Are You Afraid of Money?


BY ANNE QUINTOS

I came across this phrase "He's not afraid of money anymore..." in a book called How to be Rich: The Couple's Guide to a Rich Life Without Worrying About Money by Chuck Rylant. It's about a married couple, Janet and Richard, who often find themselves with money problems that most couples face, ignore, and later on endure.

Was I afraid?
I asked myself if I too was afraid of money. The closest answer I can get was this: When I tried to read the said book in a bus, I really didn't want other people to see the title. The book was screaming out in big font size "How to be Rich" and I didn't want anybody to see me as a person who cared about this dirty little thing called money.

So maybe that leaves me afraid of it at some point. The next question is, what am I doing here then, out of my country, trying to earn enough dough... if deep inside I don't even like the thought of having much of it?

Are you afraid too?
Let's start with a cliche hypothetical question: What would you do if you win five million pesos? If your answer is that you want to spend it on anything that's not income generating, then maybe you also are iffy about money. Bo Sanchez, in one of his inspirational talks on personal finance, said that many people cannot stand the idea of having too much money in their pockets. Subconsciously, it makes them uneasy so they dispose it. And most of the time, on purchases that don't have much value.

What if your answer is keep it: say, put it in a bank or under your mattress? Does that make you less afraid? Probably not. Because you haven't done anything to control or manage it. If I'm afraid of spiders, my way to cope would be to forget that it's there.

Here's the truth. Our society doesn't like the idea that we're working for money. There's a dirty stigma to it, like it's just plain wrong considering most barely get by. Millions of Filipinos say that they're working abroad because of their families. The sacrifice is worth it for the country. It's for our collective future. But mention that you're going to work abroad because you want to be rich and be financially free: it's open to misinterpretation that you're half a mercenary. So, most of us don't consider financial planning as necessary, as along as we are able to provide for our families one payday at a time.

Why we shouldn't be afraid 
There are many consequences from not knowing how to plan and handle income and finances. Sadly,  a lot of overseas Filipinos remain clueless about how money works and are left with two common options:
  • They spend more than what they can afford.   Emma (not here real name) asked me to go with her one Sunday to help her decide on something. When we met, I was surprised to know that she was planning to buy a China phone from her overtime pay. Just a month before that, she bought a laptop. There's the next payday anyway to save again. 
  • They let other people manage it for them.  Since they think that they're working solely for the family, they immediately send 70% of their salary back home and let other family members take care of budgetting. For them, it's easier that way. You see, budgetting is tricky too. It can't be just passed off like a hot potato. Overseas Filipinos should communicate with their families at home, working with one goal, on how money is allocated, spent, and saved. 
What I've learned from this book is that money is not an indecipherable monster. Sure, it can be so overwhelming and very tiring to understand but it shouldn't stop anyone from learning how to spend and save it smartly. Couples, more importantly, should work together in achieving financial freedom.

Janet and Richard found out that with a lot of learning and planning, they not only took control of their finances but also saved their marriage because they didn't have to stress about trying to make both ends meet everyday.

The book How to be Rich is nice, simple, and practical. If you're married and still working your way to financial literacy like us, I recommend that you read it (see excerpts here).

***Thanks M for giving us a copy for Christmas!

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2 comments:

  1. This was a very interesting write up. I was surprised when I stumbled upon it. I enjoyed your perspective very much. Thank you, and I'd love to know who "M" is. Take care.

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  2. Hi Chuck! What a pleasant surprise to hear from you. M is a good friend who supports our cause at Haypinas.org.

    The write-up about your book is a joy for us because we've learned a lot from it! We've recommended it to our families, friends, and our online Filipino community. We share your advocacy for financial literacy.

    Thanks and we wish you more success, Chuck!

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