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I consider myself a successful career woman, 33 years old, single, quite tall, slim and quite attractive.  I occupy a senior brand management position and enjoy a relatively high compensation and benefits package. I drive a brand new company car with gasoline charged to my budget. My problem is:  I’m always broke!  I can hardly stretch my cash flow from payday to payday.   What goes into the ATM and my checking account, goes out.  I can hardly maintain the minimum balance in my bank accounts.  I have great difficulty paying my two credit cards; I just pay the interest on all my purchases each month.

I’m considered a “fashion plate” in our company with many female employees eyeing me from head to toe everyday and expressing appreciation for my fashion sense.  In management meetings, my bosses and peers “rave” about my clothes and consider me their ramp model.

My mother nags me about my lifestyle (i.e., my branded wardrobe, shoes and bags, my nights’ out with my single friends, partying, etc.) and my not having any investments.  She keeps asking me how much I earn and how much I’ve saved. The truth is I have no savings at all.  I’ve been keeping mum about my financial difficulties to my Mom.  She thinks I should be contributing to the household budget since she figures I’m earning so much.

I wish I can manage my finances but I’m already knee deep in my debts and find it difficult to have a simple life style now. I have a reputation in my office to maintain.  Please help me, if you can.

Ms.  Successful But Broke

 

You are not helpless; you only think you are.  You can get out of your “financial crisis” IF you really want to.  But this involves changing your thoughts, your values, your spending behaviors and your habits.  If you refuse to change your lifestyle your only other alternative is to continue with your current spending habits, be in debt, be in bondage to your desire to live up to the image you think you have created.

If you really want to solve your “financial crisis,” you can.  Your spending habits are within your power to control.  You are single and have no children to spend on.  Being an intelligent woman, perhaps you have already thought of the following solutions which I will give to you since you have asked my help.

First, CHANGE your mindset that you are helpless to do anything about your situation; that you have to maintain your image of being a “fashion plate” and ramp model to your superiors, peers and office mates.   Take this fantasy out of your mind.  Take away the desire for adulation and acclaim.  This is driving you to spend and to acquire expensive things in order to create an expensive image.

Second, STOP buying:  clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, etc.  Make do with what you have now.  Be an expert in mix-and-match styling.   You can be smartlooking and be power-dressed without adding to your current wardrobe.  STOP thinking that your peers and office mates expect you to dress like a ramp model in the office.

Third, do away with your credit cards. Have only one, if you must.  And keep this and your ATM cards at home.  Remove them from your wallet; otherwise, the temptation to use them will become difficult to resist.

Fourth, make a budget of your monthly, weekly and daily expenses.  Stick only to what is essential.  Compute how much cash you need each day, each week and each month for your meals, and necessary expenses.  If you are driving a company car with free gasoline, what other things do you need to spend on?  Put only enough cash  in your wallet that you will need to spend for the day.    Spend cash; this way, you will discourage yourself from being acquisitive.  Limit your nights’ out to Fridays only and bring only the amount of cash that you can reasonably spend that night.  Tip:  before you go out, put something into your stomach so that your hunger will not cause you to order more food than you can afford to spend on.

Fifth, pay and liquidate your obligations on your credit cards.  And don’t use even the one you have until you have liquidated your obligations.

Sixth, balance your checkbook.  Record all the checks you issue out vs. the amount deposited.  Reconcile your check book balances with the bank statements you receive every month to be sure that deposits  and withdrawals are accurate.

Seventh, resist window shopping because you will only be whetting your appetite.  Resist going to the malls and tiangges, to bazaars or to stores advertising big sales. If you don’t need something, it is expensive.  Don’t stock up on items you think you might need later on to give as gifts to special people.

And, yes,  you must:

1.  Set aside money to pay your credit cards.  Set this as your goal every pay day; save 25% – 50% of your net earnings to pay your credit obligations.  Once paid, stop using your credit card or use one credit card frugally.

