Think About Your Future Pension

Whenever I meet with senior citizens whiling away the time at the public plaza, the talk always turns to old age survival. A greater majority of the folks are supported by family members, usually sons and/or daughters, a few supported by brothers and/or sisters and a handful by relatives outside of the immediate family. We live in a society that look favorably at this, caring for the old when they can no longer earn their living. But how long will this tradition last? Throughout the world, old time values are being overtaken by pragmatism plus the growing sense of detachment from parents once an individual has his or her own family.

A few lucky old timers in our group of park goers are pensioners from their government service or private work. There are more beneficiaries from Social Security System (SSS) than from the Government Social Insurance System (GSIS), because the private sector is the bigger employer. Our discussions regarding pensions are a wealth of good information that the “not so old” must fully understand. My pensioners friends are of varied personalities and some are examples of how lucky a person can be.

Our first pensioner is the typical hardworking man who despite being born poor, survived this world. He is very industrious, honest and friendly, the qualities an employer will treasure most. The only setback was his educational background, he only finished high school. But being able to read and write was enough for him and his contented employer. He worked as Janitor, Messenger, Office Help and Driver for one company for four decades. And when he retired he was very happy because he got four times the minimum pension from SSS. He thinks he is lucky because his employer was diligent in paying all his SSS contributions for forty years while many paid only ten years, the minimum requirement for an old age pension.

Our second pensioner has almost the same background, born poor, worked hard and enjoyed a simple life. He suddenly stopped working because he had to go home to the province to take care of the family farm. He had lived and worked several years in the city before he resigned and became a farmer by choice. And the changed of environment was so good to him that he started his own family. When he felt he is getting older, he took a vacation back to the city. He asked his friends about the old age pension he keeps hearing on the radio he listens to at night. His friends understood and accompanied him to the SSS office. The good staff searched for his employment record and smiled at him, then said “you will be eligible to a monthly pension”. He was contented with the minimum pension but his good friends discussed it with him and convinced him to go back and seek more information. The friendly people at the desk referred them to a senior staff, who evaluated his case and suggested in continuing his contributions more and to increase the contribution rate every month until he reached the maximum limit. He wisely followed this advice. His old age pension is a bigger amount, more than that of the first pensioner, thus he thinks he is luckier. Yes, he is luckier because of the decision to increase his contributions, thus assuring himself of an increased pension.

Now the third pensioner, is the luckiest, he claims. He worked until he saved enough and retired early enough to start his own business. It was a very good venture that provided enough for him and his family. And when he was required to pay the SSS contributions of his employees, he included himself and all of his family. That was a wise decision because now that he is already a pensioner, his wife also has her own pension. He said his pension is all to himself, so he thinks he is the luckiest and I agree. It is good to have an old age pension, and better if you have a bigger pension, but as they all say, it is best if your pension is all yours, I can only smile at this.

Let me cite this exceptional story. The person was a young soldier who was part of the contingent sent to the Vietnam War, survived it, got promoted and served several years, assured of a pension from the Veterans Office for his military service. He was taken by a Congressman as member of the security staff, serving for several years and earning for himself GSIS pension for years of government service. He also became part of a security agency set up by his retired military and police friends and he contributed to the SSS for ten years, thus also entitled to the pension. Now he is enjoying three pensions. But this case is considered as one in a million, and it can not happen to so many.

Maybe you can think of a better way to achieve your own future pension which can be bigger, more than one and all of the pension for yourself only. Good luck.



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What Motivated Me To Buy Insurance At Sixteen

My mentor in finance is mom. When I was a little girl, the first thing she taught me is to save. When she hands me my weekly allowance, she would remind me to set aside some of it at the end of the week. She would tell me that it’s very important to save for the rainy days. Life’s unpredictable and full of surprises (which includes emergencies) – you’ll never know what’s in store for you until it happens. In line with this first lesson came the second one which is to buy insurance.

Mom has always been a fan of insurance. She would always tell me how amazing insurance is, in that it’s the only financial product in the world that can give a person large lump sum cash for life’s major risks like death and accident in exchange of money that is way too small than the benefit. To give you a brief background, during her time, the common coverage is for death and accident only. Critical illness coverage, as you may have heard, just came later on. Going back, I don’t understand then why a person would need instant cash as big as that when you have your savings anyway, until she started relating to me her conversations with her Sun Life advisor.

During their first meet up, her advisor asked, “Why do you want to buy insurance?” My mom replied, “I love my daughter so much that I don’t want to be a burden nor give her a worry. My family has a strong history of illnesses. When I fall into sickness and eventually die, I want her to be able to pay off any bills and debts that I may leave but most importantly, I want her to continue living. I don’t want her to become a pauper. I want her to have the money to support her in her daily life, especially so she can go to good schools, graduate and land herself a decent job.”

This idea of insurance as a product of love struck me so much that I myself decided to purchase insurance. In the same manner as my mom doesn’t want to be a burden, I don’t want to be a burden too. I know that it is parents’ obligation to look after children’s expenses when they are still incapable of taking responsibility, but still, I love her so much that I want to leave her a gift. While no amount of gift can lessen the grief over my possible loss, at least she won’t have to worry where to get the money for costs of my death.

Also, I have always wanted to start early in everything. I want to be ahead. I thought that getting insurance early is advantageous because premiums are still low. More than that, I know that when I am old, I will have many responsibilities which include providing and taking good care of my family. One of these responsibilities is ensuring the readiness of cash for the unexpected and insurance does the trick. I know I will need a certain amount of coverage depending on my family’s circumstances and it will be perfect if I can reduce the required somehow at this early.

