Money hacks you didn’t learn in school (that you must practice NOW)

Cover art Samantha Gonzales
Starting today, we will be running a column by the bestselling authors of I Wish They Taught Money in School, Sharon w. Que and Clarissa Seriña‑de la Paz. The column will come out every Money Monday.

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Lifestyle Upgrade 101

Everyone who walks out of school in a toga is confronted with this question: What is the next step?

The traditional views run along the lines of getting a job and saving money, and all for the same purpose: to get by and provide for a family.

These all sound very practical, but altogether vague.

It’s been over a decade since we graduated from college ourselves, so we’ve condensed lessons from life, books, articles, seminars, and workshops into five attainable steps.

Art Samantha Gonzales

Get a job, yes, but don’t limit yourself.

On the side, you can try your hand at business, real estate buy‑and‑sell, jewelry, or even paper assets like stocks and bonds. Your employment plus entrepreneurial gains are considered your active income. To complement this, you can also have passive income. These are earned from renting out property, royalties from your intellectual property like previously written work, invented patents, or composed music, or yield from investments. There is so much money available, find out how to get your share of it from all sorts of ventures.

Art Samantha Gonzales

There is a difference between getting by in life and getting more from life, and the secret is in this formula: INCOME ‑ SAVINGS = EXPENSES. Most people spend their salaries the moment they receive them, either on necessary bills or other wants; but sometimes there is none left for savings, or worse, their expenses exceed their earnings resulting in debt. What has helped us through the years is setting aside a specific percentage of our income, while also ensuring that the expenses we have fit well within our means.

Art Samantha Gonzales

Younger generations lose their foresight when they hear of 3‑day sales or presented with the latest gadgets. With consumerism bombarding our senses from billboards to social media, it is becoming increasingly difficult not to want want want now now now; but this is the trap that causes people to live from paycheck to paycheck. With so many delayed payment options now available, some fall under the illusion that their purchases will pay themselves off. Some forget that credit cards are merely representations of their actual money, and assume that swiping is the end of the transaction. Be smarter than that, and prioritize.

Art Samantha Gonzales

Believe us, it is how the rich became rich, but it is not only for the rich. Nowadays, you can open stock market and mutual fund accounts with just ₱5,000. The trick is finding an investment vehicle that will yield higher interests, higher than those the banks offer for your deposit. Invested money can only grow over time, so be patient and put into your portfolios regularly—this goes hand in hand with paying yourself first.

Art Samantha Gonzales

Why now? Because it gives you the chance to decide if you want to retire earlier than the government‑mandated age of 60. You can stop working any time you want if you can secure provisions for your future. Decide on the age you want to retire by, and compute the numbers needed to sustain the lifestyle you envision. Retirement is the end goal to financial freedom: it means you no longer need to work for money, but you have your money work for you.

These steps are just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many opportunities out there waiting for you to tap into them. Don’t put these off until you have a better job or a bigger paycheck.

Remember: It’s not how much money you make, it’s how much money you keep.

Clarissa Seriña‑de la Paz and Sharon W. Que are financial literacy advocates and the bestselling authors of “I Wish They Taught Money in School” and “Money Grows on Trees.” Check out their books at