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[The Library] What is the path to meaningful wealth?

Key Takeaway: Becoming wealthy can be purposeful if properly and responsibly managed. In fact, we are all called to this, as it shows awareness towards wealth, the self, and even others (like our families). Furthermore, meaningful wealth arises from a purposeful change in thinking and proper education in financial literacy: wealth creation, protection, and conservation.


University of the Philippines

One of the realities of doing social innovation in the Philippines Рand other similar countries Рis that it would be inevitable to involve the poor. Many social enterprises in the Philippines are in fact centered on bringing a community of financially- and opportunity-challenged individuals out of poverty, made popular by the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm and its affiliates.

But there’s another stark reality, one that not everyone really realizes, or one that makes people cynical about social development in the country.

Not everyone wants to be helped, whatever they say notwithstanding.

It’s a sad fact that plagues this field, especially when it comes to social enterprises partnering with a group of individuals. While there are indeed the hardworking, honest, and aspiring persons who really want a better future for themselves and their loved ones, there are also those who, intentionally or not, knowingly or not, would rather remain where they are, their so-called aspirations limited to babbling.

It is painful, but true regardless, that Filipinos Рagain, not all, but a significant number Рsuffer from an inferiority complex and still think according to the colonial mentality that arose from more than 400 years of colonialism and imperialism under three countries. They would like to do something or be helped with regards to their situation, but present them an opportunity and they shy away or outright slam it. Or they mismanage it.

This is why I believe education is at the very root of our problems – and I don’t mean a formal academic education, but an education of common sense, of consciousness, of awareness. It’s a problem not only the unschooled have but everyone, in fact – even leaders in business and politics.¬†And, for us Filipinos, one of the biggest educational problems is financial. We lack personal finance education – how to properly, meaningfully, and sustainably manage our wealth. (Take note: I said¬†wealth, not¬†money).

The financial system will always only work for you or against you. There is no middle ground, sadly. If you’re not proactive about it, it will start working against you before you even realize it. Now, I am not a person who serves money or makes getting rich my¬†raison d’√™tre, but I’m no fool: I will not let myself and what little wealth I have get taken advantage of. The thing is, the system seems so complex you don’t know where to start.

Well, not to worry: a trio of financial consultants have recognized this and have written a short and simple but informative book to remedy that: Dare to Journey: The Path to Meaningful Wealth.

Previously, I wrote about “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”, a Christian song that talks about daring to journey beyond yourself and asking for God’s guidance in the process. Let’s talk about a different – or rather, a more specific – kind of daring. We dare to take the path less traveled (at least in our beloved Philippines) and choose the way that will lead us to¬†true wealth – not just for ourselves but for others too.

Like so many things of worth – such as living a purposeful life –¬†the path to meaningful wealth first and foremost involves a¬†change of mindset. To pursue such a journey, there are certain things we need to¬†stop and start¬†believing in.¬†If we want to become more financial literate, for example, we may need to think more long-term and that money spent on investments is¬†not money gone: we¬†will recoup it (PLUS more!) in the future. We may need to sacrifice some current spending habits in favor of saving up or more, I daresay,¬†purposeful spending habits.

The philosophy of Dare to Journey¬†is strikingly TDY-esque: in a nutshell, it argues that our lack of¬†national development is because of personal financial potential not fully tapped into – thereby having implications on the overall scheme of things on a national scale. With “healthier” individuals (socio-economically speaking, and beyond that), then the country becomes “healthier” too.¬†And from the financial side, which is one of the greatest challenges of a country like the Philippines, comes the three main stages of proper wealth management on the personal and familial level: wealth creation, protection, and conservation.

It’s very BCYF-ish: it has to begin at the¬†personal level, before it grows to the¬†familial and eventually the¬†social level. And it’s very¬†you: the execution will never be the same for any two persons. It is completely unique based on¬†your background and your profile: your Life Kit. Hence the need for a personal financial adviser.

This isn’t a one-stop shop with a magical formula to get rich overnight, though. The entire framework presupposes you also¬†work for your wealth – and, in fact, the Church herself calls everyone to do so.¬†Wealth creation is a slight misnomer: we are not God who can create something out of nothing. A more appropriate term may be wealth growth:¬†We are expected to labor to have the wealth to grow in the first place. This is where subjects like investments come into play – equity funds and stocks, and the like, where you put in money that grows on the side.

Wealth protection ensures that in the case of an emergency, your wealth does not come crashing down on you. The most relevant thing that may come to mind here is health insurance: by having an ample amount of such, should you (*knock on wood*) undergo a major, life-saving operation, your insurance will make sure that you aren’t drained of a million bucks.

And, finally, wealth conservation is mainly concerned with passing on your wealth to your descendants and making sure that in the event of death, as little of your wealth is sapped out of you or your estate as possible without breaking the law.

It’s interesting to think about these things as early as now, because the older you get, the more premium you have to pay when investing in, say, insurance. And it also helps to think about the future as early as you can – especially if it’s a¬†purposeful¬†kind of thinking. I myself am creating wealth as early as now because I dream of¬†having¬†a conglomerate of social enterprises, some I founded, some I simply invested in; because I have a very specific dream house in mind (okay, it might be a liiiiittle selfish…); because I want to comfortably grow my future family; and because I don’t want to pay so much for a plot of land to be buried in when I die (I don’t want to be cremated).

But of course, just thinking about those four goals above poses a very real danger I briefly mentioned before that: the potential for it to run my life. Again, it’s all about¬†balance: moderating your way of thinking, your way of doing. Yes, I do agree that we could improve a lot on our financial habits – but to make it the end in itself? I think not.

Although this isn’t my main¬†personal life bible, it¬†is one of my secondary ones, and I believe that everyone ought to have a copy of this book by their bedside, and learn from its timeless wisdom everyday.

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