How much is your (net) worth?


“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.

  1. No matter how small the steps you take, it will move you forward.

  2. 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.

  3. It’s okay to be different, to be uncomfortable and to stand out.

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