Filipinos are generally spenders. This is our nature in terms of handling finances. After all, we only recognize the importance of savings and investments when in a crisis, we do not have enough money to spend.
I remember when I was in high school, we had this subject called Cooperative. Students were encouraged to save money from our daily allowances and deposit in the Coop. We were given passbooks and the money earned interest. However, there were no guidelines on how much do we needed to save or how to grow our money.
It would be helpful if schools, as early as grade school, introduce financial management using terminology that is easy to understand. Further, the school needs to inculcate thriftiness among students in the use of personal and school resources. If students know the value of saving money, they will start to allocate money for emergency and future use. Saving will then be second nature to them.
Sadly, I did not get into the habit of saving money early on, but since I have decent earnings, I can afford to rent a small apartment and spend for all my basic necessities and even graduate school tuition fees. I also provide funds to cover some of the expenses of my senior citizen parents.
As they say, it is not how much you earn but how much you are willing to save that matters most. This is my story and I urge you to learn from my experience.
I invested heavily in my education. In 2005, I took up graduate studies in Teaching at De La Salle University, which I was able to complete in 2008. It was only in 2009 that I was able to invest money in buying stocks from blue chip companies like Ayala Land, SM, and Aboitiz Power through COL Financial, an online brokerage firm. I learned investment tips from a seminar I attended through Bro. Bo Sanchez. It was just a trial on my part. Though inconsistent, whenever I had money, I added a few thousands and bought more stocks. Every year, I noticed that dividends were coming in and my shares of stocks were really earning. I did not sell my stocks since I consider myself as a long-term investor. I knew that my investment would grow over time.
In 2011, after 11 years of working, my brother became a sales agent in a memorial company and since he needed to have three immediate sales, I bought one memorial plan, which includes a decent coffin and a three-day memorial service, and with investment component which I paid in five years.
In 2013, my sister encouraged me to buy an investment fund with a bond and equity component from Philam Life. My brother-in-law used to work with Philam Life. So, I bought a one-time money tree investment at P125,000 and the investment portfolio was managed by a fund manager.
In 2014, I decided to buy a personal health card worth P200,000 payable in five years and with an investment component too. I was just thinking I might be able to use it when I am not working anymore or when I am already old since my company health card can only be used while I am employed in the company.
In December 2017, through an Initial Public Offering, I bought a Retail Treasury Bond (RTB) from Security Bank. I used my 13th month pay to fund this investment.
In 2018, I decided to fast track the completion of my MBA, which had been taking too long for me to complete. While studying, I took a full-time job in a medium-scale company with a much lighter workload than my previous job, to have more time to research and study and, at the same time, I can pay for most of my bills and other personal expenses.
In December 2018, I resigned from my job and underwent an operation. Fortunately, I was able to use the personal health card which I bought in 2014. Although my hospitalization expenses were not fully covered, my card covered P50,000 of my bill, almost all my laboratory tests, and check-ups. Having the card was such a big relief!
Now that I am completing my studies as a full-time student, I realized I should have saved and invested more while I was working. Nevertheless, my previous investments in COL Financial, Philam Life, and Security Bank have helped me. I was able to pay for my basic needs using my investments. Because of my health card, I do not worry about doctor’s fees. Having sufficient means in the material aspect of life is such a blessing and it does affect all other aspects of integral human development such as bodily, cognitive, aesthetic, cultural, emotional, social, spiritual and moral in one way or the other. They are all intertwined to make you whole.
Jerrel G. Lopez is an MBA student at De La Salle University. This article is part of her reflections on her experiences in the course, Integral Human Development.