I wrote this blog because I often see articles on Facebook that seemed to suggest that millenials should save while they are young and invest in their future instead of traveling or living the life they want to live in the present. While I agree that saving for the future is important, I also believe that everyone has the right to spend and enjoy life while they are still young. By “right” I mean free from criticisms, stigma and judgment. I don’t particularly like it when these people (most of them networking rep or members of multilevel marketing companies) make it appear as if spending my hard earned money on things that I want is like the biggest sin ever. One guy, a former school mate and friend of mine who has been recruiting me to join him in his networking business even asked me how long I’ve been working in the corporate world and did I ever get sad when I look at my bank account and I was like, “LOL, dude no.” I mean, why are these people acting like they are some financial experts who can tell me what and what not to do with my hard-earned moolahs? Who gave these bastards the right to criticize me when I do the things that make me human? B*tch, y’all can post those sickening “travel now pulubi later” memes but b*tch it’s my money, I can do whatever I want with it so mind your own savings and don’t act like you’re my fucking accountant because really dear, you do not know a thing about the struggles I’ve been through to get to where I am now. Do not make pre-assumptions if you have never walked the very path that I’ve been through. Moreover, I wrote this blog to address an old issue that has been bothering me: our so-called friends who just can’t be happy for us.
1. You can spend your hard-earned money but don’t forget to live beyond your means.
In this generation where elite young social climbers who will do anything for the latest iPhone are quickly taking over our conservative society, we are repeatedly told to live beyond our means. For Filipino millenials, that basically means work now and save our money instead of spending it even on things we love to do such as traveling, buying gadgets, getting a car, or living in a beautiful place in the heart of the city. We are mocked when we buy coffee at Starbucks because we are not born rich and therefore do not deserve it. People raise their eyebrows when they see us traveling because they think it is luxury. Our relatives take it against us when they see us wearing branded clothes and shoes because they think we should just wear clothes bought out of Baclaran and Divisoria because that’s what we, the commoners do. Don’t get me wrong, I love to buy stuff from Baclaran and Divisoria but I also get annoying reactions from my relatives when I buy stuff from Uniqlo, F&H and Zara. They look at me from head to foot and kind of make it appear like it was a waste of money because I don’t look like the typical rich kid with Nivea fair complexions so the branded clothes won’t fit me. Hey, I’m proud of my moreno skin and I do not use Kojic whitening soap but saying branded clothes won’t fit me is just like saying all the moreno people cannot wear branded clothes. Seriously, this is the kind of society we belong to and it’s gross. I believe that as long as it’s your money, you can spend it in anyway you want. Just be responsible with the outcome.
2. If you are born poor, you can change your life by working hard.
The problem with the Filipino society is that we are so used to the poor lifestyle that we limit what we can achieve (or in this case, what we can afford) in life. We are so used to being called “a third world” country that we no longer want to move up or change it. We are so used to living a “simple” life of “isang kahig isang tuka” (paycheck to paycheck) that we quickly judge those who want to change the status quo. We believe that because we are born poor, we should just act like a poor person for the rest of our dear lives because acting otherwise is hypocrisy. We kind of entangled ourselves in our gross colonial mentalities that we don’t seem to realize that we are living in a free country now. We have the freedom to choose whether to get stuck in poverty or work harder to uplift our standard of living so that our kids and their kids will not be born poor like we once were.
3. Do not deprive yourself of the things that make you happy.
Why deprive yourself of all the enjoyment that this life can offer when you can have a great job and can afford the life? Yes, you are not born rich but with your newly-acquired college education and professional skills, you certainly have the power to change your life. You can do anything and be anything you want as long as you work hard for it. That being said, I think posting great photos of your travel adventures or your new car on social media is not “pretending” to be rich as what our insecure bashers say it is. For as long as you don’t borrow money from other people just to show off, you’re totally fine. I think sipping Starbucks while wearing Dr. Martens is fine as long as you still have enough budget for the next three months. I think traveling is fine as long as you have saved and planned enough for the entire trip the previous year. Not to mention, traveling is not as expensive as ignorant people in the Philippines think. There’s a lot of airline and hotel accomodation promos online if you are keen enough to find them. Just because you do not know those perks exist does not mean they don’t. Also, what’s the whole point in saving for the future if you are not happy in your present? Yes you have saved millions but you won’t enjoy it that much when you’re 60 years old. I would prefer to spend my money and go skydiving, snorkeling and traveling while I’m still so young and strong so that I will have stories to tell to my grandkids when my hair is grey. I don’t want to be a sad and empty old chap who has money but cannot do nothing with it anymore. So I’d say shutdown your relatives and friends who consistently tell you that you may be spending a lot. They do not have a frigging say on what you’re doing with your life because you’re working hard for all of it.
