It just happened.
I was in law school, one daughter, one husband, a house, no mortgage, no money. Husband wanted to quit work and start business and asked my permission to which I said, um, okay, how…?, yes.
If there is one important thing I learned in married life, it is the power of believing. If I believed in D, let’s call my one husband D, he suddenly soared, flew, made miracles, painted rainbows. If I nagged him, he would flail, shrink to nothingness, felled by my ungraciousness and unbelief. In the many years of our marriage, I always resorted to lashing out. In my years of law school, I who never put food on our table all those remaining law school years, would slay D with my words – and everything that remained – our confidence, peace, sanity – would shatter.
I do not know when I turned wiser, do not know when I finally understood that if I believed in him enough, if I gave him words of encouragement, if I lent him my ear and silenced my wicked tongue, he will be a bigger man.
So with my blessings, he left his stable job, went to business, worked, did not sleep, until 1-2-3 months became 6, lost his partners (some intentionally), then lost the business.
To say that I – we – were shattered is an understatement. There was no money flowing in those six months and I was in law school (read: I was “expense”). I do not know how we survived. Perhaps, we did not.
But after the crash came a new beginning.
I just took the Bar, happy to be back at work (read: I was no longer “expense”) and I do not know when or how but I started thinking about Robert Kiyosaki and Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Mind you, I have not read the book, just some excerpts from it, did not know Kiyosaki from Adam, but I knew I wanted to be rich. So, as a good employee would, I started surfing at company expense, and surfing led me from Robert Kiyosaki’s financial coaching website to Salve Duplito’s Money Smarts (Inquirer.net). She ran an ad at that point in time, looking for guinea pigs for a financial experiment. I wrote her a quick email and got the part, the hubby in tow (it was for couples – perfect!).
The result of the first meeting with Salve’s financial planner was disastrous. If we were going by grades, he would probably have given us an F. And I do not blame him. We lived a paycheck to paycheck existence, had Php5,000 in the bank, had Php30,000 in credit card debt, one million pesos of “thank you mommy” liabilities. We had a few weapons in our arsenal too: we had no mortgage (house fully paid courtesy of early inheritance from D’s parents), I owned another house which I acquired when I was still single, and I just learned I passed the bar. He was not impressed.
In fact, in his report, the financial planner said, “While the couple’s Emergency Fund Ratio (EFR) will be over 1x by the end of 2007, the ideal ratio is 3x. The couple would need to add around Php149,000 to their annual income to meet such a ratio. To raise their savings rate to 18.1% from 6.7%, the couple would need additional annual income of Php262,000, or add 24% to their current annual income.” After this analysis, without ever explaining what the hoot it meant, or if there was any hope for us, we never saw him again.
And then we met financial planner extraordinaire. Let us call him J. At our first meeting, J had the temerity to ask us about our parents and about their money habits, about our feelings about money, stuff I considered a little too personal for a first meeting. But deep within, something soared and I knew that I wanted to be asked, that I wanted to know, and I wanted to understand.
From those first hard hitting questions came a fountain of realizations. We are a product of our parents in more ways than one. We deal with money the way they dealt with money. I was a combination of my mother who is still haunted by memories of a childhood knee-deep in flood waters, sharing a bathroom with 9 other families – I call her my “poverty-guilt mindset” – and my father, the generous gambler who died a little too suddenly – I call him my “big spender mindset”. I would spend and then feel crazy-guilty. I tell you, it was not a good feeling. I am still looking at that fountain, analyzing, learning, understanding, forgiving.
Money Smarts catalogued our one year journey from zero (or negative?) to adding more than Php411,000 (income + savings needed) to our annual income. I do not blame or mock that first financial planner. He was part of the journey. But the credit goes to Salve and J – who listened, believed and stayed.
We continue to find great people and great mentors in our journey, sharers and catalysts, friends and those who uplift and those who pin down (when we get too excited about nothing). But change is within and when I look at D, I am amazed as to how we have allowed ourselves to make this journey and change our lives.
At the beginning I said it just happened. No. It did not just happen. It was a long and arduous process. A team effort. But our conscious and subconscious allowed the want to surface until it is eliminated because the inaction turned into action.
We are still works in progress. There are still avenues to be discovered, mistakes to learn from, mentors to listen to, blessings to be claimed, mindsets to be changed.
Text by Issa. Art by D. Copyright 2009.
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