In its essense, personal finance is boring: Earn more than you spend, spend less than you earn, invest the difference. The fun part is in the details – how one saves, invests, spends, and generally optimises their money routine and finances in a way that works for them.
That last part is important, because there are many, many paths to financial freedom, not just ‘one’ way. You can tweak it, and as long as you avoid huge mistakes, you’ll get there in the end. As they say, all roads lead to Rome.
What’s part of one’s money routine
Take money routines and personal finance organisation, for example. It’s just how you plan your finances, but everyone have slightly different ways of doing it.
If this is a new concept to you, then I’m happy to show how mine looks like so you can see how one person’s personal finance organisation looks like 🙂 Below, I’ll share:
- what tools I use, and
- what I do every day, week, month, quarterly, and year
- what I do on ad-hoc and one-off basis
Take note that I am a self-employed writer with multiple sources but unpredictable income, so my money routine is designed around this. Definitely tweak if you are salaried employee with regular, predictable income.
Tools I use for my money routine
- My notebook
- My phone – installed apps from financial companies, and expense-tracking app
- Google Sheets – for tracking incomes, net worth etc (templates below)
- GDrive – for keeping everything related to my financial life nice and tidy in one place. I keep my insurance policies, receipts, etc here
What I do 1x a day
Here are some things I do once a day:
- Read The Coffee Break market summary, numbers at a glance and news roundup. I get the newsletter delivered to my email, it’s a great way to quickly know the important things that are happening locally and globally. Subscribe here for free
What I do 1x a week
Here are some things I do once a week:
- Check bank accounts – review balance and transactions (in case there are unauthorised tx)
- Pay off all credit card outstanding balances. Big fan of cashback credit cards!
- Check IPO opportunities and crypto prices – for the latter, I used to check daily (and even multiple times at that), so 1x a week is an improvement lol
- Check prices for things I need to get or pay for anyway – if it’s a good price or there’s a sale or discount, I’ll get it
What I do 1x a month
Here are some things I do once a month:
- Review monthly expenses – this is the basis of my monthly budget updates
- Review incoming incomes – send follow-up emails to clients reminding them to pay me, if needed
- Plan for upcoming purchases/expenses – If there’s a holiday, or travel, or big purchase coming up, then I NEED to plan for it. I refer to my own Listing All the Annual Expenses I Have to Make Every Year article fairly often
What I do 1x every 3 months
Here are some things I do once every 3 months:
- Review monthly commitments – check what I’m currently paying on a monthly basis, for both fixed and variable expenses. I use my notebook for this, but you can use my free 50/30/20 budget template
- Chat with my partner about his commitments. We’re pretty transparent about our finances and tell each other what we plan to buy, spend on etc
- Update net worth – I use my own template for this: How to Calculate Your Net Worth (Free Editable Template)
- Plan for the next quarter – I keep roughly 2-3 months’ worth of savings in bank account for daily expenses. If there is excess money, I transfer to investment accounts. If there is shortfall, I’ll withdraw some money from investment account.
What I do 1x a year
Here are some things I do once a year:
- Review my insurance coverage
- Tabulate annual income by year-end – essential so I can pay zakat and income tax
- Check credit score
- Put money in EPF and PRS. I do these investments to maximise tax relief. If I have a kid I’d do SSPN as well
What I do on ad-hoc (as it happens) basis
Here are some things I do whenever it happens:
- Record expenses as soon as I make them in my expense-tracking app
- Record incomes and keep invoices in Google Sheets and Drive
- Upload and keep receipts in GDrive if the expense is eligible for tax relief – info in the income tax article
- Pay bills and commitments as it comes up
- Update ingredients bought and used up in my notebook – because waste food = waste money. See the system I use to reduce food waste
- Write down pending tasks in notebook, which also doubles as my money journal – things like going to the bank, etc
What I do on one-off basis
Here are some things I do on a one-off basis:
- Set up hibah amanah for ASNB
- Nominate beneficiaries for all insurance/takaful policies
- Set up password manager. This is for digital security reasons – it keeps my passwords safe and strong. I use Bitwarden (see from 6:04 onwards in the video below)
How does your money routine looks like?
Like I said in the beginning, everyone have slightly different money routines. For example, I use apps to track my expenses – others may prefer writing it manually, use excel or even use the cash envelope method (Shopee sells really nice cash envelope sets!)
Some of you may also do some of the above tasks more frequently or less frequently than I do. For example, I hate carrying credit card balances so I do it once a week, but others may decide to do it once a month. As long as you’re not carrying a balance, you’re good.
What I do want to know though, is what else do you do that I’m not doing yet? Do share in the comments, would love to learn what else may be important 🙂