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Monday, October 28, 2013

On the Road to Financial Freedom (a sponsored post)

Regular readers know that sponsored posts are a rarity in this blog.  That is because I choose to write them only if I believe in the product or the message being relayed by the product.  Last year, I agreed to do a sponsored post for Sun Life Financial for their Sun Shorts.   This year, I am doing another one because I believe the message that the company wants to share is of utmost importance.  It also gives me chance to share about a topic which I also love but doesn't fit this blog's theme :D

I work for the government and among the thrusts of my agency is financial literacy and education.  Next year, I will be embarking on a major career change.  In the course of interviews, I was asked whether I would be most interested in policy making or advocacy.  Without hesitation, I answered advocacy.

In my more than 5 years of working with my current employer, I have realized that a lot of Filipinos do not invest simply because they cannot comprehend financial terms and concepts.  I do not claim to be an expert.  I am constantly learning and this is one of the things that I like about my job.  It helps me understand and forces me to learn concepts and ideas which I glossed over back in college.

It is admirable that government agencies such as the Bangko Sentral now work hand in hand to promote financial literacy.  This month, the Guro ng Pag-asa award was launched which aims to "reward outstanding teachers who exhibited exemplary dedication in teaching the habit of saving money among schoolchildren through the use of teaching guides in Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (EsP), Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan (EPP), and Araling Panlipunan (AP)."

This is focused on public schools and since private schools do not strictly follow the DepEd's curriculum, it appears that in terms of being financially savvy, public school students will have an edge over private school students.  Since this project is focused on young students, where does it leave us, the working generation? Fortunately, there are now a lot of programs focused on helping Filipinos become financially literate.

Previously, when our parents purchased financial products, they relied on the agent or they simply purchased the products because the agent was persistent.  Nowadays, I have noticed that companies selling financial products provide a better and more thorough explanation of their products and how these can be used as a tool for financial freedom in the future.

One such company is Sun Life Financial.  The company has launched its "Brighter Life Philippines" community website which aims to provide information to Filipinos to help them make financially sound decisions.  What is interesting about this website is that it does not just focus on the financial aspect one's life but also includes articles on health, family, career and the future.

What I especially like about the website is its financial calculator.  My parents worked hard and I am thankful to them for allowing me to enjoy a comfortable life while growing up.  In turn, I want my children to experience the same comforts I enjoyed.  We are a young family and my husband Stan and I have a lot of dreams - some ambitious, some immediately implementable.  This is my most visited page in the community website as I attempt to calculate how we can meet our long-term dreams.
Guess which one we often calculate?
Aside from the financial planning tools, the community website is chock-full of articles written by contributors from different background.  My favorite article is that written by the company's CEO - How I Taught my Kids to Invest.   Ms. Riza Mantaring explained how she presented the financial products to her kids and let them choose where they want to put their money.

Of course, considering that these products are not PDIC-insured, it is important that you choose a sound company, such as SunLife.  While they are not covered by the PDIC, as an insurance company, their products are regulated by the Insurance Commission and their mutual funds are closely examined by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As I mentioned earlier, becoming financially savvy is not among the required subjects in school.  Despite how much my husband and I save and prepare for our kids' future, all those efforts will be in vain if my kids end up as spendthrift adults.   I am grateful to my mom for teaching me to set aside a portion of my earnings each month for a rainy day.

The road to financial freedom is not simple and easy.  But with the right information and tools, you can equip yourself with the necessary knowledge to make the choices appropriate to your life stage and lifestyle.  For more tips about personal finances, visit brighterlife.com.ph.

This is a sponsored post brought to you by Sun Life Financial.

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