For Filipinos: Financial Literacy 101
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - January 11, 2019 - 12:00am

My friends and associates always ask me how I managed to transform my life from an existence of financial dependence on loan sharks and usurers to that of a financially independent person. When I came to Manila in 1974, the only possessions I had were two pair of pants, three shirts, and an old, worn-out pair of shoes.

Today, modesty aside, I have real estate properties, a number of cars, and many other properties, including the ancestral land of my parents and grandparents, which belong to me by purchase for value, and in due course of legitimate transactions. I have no unpaid loans and I am receiving pensions from both the SSS and the GSIS. I have sent all my five children to Ateneo, La Salle, UP, Assumption, and International School. I often travel abroad to the USA, Europe, and around Asia.

And I am still earning today, in my late sixties, as a Law books author, Law professor, Bar reviewer, consultant, and practicing lawyer. Thus, I might have earned the right to teach financial literacy to my fellow Filipinos. I did teach this subject to the thousands of OFWs in Malaysia, Kuwait, and Taiwan when I worked as a labor attaché for nine years in those three countries.

My first lesson is never be contented with a single source of income. Every Filipino must have a sideline, either selling food items or appliances, or even beauty products, insurance policies, or real estate. I was working in San Miguel for 12 years, and at night and on weekends, I was teaching in the colleges of law of UE, UST, FEU, CEU, and San Sebastian. I wrote books and conducted Bar review classes. I had multiple sources of income.

Secondly, I believe in a strict budgetary system. I spend only 50 percent of my net income. I saved 25 percent of my income in fixed time deposits. I also invested the other 25 percent. I engaged in the business of selling Bar review materials and I wrote and printed my own textbooks. I also started to buy pieces of land in our ancestral town and barangay in Ronda, Cebu.

I bought cows, goats and carabaos to be used in our farms in Langin, Ronda town, Cebu. I used to buy mosquito nets and blankets from Argao and sold them in Manila. This was a small business I learned from my late mother who used to sell “tableya” chocolates to classmates and fellow teachers.

Third, I never believed in credit cards. I paid off all the debts of my parents and I never spent more than I earned. I also did not spend money that I have not yet earned. I bought only the bare necessities. That is why I was able to save enough. I bought my first real estate in Metro Manila and built my first house without any loan from the bank. I am very disciplined when it comes to money that I earned through hard work and honest devotion to my job.

My employers always vouched for my character and attitude, I was often promoted and given a raise without me asking. I was offered jobs by big companies like Petron, Pepsi, and even PAL. I feel that I really learned financial literacy because I was born very poor. My humble beginnings formed my character.

I was only a 12-year-old school janitor in the SWU high school library in 1962. I was a squatter along B. Rodriguez for more than five years. Now, I have the pride and dignity to teach financial literacy.

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