4. Do not listen to people who tell you what and what not to do with your money.
So what is wrong with people who question others who just want to enjoy the fruits of their labor? I will go anywhere I want to because I deserve to see the world. I will buy that high-end gadget because I spent the previous year working my ass up to get it. I will buy that cool Adidas or Nike because I’ve dreamed of wearing those brands eversince I was young and because I never had a new pair of shoes growing up. (A short story: when I was in elementary, my parents couldn’t afford even the cheapest shoes so I never had a pair. All of my shoes were either pre-loved or worn out pairs from our rich neighbors. You see where I am coming from now?)
People have different experiences growing up and those experiences contribute to how we make decisions today. I was deprived of many things while growing up and while I was thought not to be too materialistic, part of the normal kid in me dreamed of riding a bike, owning a new pair of shoes, having new toys that aren’t made from wood etc. so I told myself I’m gonna finish my studies and buy those things for myself. And I did.
5. It’s okay not to have a lot of savings.
Having a considerable amount of money in the bank is a wise thing to do and should be everyone’s main priority but if you grew up in the Philippines; chances are, you are burdened with many responsibilities from the moment you graduated from college to the time you landed your first job —from paying the bills at home to providing for your entire family. And while there are vlogs that tell us that it is not our obligation to support our family members, it is a completely different situation in this country. And it is harder to relinquish ourselves from these obligations especially since we grew up being told of what our roles should be. In the Philippines, we grew up in extended families with very strong family ties. We were raised to be compassionate and generous and caring and to never leave our family behind. In other words, we were raised to be “martyrs” who will do anything for the family. We grew up to be the “breadwinner,” the hero of the family, the one who will save the clan from poverty and whatnot. Saving money for ourselves then becomes a challenge because our earnings are generally pre-distributed to various needs even before we receive it. Again, it is very important that we save for our future but it is fine if you can’t save much. You know where the bulk of your money goes anyway and it is a choice you make whether you should start to teach your family how to fish or continue following the Filipino tradition and suffer the same dilemma. Still, I wouldn’t downplay the importance of having at least an emergency fund if you cannot save more. The whole point is, it is a choice you make. When it comes to your money, you reap the consequences of your actions. You are accountable to your own money and where it goes.
6. An insurance is a must.
While it is a challenge to save money as a breadwinner, you are definitely putting yourself and your whole family at risk if you do not have at least one insurance policy. An insurance policy is a must have for millenials like us with active lifestyles and fondness for extreme activities. An insurance is different from an emergency fund in a way that you can reap its benefits even if you have not fully paid it yet. An emergency fund depends on how much you have invested in it. If you have saved P80,000 in your emergency fund, that’s what you”ll get by the time you need it. An insurance policy entitles you to more benefits that you actually paid for. It takes care of the people you love when you can no longer do it for them. You need to at least make sure that when something happens to you, your entire family will not scramble in order to get you a decent funeral service. If you truly love your family, talk to a Financial Advisor now.
7. Crab mentality is the disease of the nation.
The problem with the Filipino society is that there are too many righteous people around us who make it their business to interfere in other people’s lives. We kind of like to shove our own beliefs on other people’s faces not knowing that they too have their own. It’s called respect; respect to the beliefs and personal principles of others and that’s what most Filipinos lack. Just because you cannot afford to travel doesn’t mean your friends or relatives should also stop traveling. Just because you like to wear things from Baclaran and Divisoria does not mean I should also wear them. Other people simply want to uplift their lives and you do not have the right to stop them. If I work in a corporate world and want to buy a car in the Philippines, chances are my “so-called friends” will raise a brow and brand me as a social climber not knowing what “social climber” actually means. In the Philippines, if I travel too many times and post my pictures on Facebook, people will criticize me and say I am a show off. If they see me doing well based on my social media posts, they will make up stories to discredit my attempt at having a great life eventhough I never interfered with theirs.
