Life and Lemons

Bonus Question

Each four-week chunk of time at school always feels like something from a melodramatic dialogue, i.e. “it is all ending before it has even begun.” And like the handful of my favorite subjects, this whirlwind of a course left an aftermath of things learned and unlearned, and more things to do to make the most of the collection of wisdom gained from that invaluable period.

Hence, below is my post-INVEMAN to-do list. It is like a list of New Year’s resolutions only better, since I am actually motivated to see these through.

  • Continue the Bloomberg habit. It is now a permanent tab in my browser, right next to Facebook and Twitter and whatever else I am on Google for. US and China’s economic slump, the Eurozone crisis and the intensifying tension about clusters of islands between China and whatever country they are bullying now are like drama episodes to keep watching. Abangan ang susunod na kabanata. Whenever I fall asleep without getting to read bits of news online, I feel guilty and sometimes get guilty dreams. I guess that is a good thing; must mean the habit is slowly planting its roots in me.
  • Hog the newspaper at work. Now that I hunt down the newspaper after office, I find it remarkable how the entertainment and lifestyle sections are crumpled with some pages straying, but the business sections look untouched. Plenty of ballpens have crossed the crossword puzzle, with ticks on the cinema schedules, but the business pages are smooth as silk. Seems like even people I interact with everyday also have to be educated about the importance of knowing the third quarter inflation rate and what company bought shares of the Raffles Residences project recently. This can be a personal project—one client at a time.
  • Stay tuned to ANC On the Money Facebook page. It is like a free financial seminar in the comforts of your own home. That must be their value proposition. I only stumbled on this page when I was looking for Prof’s appearance on the show since I missed it when it was aired. Scrolling through past episodes, I found that it is a very good show in that it is making a solid effort in providing financial education to Filipinos. One bottleneck to its reach I think is the fact that it is shown on ANC, a cable channel not accessible to the masses that need these practical money tips the most. The current topics seem geared towards the middle class, which I suppose is the target market. But since they are doing financial education, I hope the brains behind this would think of producing a similar show catered to the larger chunk of the Philippine population. But I digress. This is a good show since it teaches basically the same things my mother nags me about. Sometimes, somebody needs to tell me what to do and I have to listen.
  • Start investing and stay invested. I am embarrassed to admit that after more than six years of holding a job I still do not have any investments. Yes, I did not practice what I preach to my clients. I had an ALI Homestarter Bond then terminated it. I have a really small amount in MRTBs and I hope that counts. The BPI Trade account I opened for this class is my first ever proper investment. I am still not a master of direct stock investments, but I left a bit of funds there and will practice with that. I have also opened another account when one of the emails sent periodically by AMTG struck me when I read it. It illustrated three different people, one who had a regular starting salary but started saving from age 21, another had a higher paying job but started at 30, while the last started at 40-ish. Though the older people saved a larger amount than the youngest of them, it is the early bird who had Php15M come retirement age. The moment I read that was the moment I filled out a form for UITFs. At least I am still 20-ish, and there must still be hope for me.
  • Spend Less or Make More Money. Any girl (or even guys these days) can relate to Becky Bloomwood of the Shopaholic books series by Sophie Kinsella. In her dilemma of mounting bills, finite (actually overdraft) bank accounts and infinite shopping wants and sale signs on boutiques, Becky read about two possible solutions—Spend Less or Make More Money. Like Becky, I tried each tactic separately, and like her I failed. These two should be practiced together for optimal results, and so far I think they are working to brighten up my financial picture. This is corollary to my previous resolution, and thus the money saved from Spending Less and made from Making More Money can now be used for the final step, which is Invest More.
  • Personal project. Though still considered young and sometimes foolish, I know enough about myself to accept that I am a conventionally conservative person. I am risk and change averse. I follow my life with a plan in mind, one that is taught to me by my similarly risk and change averse mother, and one that does not respond so much to external stimulus. Getting a business course in UP was part of the plan, so is getting employed by a good bank and studying for my MBA soon after. I can adapt well, but I would rather not change things if I can help them, and I do not like things that are not within my control. I am aware that although the plan keeps me focused, it can also be limiting in terms of unexplored options.  Thus although the statement reads irony, I am now trying to change how I am risk and change averse. I like to read and that is turning to be an invaluable trait. Even from fiction novels, you can pick up things that you will not normally know, and it widens the reach and reveals options and other branches the life plan can take. The next step is implementation, and not everything has to be so serious. The new life plan can include taking language courses, getting lost (and found again!) in unfamiliar territory, embracing a transfer if my boss wills it, exploring other places to initiate transfer to, trying more investment options and saving more to fund them, etc. Instead of being wary and afraid, I am working towards the mindset of managing my risks and the changes around me. I am always a work in progress anyhow.

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