By Edmund Lao
The Ghost month is over. Here comes the BER! No this is not about the stock market. Whenever people hear that the bear is here, they know that the stock market is falling. It is also during the month of August that investors, especially the Chinese, refrain from investing and festivities, owing to the belief that doing so will not do any good during the Ghost Month. It is also the same month that the stock market goes the south direction. Surprisingly, this year’s Ghost Month had the stock market going up and there are more people who invested especially in Mutual Funds.
Now, here comes the BER months. September marks the beginning of the BER months which is also the time for celebrations and, of course, the time extra money comes in. When the BER months start, it signals the arrival of the Christmas season. People start to shop early for the gift-giving seasons, spending the money that has not yet come in. And when the extra pay-check arrives, it will only stay in their pocket for only a few days because it will be used to pay off expenses made in the past.
My 25 years in the corporate world proved to me that we can build our future funds by saving/investing the holiday bonuses. My logic was that if I was able to live on my monthly salary, then I can live without these bonuses like 13th month pay, sick leave and vacation leave conversion, mid-year and year-end bonus. So when these extra funds came in, I have no place to put them except in the investment instruments.
Assuming a person earns a monthly income of fifteen thousand pesos. His holiday pay would have been at least thirty thousand pesos. Imagine investing these yearly for 20 years. He would have invested a total of six hundred thousand pesos. But definitely his investment value would have been millions already 20 years after.
The BER months are the most exciting of all months of the year and it only takes a small effort to make a big change in one’s personal finance.
Below are some suggestions for the upcoming gift-giving season:
- Recycle gifts. There are gifts that nay have been given to you that you are not using. You can gift it back to others who may find it useful. Others may find it awkward but practically speaking, it not only helps you de-clutter your space, and you also save on money by not buying gifts anymore.
- Buy on SALE. There are regular madness sales by the malls every now and then. Buy practical gifts that are on sale which comes with 30-50% off their standard price. Let me share an experience. Once I dropped by Watson. I chanced upon a mouthwash that was on sale by almost 50% off the regular price. You may want to check Watson every now and then for some quality items that may be sold at a discount.
- Buy from Divisoria. When I was younger, my sister would often tell me they are going to Divine. So I asked what place is that. I learned it was their code name for Divisoria. True enough, it is really divine for the prices are very much affordable. Just make sure you check the item before you buy. Divisoria is a shoppers’ paradise.
- Buy from Online stores. The internet is full of online stores full of bargain items. You may want to give a friend gift cheques which you can be purchased with 30-50% discount. Gift cheques are a nice thing to give especially those from restaurants. It is a great gift especially for Christmas where families bond together in this season.
- Make your own gift. Sometimes, gifts can be made from one’s creativity. These gifts can be in the form of food, items, caricatures, etc. Most of the times, gifts coming from creativity can be a source of a business idea for the gift-giver.
- Gift of Time. Sometimes people do not want material things. Just like our old parents, what they want from us is the gift of time. They may not have given us their time before because they worked hard to provide for us. It is now a time that we give them the time that they may not had with us before. As a saying goes, “Time is the best gift you can give because by doing so, you are giving a part of yourself”.
- Invest. This is the most important part. As everyone says, Christmas is a season of love and giving. Before we can love and give to others, we must learn to love and give to ourselves. For how can we be able to give what we do not have? It is imperative to love and give yourself first before you can do to others. Whatever you receive on this BER Month, make it a point to start saving and investing. Because doing so, you have the opportunity to make your money work for you and when the time comes that it has grown, you have a better opportunity to become a blessing to others even if is not a Christmas season. Since we celebrate the coming Christmas season as remembering the birth of Jesus Christ (which according to history is a pagan practice), why not follow Jesus’ commandment of saving money and investing as he illustrated in the Parable of the Talent? God wants us to obey so He blesses us more. Wouldn’t you want to be a blessing to others during the Christmas season without getting financially strained?
Always remember to keep your emotions in check. Do not give in to the temptation of impulse buying. Think before you buy…
Advanced Happy Holidays!