“The Obstacle is the Path” – Zen Proverb

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One day, my friend lent me a book about managing finances and growing your wealth. Instead of feeling inspired, I felt discouraged. Because I felt like I could not relate to the stories of people who come from well-to-do families, pursued their love for social development, and became successful entrepreneurs too.

Thoughts, mostly negative, kept running through my head. These are wealthy people becoming wealthier. But what about those who come from humble beginnings? Those who have to help their family pay the bills? Those who once found themselves in the same financial hole I’m in? Those torn between having to make a living and pursuing their passion? Those who could barely save enough?

So I texted my friend that in order to feel inspired, I need stories of people who’s backgrounds were closer to mine.

This happened several months ago. Up until now, I am still coming across stories of successful people I could relate with. People who had very little money, but had big dreams and brave and resilient spirits.

Here are some of them:

I have two favorite lines from the articles/videos above:

“And at the end of my day with Mr. Earl he told me that his success happened not in spite of, but because of, his disability.” – The Story of Earl Crawley

“.. and you know what I found? The only difference between the superstars making millions a year and the persons merely getting by, only difference …. It’s how long they feel sorry about themselves once they get hit.” – Barbara Corcoran on the Secret to Handling Rejection

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Who says it takes money to live your dreams?

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Unexpected expenses – at home and for our MA subject project – cut off (more like gobbled up) a significant chunk of my limited budget. There were several things I was grateful for, though.

  • That I had kept an emergency fund. It was not enough to cover the expenses, but it was a BIG help. Since I already had some funds tucked in somewhere, I only had to add several hundred bucks to be able to pay the actual expense.
  • That I now believe you can be happy without spending a lot.

Your financial goals may be clear to you, but that doesn’t mean that habits that make you lose money will not creep in anymore. On those days when you just feel frustrated, you just want to spend for this and that, because it will make you feel better. On such days, when you keep yourself from buying something, you start pitying yourself, and you begin to tell yourself: What financial freedom? I want to be happy now!! Etc. You get the picture.

So lately, I’ve been telling myself: I will be happy without ruining my budget. I think when you just ask the Universe for what you really want, and take steps in that direction, it will really be given to you.

A week ago, a friend called to ask if I wanted extra tickets to Ateneo Blue Symphony’s concert, Lean on Me. It was a benefit concert for the Philippine Red Cross’ relief efforts. The concert also featured the Ateneo College Glee Club and the Ateneo Grade School Choir. So I went and I REALLY enjoyed the show.

Then, that same day, my friend told me she has a ticket to Untold, the anniversary concert of CADs (Company of Ateneo Dancers). Of course, I asked if there was still an extra ticket. And on the day of the concert, she told me she wasn’t sure she could get one for me. So I just said, “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.” I was already telling myself I’d jog if I don’t get a ticket. One way or another, I’ll have a fun and relaxing Friday night. In the afternoon, she called up and said she was able to get one for me. 😀 And I just loved the concert. They were not merely dancing. Each performance was telling a story. Most make you laugh, some make you teary eyed. I just really, really loved it.

So two other things I am grateful for are these:

  • Having friends who share their blessings with you. I hope I can do the same for them. 🙂
  • Both concerts reminded me of my dream to play music and learn how to dance. If these college students can find the time to pursue their passion, I can, too. So I asked myself, “What’s my excuse? What’s holding me back?” I guess it’s time to pick up that guitar, take that violin lesson. And maybe, it’s time to simply dance.

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Save. Invest. Be Fashionable. Keep learning.

I strongly believe handling personal finances should have been taught as early as grade school.

Until recently, I believed it was impossible for me to save because:

  • I have a limited salary.
  • I am taking (and thus spending for) my masters.
  • I have debts to pay (which I incurred also to help my family).
  • The funds are simply not enough.

But I have long learned (though did not practice) the equation that, in order for you to save, should be:

INCOME – SAVINGS = EXPENSES

I did not believe this was possible until I simply began setting aside a small amount per month. This amount continues to grow.

I also used to believe that I can’t invest. There simply isn’t any money left to invest. But my friend lent me books, and as I continued reading (even articles online), I began to realize, maybe there’s a way for me to do this.

Late last year, I found a way to raise funds to begin investing in stocks. Yes, it’s a risk, but I was also relying on recommendations of my friend who is a member of the Truly Rich Club. Would I recommend this to everyone? I don’t know. Have I earned significantly? Not yet. But whenever I would look back and recall how only last year I started from nothing and thought I could not do this, I realize, I have made some progress. Here I am now, reading about stocks and other investment options, learning more and more, taking risks. Then I realized, even if it was hard given the tight budget, I was able to set aside a small amount each month just for this.

I have also begun tracking all my expenses. It was depressing most of the time, but it helped me realize where I had been very irrational in terms of budget projections, and also where I am spending unnecessarily.

I continue to work on growing my knowledge about investment and managing personal finance. More importantly, I am beginning to address my own poverty mindset. I only recently realized that despite my high educational background and my skills, deep within, I could not comprehend getting paid a lot for what I can do. I thought this was all I could have. I was also scared of trying something new. I turned down opportunities. I also did not pursue others which may open new doors for me. Because I was scared I’m not good enough. And because I could not believe I deserved a prosperous life, and have the capacity to get there, I keep sabotaging my own success.

So now, as I learn to say “Yes!” to life, I also say “Yes!” to financial freedom. And I know it is going to be one of the most exciting and fulfilling adventures of my life.

And to those of you who are also starting from a place of negative balance sheets but have the desire to finally make a change, I’d like to share with you some books/articles/sites that helped me and continue to help me in my own journey.

  • Wealth Within Your Reach: Pera Mo, Palaguin Mo by Francisco Colayco – This book is a step-by-step guide to wealth building. I love how concepts were explained in layman’s terms. This is only one of several books written by the author. He also has a blog. Go check it out.
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
  • How to Turn Your Passion into Profit by Bo Sanchez and Dean Pax Lapid
  • If you wish to learn more about investing in stocks, you may check out COL Financial’s site. You can attend one of their free seminars too.
  • The Simply Luxurious Life. One big reason why I love this blog is because of the author’s several articles about keeping a certain standard of living without ruining your budget. You can be fashionable and enjoy life’s perks WHILE being smart about your money. Here’s one article I loved, Why Not … Build a Capsule Wardrobe on a Budget? 

Happy reading! And may you begin applying the things you learn … starting today. 🙂