Lessons From EDSA Applicable to Personal Finance

Lessons From EDSA Applicable to Personal Finance

Feb 25, 2014

I’m writing this article on the 28th anniversary of EDSA People Power Revolution. Twenty-eight years is a long time and a lot of Filipinos are getting impatient and disillusioned because they feel that nothing has significantly changed.

If you have been in the same unfavorable financial state as you were 28 years ago, you may be weary, if not hopeless, by now. As I listened to the speech of President Noynoy Aquino delivered in Cebu and reflected on my own memory and understanding of EDSA, I can’t help but see that the lessons learned from EDSA can be applied in the improving our financial well-being.

The danger of forgetting the hardship

Almost three decades after the dictatorship of Marcos, majority of our population does not have a first hand experience of the terror inflicted during the dark years. When there’s no direct reference to pain, it’s easy to take things like freedom for granted. In fact, some would even go to the extent of declaring that the Marcos years were better. Well, I guess they never really experienced being arrested without proper warrants, losing their businesses to the dictator and his cronies, or maybe they were on the Marcos side? That is why no matter how “tired” the story of EDSA gets, it is important to remind ourselves what we fought for. It is important for our children to study history so that they will never again get into that situation.

Now here’s the parallelism I find between freedom preservation and wealth preservation. In most family corporations we find this pattern: The first generation builds the wealth. The second generation expands it. The third generation squanders it. Why? It’s because the third generation does not have any experience of hardship. Unlike their parents (second generation) who grew up in more humble surroundings and saw their parents work very hard, the third generation is “deprived” of this “hunger” that propels an intrinsic motivation to work hard to attain a better standard of living.

This is really a big challenge for the second generation parents. How do you give your children a taste of hunger when you’re oozing with wealth? Remind them of your history. Expose them to the possible perils of losing it all. Do not over-give them material things. Leave a little room for them to aspire for more. A few days ago, my youngest son was telling us about a batchmate who owns a BMW series 5 and he’s only in high school.  He was delighted but a bit disturbed and said, “What more will he aspire for when he gets older?” When I asked him what would he do if he were super rich and his son asks for one?” He said, “Maybe I will just lend him my luxury car sometimes. But I don’t think I’ll buy him one. He should buy his own luxury car.”

The danger of pinning our hopes on icons.

EDSA was our glorious moment! It was an event that made each of us proud to be Pinoy. Our bloodless revolution became the ideal model for restoring democracy. Pres. Cory Aquino was invited to speak before the joint US Congress and was given a standing ovation. (Click link to read the well-written speech)

Almost three decades after EDSA, people are now wondering, “Did EDSA fail us?” This is the danger of pinning our hopes on icons, whether they’re glorious events or charismatic leaders. The right question to ask is, “Did we fail EDSA?” Did each of us do his/her share in transforming our country? Significant events and great leaders are the catalysts but the transformation will only happen if we all put in the needed everyday work.

In aspiring to be rich, a lot of people still wait for that big break – winning the lotto, winning the cash prize in a noontime show, waiting for government to improve the economy, waiting for a family member to work abroad as OFW in order to earn dollars. And for the meantime while waiting for Lady Luck to come down upon them, they whine. They complain about everything that’s not going right instead of doing the old fashioned hard work. There’s a line from the Oscar nominated movie entitled Nebraska delivered by the old woman about her drunkard husband’s obsession of his supposed lottery winning, “I never knew this SOB wanted to be a millionaire. He should have thought about that years ago and worked for it!”

The power of small things

The next time we get impatient with our country’s progress and find ourselves whining, let’s check if we’ve done our part, and I don’t mean running for a public office to eradicate all the corruption. Well, you can do that too if you want. But we can do small things like The 12 Little Things Each Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country by Alex Lacson:

  1. Follow traffic rules.
  2. Always ask for an Official Receipt whenever you buy anything.
  3. Don’t buy smuggled goods. Buy local. Buy Filipino.
  4. Talk positively about us and our country especially when you talk to foreigners.
  5. Respect your traffic officer, policeman and soldier.
  6. Do not liter. Dispose your garbage properly. Segregate. Recycle. Conserve.
  7. Support your church.
  8. During elections, do your solemn duty.
  9. Pay your employees well.
  10. Pay your taxes.
  11. Adopt a scholar or a poor child.
  12. Be a good parent. Teach your children to follow the law and love our country.

(Click link to read my interview with Alex Lacson)

In the same vein, we should not underestimate the power of little things that we do with our money that can make or break our financial future. Not everyone will have an opportunity to suddenly become a multibillionaire by selling Whatsapp to Facebook, but everyone can take a shot at becoming a millionaire enjoying a financially happy life by doing the following.

  1. Do well in your job. Take care of your source of income.
  2. Continue to invest in yourself.
  3. Have your emergency fund in place.
  4. Buy the protection/insurance funds that you need.
  5. For every cash inflow that comes your way Pay yourself first. Be a habitual saver.
  6. Go beyond saving, invest in assets that you understand.
  7. Understand your relationship with money.
  8. Be clear on your needs and wants and learn to delay gratifying your wants.
  9. Monitor your progress with the aid of Income Statement and Balance Sheet.
  10. Give back.

At the end of the day let’s ask ourselves, “What have I done to preserve and improve our political, economic and financial freedom?”