Precious Lessons

There's this horrible radio commercial that basically goes like this:

"Graduates! Now that you're out in the real world, it's time to reward yourself by investing in high tech gadgets!"

My eyebrows shot through the roof when I heard that insipid piece and was all set to tear it apart with a stinging blogpost and lecture on the importance of financial responsibility at a young age, when I suddenly remembered how I was at that age.

When I graduated from college, I took a year off before starting law school and during that time, my work involved driving my nephew to school and teaching part time at my old high school's adult night high program. The stipend I received for teaching then went towards my mall habit.

Fast forward five years later when I had my first job out of law school, my salary as a law firm slave went towards my mall habit.

Notice how financially responsible I was back then?

This was part of my "poor student" mindset, where I felt the need to make up for all those years where I subsisted on an allowance, and when I finally had cash to burn, promptly burned it with pomp and pageantry. Oh the joy of having a new pair of shoes every month!

Thankfully, my parents stepped in and gave me a car....that I had to pay for myself, so all that wanton spending had to stop. And eventually, the thrill of acquiring stuff lost its appeal.

I learned and appreciated frugality and living simply because I went through a "galit sa pera" period. I experienced maxing out my credit cards and had to scrimp, save and go all out creative in wiping out my credit card debts in less than a year. I did it and the lessons I learned from doing that were immense and will never be forgotten.

Really, there's nothing like being in the trenches yourself to permanently sear a lesson in your head.

So dear graduates, go ahead and "invest" in a gadget that will go obsolete in a New York minute. And when you're tired of mindless accumulation, act like a responsible adult and take the necessary steps to educate yourself on personal finance and financial responsibility.

Jeez. I sound like such a thunders in saying that:P


Carlos said…
I went through the same phase too... except I was constantly losing phones in college (much to my father's chagrin) and when it happened again after joining the workforce, I quickly learned how much losing a cellphone hurts my wallet :D

I quickly learned to really save after that.

Sometimes I think if I had a more difficult lesson I might have learned to invest earlier.

But everything turned out well enough anyway, so I guess it might not have mattered that much.
Rox said…
I never experienced stuff like that because

1. I'm no graduate of any 4-year course
2. Quit my studies in 3rd year college and look for a job until i landed a home-based job
3. Got my own a very simple Nokia cellphone in 2nd year college while having a part-time job and used the same cellphone for 5 years until it got old and damaged.
4. Got two phones - another simple Nokia and cheap Samsung android phone for work (online job)

the gadgets i have are the results of my hardwork. i never asked anything from my parents. :)
Jillsabs said…
Wow. I want to you when I grow up :)

Seriously, I think it's great that you're so independent and never had to deal with the misplaced sense of entitlement that some people, like myself, had to deal with.
Jillsabs said…
There's nothing like the school of life to teach you lasting lessons right?
Tara Cabullo said…
When I finally graduated from this mindset, I truly believed that the way to being financially well is a sound mindset of what is a need and what is a want.

Thanks for posting this :)
Claudine said…
I never was a gadget person. I tend to use my phone till it's old. I never get the chance to buy anything really expensive as I was already saving money to pay for the whole life insurance I got when I was 21. :)
Jillsabs said…
I totally get using my gadgets until they drop dead from exhaustion:p

Good on you for taking life insurance at 21 years old! At that age, I was only interested in buying shoes and going out with friends.

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