By Marivir R. Montebon
I was raised by a mother who was very strict and stringent in managing money in our home. I remember it was in Grade 5 that she started giving me money to pay for my own tuition fee every month at the school cashier. We had a passbook that showed how much had been paid and the remaining balance.
When I get home, my mother would ask for the passbook and the remainder of the money, down to the last centavo.
I got used to that. Everything has to be returned to mom. And if I wanted extra money, I had to ask from her and not automatically use the remaining amount, or I will be in trouble.
I grew up thinking that my mother was strict and inconsiderate. But as I look back now, I realized I learned from her the value of honesty and thrift. I only had to use my own allowance for the day to buy what I wanted or needed, despite the little extra coins I had during tuition fee pay days.
My mother also keeps a list of all her expenses during the day, like a diary. One could actually find out our family history through the list she keeps! Every night, before my mother would join me and my brother for our book reading at bedtime, she would write all her expenses for the day in a dark brown Golden Gate notebook. I glanced upon the entries of that notebook, I remember, she wrote: Fish PhP5, Eggs P2, Chicken P6, Bread P2, Vegetables P5, Marivir/Jerry baon (allowance) P1, Fare P.50 cents.
Overall, my mother taught me to work around my budget. Never spend more than what you earn. In fact, she encourages quick savings too. She would insist for example, of having water instead of soda, or buying pan de sal and eating it at home, instead of sitting in a small resto for a quick snack, which would be a few pesos more expensive . Oh mother, I grew up on a tight budget.
But it all worked for me. I learned to live the simple life, low maintenance that is.
When I became a mother, I somehow followed my mother’s own thrift ways, eerrr, except perhaps on spending for books, clothes and shoes.
I pretty much believe that home budgeting could well be a pattern for national budgets. Priority expenses would be for food production, safety, education, and health. The wisdom of a country’s economy stems from how much earnings it is making in order to be able to spend for such public necessities. It still goes back to my own mother’s philosophy of one should not spend more than one earns.
As a country, where do we get our earnings? What businesses and enterprises run the economy? Is government rationale enough to spend public incomes for education, health, safety, and recreation? How will the economy sustain itself to perpetually finance these needs? From taxes, of course. My only hope is that businesses and individuals who are being taxed enjoy a viable environment for growth, where trade and commerce are vibrant enough to sustain a dynamic economic life.
Going back to my mom, she has always told us that her efficient performance in her job as teacher and accountant enables her to spend for our education, food, health needs, and recreation. Her job (and my father’s small business) were our stable economy, without which, we would have nothing to get by.
These days, it is fundamental for government to ensure an environment that would keep the country’s earnings up and economic well-being first, before actually acquiring the capability to cover for health, education, and safety services for everyone. Otherwise, it doesn’t make any sense.