It’s been 5 months since the #SAVVYUPTOGETHER squad met up for the first time. After revealing their respective pairings – each participant-financial expert duo was able to talk about what goals they want to achieve.
In the last 5 months, we have entrusted the participants to catch up regularly with their chosen financial experts to ensure that they are working towards their financial goals. We checked up on them to see their progress.
Freelance designer, Doralin Kelly, travels frequently, be it for business or pleasure. She shares the same wanderlust with her financial partner, Lionel, the man behind cheerfulegg.com. Together, they are working towards ensuring that Doralin is saving more than she spends!
The New Savvy: It’s been 5 months since our first meet-up, what changes have you made to your finances to achieve your goal?
Doralin: The biggest change was the structure (which I requested specifically and desperately needed help with). Lionel was incredibly reliable in getting me set up with a savings structure or as he calls it “a conscious spending system” that was as hands-off as possible but still consistent. In a nutshell, I’ve set up automatic transfers on a monthly basis that are categorized according to my savings goals and spending habits (i.e Travel, General Savings, Shopping, Investment).
This simple structure has given me the ability to plan my spending better than I did before (when I was spending on whatever and whenever). It also helped me spend in a guilt-free way within my selected categories because I had already set that money aside. This also allowed me to move forward towards my next goal of investing.
The New Savvy: How often do you talk to Lionel and what advice has he given you?
Doralin: We’ve met up several times to go through the savings structure and the plan for investment. Lionel is the ideal financial advisor for me because he’s an avid traveler as well and doesn’t like complex/rigid planning or anything too hands-on which is basically perfect for a ‘beginner’ like myself.
Lionel wrote out an amazing and comprehensive action plan with my goals and step by step breakdowns on everything from how to set up automating my savings to the advantages of long-term passive investment. This was really valuable as it’s been my North Star for achieving my goals during this journey.
The New Savvy: What has been the hardest thing to do in your #SUT journey?
Doralin: I think sticking to the savings goals and setting budgets has been difficult for me since I’m used to spending on a whim especially. Now that I’m setting aside a specific amount of money on a monthly basis it definitely keeps my spending check (even though sometimes I may extend the travel budget to cater for an additional trip!)
The New Savvy: Is there any financial habit that you had to give up/ develop further?
Doralin: I think discipline and really learning to stick to a budget will be a habit that I need to develop further. I also need to learn how to better keep track of my spending habits like keeping track of how much I spend in cash/credit when I’m traveling and on the move.
I’m working on giving up the habit of spending on a whim. So far my financial motto has been “Treat yo self” and that definitely needs to change to “Treat yo self sometimes within reason”.
The New Savvy: Have you gained new financial knowledge? If yes, can you share it with us?
Doralin: I think my biggest lesson so far is that financial planning doesn’t have to be ‘scary’ or complex. Coming into this I was honestly a little intimidated by the idea of learning how to manage my money better simply because I had no idea where to start and I thought it would be really difficult and tedious.
Lionel’s advice has been simple but really effective. Others may prefer a more detailed financial plan, but for me, all I needed was structure so that I could know exactly what I was spending on and manage those amounts as well as decide what I should be spending on instead (like investing).
I think if you start small and simple it’s easy to get into it and gradually “level up” once you’re comfortable enough.
The New Savvy: What do you think of your progress so far? What are you most proud of?
Doralin: I’m pretty happy with my progress, I still think I could use more discipline when it comes to sticking to budgets and savings goals but I think that will come with time and repeatedly building a good habit.
I’m most proud of just showing up and getting started. They say that’s half the battle right?
The New Savvy: What are you least proud of?
Doralin: Definitely my past spending habits. Looking back I probably wasted a lot of money on things I didn’t need. But since looking back won’t get me anywhere, I say ONWARDS!
The New Savvy: What do you want to achieve in the last few months? What do you intend to focus on?
Doralin: Now that I’ve got my savings goals set up I’d like to focus on investing some of the money I’ve saved. It’s not a large amount but it’s a good place to start.
The New Savvy: Being a freelancer, how has Lionel advised you to manage your financial plan?
Doralin: Since I own my own company, I pay myself a monthly salary to keep things simple so it’s been fairly straightforward to build a financial plan around that as if I had a full-time job. It might have been trickier 5-6 years ago when I didn’t have a stable income as I was first starting out as a freelancer. Thankfully that’s not the case anymore, considering I have 3 dogs to feed….
The New Savvy: Which investments are you looking at at the moment?
Doralin: As recommended by Lionel, I’m looking into passive investing like robo-advisors (e.g StashAway) and STIs (e.g Blue Chip) which are basically automated and geared towards accumulating wealth over a longer period of time VS high-risk high reward.
My next chat with Lionel will be choosing the best fit for me and getting started! I’ll be able to come back with more on my investing experience at the end of the year.
The New Savvy: Have you ever personally mentored someone with regards to their financial goals?
If yes, how has the #SavvyUpTogether journey been different than the rest?
Lionel: Yes – I’ve mentored family members to help them set up a spending system and start investing.
#SavvyUpTogether is pretty similar, although a little more structured in terms of checking in every quarter and actually sitting down to list out those quantifiable goals on paper. In general, that’s a good approach especially for accountability, and you can also look back and see whether you were reasonable at setting those goals.
The New Savvy: What do you think of Doralin’s goals? Are they achievable in the given timeframe?
Lionel: Doralin’s goals were to:
- Hit a certain savings target by 30 Nov 2018
- Set up a Conscious Spending System to help her track where her money goes every month
- Invest a certain amount over the long-term by 30 Nov 2018
(numbers removed for her privacy!)
They are definitely achievable in the given timeframe since my style is to set up a simple, workable system that doesn’t take up much time. Setting it up at the start takes a bit of effort, but if you set it up right it’s designed to be easy to stick to over the long run.
In that regard, Doralin has been fantastic at following up on all the steps I’ve given her. Within 2 months of meeting, she actually got the entire system up and running which laid the groundwork for her to automatically achieve Goals number 1 and 2.
Personally, I thought this was super impressive. As a blogger, I have many people reading my blog for advice but very rarely do people actually follow-through on it. So it was refreshing to work with someone who took action on the advice and saw results.
The New Savvy: What advice have you given her so far?
Lionel: I gave her three bits of advice so far:
- Set up automatic transfers into a separate savings account.
- Set up separate sub-savings accounts for her biggest spending categories: Travel and Shopping. Automatically arrange to have money deposited into these sub-savings accounts every month, and track her spending using credit card statements.
- Get started at investing using a robo-advisor
The New Savvy: How often do you check up with Doralin and how do you do so?
Lionel: I check up with her every quarter to ensure that she’s following through her habits!
The New Savvy: From our first meet-up in February til’ now, what biggest change have you observed in Doralin’s financial habits?
Lionel: She’s already pretty self-aware of her own strengths and weakness with regards to her psychology. But with the help of the systems, it’s helped her become more conscious about exactly how much she’s spending in each category. Being able to quantify her budget and the amount she spent, makes it very clear about how she can cut costs on things that matter less, and spend more on things that she loves.
She’s also become a lot more open to investing and financial planning, having realized that it can actually be really simple and not daunting at all. She’s genuinely excited about being able to improve her finances over the long run.
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