Today I held 100 Dirhams in my hands and I didn’t spend it at all. This is a great achievement considering that today was a gloomy day for me.
At a very early age, my father taught me how to save. He lived by example. Every Christmas (and birthdays) I look forward to his ”unveiling”. This was when he would call the girls in the family to his office and on his table would be our surprise. He would add a touch of mystery by covering the gifts with a cloth. We all pretended we didn’t know what was under.
We’d all count 1,2,3 and he’d lift the cover to present 3 plastic bottles – small, medium, large – all full of coins. Every year the bottles varied from alcohol to bleach to shampoo to mineral water, anything that had sizes. His favorite was the Green Cross alcohol bottles.
With a knife, he cuts a line at the bottom of the bottle and that’s where he slips the coins in, all year round until there’s no space for one more. Mama gets the biggest which has the highest coin value. I always envied hers.
When the new 5-peso and 10-peso coins came out in circulation, all I can think of was what my mom’s bottle would amount to.
The best part of all was slicing my bottle open. I’d sit on the floor, hear the coins tumble out and count them one by one. The worst part was spending the money. Every time I pay with my coins I imagine my dad saving them up for months.
When I was in grade 2, my dad accompanied me to our town’s local bank to open an account. They had this fun program called the ”Cordillera Kiddie Savings” which aimed to encourage kids to open their own bank accounts. My dad guided me through the process, helped me sign my name and sat with me as I patiently waited for my kiddie membership ID. It was pink, had cute drawings and my name was type-written on the card. I felt like a very important person as I walked out that bank.
While my dad taught me the value of saving, my mom taught me the joy of spending. My mom is an impulsive buyer. I loved it when on our way home from somewhere, we’d take a wrong turn to the bakeshop or make a side trip to the supermarket. I look forward to days when she’d come home from the market, clutching bags of assorted delights.
I have more of my mom’s genes in me. As I grew up I became more and more of a spontaneous buyer. Whenever money reaches my hands, I itch to spend it. Whenever I’m depressed, a purchase always makes me feel better. Many times did I sliced open my bottles while they were still halfway full. I learned to cut a bigger hole so I could poke coins out when I wanted to. Sorrowful are the many aftermath stories of my impulsive shopping.
One Sunday, during my college days, the pastor at church did a powerful sermon on how to handle money. I was so rebuked that I went home and wrote this in my journal.
From that day on, I surrendered my impulsive-buying tendencies and vowed to be a wise spender.
Whenever I feel the urge to splurge, I ask my two questions and I run away from temptation as fast as I can. There are days when I stumble but I punish myself by putting more in my bottle the next time I get money.
At present I don’t have a savings bottle yet. That is because I don’t have my own money to stash. I am still my husband’s charity case.
I pray I get a job ASAP before a gloomier than this gloomy day comes and steal my 100 Dirhams away… impulsively.