I was once invited to give a talk about how I allocate my income, to a group, one Sunday after the Feast. Unfortunately, it did not push through. But I was lucky to personally meet the head of the group and a few of its members. They were all excited to hear about my disciplines, how I followed the income allocation shared to us by our preacher, because they admittedly find it difficult to live by.
We are encouraged to allocate income in this manner: 10% for tithe, 20% for investments and 70% for expenses. They are religious with their 10%, but finds it hard to save and invest 20% for their future. They can barely live by what remains of their income.
We shared lunch, exchanged stories, agreed that we reschedule my talk then parted ways.
I’ve made new friends but was burdened by a thought. How can I encourage them? How can they draw inspiration from my stories if I haven’t experienced barely living with my income? My meeting with them led me to my whys? Why did I have this desire to save much money? Why do I value saving so much?
Difficulties Due to Lack of Financial Planning
I am blessed with parents who have decided not to pass financial obligations to us children. Growing up, they have experienced not having money. They both helped our grandparents in working for the money needed for the education of their siblings. My dad, even though he wanted to have an engineering diploma, he never did. He was made to work, when he was supposed to be in school. But because he really was good at it, he became one of the best undergrad engineers in the company he worked with.
My parents did not want us to experience the same, that’s why they worked their best to get us through school, but it wasn’t easy. They had to work long hours, sacrificing time with us, to make ends meet. Mom even had multiple jobs. Day times she worked as an elementary teacher, night times a college teacher, when at home, she writes elementary and high school textbooks.
At such a young age, I saw my parents’ difficulty. Daily fights about money became normal. They are both very hardworking, but that didn’t make us rich.
I realized then the value of money. Lack of it, deprived us of time with my parents because they need to work. We were not poor because they worked hard. Thank goodness! But we never got rich either.
One day, my parents brought us in a toy store. I wanted a doll house so badly. It was my childhood dream, not Barbie, but it was also too expensive. I was afraid that dad would reject me, but I asked for it anyway. Dad bent down, talked softly to me and said, “Ate, we don’t have money… If we do, it is only enough for our needs. Let’s save it and set it aside for more important things.” Of course as a little girl, I wanted to cry, but I did not (playing tough, I am). It meant what I want for myself isn’t important. My wants are not important. My younger sister was lucky because what she wanted was just a cheap bag of marbles and she got it. You see now how ambitious I am with my wants.
The Student Saves Money
Though young, I find myself very different from other kids, because I felt guilt and pain whenever I hear my parents fight over money. I wanted to do something for them, hoping fights will lessen.
When I started receiving money as gifts, I gave it to mom without her asking, so it could help.
When I started receiving school allowances, I saved most of what I can, so I can fund my next school project, buy my own books and supplies. I will lessen my asking for money, less fights and nagging then.
When I learned that they had to pawn our house, just to get money to send us through college, I was troubled, afraid to lose the only asset my parents accumulated during their lifetime. My parents also told us that our education will be our only inheritance. It is my parents’ most important investment. We are really blessed to have them. This made me want to finish studies more.
I was a good student, but not too intelligent to get full scholarships, so I felt great when my application for half scholarship one semester in college got approved. At least, I was able to free them a bit from financial obligations.
Money Myths Most of Us Grew Up With
Growing up, the idea that “money doesn’t grow on trees” was carved on my forehead. Mom was successful at that. We all know moms have their own mantras, this one was her favorite. This is why I always made sure I’d save a portion of every peso I receive and why I think twice before I spend my money. It is hard to earn.
“Money is meant only for our needs”, this one I learned from my dad. From him I learned to delay self gratification, I learned to prioritize and choose where to put my money.
Money Handling Habits and New Beliefs Formed
All these beliefs and experiences about money, though negative, had in a huge way, influenced my money handling habits. The negativity forced me to save!
Not so comfortable financial life required reduced family time. I want to change it.
Though the limiting beliefs I grew up with no longer remain in me because I have decided to educate myself about money (about how I can make it work for me, instead of I working for it), it created the necessary hunger, that desire for a better financial life.
When I have my own family, I won’t set aside the dreams of my kids… because for them, I am saving and investing today the extra buck!
What experiences formed your current money handling habits? Feel free to share your experiences. We can all draw inspiration and learnings from it.