For our new interview series, we spoke with local bag designer Shireena Shroff Machharam, who shared her best secrets to managing her personal finances.
How does she/he do it? It’s a question that we find ourselves pondering whenever someone appears to be always on top of their game — whether it’s their career, their style, or the way they raise their perfect children.
The same can be said of one’s finances. But alas, unlike asking something “where did you get those pair of shoes?”, money is trickier — it’s not a topic that you could casually bring up at a dinner party now, is it? Well, that is what we are here for — to give you answers.
In this new series, we will touch base with entrepreneurs, industry insiders, and savvy savers to make sense of how they manage their dollars and cents. Kicking off the series is Shireena Shroff Machharam, local bag designer and founder of House of Sheens and mother of two, who not only takes care of her own finances, but also that of her family and her business.
What kind of spender would you say you are?
Shireena Shroff Manchharam: I think I’m a split-personality spender. When it comes to my family, children or eating out, I do not scrimp. On the other hand, when it has to do with my own business or if I am purchasing a service like a haircut, I tend to look more closely at the numbers.
Do you have a habit of saving money?
SSM: I do have a habit of spending only from the returns from my savings. I am cautious when it comes to dipping into savings to spend. I started to save a portion of my salary right from my first job after graduation. Of course, it wasn't very much and I didn’t save very much either. But it was a good start.
What are your 3 golden rules when it comes to managing your money?
SSM: (1) Don’t dip into savings. Cut back on small luxuries like Uber to public transport, and fancy restaurants to more affordable eateries.
(2) Get the right advice — I think this is so important. As someone with very little finance knowledge, I rely on others to help provide the best advice. Now I learn as I go along, and have found people that I can trust to guide me on where best to put my money.
(3) Do teach kids at a young age how to save. I think in today’s world, kids have so much, and learning how to hold on to your money, to be a more frugal, is quite valuable, especially when things are so readily available. My seven-year-old just got her first solid piggy bank, and the fact that it’s not easy to whip out the money (as it was when we used to put it in a little purse) will encourage her to hold on to it and not spend it.
What is the best personal finance advice you’ve ever received?
SSM: My mother taught me that just because you have money today, it doesn’t mean you will have it tomorrow. Being smart about how to spend it guarantees financial stability.
And when I was in college, my dad would make me log everything I bought — from alcohol to bus fares and clothes — in an Excel spreadsheet. I had to email that to him every month and see how my money was being spent, and where I could better save. It was a great lesson.
Do you have personal tricks to getting the most out of life when a girl’s feeling broke?
SSM: One trick is to plan and map out when discounts or sales will happen in the year. There is always someone giving something away for less. I am not someone who needs to feel the instant gratification from a purchase, so if I know a bag is going to be discounted at Christmas, I am happy to wait and save for it.
Of course paying attention to credit card promotions to accumulate points is always a great way to get something for less. I have realised now that with so much information bombarding us every day, we are less likely to even pay attention to great deals either from banks or credit cards, and they can actually be quite a good way to save.
How many credit cards do you own, and which is your favourite?
SSM: I own four credit cards, and my favorite is the UOB Platinum Card. It provides points that can be used for air miles, which is always a bonus. Also, with so many merchant partners, the deals that they provide are great.
What do you do with clothes or fashion items you do not wear anymore?
SSM: I donate all old clothes, fashion items and shoes.
Fill in the blanks:
________ is a complete waste of money.
SSM: Designer wear for children is a waste of money. (They grow so fast!)
I like my money where ____________.
SSM: I like my money stored safely in a bank with someone managing it and providing the right advice on how to grow it.
The last thing I bought to pamper myself is ____________.
SSM: Make-up and skincare products.
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By Karman Tse
Karman Tse is the founder and editor-in-chief of WearOhWhere.com. She is a believer of the Bradshaw-ist philosophy of personal finance — specifically: “I like my money where I can see it: Hanging in my closet.