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My Personal Finance System – Part 2

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Mai Le

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Last month, I pondered over the idea of writing about the various systems I have in place in my life to automate and reduce its mundanity as much as possible; since some readers seem to be interested in the practical steps of how I manage different compartments of my life. I figured I’d perhaps start with personal finance as the first topic. Depending on the audience reactions and the number of shares to this series, I’d next write about my fully-automated productivity and task management flow, or my fully-automated life errands system – and yes, automated grocery shopping is a thing. (Therefore, if you like this type of writing, please share this articles. This is a feedback for me to write what is most helpful to you).

Part 1 of this series – including the various steps and below flowchart of the different stages to get your budgeting in order – is published on eFinancialCareers here (which has gained over 17K views – thank you!)

In Part 2 of My Personal Finance system, I shall list out some tools and resources that I find helpful.

Financial Literacy

Books

You can read all of these books in three to six months without much trouble. Once going through these books, you will know pretty much everything you need to know about money; e.g. knowing how to set up your banking systems, basic investments, auto deposits, auto-pays, etc. It will help you become financially sound while only spending a 20 to 50 minute a month managing your finances.

Particularly for the UK:

Newspaper:

There are many financial focused publications out there for you to choose; to name a few: Financial Times, The Economists, Wall Street Journal, and more. Each outlet has a different style to your liking (e.g. The Economists contains in-depth analysis and often report to the story after it has fully developed; while Wall Street Journal seems to have more of a quirky sarcastic investigative journalism style). What I do to maintain the habit of reading financial news regularly is to pay for only one quality news source and stick to it. I have a love-hate but long relationship with the Financial Times, whose style of journalism I resonate the most with, over other sources. However, the 5-year relationship is mostly due to the fact I constantly forget to cancel the yearly subscription every year around summer time.

To make my money’s worth of this useful but exorbitantly expensive subscription, I actually set Financial Times as my default new tab homepage in Chrome (There are several free extensions in Chrome that help with this). In this way, I face the headlines and homepage of Financial Time whenever I create a new tab. This appears between 10 to 20 times a day at the minimum; which compels me to read a handful.

There is an argument for reading a number of sources to maintain a balanced view; to me, I exercise such practice only on some specific topics of interests. To maintain regularity of daily readings, it’s more important to have one source of quality daily financial news and stick to regularly reading it.

Cards

Curve Card

Have you ever wish to earn credit card points for transactions that require you to pay with a debit card (e.g. council tax, utility bills, rents, etc. and even cash withdrawals!) ? I’ve been using Curve. It enables you to link a credit card to the debit Curve Card, which is in itself a debit card. All the transactions (e.g. cash withdrawals, council tax, utility bills etc.) on Curve Card will then be charged to the credit card as spending and helps you earn extra credit card points on purchase you would otherwise not earn points on (e.g. This amounts to an extra 15,000-20,000 points every year for me which is equivalent to some off-peak British Airways flights to some European cities)

(Shameless plug: If you use my referral code RE68D  you’d also get a free £5 credit as well on Curve, same for me. Consider it as getting me a coffee!)

Revolut

If you have not lived under a rock for the past three years, then you may have heard of the Revolut card which achieved an insane level of growth and recently achieved the unicorn status among the European fintech start-ups. Most of the growth comes from word of mouth with the very clear value proposition for the customer: completely free foreign exchange transaction (no fee for both transaction and cash withdrawals, at mid-market rates), intuitive UX, ease of opening a virtual wallet account in multiple currencies. It will save you at least 5% of transactional fees for foreign transactions as banks often quote their rates 2-3% over the mid-market rates and add another 2-3% of foreign transaction fees on top.

Not only Revolut Personal have been a blessing, we also have a Revolut Business account which instantly gives us a 2-3% cost advantages over other players in the travel industry (due to the reduction of transactional cost)

Transferwise (and Transferwise Borderless)

A close competitor to Revolut is Transferwise, which I also use frequently for a different purpose. For the standard transfers, Transferwise have better coverage with a larger number of countries covered; as well as enabling larger transaction size, useful for larger, regular transfers such as overseas mortgages (whereas Revolut has a limit of between 20-40K in a year unless you provide more documents to prove sources of the fund). In addition, with a different business model to Revolut (which use IBAN/SWIFT cross-border transfer), Transferwise Borderless enables you to hold a local bank account in each country (e.g. in US, Germany, or Australia). This has been helpful for me in receiving freelancing income overseas, especially from the US in USD.

Other fun procrastinating reads

If you are procrastinating or in the toilet but still want to read something quick/interesting, Refinery29 has a series called Money Diary, which features different blog posts where they record in details how a normal person spends their hard-earned money during a seven-day period, tracking every last dollar. For me, it is an entertaining/light-hearted read to also have an educated idea of the cost of living in different cities and parts of the world, should I consider moving.

 

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Illustration by my friend Karl.

I am active on Quora – Please follow me on Quora at https://www.quora.com/profile/Le-Quynh-Mai  for more writing. 

Written by Mai Le

My name is Mai. I am originally from Vietnam. After my university years at LSE, I worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs. After a wonderful time there, I started several of my own business as well as helping others on theirs. I've always been building communities and businesses for as long as I can remember, and absolutely thrilled to see others enjoy what I've built.

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