Last night, I had the privilege to talk to my former colleague, Je. He is an electrical engineer, working at a design company here in Cebu, Philippines.
Je, is now on his early thirties and married. This November 2021, will be his 10 years of service to the company he works with.
“10 financial regrets?”, Je asked. Reluctant and a little bit ashamed, he started to tell carefully of where his financial regrets started.
1. Started late with life insurance
By time Je started life insurance, he is 25 years old. Some others might consider it early, but as for Je, he wished he had started when he received his first paycheck.
Every year or as you age, life insurance premiums increases in price. Youth means health, longevity and longer insurance payments. While older people are viewed as liability due to possible failing health conditions and shorter insurance payment contributions
That is why, it is advised to start young while able and still healthy. Or as the insurance company called it ‘no pre-existing medical conditions yet’.
2. Introduced late to stock market
Six years ago, Je joined stock market. He regretted that he started late and spent his early years doing nothing to increase his net worth.
Je was only introduced to the idea of stock market when he met a bunch of office mates who were into stock market and investment. They would pay to attend seminars and bought materials to supplement their investment knowledge.
Stock market, like other investments, if done right will increase in value over time. Learn, invest and be with the right people while you are still young.
3. No emergency fund
Now in his early thirties, Je couldn’t help but wished he managed his money well and build an emergency fund. Now that he is married, unexpected expenses suddenly pops up and seems never ending.
It is recommended to save at least three to six months of one’s income to build an emergency fund. Emergency fund is typically used for unexpected events in your household such as job loss, hospital and medical expenses, house maintenance, technology (for broken gadgets) and necessary travels (emergency from relatives).
4. Invested heavily on gadgets
Without a clear financial goal in his 20’s, Je spent most of his earnings on latest gadgets. He liked brands with big reputations, so he bought whatever he could afford from speakers to smartphones. By now, all of his accumulated gadgets, although functional have no real value. Some just gather dust and are too outdated to even sell.
A smartphone, for example, is said to have the highest depreciation rate amongst all gadgets. According to Gizbuyer Guide, it’s value depreciates from 33% to 75% within a year from the date of purchase.
5. Networking or Ponzi Scheme
Then young and naive, Je were to learn his first lesson about the famous ‘quick-rich’ scheme. Due to the influence and persuasion skills of some of his friends, he joined a networking scheme promising to pay a commission for every pair of people who will join. In addition to the scheme, the networking ‘company’ has overpriced wellness products such as sanitary napkins, soaps, lotions and etc., for the members to sell.
He said, he did not perform well recruiting others but he tried to sell the products. No commissions came. His only earnings, only amounted to almost equal his membership fee. He called it quits.
On the following year, another networking scheme offer has reached Je. This time no product was introduced, only promises. He joined and no money ever came back.
There were more networking schemes that came after but Je was wise enough to decline. Just recently here in Cebu, news broke out of people being scammed. They were promised a return of 50% – 70% of their money after three months. The offer is too good to be true but because of greed, people turned a blind eye and invested their hard-earned money. After they invested, they never heard of what happened to their money again.
6. Ponzi Scheme online version
You might think Je never learns. That is partly true because he once again tried to invest, this time it’s an upgraded version because it’s ONLINE! Je was promised a monthly ‘pay-out’ after a certain ‘someone’ had collected all the payments and invested it to earn more, probably on stocks and other online platforms. Sadly, there never was any certain ‘someone’ nor any investment made at the other end of the line.
An investment, in any form must be done with due diligence. After all, the money used comes from all the years of hard work and discipline. Saving money was never easy. Declining pleasure and convenience for many years just to accumulate a certain amount.
7. Spent money on womanizing
Je used to went to massage parlors whenever he had extra money. After all, he was single and available. He was influenced by his office mates, who were also then on the prime of their lives.
Now that he married, he realized he could’ve used the money on additional stocks or on emergency fund.
Like smoking or drinking, womanizing is also considered a vice. It can affect the moral and physical health of the person in the long run.
8. Gaming spender
Je used to play Clash of Clans. He got so hooked he ended up paying for ‘gems’ via Apple Pay. He spent thousands on the game but later on, after many months he lost interest. Gone are the hard-earned thousands along with his enthusiasm.
9. Lending to strangers
Je once met a nurse who needed money to pay for the broken laboratory equipments she broke while on duty. Je had only just met the nurse during his visits to his mother who was staying in the hospital. The nurse asked to borrow the money and Je lend with no hesitation.
Three years had passed and there was no payment. He reached out to the nurse only to receive a bitter and indifferent respond.
The nurse eventually paid little by little. To this day, she still has an outstanding balance and Je is unwavering in his attempt to collect payments, under the pressure of his wife.
Lending and borrowing is another financial aspect which needs due diligence. Early on my journey to frugal living, I read a very good book which impacted my principle about lending and borrowing of money. It says there, that the lender should only consider lending money to those who are;
(1) capable of paying – working with expected monthly salary,
(2) those who are skilled in their industry – if they borrow for business purposes, and
(3) those who have assets or property with greater or equal in value to the amount borrowed.
10. No other streams of income
Previously, when Je was still single, he is contented and comfortable with his salary. He believes that the salary is enough and there is no need to have a side hustle. Now that he is married, he realized he needs to have a little more for his growing family.
His belief that the salary alone was enough, was also altered when the pandemic hits. Suddenly, there was no assurance everywhere. Big businesses closed and many were jobless in just a matter of months.
Je started to have a side hustle along with his wife during the pandemic. They retail delicious food products to their neighbors and officemates. The good thing is, Je learned his lessons and acted upon it.
I also have regrets of my own. Maybe all of us had. But what’s important is that we learned and took action to become better.
May we all learn from Je’s financial regrets and live to become financially wise beyond our years.
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