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Road to Financial Freedom


· Volume I Issue I

Eight years ago, I heard about the book of Robert Kiyosaki titled “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” while my favorite college professor was discussing stuff related to people's financial lives during our class.
I was all ears when she exclaimed that this was a must-read book if we want to receive financial growth. Of course who would not want to be financially blessed? It got me hooked, so I set aside a portion of my allowance everyday until I had substantial amount to buy it.

That book jump started my journey to financial freedom. I learned torrent of new ideas about the term ‘financial literacy’. Because it dispels the myths surrounding money, I had to remove so many cobwebs I had in mind. It seemed like the more I knew, the more confused I became. But I didn't stop. I kept learning all sorts of information, watched videos and seminars, delved into books, and in doing so, it gave me a whole new perspective about money; I was awakened by the importance of financial literacy and finally decided to take charge of my financial future.

The next thing I knew I regarded myself as an advocate for financial literacy education in my own terms. So, I asked myself, what do I have to offer really? I realized that I am no different from the rest who have nothing much. But then, this quest will be meaningless if I cannot share the lessons I gained into my future students. I wondered how?

Fast forward to August 2017, my former colleague, who’s already working in DepEd Pasig, sent me an invitation to join a seven-day seminar-workshop in Laguna. At first, I was a bit hesitant to go because of the professional errands that would be left in school for a week, and besides, my friend told me it would be a tedious workshop as we would develop modules for the K to 12 curriculum. I didn't know what to expect then. But when I learned that some of my former colleagues were also selected as curriculum writers, my desire to go there grew as the days went by. But aside from seeing them again, there was a deeper purpose for my participation; I found the perfect opportunity to make an impact with. The workshop served as my vehicle to partake on this concrete move to equip youngsters with knowledge and skills through developing financial literacy education competencies across grade levels. Needless to say, I owe much gratitude to Bureau of Curriculum Development; their continued trust in my capability sustains my motivation to share whatever knowledge I have accumulated. To date, the exemplars we have made are still a work-in-progress; it was quite a challenging task but the rewards could be astronomical especially for the Filipino learners.
Now the important question however is: Why is there a need to integrate Financial Literacy to the existing K to 12 curriculum?

Somewhere along the way, there are blocks we encounter on the road - these are internal conflicts that make it difficult for an individual to achieve financial growth:

Block No. 1: Scarcity mindset
In reality, there are many people who are trapped into a “scarcity mentality”.
Bo Sanchez, lay preacher and entrepreneur, says, “a money problem is a mind problem, and it's possible that scarcity mindset comes from wrong beliefs: The poor think they deserve to be poor; that money was the tool of the devil, and rich people are crooks, so why would you want to become rich if you think that rich people are bad?”

Having this negative concept about money prevent people from growing financially.
I have also noticed that a lot of people think that to be financially literate, they should be an accountant or to have a college degree in finance and other related courses. That is not true. There is a lot to learn, and it all starts about developing abundance mindset in the right quadrant and influence. Unless we change our mindset, nothing will happen. We have seen where a lack of financial programming can lead.
Take for example the investment scam that involved the followers of Kapa Ministry International in Davao who were allegedly defrauded of up to P50 billion. True to what Warren Buffet, America’s richest investor says, “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” Their vulnerability is caused by having a lack of information and illiteracy. And for that matter, a lawmaker proposed financial literacy in high school curriculum recently because Filipinos are investing in anything that they don’t fully understand.

Block No. 2: My parents, my financial mentors
“Study hard and get good grades so you can land a safe secure job and become rich.” Have you heard this before?
Most of us learn about money from our traditional Filipino parents. I also held to this idea while I was growing up because my parents believed strongly in education. At least in our culture, this conventional wisdom is deeply rooted if I may say, though it may sound ideal, but is it adequate? The perception is if you excelled in studies, abundance would follow. But, if it's that simple, how come everyone is not rich or successful despite earning a good salary or obtaining a profession? Why would someone become a victim of dubious scams despite of being educated? Why do people spend their lives buying liabilities which they think are assets?
Learning financial literacy should not be left to chance.
Robert Kiyosaki says:
Because students leave school without financial skills, millions of educated people pursue their profession successfully, but later find themselves struggling financially. They work harder but don’t get ahead. It is not how to make money, but how to manage money.”
Aside from our parents being our first financial mentors, the above statement explains why many people, myself included, know little to nothing about how money works and minding our ‘own’ business. We just focus on earning money but are poor in managing finances.
Our country is filled with brilliant, talented, and educated individuals but I am always in shock at how they struggle everyday to make ends meet. I used to think that a good education, a stable job, and years of hard work were the formula you need to be successful. However, in its truest sense, financial success is no longer solely defined by academic nor professional success, as it once was.

Block No. 3: Schools produce employers, not entrepreneurs
It’s clear that there’s one thing we can all agree on - financial education is non-existent in school. Why is this so?
I have a tremendous respect for education and learning but the schools seem to focus on the word ‘literacy’ and not ‘financial literacy’. Illiteracy, both in words and numbers, is the foundation of financial stress according to my mentor. Aside from this, schools train good employees, instead of employers. It has prepared us to learn a profession because it's easier to get a job and work for money. There should be a balance.
The three blocks presented above are the most critical part of our journey to financial independence. Sadly, when it comes to handling finances, the skills that most people know is just to earn money, spend it, borrow and repeat. So how do we solve many of life's common problems then?

When we leave school, we may just throw our books away and what remains is our ability to think critically and how to handle money wisely. That's why I firmly believe that we need to invest not just on academic and professional skills, but also on financial education most importantly. Because every life event involves financial decision, acquiring greater financial intelligence is the key to survive. Thus, if we want to harvest a financially literate individual, we need to plant a ‘value’ in our educational system so that the seeds will branch forth and serve its purpose in due time. It is indeed what ‘we know’ that will be our greatest asset and ultimately, the road to financial freedom.