Excellence is not a single act, but a habit | Inquirer Business
Money Matters

Excellence is not a single act, but a habit

/ 02:04 AM January 18, 2023

In my generation, giving a child going through elementary education a daily allowance of P30 was more than enough.

Back then, P30 could already buy six paper plates of cheese sticks from the school canteen. While the jump was more than three times, giving a child a daily allowance of P100 for high school was only fair. And from that higher base, a  50-percent increase in the daily allowance, or a total of P150 would have been enough for a college student. The only caveat is that you may have had to augment the allowance with some packed lunch and snacks.


But even at a tender age, children are lured by the power to spend. This attraction is heightened by college life when the many avenues for unloading cash present themselves like secondhand bookstores, tickets to school plays and the occasional student food stall.

As kids grow older and progress through the levels of their education, their daily allowance may become a point of contention between themselves and you. How much is too little? How much is too much? What else will they be spending their allowance on? Should they keep their savings from their allowance themselves or should you hold it for them? Are they saving any money at all?


If your concern is on whether they have learned to save or not, it may be good to give your kids their entire week’s allowance, no more and no less, at the beginning of each week. They will end up learning to budget and maybe find creative ways to add to what they already have. But do not leave them entirely to themselves. You will have to be their financial coach when it comes to budgeting.

And the best advice you can give them is to quote Aristotle by saying, “We are what we do repeatedly. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” People are not able to afford the better things in life in one go. If that were true then why do many lotto winners end up being poor?

I was blessed to guest on Mel Tiangco’s show, “Magpakailanman.” In that show, she featured a Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office employee who, after betting more than a total P1 million in the lotto since the game was started in the country, finally won P14 million. But after a few years, the winner ended up with nothing. Worse, he had to get a heart bypass after he lost his winnings. And just in case you are wondering about my role in the episode, I was tasked to give advice on how to avoid such a tragic situation.

The advice is simple. Do small but smart things repeatedly. If you can, do them when you are still young. No less than the Bible says, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”

If you are able to train your children in the small things, like with saving small amounts repeatedly, you will see them grow into mature individuals who will be more than up to the task with the larger challenges in life of managing their cash, debt, risk and wealth. Your kids will not shy away from sellers of financial products that have the potential to increase their power to spend while protecting their downside. They may even seek these sellers in a discriminating way. This wisdom on money management will help them all throughout their life and strengthen them from the one-day millionaire virus that affects many, not just lotto winners.

And when that happens, you will know that you have fought the good fight, you have completed the course, and you have preserved the faith. You, yourself, would have achieved excellence. INQ

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