It’s been months since we last saw each other. I’m glad that your plan has materialized — and you are now beginning your new job. This is a new chapter in your life, a new journey. Congratulations! I wish you success.
I just finished reading a classic book. And I can’t wait to share it with you. But I wish, we were face-to-face when we talk about this — just like the hundreds or maybe thousands of personal conversations we had since you were young.
The book I’m talking about is, “The Richest Man in Babylon.” It’s a very old book. Can you guess when it was originally published? In 1926. Yes 94 years ago. It’s already year 2020 now. Six years more, the book will be on it’s hundredth years. And what I learned from the book is still applicable today.
Okay, I’m not going to make a full review of the book. Neither will I enumerate all the pointers presented by the author. I will not even retell the stories in the book. I will just share to you some lessons that resonate in me. So don’t worry, this won’t be exhausting.
There are several parables in the book. But all of them basically teach the same principles about how to handle our financial life. This is great for you especially now that you are just starting your new job. These practices may excite you to learn more about how to become a good steward of what God has given you. Here are some:
1. SAVE AT LEAST 10% OF YOUR INCOME. Well, this is flexible. Of course you can save 15% or 30% or even more. Just make sure ten percent is the minimum. I know you are already disciplined at saving money. So this won’t be difficult for you.
2. SPEND LESS THAN YOU EARN. This is another good habit. Can you imagine if you earn P10,000 a month and you spend P15,000 a month? How long will it take before you become buried in your own debt? No matter how much you earn, if you always spend more than your earning, you will always be wanting. It’s not about the amount of money being spent, it’s about the mentality of spending. I know people who earn more than P500k a month, but spend almost the same amount of their earning. When suddenly they get sick, or their child gets sick, they don’t have money for the hospital.
If you are going to compare the number of times you save money and the number of times you spend money, you will clearly see that spending is far far more frequent than saving. Usually, you will save money right after you received your salary. That means you do that only every two weeks, or twice a month. But you spend money almost everyday. That’s why spending money becomes a habit. An action that is frequently done becomes a habit. And if you spend your money without care, it will become a bad habit. And remember how difficult it is to change a bad habit. So keep in mind: always spend less than you earn.
3. INVEST YOUR SAVINGS. Okay, now that you already started saving money, what is your plan? What are you going to do with your savings? That’s when investing comes in. You will have to wait until your savings are enough to buy an investment. But while you are waiting, you better begin scouting and doing some research on where to invest your saved money. This book has good advice about it: Invest only on areas you are knowledgeable. Why? Because if you invest on something you are not even familiar with, there’s a big chance that you will just lose your investment.
Wait! Let’s go back to the beginning. What is investing in the first place? In simple words, investing is making money work for you.
Normally, we work to earn money—and we do that by trading our precious time and our skills or talent in exchange of salary. On the other hand, when we invest, we don’t work for money, instead, we make money work for us. It happens when we buy an asset that we hope will give us a return higher than the amount we bought it.
One example is when we buy mutual fund from Philam Life for the amount of P30K, and after 5 years, our P30K worth mutual fund has increased its value to P50K. When we withdraw that mutual fund, we get P20K worth of interest in just 5 years. That is not possible when we just deposit the P30k in a bank as a savings account.
4. PROTECT YOUR MONEY. Now that you have saved and invested your hard-earned money, you need to protect those from fatal loss. Otherwise, your effort of saving will just be useless.
I’m not sure if I got this right. But this is how I understand this lesson from the book. You can protect your savings by putting it in a bank instead of hiding it under your bed or inside your locker.
How about your investment, how do you protect those? Okay, bear with me because it’s a little bit tricky to explain. You can protect your investment before you invest them. By choosing carefully where to invest, you are protecting your money. If you are not careful in choosing, you might become a victim of scam. Many people lost their savings and big amount of money from scam.
There’s a third way to protect your money: INSURANCE. Now this is even trickier to explain (by me, at least). So let’s have a scenario.
Imagine a father who has a P20K savings in a bank. At least, that money is protected. Now, imagine that the father’s son got sick and needed to be confined in a hospital few towns away from their home. After few days in the hospital, before they can go home, the father needs to pay P50K.
What will happen? Because the father has only a few cash in his wallet, he is forced to withdraw the amount of money from his bank, which is only P20K—that is all his savings. Now he is still in need of additional P30K to complete the total amount of hospitalization which is P50K. So his next move is to borrow money from a trusted friend or to apply for a loan. That loan will become a monthly spending—because from the next month onward, the father will start paying the loan for a few months so he can be free from debt again.
Because of emergency, the father lost his hard-earned money that he saved for months in just a few days of hospitalization. Not only that, he is also in debt now — in debt by P30K. All because of health emergency. Painful, isn’t it? What will happen if in another few months, his son is back in the hospital? Yes, you got it right, the father will borrow money again. And soon he will find himself buried in debt.
Here’s how insurance comes in. This is protecting your money indirectly. If the father bought a health insurance for him and or for his son, he won’t lose his money the way he did in the scenario above. If he has insurance, that insurance will cover most of the hospitalization cost. If he has insurance, he won’t need to withdraw his savings from the bank (at least his money is protected from being spent), he won’t need to borrow money from friends or to apply for a loan. At least he is free from debt, and free from financial worries.
5. KEEP LEARNING. This last lesson will seal your fate in an upward cycle of continually becoming better. It’s not about academic learning, it’s about improving yourself in the way you practice the first four steps above. It’s about..
- improving your ability to make income;
- strengthening your discipline to always spend less than your earning;
- increasing your knowledge in investing;
- being wiser in protecting your money.
Now it’s time to confess a not so secret truth. Son, you are blessed to know this now that you are still very young and has just started your career and your being a father. I didn’t know these lessons when you were young. All I knew then was to save money. But for what? I saved money because I wanted to buy a new Mac, or a DSLR, or an iPhone, or an iPad, or a motorcycle. But I never saved money to invest. I never bought an insurance. So if you can still remember, the story above is our story. I wish I had read the book a long time ago. But I know it’s not too late for me.
As for you, my dear son, practice these 5 lessons. It won’t hurt you. In fact, it may even improve your financial life. I wish for you to become financially independent early so you don’t have to leave your family just to earn money from a company you depend on. I hope these lessons will become your habits.
God bless you always!
I love you!
You can read the book if you like. There are plenty of free copies in the internet. You can also view some book animated review in Youtube, or listen to it’s audiobook version also in Youtube. There are plenty of sources out there. They are just a few finger clicks aways.