Crab mentality is a common Filipino trait that I do not understand and cannot tolerate especially if it comes from people who I expect more from like my “so called educated friends.” Having said that, I’d say the real problem is not the growing number of millenials who want to change their lives but the presence of conservative, judgmental, insecure, and envious people in our own circles. More often than not, these people also pretend to be our friends. They make you feel like they are happy for you and your achievements but secretly devicing a plot to put you down.
8. Our friends want to see us do good but never better than them.
When I started posting photos of a new car I recently bought, some people quickly concluded that I’m a social climber. Some of them even asked whose car it was because they thought I was just using someone else’s car as a prop to make it look like I own one. When the news about what some of my “so called friends” were talking about reached me, my first reaction was more of disappointed rather than angry. I was disappointed because I thought they were intellectual and highly-educated people. It turned out that they are as low as the gossipmongers in the slums of Manila. It seems to me that a person can achieve so much success in life, travel the world and meet new people but still remain grossly ignorant and narrowminded.
The truth is, your so-called friends want to see you doing well in life but never better than them. When they see you doing great, their immediate reaction is to discredit our achievement and make up stories to put us down. There are some people who are obviously doing so much better than you, having more money than you, travelled to more countries than you’ve ever been to, but for some inexplicable reason they are still envious of your little feat. I kind of shake my head when I see or hear about these people because I personally know some of them. I keep asking myself why these people, despite of their success still choose to gossip and belittle others. To me, it reflects how sad and miserable and pathetic these people are regardless of their money and status in life. You cannot expect some people to feel happy for you and your achievements. They are just not thrilled and they will never be because they see you as a threat. You however, do not owe these people an explanation. The less fuck you give, the better.
9. You’re strong enough to win without a war.
Time and time again, you’ll run into misunderstandings with friends or family members because of differences in opinion or just their plain stupidity and ignorance. You, being the rational one cannot stand their B.S. so you struggle to put up with it until you’ve had enough. There are times when the other party would try to taunt and capitalize in your silence because they see it as weakness but really it was you being nice to them because you knew that a confrontation is useless. You do not need to fight these people. They can bully and talk behind your back and you couldn’t care less for as long as they don’t physically confront or hurt you. I have my so-called friends who constantly try to taunt me either by posting annoying statuses on social media or by talking behind my back but I never fought back because I knew it would not change a thing. They are my enemies and they will never like me no matter what I do. So just stand your ground and don’t let any of these things stop you. Sometimes, the best wars are won by not fighting at all because you do not need anyone’s validation. You do not owe them trouble. Do not fall into their trap. It will make you one of them.
10. Social media isn’t everything.
You can block people you don’t want to see on social media if that would help you get a peace of mind. Not everyone has the strength to stand negative people and their shitty posts so do not hesitate to block them if you ever feel the need to. You can also remove people who are not necessarily negative but mostly because you don’t personally know them and you don’t have a common interest or real life interaction. These people do not deserve to see your life updates. Either they don’t give a fuck or they maliciously do. Reserve your social media to people who know you and who deserve to see your milestones.
In this era where social media likes and comments kind of affect how we live our daily lives, it is easy to get offended when we don’t get likes or comments to our posts. One thing I’ve learned is that the number of likes and comments in our posts do not define us. It certainly should not affect our self-esteem. I have stopped counting the likes and started looking for real people who I can have real and genuine conversation with instead.
