Survey says . . . | Inquirer Business
Money Matters

Survey says . . .

/ 02:00 AM March 29, 2023

Question: I find that following good financial practices is like dieting in that the drive is only present at the start. Soon, that drive to be financially free fades. How can you keep following good financial practices over extended periods of time?

Answer: Being financially free is indeed one of the foundations to a happy life. However, being financially free does not equate to having money flowing out of your ears. Instead, the concept is about the ability to hold money by the neck and not the other way around. Otherwise, money will distract from the goal of financial freedom.


Here’s a great exercise to see how well you can ignore distractions. It is easy to draw the number six in the air with your right hand. But try doing that while seated with your right leg lifted and rotating clockwise. So, how did you do? Did the rotation go haywire?

The human brain is not a computer that can multitask in a focused manner. Sure, humans can do several routine activities at the same time. But humans can hardly focus on one thing at a time, especially when there are distractions.


Money is a great distraction. Money creates distraction at work and at home. That is why it is essential to tame money issues early.

Our company, the Personal Finance Advisers Philippines Corp. or PFA, conducted financial well-being surveys among its over 9,000 seminar participants all over the Philippines. The survey was under license from the Personal Finance Employee Education Fund of the US. The survey, which can be considered as a proxy measure for distraction caused by money, found that 72 percent of survey respondents had considerable money issues as shown here:• 22 percent had high to overwhelming financial distress, poor to low financial well-being;

• 50 percent had moderate to average financial distress and financial well-being; and

• 28 percent had low to no financial distress, good to excellent financial well-being.

Moreover, the survey found some interesting results between financial well-being on the one hand, and gender, age, educational attainment and annual income on the other, as follows:• Average financial well-being score of males and females was the same at 5.5 on a scale ranging from one to 10 with 10 being the highest;

•Financial well-being scores were generally higher for the older age brackets at 5.3 for ages 18 to 39, 5.7 for ages 40 to 49, 6.2 for ages 50 to 59 and 6.4 for those over 60;

• More schooling seemed to play a role as the financial well-being scores by educational attainment were 5.4 for trade, 5.6 for high school, 5.5 for undergraduate and 6 for postgraduate attainment; and


• For obvious reasons, the higher the income, the higher the level of financial well-being.Last but not least, the survey found higher levels of financial well-being of households where the breadwinners had dependents, as shown here:• single and living alone, 4.9• single and sharing unit/house with unrelated adults, 5.5• single and living with parents at home, 5.6

• single parent with children at home, 5.9

• living with husband/wife/partner—no children at home, 5.5

• living with husband/wife/partner—with children at home, 5.8

The correlation between responsibility and financial well-being can be explained by the motivation people get from having to fend for others, especially their own children (more so than their own parents).Yet the question remains: What needs to be done in order to alleviate financial distress so that people can be more focused at work and at home?

At PFA, we employ a multi-pronged approach of helping people understand the physiology and psychology behind personal finance, providing feasible practical solutions and offering continuous coaching to help them get and stay on the road to financial freedom. And we execute such an approach within the framework of the four pillars of personal finance, something we call EnRich CD-RW or cash, debt, risk and wealth management.

As we say at PFA, cash management—don’t spend life without it; debt management—don’t mortgage life with it; risk management—don’t live life without it; and wealth management—don’t live the life before it. INQ

Send questions via “Ask a Friend, Ask Efren” free service at, SMS, Viber, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook.

Efren Ll. Cruz is a registered financial planner and director of RFP Philippines, seasoned investment adviser, bestselling author of personal finance books in the Philippines and a Yaman coach. To consult with a Yaman coach, email To learn more about personal financial planning, attend the 99th RFP Program this May 2023. To inquire, e-mail or text 09176248110.

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