In a little more than a year, I will (hopefully) have my first full-time job. In a little more than a year, I will be earning my very first ‘adult’ paycheck. The realization hit me when I came back to Malaysia, after a long 3-month summer holiday in my native island, Mauritius. I was done with half of my degree, and unless I was given a full scholarship to pursue further studies after my Bachelor, I would be entering the workforce very soon. And believe me, time flies.
At that moment, I was also a very religious fan of The Financial Diet, first as a YouTube channel, produced by my favourite nerd vloggers, the Vlogbrothers, and soon discovered that they had an amazing blog, with articles to literally STALK for and with a beautiful design. As someone who has never been financially educated and who is just barely starting out living as an adult, the videos and articles were very enlightening and helpful.
I realized that I was not even ever told how to save money, because first of all I was never given a fixed allowance and instead I was always given the amount I needed to use, not more. (even in university, the amount used to vary depending on my necessary spending and also because of the fluctuating foreign currencies, although it has become more and more stable recently, almost close to a kind of salary). Thankfully, living abroad made me more aware of the world of money and when the semester started I decided to put a certain amount of my (despite being minimal and fluctuating) allowance aside every month.
So, as soon as the semester started in March, I opened a second savings account, aside from the one I am currently using for my daily expenses. Being an international student, I had to go through some paperwork but all is good in the end. I even receive a small interest at the end of each month. Yes, do your research and choose wisely. Good things come to those who do that. Indeed, it took me more than a year as an international student to realize that I could actually already start saving, however big or small my allowance was. All it takes is a good budget and motivation. Goals. I can’t believe how much money I could have had now, if I had started saving from my first month of being in Malaysia. Even saving $50 a month is a big difference in the long run.
Financially goals can be big or small: you could be saving for a new laptop, for that dream trip, for a house, a car… My primary saving goal is to build an emergency fund.
Having an emergency fund, even before graduating and getting my first job, is something crucial I learned in The Financial Diet. An emergency fund is simply a fund pool of 3-6 months of your living expenses put aside, untouchable except for… you guessed it, an emergency, like losing your job or moving to a new place or the medical/health-related ones, of course. This is the primary thing a young adult should save for.
However I also have a big underlying motivation behind that financial goal. The main reason I have been urging myself to be financially literate way before I graduate is the fact that I don’t want to go back home after completing my degree. You see, having spent 3 months back home made me think A LOT about my future, especially because your family keeps on asking about it. And I realized that I have built a life here in Malaysia. All my friends, my community, are all here. Most of my other friends from secondary school are also studying in other countries, making their own lives. Only my family remains at home and frankly, I don’t really miss them, because technology!
On the other hand, abroad, I built my own independence and I LOVE it, except when I fall terribly sick, which is around once a year. Living on my own has been incredibly more calming that living with 4 other people. Somehow, I feel in control of my life. Yes, I’m one of the few that actually enjoy growing up despite the hardships.
Therefore, being financially conscious and having money aside will greatly help me in keeping up with my independent life after my degree. I’m not saying that I want to stay in Malaysia forever; in fact, I would love to work and live in other countries as well, and another financial goal of mine is to have enough to travel once a year, which I’ll start saving for after my emergency fund is completed. In any case, Malaysia was my kickstarter in exploring the world and living on my own. And I want to keep doing that.
With that said, let me end this post with the only advice I can give, which is of course to SAVE.
Be financially aware 🙂
An Evil Nymph.