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June 11, 2012


Monday, 11 June 2012 18:43 Edmund T. Lao / Personal Finance

BY definition, control is the situation of being under the regulation, domination, or command of another. Is control good or bad? It depends on the situation.

Let us take Singapore as an example. Last April, I returned to Singapore for a vacation. The city state changed a lot in 10 years. One thing that did not change was the country’s being controlled well by the government. I was able to interview the taxi driver on our way to Jurong Bird Park.  He said that all sectors including transportation (taxi, bus, and the MRT) are all owned by the government. In short, Singapore is like a corporation. The driver said that even citizens are controlled by making financial decisions for them. Elaborating, he said they are mandated by the government to save by salary deduction a 30-40 percent portion of their income for their retirement. If that is the case, then what Singapore has done is good for the citizens. I can see why Singapore is one of the richest nations in the world. Without systematic control, everything will be in chaos.

For instance, a family that does not practice birth control will surely be financially burdened with supporting the unplanned number of children. Tuition fee alone (as of the present amounts to an average of P50,000 per year) will amount to a total of P1 million.

In the corporate world, if the company does not practice control, for sure, it will bleed financially. For instance, let us consider the General Service Division of a certain bank. The bank owner assigned a trusted person to be the negotiator for the best price of all big projects. The said division (which is the division that spends money), if not controlled, can be a source of corruption. I have also been witness to pilferage in a company due to poor control. The employee was actually regularly stealing company money in small amounts. Only after an audit was made that the employee was caught flat-footed.

There is another control that we do not see or feel. It is the control of our paycheck instead of letting it control us. The majority does not know how to control and make money work for them. All they know is to forever work hard for money. However, they do not know that there is no such thing as forever. Take the case of employees. They are under the control of their employers. The reason: Whoever controls the paycheck controls the employee. Proof: When one is employed, waking up early is a must. Also, their income is dictated by their employer. They are required to report to work for eight hours. It has been said in jest that the work station is an employee’s voluntary prison cell for eight hours. No matter how hard the employee works, they never get rich; only the employer gets rich. This is because the employee traded their time for money. The employer owns and controls the employee’s time to the point they do not have time to study for their improvement. Aside from losing their freedom, they also lost the opportunity to learn to make money make more money. Also, the employer decides when he wants his employees to be retired. That is the predicament of being employed. However, being under control as an employee is not that bad. One only has to make wise use of their spare time to start gaining control of one’s life and money.

If being under control as an employee has its negative repercussion, what will be the effect if the breadwinner is under control by the wife? The obvious result is that the wife also controls the poor guy’s paycheck!

Let me share another story about being under control . I have a frugal young friend who wants to start investing. We have been talking about financial planning for the past few weeks and I can sense his excitement. When I asked for his intended initial investment, he was unable to give me a direct answer. To my surprise, the answer I got was that his wife is in control of his ATM.  After working so hard, all he got is his daily transportation allowance and a lunch pack. One time, we had a sports event where the company subsidized half the cost. He begged off.  He really wanted to join and the real reason he couldn’t was due to his lack of pocket money.  Then he told me that his wife wanted to invest in the stock market to which I asked, “Did your wife make a research or asked stock market people?” The answer was negative. The wife is financially illiterate and based her decision on the “daw” theory (hearsay). The wife basically did not trust the husband (who has an idea of investing already) and yet acted as if she was the expert in handling money.

Here are some facts I gave him:

Easy come, easy go. It is easy for the wife to spend his money because it is not her hard-earned money. By the way, the wife is also working. During expenses, his money is the first to go. Proof of this is during Christmas. Years ago, my crew got their bonuses. A day after, they ask for a loan. It was because all the money was spent by the wife due to panic and excitement (a classic example of being a one-day millionaire). That is the reason why every payday, they steal their own salary from their wife by adding to their pay envelope a fictitious loan.

Women and shopping are synonymous. As RFP Randell Tiongson mentioned in a seminar, it is always a mystery why women always have more pairs of shoes than men. They also have a matching bag per pair of shoes. My friend agreed because his wife buys shoes on impulse. Definitely, and unknown to him, it is his money that was used. He can’t buy himself anything and yet his wife can spend for her vanities.

No savings. He has no personal savings. All his income is manipulated by his wife. I told him that if he has no savings now, how can he fund his retirement? And worse, if they decided to part ways, who has the money and who will be left with no money? The sad discovery is that my friend and his wife are not yet married. So that makes him a more miserable man. His future is already controlled and compromised by his live-in partner! And yet he is afraid to impose his authority. He is not only under control. I told him a truth that (definitely hurt him): He is “under the saya.”

No protection. He wants to be insured to protect against the uncertain but his wife decided for him not to get one for she does not believe in insurance.

I encouraged my friend to make things right and gain control of his finances as a first step. That, according to him, is an uphill climb. He could not gain control since he surrendered. I gave him this answer: Are you in control or are you under control?


Edmund Lao, RFP® is a registered financial planner of RFP Philippines. Learn the essentials of personal finance and become certified. Join RFP Batch 28 from July 21 to September 15. To know more details, visit or inquire at e-mail to: info@




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