Updated: January 14, 2021
Cash is king.
This expression has never been more important than in 2020 when the world faced a public health crisis that affected millions of people and businesses.
In the Philippines, many lost their jobs and livelihood as the country went into community quarantine. With limited mobility, health risks, and general uncertainties – many felt anxious and doubtful about the future.
During these times, having an emergency fund provided respite to those whose income has been affected by the pandemic. But while we already see the light at the end of the tunnel with the development of vaccines, there’s still a lot of ground to cover before we can finally come out of this crisis.
A Teacher’s Story
Recently, I was able to talk to a friend and ask how she managed her finances in the past year. I found her story inspirational and got her permission to share it with you today.
My friend, Tricia works as a senior high school teacher in an integrated national high school in Bulacan. While she’s fortunate to have received continuous salary last year, the shift to blended learning, as instructed by the Department of Education, has certainly brought forth its own financial challenges.
After careful study of her cash flow, she deemed it necessary for her to take out a Teacher’s Loan to be able to upgrade her laptop, buy a webcam, and set up a work desk and area at home.
Meanwhile, the cash aid that their family received from the government, she allocated for the additional spending on alcohol, face masks, and other pandemic essentials.
She told me that it took her a couple of months before she could properly adjust her budgeting. But with patience and financial discipline, her family’s finances were able to adapt to the new normal.
In addition, she’s especially grateful to her mother, who saw the crisis as an opportunity to be entrepreneurial. To earn extra income, her mother thought of selling “lutong bahay ulam” to the neighborhood. She’s always found her mother’s cooking to be delicious, and that’s why it’s no surprise that her small enterprise became profitable.
Her mother’s venture is one of the many inspirational stories of Pinoy entrepreneurship that happened in 2020. Social media and news outlets have regularly featured such resourceful and innovative displays of business grit in various parts of the country.
Among those I remember are that of Samad Maulana, a tricycle driver from Quezon City, who started a barbecue stall. And Cristy Diaz, a feature I saw on television, who learned how to sell food and essential items online to earn income for her family.
If you want to read more, then check out this article which features Lulu Saquing, Eduardo Azores, Josephine Saig, and Rosanna Serwelas – Pinoys who found business opportunities in the midst of crisis.
Lessons and Plans
I asked Tricia what her plans are for the coming year. She says that as their household’s cash flow becomes more stable, she’s planning to replenish her savings and perhaps open a new savings account that’s separate from her bank’s salary account. She believes that putting the money in a different savings account will help her avoid the temptation to spend the money unnecessarily.
Moreover, she shares that if her mother is willing to do it full-time, she’ll support her venture and grow her home-based food business into an eatery. For this, she can explore business loan products, especially from institutions that cater to micro-entrepreneurs. Rural banks, for example, have been assisting MSME’s to recover and get back on their feet from the continued impact of the pandemic.
Lastly, I asked her what’s the best financial lesson she learned in 2020. And without a second thought, she says that it’s having the patience to sit down and make time to study her budget. If it was not for her willingness to analyze their family’s spending and cost of living, she wouldn’t be able to properly navigate their finances through the crisis.