2. Invest another 25% of your earnings on investments you can’t withdraw. Ask your bank about this.

3.  Contribute to your mother’s household budget.  Imagine how much you are saving in apartment rental, electricity, water and meals. Talk over with your mother what you can give so that it will make a difference in the household budget and be of help to her.

4.  Tithe on your income because a portion of your earnings belongs to God to be used to spread His kingdom. Don’t scrimp on this.

God bless you.

 

Josie Santamaria

I’m 18 years old, male and a first year nursing student. My problem is that I don’t like the course I’m taking and don’t see myself as a nurse, ever. I’m taking this course because my parents and my eldest sister who is financing my studies are putting pressure on me to become a nurse because they want me to work in the United States and earn plenty of money. Another problem of mine is that I don’t have any strong inclination towards any career. In high school I did not make good in any subject. I was just an average student getting passing grades. How will I know in what career I will do good, considering that I’m just average?

Bewildered Student

 

Parents have good intentions for their children but such intentions often lead them to impose their needs and their values on their children. Making career choices for children is common among Filipino parents who sometimes “use” their children as a means to improve the family’s social status and financial condition.

On the other hand, children who are confused and undecided on what career to choose, open themselves to being influenced, if not controlled by, their parents, and sometimes by their barkada.

Since you have no strong inclination towards any subject and no work experience to use as criterion for making a career choice, the first step you have to do is to know your career interests and aptitudes. Your career interest will determine what you find enjoyable based on the tasks it involves, while your aptitudes are your natural abilities/capacities for learning certain skills. Your career choice should be based on these two important factors; namely, your interests, and aptitudes and also your mental abilities. Later, you also consider external factors like your family’s financial capacity to support your career choice, the likelihood of getting a job is the industry and organization where you want to work, etc. Then you identify the educational program or college course that will prepare you for this career.

Interests and aptitudes. The following questions can help you determine your interests and aptitudes: What do I enjoy or like to do? What are my preferences or inclinations? What courses in high school and college did I enjoy (for the subject matter and not because of the teacher)?

Dr. John Holland classified interests into six: artistic, conventional, realistic, investigative, social and enterprising. Each one of us may have two to three combination of interests. For example, to succeed in sales, a person must have Enterprising, Realistic and Social interests. An accountant should have Conventional and Investigative interests. A healthcare professional, like a nurse, must have Social, Investigative and Conventional interests. Please see inset on Find Your Interest, Find the Right Career which is adapted from Dr. Holland’s model.

Process of Making a Career Choice. The process of making a career choice involves the following steps:

Identify your career interests and aptitudes and know your mental abilities;

1.  List down possible careers that fit your interest, aptitudes and mental abilities;

2.  Choose the best career from number 2 above that is closest to your heart. This will require valid information from persons you know (relatives and friends of your family) and who are actually in that career.

3.  Identify the college course or educational/training program that will prepare you for that career.

There are three levels you may consider depending on your mental abilities and your family’s financial capacity:

  • vocational level
  • technician level (usually 2 years after secondary education)
  • professional level (requiring college degree)

4.  Pass all your subjects, and get more than average grades in your major subjects. If you enjoy your major subjects, this will validate your career interests and aptitudes.

5. Determine the industry where you would like to work e.g., healthcare, banking and financial institutions, call center, information and communication technology, hotel and restaurants, etc. The industry will determine the working conditions and whether these will suit your needs and your values. Example of working conditions are working hours; level of control/empowerment given; working position; location;  rewards and challenges; etc.

6.  Identify the companies/organizations in your chosen industry.

7.  Know the entry jobs in your chosen career available in the organization. Apply for these entry jobs.

Do not accept any job that is opened and offered to you by the company. This will likely change your career path and you are back to “Square 1” so to speak.

To choose the right career may require you to seek the help of your school’s guidance counselor who may have standardized interests, aptitudes and mental abilities tests that you can take, and who, more importantly, may provide you with career counseling.

Once you have made up your mind on what THE career is for you, you can assertively tell it to your parents and your eldest sister. Perhaps they will allow you to take the college course that fits your career choice so that you can be successful and happy.

God bless you.

 

Josie Santamaria