Money Matters

Finance tips for average Juan on the street


Question: I am an overseas Filipino worker, aged 27. I have just started earning serious money and I want to invest some of the excess. Would you have any tips for a beginner like me?—sent via e-mail

Answer: Investing is serious business. That is why when it comes to tips on investing, especially for the average Juan on the street, we give the following six:

1.) Beware of tips. You read it right; beware of tips. What kind of tips? Beware the kind of tips that are very specific as to investment outlet, timing and price, and are free.

If I found a gem of an investment in the markets, something that I know would bring in great returns, would I announce it to everyone before I have even acquired a good portion of it myself? If I did, then the price may be pushed up to a level that would not make it as attractive as before I talked about it.

It would be better to seek advice that takes into consideration your personal circumstances. If you do listen to tips, make sure that they are broad tips and that you do additional research on your own to validate them, including this one you are reading now.

2.) Be a cartographer. You cannot invest without knowing first what you are investing for. Simply put, how would you know if what you are earning is enough if you don’t set a goal in the first place? So draw a road map for investing. Otherwise, you might just fall into greed.

Reasons for investing may be dictated by the life event stage you are in.

These life events stages can be broken down into building a career, building a household, growing a household and retirement planning/execution. Please note that a person who stays single-blessed is also running a (single person) household.

3.) Learn to laugh. Investing is not only serious but actually too serious. Remember that while the money you are investing is important, it is still just money that can be earned again. So learn to laugh when you lose some money out of poor investment decisions. Losing money is an integral part of investing because it is there not only to teach us the hard lessons on risk-taking but also to make earning money a lot sweeter.  Just don’t laugh all the time because that can only mean that you are losing too much money.

4.) Don’t invest with, in or because of a friend. You will come across a lot of people as you invest. Some of them may eventually become your friends. But draw the line. You should be investing because of the intrinsic value of the investment outlet and NOT your friendship. If you invest out of friendship and the investment turns sour, so will your friendship. This tip goes beyond investing and applies to cash, debt and insurance products as well.

For example, don’t imitate what I did when I was younger when I bought life insurance only because it was sold to me by the aunt of a former girlfriend I did not end up marrying. When I broke up with that girlfriend, I also let the insurance policy lapse, only to find out later that I could have benefited greatly from the extra coverage. Doesn’t it sound silly making your decisions on money co-terminus with your friendship?

5.) Learn to read. You’re probably going to say that you already know how to read. That may be true, but what I am referring to here is learning to read and understand materials on the economy, companies and business in general. Read the business section of newspapers. Subscribe to the Internet service of investing websites that may also have an equivalent service on TV. Most of these are actually free and full of information that can help you make better investment decisions. To augment your reading, go out and/or socially network on the Internet with people who are also serious about investing for their future.

6.) Master math. When I say math I am simply referring to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. People who say they are not good in math are people who simply refuse to admit that they are actually good in them. Such people just use different representations. For example, just as children would probably use pieces of fruit to apply to the four mathematical operations, writers would apply math to the number of nouns, pages and chapters they have written.

It would also be helpful if you can be familiar with investment applications and computer worksheets. They make investing all the more easy. Plus, there are many free tutorials you can find on the Internet. To get you started, download Ya!man, the country’s first free personal finance mobile app from Ya!man helps you track a week’s cash flow, compute the effective interest on your loans (i.e. whether loans are on diminishing balance, add-on-rate or 5-6), determine the sufficient amount of life insurance for you, and compute the future cost of your child’s college education and your retirement. You can even ask for additional broad personal finance tips from a personal finance expert. Best of all, these are free.

Now if you want a detailed discussion on investing as well as more knowledge on effective cash, debt, risk and wealth (CD-RW) management, come and attend the EnRich©CD-RW personal finance training scheduled for May 18. You may also want to ask your employer to integrate personal finance training into your company’s employee benefits. Invite your company’s employee relations manager to attend the EnRich©CD-RW personal finance training as well. There are limited free seats allocated for HR practitioners. Visit, e-mail or call (632) 2161541 / (632) 3593094 for more details.

(Efren Ll. Cruz is a Registered Financial Planner of RFP Philippines, personal finance coach, seasoned investment adviser and bestselling author. Questions about the article may be sent by SMS to 09175050709 or e-mail to To learn more about the RFP program, attend a FREE orientation on March 7, 7pm at the PSE Center. E-mail to register.)

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Edel Ramilo-Peria

    Sir Efren, I was looking for the Ya!man app in the Apple app store po. Sayang. There’s no iOS version yet pala. Will be waiting for it po. More power!

  • foreignerph

    Gosh, this is just self-vested spam for some “advisers”.

  • Life Insurance Philippines

    To the OFW who asked the question, perhaps you can answer a few more questions first, before you start investing:

    1. Do you have a family and kids that you support?

    2. Where do you want to send your kids (if any) to college, and how young are they?

    3. Are you the breadwinner in the family?

    4. Do you have a financial plan in place in case of a major health crisis or a terrible accident? If you had a heart attack today, and needed P1 Million pesos for the treatment, where would you get it?

    5. Are you able to AUTOMATICALLY set aside a regular amount for savings, even before you spend a single dollar from your paycheck?

    6. Are you able to set aside at least 10% of your income regularly.

    7. Do you believe in the philosophy “Save first. Spend on a budget what’s left after savings.”?

    8. When you say that you would like to invest the excess, how much exactly is the excess? 

    9. When do you plan to retire?

    10. What kind of lifestyle are you looking at in 10 years, 20 years, and when you retire?

    The key to any financial plan for any person, is to customize it to that person’s  particular situation, and your own financial goals. 

    Obviously, a different investment approach applies to a person who wants to retire at 40 to a person who wants to retire at 60. Likewise, a different approach applies to a person who has an excess of P10,000 every month to a person who has an excess of P100,000 a month. It also depends on whether you already have sufficient income protection, if you already have a home, if you already have existing savings, etc. 

    What it boils down to is asking your self the right questions, and designing an investment plan, to fill in the gaps.

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