By Francisco J Colayco

 

Money can create a lot of stress in relationships and it makes us behave in ways that we can’t understand. 

As someone once said, “Money does not matter when love is concerned.” In response to this, someone else might have said: “Without money, love flies out of the window!”

In truth, if you and your partner have all the ingredients of love, you will be very happy together.  But isn’t having money one of those ingredients?  Let’s think about it some more.

The poorest of the poor find love even without any money.  However, I am sure that even they would have been happier to have some money to express their love.

On the other hand, the richest man may have all the money in the world and should feel so blessed. But he will be plagued by doubt about his being loved only for his money.

I say:  Let’s try to be balanced. Having enough money should be our goal.  But what is enough?

Money management starts with an understanding of what money means to us.  In a market-driven economy like ours, money is indispensable.  It is the means to live the lifestyle we choose and to share what we have acquired.

To each according to his deeds.  This is the fundamental principle we live by.  We are responsible and accountable for our own future. We exist for a purpose, and part of that purpose is to enrich our lives and the lives of others.  To achieve this goal, we must first secure our own individual wellness.  We cannot share what we do not have.  In the end, it’s all about building financial and spiritual wealth over our lifetime.

When is one wealthy?

Depending on how one views assets and money, the concept and obligation to build wealth appear to be lost to a great majority of income earners.  Most are focused on the amount of money to be earned and spent (almost as quickly as it is earned).  Only a few plan and measure wealth in terms of assets and money relative to the amount of their time left in this world and to their other life goals, e.g. sharing their bounty with their community.

Professionals, especially those occupying finance-related managerial positions know every detail about their company’s finances and plans for growing their employer’s wealth.  Unfortunately, many of these professionals hardly pay attention to their own personal financial situation.  They focus on what they personally earn and forget that such income may not be sustainable. They get lulled into thinking that their employers will be there to always provide good income when they are actively employed and enough pension benefits when they retire.  But the sad part is that there is no guarantee to this.  The greater part of employees (at all levels) will need to augment their pension benefits so that they can sustain their chosen lifestyle after retirement.

For those who are thinking of their future, there is one important economic question to ask: “How long will you be able to sustain your chosen lifestyle if you stop actively working for money today? But is there one right answer to this question?   Is it 10 years? Is it 20 years?

A 20-year-old professional may be able to sustain his lifestyle for 5 years without working.  Is he then wealthy?  How about a 90 year old, whose net worth may also sustain him for another 5 years?  Is he wealthy? Clearly, the right answer is unique for every individual.  His age, his lifestyle, his net worth and his earning power will determine whether he is wealthy or not.  It is the individual’s values, age, lifestyle and actual personal net worth that will ultimately determine when he has achieved the a status of wealth.

Some live with a philosophy to live rich and die rich.  Some believe otherwise.  They are quite happy to live as richly as they can so that when they die, they die poor. This group puts a premium on sharing their wealth while they are alive. They measure their worth by the number of lives they touch with their resources.  They accept their mortality and their responsibility as stewards of their assets while active in this world.  They realize that they don’t have a use for money when they are gone.

Whichever philosophy we live by will determine our personal financial strategy.  Quite obviously, the financial behavior and related investment decisions of such individuals will be radically different.  Would one of them be wrong and the other right?

Common Principles

Whatever the belief, the reality is that there are two roles for every economic being: active entrepreneurship and passive entrepreneurship.  Thus, in our financial lives, the active income generating strategies and passive income generating strategies must be distinct and time-bound.

Reality also dictates that it is an obligation to learn to be a knowledgeable investor, to become a passive entrepreneur.  After all, each of us can only be an active entrepreneur for a certain part of our lives.  But each of us can be a passive entrepreneur our entire life.  This is the fundamental principle behind the need for financial planning at all stages of our financial and physical lives.

Time is of the essence.  Growing wealth is based on time and compounding of earnings and interest.  Success is better ensured when we start early.

So, going back to the lighter side of your Valentine date or gift.  Some of you may not have the opportunity to celebrate together, but may still send gifts. There is one thought I want you to remember when you celebrate Valentine’s: have a realistic budget for your celebration.

Valentine is a perfect occasion to show your love with creativity.  And creativity need not be expensive. For example, you could make you own unique valentine card, your own flower arrangement or your own brand of gift-giving.  Like Christmas, try to give something out of yourself, perhaps a personal service only you could provide.  Be imaginative, create something unique that your loved one likes!

If you really want to go out on a date, consider this advice: If your date is only a fun date, be sure that you spend only within your budget.  You should not worry too much about creating an impression about how wealthy or not you are.  After all, you are out only to have fun and you need to save money for future fun dates or for the more serious ones.

If your date is someone you want to get to know better, you should still have a budget and be careful with the impression you create about your true state of finances.  If you are really loaded and feel you don’t need a budget, maybe it is better not to show your wealth too much.  That way you might feel better knowing that your date likes you for yourself and not for your money.  If you are really struggling with your finances, don’t pretend because you might be branded as a “fake or phony.”

In the end, when you are out on a date, have fun that has nothing to do with having more money to spend, but with having more topics to talk about and things to find in common.

It’s all about LOVE and money does play a role depending on how you want it to.

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Invitation from Colayco Foundation for Education:

Visit www.colaycofoundation.com for seminars/workshops/publications that can help you and your family in the Philippines and even abroad.

 

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