Tag Archives: studying

Embarking on a trip to financial independence

 One skill that we should all master in life is “How to manage our finances”. This is not an easy skill to learn, however, it is necessary. Although I did make some mistakes in regards to money, there is always a room for self-improvement and self-advancement. And, if this Covid19 pandemic taught me anything that is how to be careful with money.

Learning how to spend, save, invest and make money is invaluable and helps you to live debt and stress-free life. I don’t suggest that you should be tightwad, however, choose your battles smart. Although I still have a long way to go, below I will share my experience on what I do to cut on my expenses and increase my savings.

Less is more. Don’t be a spend-thrifter. Don’t waste your money and time on buying the things you don’t need or to impress people you don’t like. Nobody needs twenty pairs of shoes or a full wardrobe of clothes they don’t even wear. Nobody needs tons of pairs of sunglasses, watches and bags. Nobody needs a big expensive car if they can’t afford to maintain it. Don’t waste your hard-earned money in expensive restaurants, cinemas, clubs or luxury resorts. If you can’t control yourself try to figure out what triggers you to buy things you don’t need and what you can do to stop this. Buying things would bring you short term pleasure, but bigger pleasure would come from knowing that your bank account is getting bolder each month. To summarize, think before you spend.

Reconcile your credit card. When I just moved to Dubai I got my first credit card. My salary didn’t meet my expectations so I didn’t have enough money to pay the rent check. As I didn’t know any other way how to get money fast I opted for credit card cash advance with 18 instalments (literally the worst thing you can do with a credit card). Once you enter this vicious circle your debts just keep accumulating and as the time goes by it gets worst. Soon after, I applied for a second credit card with an even higher limit. As I didn’t have lots of understanding about credit card charges I kept purchasing things through instalments and after 3 months my monthly payment for my credit cards reached half of my salary. About that time my company organized a finance workshop and I was advised to reconcile the card with a personal loan. The idea was to close my credit card with a loan so I can increase my monthly cash-flow and at the same time buy a car. And yes, my financial situation did improve after CC reconciliation.

Track where your money goes. The best way to track your money is through an excel sheet or mobile application. Try to keep consistent for at least 3 months and you will get an idea where your money goes. How much you spend on rent, on utilities, on entertainment, food, debts, gas, etc. Tracking your expenses can help you to decide what expenses you can cut down in your daily life and that money you can add on your saving account instead.

Educate yourself. To be honest I find it very difficult to focus and understand the markets, funds, investments, stocks, ETFs and crypto market. However, I am aware that I need to learn and understand these terms and better sooner than later. If you not sure where to start, check if you have any friends who are investing money and can give you a head start. After you gather some basic information start reading the books about money, investments and savings, watch youtube videos, follow inspiring people who did it already and spend time educating yourself. Probably, the time you spent on this will pay you off later and you will be glad that you started early.

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Top 5 advice to young people

Today, there are so many ways to improve your skills and knowledge. In the following post, I would like to highlight my top 5 advice to young people.

1. Learn some other language, preferably English. Why? Because English will open you many doors to travelling, studying and working. Because today it is it embarrassing to say that you don’t know this language. Thankfully, I had a chance to study English in elementary and high school so I had a good background. At the university, we didn’t have it so I decided to do an English course after the lectures. Later, I started meeting people through Couchsurfing network so I had a chance to work on my communication skills. Finally, after I went to work onboard the cruise line I had a chance to actively use it every day and to improve it.

Currently, I am also studying the Spanish language through Duolingo application. Duolingo is my favourite application for studying languages and it doesn’t require lots of time. You can set up an application to 15 minutes each day or longer. If you spend lots of time commuting you can listen to Spanish podcasts or you can read simple Spanish books. If you have more suggestions on how to learn other languages please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

2. Learn Excel and other MS Office programs. It doesn’t matter what kind of job you will do tomorrow, knowing how to use Excel will probably be useful to you. You can use it to prepare different reports, to sort and filter data, to calculate different formulas and financial analysis, to prepare charts and tables. You can also use it for calendars and schedules, for inventory, goal tasks and for the mailing list. So far I had so many different jobs and in most of them, I had to use excel on a daily basis. If you want to get skills to work as a financial analyst you can try the course on Udemy.

3. Volunteer. There is nothing you can compare with the feeling that you helped somebody or made their life easier or better in a certain way. There are so many organizations where you can volunteer and it won’t take lots of your time. You can volunteer with children, with elders, with food and clothes donations, for environment protection or something similar to your interest. Of course, you can also volunteer to help yourself as well. There is nothing wrong if you wish to learn something new or to develop your network further. I used to volunteer for the Feminist Organization in Bosnia which opened me the doors to a Peace Camp. At the Peace Camp, I met a girl who told me about the project called “Europen Rails of Peace” where I applied and was chosen to represent my country. During my studies, I did an internship in a PR agency and I participated in the project called “Women in Politics” where I met some pretty amazing and successful women. Recently, I was chosen to volunteer for Expo 2020 held in Dubai, however, due to Covid19 Expo was postponed to 2021.

4. This could be very easily the most important thing you need to master – Finances. If you master this while you are young, your life will be much easier later. Unfortunately, the schools don’t teach us how to manage our money, how to invest and how to save. Considering that I also made a few mistakes which I am still paying off, a friend offered to make me a financial plan and she changed the way I approach money. There are many things that we can do. Firstly, stop spending money on things like clothes, beauty treatments, the newest phone models, cars, cigarettes, alcohol, clubs, cinemas and material things that are just making more clutter around you and on your bank account. Before you buy something to think very well do you really need it or you just want it (usually it is the second one). And if you decide that you need it and want to buy it try to stick to the following saying: “Buy less, choose well, make it last“. Secondly, read books, listen to podcasts and watch videos about investing money and passive income. If you have some hobby or talent try to monetize it. You can also sell photographs, templates, or if you have IT skills you can make an application or work as a freelance. You can also teach the English language online. Currently, I am following Gillian Perkins youtube channel about finances, investments, entrepreneurship and start-ups. We can’t all be businessman buts we can all learn how to manage money, instead of letting money manage us.

5. Think Positively. If you don’t think positively, you will always blame others for your shortcomings and instead of solutions, you will see problems, and instead of thinking why you can or should do something you will think why you can’t do that. Try to stay away from the victim or “I can’t do that” mentality. There are lots of bad things out there, but there are many beautiful as well. Of course, there will be times when we will have lots of problems, stress, family deaths or diseases, however, it is important to understand that is simply Life. Don’t let negative emotions overwhelm you, because you will create a chain of negativity and you will chase away half of your friends as nobody likes emotional vampires.

What advice would you share with young people? Share in the comments.