A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with our landlord here in Dubai and found out that his finances are in tatters. Mired in debt with no clear solution. He even owes money to relatives, friends and some people in church. I’m not talking about 5 digits of debt; he owes the bank and other people a total of AED 365K (PHP 5.152 Million)! That’s a staggering amount especially for someone whose income is not even enough to cover the monthly payments.
A lot of people in the Philippines have heard about “Inflation” so many times on TV, usually in the news whenever the reporters talk about the current economy, but never really paid much attention to it. At least not until it hit such high levels that it became very alarming. All of a sudden, people were talking about it. Some became “experts” overnight and started commenting on social media despite knowing very little about it.
After going on a 3 week holiday with Tricia to Bangkok, Singapore and Laoag, I was back to my usual weekend grind of attending Financial Literacy seminars on a Friday, a weekend.
Randell Tiongson, one of the country’s most respected experts in Personal Finance, and the Director of RFP Philippines was the first speaker during the seminar. During the seminar, Randell reminded us once again about the basics of investment planning, and how to properly plan and select our investments. I know a lot of people who want to invest but are clueless as to which investment is right for them and how to get started; but they are also not willing to spend time to learn and hear from industry experts. Instead they go to social media and ask in different Facebook groups for advice where they get trolled, or scammed. Every day I see people asking the same questions; “What is the best investment?”, “Where should I invest my 100K with a potential to earn X amount in 1 month?”, “Should I invest in Real Estate?”, etc. Despite the fact that there are a LOT of other financial advice and posts where they can freely READ information on how to plan investments and where they can go to seek professional advice, some people still prefer to just get spoon fed. Too lazy to do the necessary work. They would rather have someone else do the thinking for them.
One of the Key points that Randell discussed during the seminar was that one should select investments based on his or her Risk Tolerance, Objectives and Timeframe. If you’re a person who is about to retire 5 years from now, investing in the Stock Market is probably not the right investment for you. Stocks may have been great when the market was bullish a couple of years ago, but now that the market is bearish and with no clear signs of reversal yet in sight, you might lose sleep and leave this mortal plain early due to the anxiety if you invested in stocks today. If you are in your 20’s or 30’s then by all means go all-in on stocks because you will have more than enough time to recoup your losses and wait for the market to reverse in case the market stays bearish for a long time. If you’re planning on saving for your child’s education 10 years from now, investing in Time Deposits will not help you achieve your target amount. We need to remember that there is no such thing as BEST INVESTMENT. It all depends on what is suitable for you. Investing is never a One Size Fits All solution.
Even after you have already selected your investment, the work does not stop there. Once you have begun funding your investment, make sure to monitor it periodically. If for example you invested in the Stock Market a couple of years ago, your portfolio right now will be in the red or close to it because the recent drop has wiped out all of the gains from 2018. Analyze your positions and determine if you should add more. If you are an investor and have 20-30 more years before retiring, then you might want to add to your positions now that the index heavyweights are cheaper. If you are a trader, then you might want to avoid the market for now and put your funds somewhere else or remain in cash. After you’ve done your analysis, and studied your options make the necessary adjustments and re-balance your investment portfolio accordingly to ensure that your investments are still able to beat inflation significantly and that you are able to make money. I remember early this year during Money Talks 2018, one of the people I follow, Tony Herbosa said that we need to be like water. Don’t be too rigid. Adjust to the situation accordingly.
If you want to learn how to invest, and pick the right investment for you don’t just go to Social Media and ask questions in forums. 90% of the time you’ll only get trolled or flooded with answers that don’t make sense like, “PM me”. Go to a Financial Advisor. Ask a Financial Planner and get professional advice. Attend a Financial Literacy Seminar. Be informed so that you can make an informed decision and not just follow anyone’s advice and end up making the wrong decision, or worse- scammed. Financial Literacy seminars will only cost you anywhere between AED 100-250 depending on the topics discussed, and some are even free; but I guarantee you that the amount you’ll lose to scammers and wrong investment decisions because you didn’t have the right information are going to be way higher.
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. -Jeff Rich
Financial Literacy is very low among Filipinos. Compared to our neighbors in Asia and the US, our country has the least number of people who are financially literate, and secure. Many would attribute this to a lack of knowledge or awareness, but the sad truth is that even though Financial Literacy advocates are everywhere and offering FREE Financial Literacy Seminars and talks across the country- even abroad for the OFWs, a lot of Filipinos still cannot be bothered to attend these seminars.