At the young age of 16, I called up my mom’s advisor and told her I want to get insurance. To her disbelief, she said that in the meantime, she will get back to me. What I did not know was she called up my mom to reiterate what just happened. My mom was so shocked that in turn, she called me to verify. She asked me my source of funds and I bravely told her, “I’m selling yema and chocolates remember? It will be from the proceeds of that.”

And that was the start of a financially wiser me.

Contributed by Clarissa Ramos

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Retirement With Lifetime Pension

When I was young, it was all work. More work and hard work until old age caught up with me. Luckily or to be exact about it legally, I was entitled to a lifetime pension. If you are working in the private sector, the law gives you the Social Security System (SSS) and if you are in the public sector, the law gives you the GSIS (Government Service Insurance System). These laws were enacted to give the workers protection and security in the twilight years of their life, when the worker can no longer work and earn a living. I was very happy when my pension started. I just have to go to the ATM every month and thereafter, to get it.

Most of us would find the transition, from working very hard to earn a living then suddenly doing nothing but receiving a monthly income, a welcome relief. The first year would be very satisfying, as you very well know that you are going to receive a certain amount monthly and you would do your very best to live within that budget. Most would reason that, there is no longer any room for extra expenses or out-of-budget spending. But after getting adjusted to the situation for a while, the pensioner can well balance his expenses to include saving for the unexpected emergencies. You would always be thankful of the lifetime pension.

After retirement, I have lots of free time, and I have more time to go in the malls and out in the parks. I befriended a lot of people, mostly old folks who just wanted someone to talk to. You would be surprised that not all retirees have pension, and this made me ask why. It seems that not all people prepare for their old age. Many had work experiences but were not informed well or had thought that they will not live long or simply ignored the obvious fact that we will get old and can no longer work someday. Some of these people consider me as lucky. I think to myself that yes, luck was very good to me but that is another story because I have two (GSIS and SSS) pensions to enjoy, which we would discuss later.

Having no pension would not be a problem if you are already rich when you grow old or just when a son or daughter has become very successful and decide to take care of you. But these are very few and seldom in our country. This made me think, and I resolved that information about retirement and pension must be available for everybody. I have since tried my best to impart my experiences and observations about retirement and pensions to all who cares to listen. The government is doing its part, with the concerned agencies GSIS and SSS have doors open for people who want to get information, while radio and television programs are widespread reaching all parts of the country. The young generation is better informed with access to the Internet, where all questions can be researched and answered.

Pension would make you enjoy your retirement better, no questions about it. Better pensions would make it best. How then could we have better pensions? How come that some pensioners have two, three or more pensions? Why do some people enjoy their pension in dollars or foreign currencies? I would like to answer these questions next time.



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How To Stay Fashionable Without Spending Too Much

To be beautiful is every girl’s dream. And part of wanting to become beautiful is to invest in fashion and make sure that you are updated on the latest fashion trends. It is never wrong to spend on clothes. Our outfits define our status of living, dress up too much and we come off as a trying hard social climber. Dress too casually and we come off as bums. To be fashionable does not mean you have to spend more than what you can afford.

Being the person in the corporate world whose outfit is everyone’s concern; I have learned to be fashionable while spending less on clothes.

Here are a few things that you might want to consider when investing on clothes:

1. What to buy, where to buy and how much are you willing to spend.

Buying clothes is just like your weekly shopping for groceries. Never do it with an empty stomach or you will end up buying those things you don’t really need. Don’t go to the mall without any idea of what to buy. Always make it a point that when you shop, you already know what to buy, where to buy it and how much you will be spending for it because if not, you will end up checking on all stalls and buying everything even if you don’t really need it.

2. Buy only those that fit you perfectly, those that make you feel good when worn.

Don’t buy designer items that you cannot pronounce right. Do not buy heels that would make you look like a walking penguin. Don’t buy clothes that will not make you feel comfortable wearing it. Don’t buy it just for the sake of becoming trendy. Buy it because you look good at it, because you are comfortable wearing it because if not, that will definitely just stay in your closet.

3. The 70/30 rule.

Just in case you haven’t heard of this, it is when you spend 70% of your budget on those you can wear any day and 30% is for those trendy items. Now, what are those that belong in that 70%? These are your black and white outfits. Those you can mix and match, those that can be worn on almost any occasions. The 30% are those which are “in”, and if you plan on buying outfits to just go by the trend, make sure you don’t spend too much because these have the shortest closet lifespan.

4. All cash, no credit cards.

Splurge usually happens when you use credit cards. Of course. It is because you wouldn’t have to think that you have to go look for the nearest ATM. One swipe and everything gets paid. When all you have is cash, you will have the control simply because you can see your purse running out of cash and when you run out of cash, shopping is over.

5. Clean closets.

Your closet or your mom’s closet can definitely do the trick. When we have more than enough clothes, we end up missing those buried in the deepest part of our closets. Those may be those clothes which we have bought several years ago or our mom’s clothes back in the 70s but hey, fashion trends are just a cycle. Today it’s in, tomorrow it’s not and years from now, everyone, again, is going gaga over those outfits you have had 5 years ago. You don’t always have to buy it, sometimes, it’s just hidden somewhere in your closet.

Always remember, the biggest fashionistas do not invest that much on their outfits. It is the sellers who invest on them and they became fashionistas because they were able to carry their clothes with confidence and pride regardless of how much it costs. There is a big difference between being a fashionista and fashion victim. A person who spends too much can be a fashion victim, and a person who spends less can become a fashionista. It’s just a matter of making the best out of what you have and what you can afford.



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