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Gone with the wind

December 24, 2012

Gone with the wind

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Category: Banking & Finance
Published on Monday, 03 December 2012 20:33
Written by Edmund Lao

QUESTION: What title of an old movie comes to mind when employees receive their Christmas bonuses?

Answer: Gone with the Wind.

As someone working in a technical department for 20 years, some of the things that come with my work as a payroll master never seizes to amaze me. Thirteenth-month pay, sick-leave and vacation-leave cash benefits—these don’t last in the hands of my staff. When asked where the money went, they would say they used it to buy gifts for their family and friends. Efren Cruz, author of the book Pwede Na!, hit it in the head, so to speak, in his recent article on Bruce Lee’s principle: Empty your mind and be like water. In his article, he also tackled the behavior of Filipinos during fiestas. Christmas season is no different. Some companies have given bonuses as early as November. I’m quite sure most of those who received those bonuses did not know how their money parted from them. Some would joke that the wind blew the money out of their hands. It is during the Christmas holiday that malls hold big sales, making people go on a shopping frenzy. Obviously, mall owners know what to do with the consumers’ money. After the revelry is over, the smiles of the consumers disappear, and replaced with lines of worry on their faces.

The best solution is to empty the mind by unlearning old knowledge and absorbing new ideas. Then it must be reinforced by proper behavior. As RFP Chinkee Tan said: Right mind-set plus right action equals right result.

Let me share my personal experience on the Christmas bonus. Ever since I started working, I did not touch a single cent on my bonuses. The reason: I was able to live below my means. As a result, I was able to invest and have additional funds for the holidays. So when the season arrives, I do not need more money to spend. I only need money for my investments. Doing that for 20 years allowed me to grow funds. For example, putting away P30,000 regularly for 20 years will result to almost P2 million  if invested in something that offers at least 10-percent growth per year. RFP Kendrick Chua also wrote about the difference between the Chinese and Filipinos in terms of mindset. This is evident in the way they ask questions. The Filipino would ask: “What gadget did you buy?” The Chinese? “What investment did you put your money into?” The Chinese mind-set is the result of the seed of saving and investing that was planted in childhood. The mind of a child is like a sponge: It absorbs accepts what the child hears and sees without question and accepts these as right. There was once a TV commercial that says: “Kung ano ang ginagawa ng mga matatanda, sa mata ng bata ay tama.” There is a ring of truth into it. That is also the reason Pru Life, through its advocate Cha Ching, aims to educate people about finance as early as seven years old. I can attest to that as I was trained by my father to save very early in life.

So that our Christmas bonuses will not be gone with the wind, let me share some practical tips:

Set a goal and timeline. In 1991 my P100,000 savings were spent on constructing our house. As a result, I aimed to rebuild my funds by starting with P60,000 in one year by saving P5,000 per month, I reached only P40,000—good enough. From then on, there was no stopping me from aiming higher. As the saying goes, reach for the moon by aiming for the stars.

Forget everything. One thing that worked for me is that when I put my money in an investment, I forget about it. I always pretend that I do not have money anymore, since I have already spent all. In reality, I really spent my money, but it was spent not on unnecessary expenses, but on buying my future.

Keep on going. Up to this time, even if my investments have grown already, I keep on doing the same thing over and over again. If insanity was defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, in this case, it is the opposite. I keep on investing my bonuses because there will come a time that I will retire and receive no bonuses anymore. It will be the past bonuses I invested that will give me my future Christmas bonuses. This will be my money working for me.

Which do you prefer, your bonus blown away or your bonus to create more of it for you?

****

Edmund Lao is a registered financial planner of RFP Philippines. To learn more about financial planning and how to become an RFP, attend our free personal finance talk on December 13, 7 p.m. at Philippine Stock Exchange Center in Ortigas Center, Pasig City. E-mail to reserve at info@rfp.ph or visit http://www.rfp.ph

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