Question: “Hi, I am an OFW here in London for 8 years. I followed your blogs every week and I’m so inspired by your story on how you managed your income, saved it and invested it. I’m single,earning well but honestly I dont have savings. Most of my income are sent back home to support my family and pamangkins education in the province. I see them as my investment. However, lately, I felt guilty because I’ve been helping others but I’m not setting aside for myself. What should I do now– Grace Gomez, Nurse,sent by email
You seem a very kind and generous person. On the other hand, you sounds like frustrated and feeling something like that is a good thing. That means that you’ve already woke up! I tell you now, it’s not only you who’s experiencing this dilemma.
It has been a long practice in our culture the “Padala-Probinsya system”. That shows our strong family relationships. I don’t have anything against it as long as it is still on the context of balance. The greatest investment is yourself. My blog today is not about how to stop extending help to your relatives but to balance things up. You have to consider also the other side. I will sight you an example…
Not too long ago, I did not know how important the Emergency Fund is, to its core. All I knew is that it’s part of the process that I need to go through in investing. So basically , I have set already an Emergency Fund good for 6 months ready for use (I did it reluctantly, though!).
One day, I felt something bad and I felt sick and some parts of my body were in so much pain. I thought it was just a “trangkaso” and the following day I was so weak. When I went on check-up, I was told that I had an adult chicken pox. Worst thing was, my bosses wanted me to be on a long sick leave for the whole month.
If you haven’t been able to build your Emergency Fund, I want you to start now. We don’t know when we will be needing it the most. It is just very simple but the struggle boils down to its greatest enemy, YOURSELF! What are the things to consider when I am building my Emergency Fund? This is always the common question. Learn from my personal experience…
1. It will take 100% self-discipline.
I asked myself if an Emergency Fund is so important, Why many Pinoy are not paying much attention about it? I got a quick answer, we dislike consistency as we dislike discipline. It is boring and painful, indeed!
This happened last year when my friend who had a pregnant wife for their first baby. They were so excited and the pediatrician told them the schedule of the expected delivery. They did not prepare much about it because their expectation that it would take few months to go. Then one day, He was shocked because her wife was rushed and he was informed on duty that his wife was having a premature delivery. He could not imagine how shocking it was without any much preparations!
When I decided to build my Emergency Fund, it took me a while to find its deeper purpose and it needs to be self-convincing because I can’t trust myself. I could be too excited to start but I will end up not saving something at all. So I thought of realistic “What If’s”! What if I would lost my job tomorrow? What if I’ll get sick and needed immediate operation? What if one of my family members is on an emergency and needs immediate assistance? This is where this fund comes into play. You can read my previous blog on 6 Reasons Why You Are Still Not Saving.
2. It will cost your social life.
When I started to build my Emergency Fund, I started to cut expenses. You know already that my salary is just an average call center agent can get. I started cutting expenses from my favorite leisure; hanging out with friends, going to the cinema, and spending time in an expensive coffee shop to maximize my savings.
So what I did, I became active in social media to still communicate to friends, minimized going out when unnecessary and do online shopping if needed. I also bought packs of 3 in 1 coffee (It tastes and smells the same like coffees in Starbucks anyway!).
Yes, I’ve lost bunch of friends and keep some. I also joined financial groups in FB and met some same “kuripot friends”. Now, I feel good and spend time with the right people and at the same time, I was able to reached my financial goals.
3. Many will dislike you.
In my previous blog; 5 Secrets Your “Kuripot Neighbor” Won’t Tell You, I wrote an article about how we have a negative connotation on the word “kuripot”. We tend to have an advance thought that these type of people are selfish and hoarders. I am one of them and I raise my case! Kuripot people are the best people that you can have as a friend and rest assured that we will not borrow from you. I saw many relationships became sour because of money matter and unpaid debts.
So if you are dislike because of you being kuripot, they are not friends for keep. A funny quote from local celebrity Keanna Reeves once said; ” It not my lost it Yours!
4. Some of the favorite lists might need to be put on hold.
I received a sermon coming from my cousin saying that it is okey to be frugal but I don’t have to save too much. How could we know that we are already saving too much? For me, saving too much means not being able to maintain your basic needs. Basics needs has never been a question for me, it always my top priority.
According to my budget, top of my lists is the food allowance and next things are all considered secondary priorities. I’m also setting aside now for leisure, travels, personal stuff, and for others (mission, charity, relatives assistance).
5. It will take time.
My early days on saving were mostly trial and error. It took me months to apply it seriously. I tend to go back to my past practices and that was so frustrating. I finally found a mentor that is so successful in building his Emergency Fund. I reached out to him and asked for guidance. He gave me some mathematical computation but what sinks in to me was to do it over and over again and learn from past mistakes.
Your goals won’t become a reality until you make it a priority. Read my friend’s inspiring story on how she was able to build her Emergency Fund and started investing. You can read the full article here: Bing Su Inspiring Story: The Secretary and the Stock Market.