Luxury cars. Designer clothes. A Ritz Carlton residence. Extravagant parties.
Every time someone uncovers more of the ridiculous wealth and lavish gifts spent and given by the Napoles, it makes me want to gouge someone's eye with a toothpick.
When I attended my province's peaceful anti-pork barrel protest, a fairly popular archbishop in the area gave a short speech to the audience. It was a speech about dishonesty being the root cause of corruption and the ills of our country.
After he left, I realized that the pork barrel scam wasn't just about plain dishonesty; it reflected our country's attitude toward money.When I got home, the thing that kept circling around my head the rest of the day was Suze Orman's first law about money:
People first. Then money. Then things.
Fact is, money matters. Sure, we know that money bears importance in our lives but for some reason we don't really value it. Our culture in general has taught us to plan for things that money can buy (in a YOLO-esque way, might I add) but not understanding the value of money itself.
Like Suze, I noticed that most people aren't comfortable talking about money. Unless you're exposed to the business, financial, or political world, the other possibilities of money is lost on us. Whether we like it or not, money affects our relationships. And sometimes, the other way around:
- A hardworking OFW often wonders why the money he sends home to his family doesn't seem to be enough.
- Your spouse wants a divorce and in the midst of the division of wealth, you have to prove how much of the wealth is actually yours and you also have to prove how much money is deemed enough for you.
-A breadwinner's sudden death can leave his family in a financial daze and they don't know how to go around collecting the insurance money.
- Your fiance' may forget to mention a hefty debt that he's bringing into the marriage.
- A toxic parent can use money to manipulate his child into financial dependency.
There is power in earning money and spending it. But there is also greater power in saving and investing. This first law is one of the most essential financial rules that can quickly help you reassess your spending habits. It also reminds you to be more respectful of money.
Loved ones, family members, friends, fellow countrymen- these are all created and kept by love. They must always be put first before money or material gains. Money can buy you a sense of security, but not love or happiness.
Orman shares this scenario in one of her books, The Courage To Be Rich:
Can you imagine going to someone's house and having them proudly show you a room filled with thousands of dollar bills and telling you the history of how all that money came to be? You would be appalled at the vulgarity. At the same time, you would think nothing of it if you were to go to someone's house and be given a tour of a room they had just decorated. What did it take to redecorate that room? Money. Money exchanged for furniture, paintings, carpeting, lamps, and so on... The difference in your perception was the value system that you applied- a room full of things is okay, where as a room full of money is not. That is because you value things more than money itself.
When financial matters are taken cared of, things come last. Orman's point is that once we valued money more than the things it can buy, we don't have to be defined by material things and the consumption culture of more more more.
We would spend money more carefully and we don't need to buy something on credit. Our debts would significantly decrease, we'd be less likely to hoard or cheat in our financial accounts. Once you're in control of your money, you'll remember where each centavo went and blings will have less control on defining who you are. Yes, there are things we can't afford to not afford but when you're confused, go back to the first rule. People first.
(In case you need more tips from Suze Orman, here's her brilliant interview at ANC)
Perhaps if we put more priority on people and money instead of things, there'll likely be less corruption at a grassroots level.
I believe that educating people about money and their attitude towards it is more empowering to our fellow countrymen than just organizing rallies and protests. The latter is fine but not the solution itself. When we're financially educated and empowered, we'd have better dialogue with our government representatives to come to a resolution regarding where our taxes will go and how it should be managed. It'd be quicker to narrow down who's using the money for the betterment of the country and who's using it to buy out a Chanel store in the glitzy shopping districts of New York.
Financial education shouldn't be limited to the business world or the rich- as long as you deal with money in your daily life, you need to know how it can work for you (in a personal sense), and how it can help build our country. Remember Japan? When they were in so much debt at the aftermath of World War II (if I remember correctly), the first thing they did was to pay off all their debts before they rebuilt the nation. Their leaders understood that in the long run, their efforts to rebuild would be for naught if their debts outweighed their money going to reparation of their country.