I still very much remember a few days before my 7th birthday when my mother asked me to dress nicer because we are going to a bank to open a savings account in my name. The words of my mother echoed strongly up to this date: " Inday, we are not rich and we can not spend carelessly. My priority, and your tatay's, and hopefully, yours one day, is to save for your college education. If ever we do not give you grand birthday party before, because we thought you were still young to remember the memories and make choices for yourself. Now, that you will be turning seven years old a few days from now, I would like you to know that the money we could have spent for your birthday parties were all saved, and it is about time we transfer this to your account, in your name, and where slowly, you will make guided decisions in your life, because we want you to grow up knowing the importance and value of savings. Now that you are seven years old, you now have the freedom to choose whether to have a birthday party, or add the money to the savings account we will open for you saved from all your unspent birthday parties."
I asked my mother then if I would still get a new dress, a new pair of shoes and if she would still make me sweet rice porridge in coconut milk (ginatan),
The value my parents taught me about saving for education, and how education can be the best savings is the same reason why Upromise was launched nearly a decade ago. How Upromise works is simple: members direct their spending to Upromise partners which include more than 800 online stores, 8,000+ restaurants, thousands of grocery and drugstore, and earn money for college. Anyone can earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars for college with their everyday spending with the help of some online deals and ecoupons. The money saved or earned from everyday spending can be used to contribute toward college tuition and expenses.
Though when I was younger, there may be no online deals and shopping yet, but my parents always modeled to us the same principle Upromise was built on. They showed us how to put the money we had saved from sales and deals into our bank account so the money can earn interest, and save it when we needed it most, like a college education. These days, two of my many strategies in maximizing savings is before buying anything that cost more than $50, I carefully search all online deals and compare these prices to regular stores. Whatever I saved from the best deal, I put it into my savings account, and whenever there is more than enough in my savings account, I transfer the money into higher yield investments despite it would mean I won't be able to withdraw these savings right away. As early as seven years old, I have observed the power of high yield interest. More than saving a little here and a little there from coupons and sales, I know I will earn or save a lot more if I shoot for higher interest, and most especially if we allow the interest to compound in time. Thus, the value of saving for the rainy days that has been planted into my heart and mind since I was seven years old, and was nourished continuously since then, grew in interest as well.
Spending something that we cannot afford or borrowing money is something that my parents had advised us not doing at all. My father told us there is only one reason for him to borrow money from the bank, that is to get a house loan for all of us. He chose a house where the monthly payments will still allow him to save for our college education and save for our rainy days. I never heard my father nor my mother getting stressed about paying bills since they never get anything that they cannot pay. Unlike most houses in our neighborhood, we did not have a TV, we did not have a refrigerator, we did not have a gas stove ( we cook using charcoal), but no one could tell us we lived a less happy life than the household with TV. For me, I had a very happy, peaceful and joyful childhood life, enjoying the gifts of nature and outdoors. We would go to the river or to the ocean to fish and to catch shrimp. We grew up eating mostly rice, fruits from the backyard, homegrown vegetables and root crops. Meat was such a luxury then, and eating out was still very foreign to me. We would wake up joyfully to look for mushrooms that would be in our breakfast table! We played a lot outdoors, there was just no time for us to sulk and to wish we had TV. These days, I felt like I have so much compared to what my parents had, that's why, in my heart and in my mind, there is really nothing that I want anymore. Sometimes though, I wish my mom is still alive to enjoy what we all are enjoying as well. I am so happy that I was able to treat her to dining out, to my own baked cakes (something we may be able to afford then but my parents skipped them for our college savings), and many more luxuries I could already afford after graduating from college. I am also happy to know and hear some of my mom's last words before she passed away: "I am ready to go Inday, I am so happy and content with my life, and how you all have become. We only prepared for your college education, but most of you pursued advanced degrees in your own because you lived what we had shared with you early on, that furthering your education is one of the greatest savings and investment you can do in life. I do not worry if anyone of you would be able to afford living a decent life. I am happy to witness you are all enjoying the icing in your cake. These thoughts make me so happy, so content, and I have no worries, no sadness, no complains to bring on to God when I meet Him above, I only have thanksgiving and happiness for all that He gave to me." I miss my mom, I miss her terribly, sometimes, I still cry whenever I miss her, but each time I hear the echo of her last words, and some of her early words in my early life, I smile, for both my late mom and my father has taught me and my brothers to live the "Joys of Simple Life."