11. It’s okay to let some people go.
One of the greatest quotes I’ve come across with goes something like this, “Do not be afraid to lose people. Be afraid to lose your true self by trying to please everyone.” And I couldn’t agree more because in life, you just cannot be with everyone forever. Time and time again, you will come across people with different point of views and no matter how you try to be nice to them, they will eventually irk you and ruin your day. You can avoid these type of people. You can say no to them. You don’t have to accept their fake friendship just so you wouldn’t hurt their fake feelings. Save yourself from the person that you might become if you keep joining these people. If some of your so-called friends are always trying to pull you down, making you the subject of their jokes in private chatrooms where you aren’t invited, cut your ties with them. Never be afraid to lose friends because the fact that you are contemplating whether to let them go or not is proof enough that you have to. Same thing goes with a failing relationship. If you feel like your partner is making it impossible for you to grow and be the kind of person you need to be, shut them out of your life. A person who loves you will never hinder your progress. They will support and love you the way you are. Otherwise, you’re with the wrong person.
12. Be yourself and be proud of who you are.
While you can be anything or anyone you want to be in life, please do not forget to be yourself. Please do not forget your roots and the people who have helped you get to where you are today. It is easy to get lost in all the beauty and glam of this world especially when they’re suddenly just within your reach but remember to never forget where you came from. For as long as you know yourself, you will stay true to it and work hard to be better than your past self. Remember, the only competition you are in is with your previous self. Do not be afraid to fight for the things that you believe in. Do not let the opinion of other people destroy your inner piece. You are original and there’s no one better.
13. Take care of your health.
Health is wealth. We often hear this from fitness enthusiasts or see this from Instagram hashtags. But what does it take to really care for one’s health? For someone who was diagnosed with a lump in his lungs, I’d say not much. Why? Because really, it is not that hard to take care of our health but we often ignore it either because we are busy making a living or we feel that we don’t need to because we’re okay. I am guilty of both and look at what happened to me. But sometimes, being okay or not seeing any symptoms does not mean our health is doing fine. There are many illness and diseases that don’t show any symptoms until it is too late. Other illnesses just don’t have symptoms at all. I used to avoid health checkups before. Oftentimes, I would even skip the free medical checkups provided at work. But after I got the lump inside my chest and was hospitalized for nearly a year, I have learned the importance of seeing my doctor every once in awhile to do a random health check or tests just to make sure everything in my body is really in good condition. Prevention is better than cure. If you are working and have a free health card, take advantage of it. Nobody would take care of your body and health if you don’t. And it would be depressing once you know it is too late to do so.
14. Live and let live.
As I grow older, I have learned the importance of respect and seeing the good in everything. I have stopped judging other people based on what they post on social media. I started feeling happy for other people for their achievements instead of being envious because I know that it’s okay not to have everything in this life. I started to celebrate my friends’ season and accept that maybe if I work hard enough I can also celebrate mine. I stopped gossiping about other people’s personal life because that is none of my business. I have started to shift my focus on my own career path and life goals. I have begun to choose the people who have chosen me and acknowledged those who never gave up befriending me. I have learned to be the bigger person in every situation when other people, in many occassions, won’t do the same for me. I started to live and let live because that’s the secret to a happy and contented life.
At the end of the day, you have absolute power on how your life will turn out because everything is a choice you make. Work hard, spend your money on things that make you happy, save if you can, live life to the fullest because that’s what you are here for. There is no turning back to the past or present once they’re gone. Why waste the right time to enjoy life when you are in your youth and has all the energy and strength to do anything and everything? Why save too much and wait until you are an old man before you see the world out there? What’s good in being a billionaire when you are 70 years old? What would be your best story if you have a lot of money but too old to travel or buy the modern gadget? What good it be to have so much wealth when you can no longer see clearly or hear effectively? Stop telling people to stop doing what makes them happy. Stop spreading lies about the future when nobody knows what it would be. Live in the present because that’s what we all have for now. And if you die tomorrow, at least you have experienced a lot and did a lot in your life. At least you have lived your life the way you wanted it.
Scott Tonges, one of my favorite writers, once said this in his piece called “5 things I wish I’d known in my 30s before owning a house and having kids,”
“You need to become critical of your life. Ask ‘why’, and ensure the answer aligns with your true self. After all, you’re the one living your life — not your parents, friends, bosses, co-workers, relatives or strangers.”