happened to be walking behind me, and noticed what I was doing. Next came the barrage of questions. “Do you do that everyday?”, “for all expenses?”, “no matter how small?”. I answered “Yes” to each one.
2. My Refusal to Spend – The data that I get from my FEF leads me to be wary when I am nearing my budget limit. You see, whenever I get my pay, I take off a set amount that I determined is both sufficient and attainable for me to be able to save consistently, every month. Next, I deduct specific amounts for my monthly bills, and whatever is left, I use for my daily expenditures. This, in turn, keeps me from spending too much on a given month, and it keeps me on my toes whenever I have to shell out. One instance is our team building activity. I have been refusing this activity, however my manager said we need it to establish our team’s relationship, so I relented. However, I had to make sure that I spent lesser to accommodate the payment for the activity.
3. My Brown Bag – I never fail to bring my own food. This prevents me from eating out too much, which can be costly. Sometimes, this gets in the way of my teammates wanting to eat out as a team activity. I normally refuse politely, pointing my brown bag out as my reason. Their response usually is to make me bring my brown bag to the fast food/restaurant/whichever place they selected to eat. I never join, of course. One, because I have to microwave my food (our pantry has a microwave, free to use) which is not present in fast food/restaurants/etcetera. Two, the temptation to spend is always present when you go out. “Maybe just a drink” or “a dessert looks nice” adds up, and to me that is not part of my budget.
4. Match What I Spent – This actually made me a legend in our team. I don’t really observe traditions, even Christmas. But every year, my colleagues hold a Kris Kringle to celebrate Christmas, and I am not allowed to back out because if so, there will be an odd number of participants. I don’t really ask for too much, normally I ask for stuff that I really need. For example, office supplies. Last year, I haven’t thought of anything to ask, when I saw what my Kris Kringle was asking: an expensive T-shirt! I immediately looked for it and gasped at the price. I thought it was going to ruin my budget for December. No, it was definitely going to ruin my December budget, so I did what a normal, smart person would: ask for my Kris Kringle to give me cash, equal to what I am going to spend for my Kris Kringle. I told them too, that I will start doing this every year instead. Good plan!
I will stop at number four, since I may be able to write a whole book about this, and who knows? I might make a fortune, having people laugh at my stingy ways!
Now, let me plan on a no spend week!