“How much are you worth?”
This was a question that my brother dropped on me when I was around 18.
No, he wasn’t talking about what my value was as a person or something philosophical. He was literally talking about how much money I have. He was driving a point on why it matters to save up and why it matters to do it NOW. Not when I have a job, not when I’m earning enough but NOW. Using just the allowance I get from my mom, I have to save now.
Up until that point, I thought I was pretty savvy with money but in the context of what we were talking about that time, this question made an impact.
From there he discussed how having a savings account will help me.
- It’s always good to have something in your back pocket especially for emergencies. - This will set me up as I go through adulthood. - It will help me with getting the place I want to rent, car I want to buy and so on. - It will rescue me when I would need it the most.
As I left the car he drove to bring me back to my dorm, I set out on a mission - I will save up today.
I went to my room, found out what the smallest amount I need to open a savings account was and made that my goal.
With my small allowance, I get to only save coins - 25 centavo coins, 1 peso coins, 5 peso coins. I’d put them aside, tape them up until I reached 500 pesos.
When I did, I racked up the courage to bring those taped up coins in a plastic bag and head to the bank. I knew they’d think I’m weird bringing all these coins to them.
I went anyway.
I opened the door nervously, placed the bag of coins on the table and said, “I want to open a savings account. This is 500 pesos.”
The lady in counter looked at me like I was the biggest hassle of her day. She poured the coins on the table and as it made this loud noise, I knew people were looking. I stood there and repeated, “That’s 500 pesos.” She started counting. This was probably the longest few minutes of my life.
Once she confirmed I had the right amount, she handed me the forms and I had my first savings account.
Every month from then on, I would go in there, deposit whatever coins I gathered. The lady that saw me as a hassle, now smiles every time I walk in. All the bank tellers started to get to know me and they’d gleefully count what I brought, wondering how much I had for that month.
They’d happily tell me what my new total is.
I went to that bank for years and when I got my first job, I deposited my first bill there. When I handed them the paper money, the teller exclaimed, “Si ma’am, may papel na!” (It’s not coins anymore!”)
There are 3 things I value so much from this story.
No matter how small the steps you take, it will move you forward.
There are things or words that you speak that would make a huge impact in someone else’s life that you might not be ever aware of.
It’s okay to be different, to be uncomfortable and to stand out.