How to spend money like a grownup

Art by Ross Du

We can all agree that adulthood kind of blows. Whereas our younger years were all naps and plastic toys from China, being a grown-up involves lots of sleepless nights and the realization that we can easily be replaced by someone much more hardworking in China. The anxiety is so real.

At times it’s easy to fake having it all together when it comes to standing up for ourselves against problematic classmates or dealing with pals who won’t stop dating our boyfriends. The years of schoolyard scuffles have prepared us to be boss biatches in that sense. It gets a little tougher, though, when your legit adulthood status is forced to deal with something even bigger than a bully: your bank account.

It’s an inevitable part of growing up, having to deal with stuff like that. And it’s so scary to think of what a looming responsibility it is. We can’t just think of our present selves, earning and spending on money. We have to think of the unknown number of children/dogs/cats/both that we’ll have to support in the future. We have to worry about the possibility that if a tsunami comes for us, we’ve got money to rebuild our tree house and real house. That creeping fear is never more pressing when we get approached by well-meaning salespeople at the mall who are trying to sell us a condo or are offering a credit card — no annual fees! Look, lady. I just paid for my McFlurry with coins. Do you think I have enough money for any of those things?

Build your financial profile, adults (real adults) will say. It’s a simple term that means diversifying your funds, aggressively saving up, and investing in real estate and/or thoroughbred racehorses. (So fashionable right now.) Meanwhile, how do we get one foot in the door? How do we even begin to be a financially independent, McFlurry-with-bills-buying adult?

“What was perhaps the most adult thing I did during my stay was to review all that I spent on the night before. I figured it was best to be aware of my expenses in real time, which can be hard in traditional credit cards because they rarely get credited to you right after a purchase.”

Getting a credit card is a huge responsibility, but a good way to start it is to get yourself a reloadable one. Personally, I have found that managing one’s credit is a tough discipline, and checking myself before wrecking myself at the end of each month is not easy. When I got introduced to PayMaya, a Visa-powered reloadable credit card, I wondered what it would be like to be a real adult while being kindly reminded that I can only spend as much as I have. It was a worthwhile challenge, so I considered testing the deep waters of adulthood for a day and see if the PayMaya credit card can help with my street cred.

Getting a PayMaya card is simple enough. Friends of mine who have it say that they simply purchased their own card in convenience stores, but upon checking I discovered that it can also be ordered online (cash on delivery is an option, of course, while you wait for your card). They have two versions of the card — a Beep and non-Beep version, the former of which can be used to ride the MRT with ease. There are also family and barkada bundles should any squad feel a little plastic (pun so totally intended), which only proves that anything done together can only be a good thing.

First thing’s first, download the app. The interface was pretty easy to figure out, and for anyone still waiting for their physical card, the PayMaya is already available for use (as long as it’s been loaded up, of course.) For someone like me who spends a good chunk of the day online, PayMaya has a Virtual Visa option too. Basically, I can order from any website — whether here or abroad — and key in the card number provided by PayMaya in the app. This is what I used when I decided to book a night’s stay in an AirBnB in Rockwell. My first legit attempt at trying out this adulthood thing for a night.

I decided on a charming apartment near Powerplant, just to feel like a fancy grownup. Booking through the card was no trouble at all. The Virtual Visa card number is different from the physical card number for security purposes, but still works just the same. Once the landlord confirmed my booking, I got a text from PayMaya saying that a purchase from my account has just been made. Gotta admit, it blew my mind a little bit and scared me at the ease I can order anything online. But I was being an adult, so I focused on preparing my night of solitude with the right equipment. Obviously, I needed some alcohol. I’m kidding. (There was a lot.)

Once I got to the apartment, I couldn’t help but smile. Not because of the place I got — which was all fine — but because I couldn’t help but feel a weird sense of ownership, like I did all of that by myself. I got a place, I got a bag full of groceries, and my trolley bag had a laptop just for Netflix and no work. Heaven is real, people. Trust me, I found it. I walked around the tiny space like a queen surveying the land. Everything my eyes could reach was mine for the night. What a huge responsibility. Then my stomach began to rumble.

“Personally, I have found that managing one’s credit is a tough discipline, and checking myself before wrecking myself at the end of each month is not easy. When I got introduced to PayMaya, a Visa-powered reloadable credit card, I wondered what it would be like to be a real adult while being kindly reminded that I can only spend as much as I have.”

It’s one thing to use PayMaya online, but to finally use the card in real life gave me some apprehensions. The card itself doesn’t look like your typical credit card. It’s about the same size, but the finish is more satin than glossy. It’s also thinner by a millimeter or so, which made me worry about hearing cashiers and sales assistants wonder if I’m actually scamming them. (I get dreams of imprisonment by way of estafa, like some Brillante Mendoza heroine.) When I paid for my xiao long bao dinner at Shi Lin, the cashier just gave the card a quick bizarre look then rang up my bill without a snag. The same thing happened during a book purchase in National Book Store. The clerk even said, “Wow, may Beep siya o.” Then proceeded to ask me how to get one.

It was strange, though, to come home to a quiet little house despite the amazing view. To combat the silence, I subscribed to a Spotify premium account and rang up a purchase for a month of Netflix. Adults get lonely too, y’know. So while I took a shower, I let Ariana Grande entertain me, while my laptop buffered a really terrible Adam Sandler comedy that I could barely finish. I thought I’d have the energy to stay up till late, but I found myself drowsing off before midnight, not realizing then that I truly was becoming an adult in my own way. Don’t judge me, please. I had a lot of fun.

What was perhaps the most adult thing I did during my stay was to review all that I spent on the night before. I figured it was best to be aware of my expenses in real time, which can be hard in traditional credit cards because they rarely get credited to you right after a purchase. It was also a good way to budget the rest of my funds. I could already see myself setting aside my monthly salary for card purchases, and controlling my expenses by not loading up any more than that. (Unfortunately for my wallet loading up is so easy; you can just got to 7/11, The SM Store, Robinsons Department Store, or even BDO to do it.) PayMaya also limits your load up to P50,000 per month, so at least you know you can’t spend any more than that, unless you decide to sell a kidney.

Over breakfast, I contemplated how easy it actually is to be a grownup, once you decide to get on track to being one. There are baby steps to make, ironically, but with some wisdom, getting started isn’t so hard. Getting to the bigger strides, where you make even more scary decisions, may not be so difficult once the time comes. And if you’re like me, who finally got to use an Uber through a reloadable credit card, you’ll realize that maybe adulthood isn’t so bad. When it all comes down to hacking through the tough stuff, it can actually be pretty damn fun.

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For more information, visit www.paymaya.com or follow @PayMayaOfficial on Twitter and Instagram.

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