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Money Matters

Take the mobile phone-less day challenge

Question: What would you say would be the more potent threats to being financially free?—asked at “Ask a friend, ask Efren” free service available at www.personalfinance.ph and Facebook.

Answer: The answer would be lack of both patience and planning. But before I explain, let me ask you a question. Have you ever wondered what your day would be like without a cell phone, even just one day? A few generations, including mine, experienced the metamorphosis from landline-based telecommunications to the current wireless one.

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Let’s paint a picture of a typical day in the wired world of old.

Without the ability to communicate anywhere at will, people back then would need to plan their day well. When people would meet in a public place, whether for business or personal reasons, they would need to set the precise time and place. To those who had foresight, they would even provide for contingencies. Perhaps the meeting place would be near a store that had business pay phones available.

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Business pay phones? Yup, in addition to the red, metal and coin-operated public phones, some enterprising establishments would charge for the use of their private landline.

And while being on time was ideal, being early was much more appreciated.

During the time when electronic mail was unheard of, people would have to print out letters, sign them manually, seal them and send them by snail mail. And because it was snail mail, there must be allowance provided for the mail to travel to the addressee (and back if a reply was needed).

Before mobile banking and automated teller machines, people had to line up in banks to withdraw from their passbook accounts. The queues were long and winding, and there was no entertainment from social media to while away the time. The same situation prevailed for paying bills. Falling in line really tested people’s patience.

Before wireless technology, information was not readily available. Therefore, people had to plan their trips, and if needed, swallow their pride to ask for directions when they got lost. There was also less of do-it-yourself everything, from self-diagnosis and medication to informal investment research that often led to wrong and, many times, harmful conclusions. People either had to consult experts or do in-depth research.

Wireless technology did bring a lot of advantages to the world of today. But it also left people complacent. More importantly, because of its speed, technology made people less patient, a virtue that had to be practiced in the wired world. But are patience and planning still applicable in the fast-paced world of today?

You need only ask the world’s richest investor, Warren Buffett, who still invests the old-fashioned way, without the use of too much technology.

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If you want to retrain yourself in exercising patience, take our challenge and spend one day without a cell phone. The prerequisite? Plan ahead.

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