By Alex Y. Vergara
In the course of your nine-to-five job, as you go about the tediousness of the daily grind, don’t you ever wish that you were more financially independent? That you could simply up and leave your work and go on an indefinite sabbatical? That instead of working for someone else, you were enriching yourself and others by running your own company?
You can stop dreaming and start making such wishes a reality through two slim how to-slash-self-improvement volumes by Clarissa Seriña-de La Paz and Sharon Que with the intriguing and tantalizing titles I Wish They Taught Money in School and Money Grows on Trees.
Launched earlier this year, the second title, a sequel to the first, which was launched in 2013, also comes with two covers featuring the perspectives of the two Filipino writers—de la Paz, advertising executive based in Singapore, and Que, a Manila-based entrepreneur who grew up in the business milieu, thanks to her entrepreneurial family.
Since the two friends are non-writers, they tapped the services of writer Katherine Tiuseco to thresh out and present their ideas more clearly in both two-in-one books. They’re not only self-help books, said the two authors, but inspirational tomes that aim to wean not a few conservative and risk-averse Filipinos from a “self-limiting” mindset.
“It’s time to stop playing the role of the victim,” said de la Paz, a statistics graduate from the University of the Philippines. “Everyone has his or her share of problems, including financial ones. But if you take a long hard look at your life, you can turn things around. There are a number of ways you could get out of that rut.”
While de la Paz teaches her readers how to increase the percentage of their passive income (income from rentals, stocks, and paper instruments, for example) vis-à-vis their active income (income from regular salaries and professional services rendered), Que, a psychology graduate from De La Salle University, shares tried-and-tested tips and practical advice to would-be entrepreneurs raring to start their own businesses.
“I took up psychology as a sort of respite from business because I knew I’d be into it fulltime after college,” said Que. “I never imagined myself doing anything else. I enjoy it. I started selling stuff in school since I was 10.”
But instead of joining her family’s construction and hardware business, Que opted to strike out on her own. Even if she wanted to join them, she finished school in the midst of the Asian financial crisis in the late ’90s. The construction business was down, she said.
Instead, she and a group of friends started pooling their money as down payment for a number of foreclosed properties, initially in Batangas. They rehabilitated and rented out these properties while paying off their obligations.
The trick to earning, of course, was to have enough money left from rentals after all the expenses and obligations had been paid. One of their biggest investments to date was buying a foreclosed building along España Boulevard in the heart of Manila.
Whether your goal is to remain employed while tapping into various sources of passive income, or to expand an existing family business—even start a new one from scratch, the two books, said their authors, offer a treasure-trove of timely tips, first-hand accounts, and powerful words of encouragement rooted on reality and actual experience.
In this day and age, for instance, a lot of working stiffs still can’t fathom the concept behind financial independence. De la Paz cites travel as an example. Not a few people, for instance, want to take a break from work to travel, say, for a year.
Apart from the cost of the trip, what’s stopping them is the loss of income such a grand vacation would entail. How would they earn money and settle their bills while they take a break that long? They certainly could, she said, if they have enough sources of passive income.
“It’s not how much cash you have, but how much passive income you have that would allow you to get out of the rat race,” de la Paz said, echoing a concept she learned and now lives by from Cashflow 101. “If your passive income is greater than your expenses, then you can opt not to work.”
The second title is an improvement on the first book since it now goes beyond tips and concepts they learned from playing Cashflow 101, a board game created and popularized by American Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Their second offering now also tackles and aims to help readers get out of their financial rut.
Kim Kiyosaki, wife of Robert Kiyosaki, perhaps said it best: “Financial freedom is much more than having money. It’s the freedom to be who you really are, and do what you want in life.”
The two first met a few years ago during a leadership seminar in Manila. Before long, they began publicly hosting Cashflow 101 events. For a certain fee, participants get to join the game, which typically lasts from four to six hours, and learn practical and business concepts from it.
The two friends no longer host Cashflow 101, but they have partnered with organizations that do. One such game is held every Saturday at the Crown Plaza Hotel at the Ortigas Center.
During the time they were hosting the game, not a few people who participated were so impressed and inspired by it that they encouraged the two to write a blog about it. Instead of writing a blog, which needs constant updating, they decided to write a book instead.
Apart from earning from the venture (the books are distributed by National Book Store and Fully Booked), their main goal, which has evolved into an advocacy, is to help people prosper and gain financial freedom (lifestyleupgrade101.com). They also conduct occasional talks and write a “money column” for an on-line publication.
“Sharon and I agreed that the root of the problem is beyond what is external, but also internal,” said de la Paz, referring to their second book. “If your mindset is not wired to think abundantly or, worse, you think you’re poor, then you’ll always be poor. That’s why we wrote Money Grows on Trees. The title alone will make you think.”
Que added: “We also discussed something like the money bubble. The situation you encountered as a child more or less makes up you world until today. But if you expose yourself to what is out there, you would begin to realize how big the world actually is.”
That’s why the two authors admonish their readers to invest in themselves and “never stop learning.” De la Paz, recalling one of the points tackled during the Purposeful Stewardship Institute where the two women met, quoted Mahatma Gandhi: “Man is the center of the circle without a circumference except for the one he creates for himself.”
“Simply put, we have too many self-limiting beliefs,” de la Paz said. “The main reason why we can’t achieve the life we want is because we’re limited by our own self-limiting beliefs.”
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