Money doesn’t grow on trees. And, contrary to popular belief, it never really got-slash-gets handed to me on a silver platter.
I’m blessed to have grown up in a family who never knew lack (or who did a pretty good job of hiding it, if we ever did). I am also “lucky” to have inherited the Ilocano way of managing money. I went to high school where the yearly tuition fee was less than Php 500 and went to UPLB under a scholarship that allowed me to pay just Php 45 every semester. Don’t get me wrong – those Php 500 bills let me experience competing in the National Schools Press Conference, join national broadcast journalism workshops, etc. so the quality of education was never compromised. As for my university dues, even if I didn’t get a UP Presidential Scholarship, I’d still finish in UPLB. But I might never have been able to make monthly trips from LB to LTB (read: braces adjustment appointments) if it weren’t for that huge slash from our family’s semi-annual expenses.
Of course, these are all from my own frugal points of view. Who knows what my parents were thinking when they sent me to BSU SLS. Who knows what was running through their minds when they encouraged me to apply for all those scholarships for which I took tests and sent applications to. If ever they did those things to indirectly teach me lessons about money, I’m grateful that they did. (If they didn’t, hey, I’m grateful still.)
My parents were never stingy. They are, in fact, two of the most generous people that I know. I think they just budgeted things properly so that we could all be extravagant in all the things that we wanted to be extravagant in. (I’m like that, even now.)
When I convinced them to let me take up my Masters in Malaysia, I presented to them a budget plan as to how I intended to pay for my tuition fee. There was a huge, huge difference between that and the Php 45 we paid for in college. And I felt that this Masters thing shouldn’t be included in the “Parents’ Handbook of Things to Pay For” anymore. But because my calculations showed research assistance money couldn’t fully pay for the tuition fee, my parents agreed to fill in the gaps if ever there would be any. See. Generous, like I said.
It was a miracle how I got the research assistance project that sustained me for my two years here in Malaysia. Really. Would you believe it if I said that I got locked out of the dorm room in my pj’s, well, ten minutes, before the project interview? Thank God the interviewers were late. And thank God for the favour, because they immediately accepted me, thus giving me a thesis topic and an assurance of two years worth of a steady living allowance.
Well, more or less steady. Sometimes there were delays in the contract renewal process. So sometimes (a lot of times) I had to stretch last month’s allowance and find other sources of income.
Thank God for prayer. And thank God for friends of friends who needed to have papers edited, children tutored, and so on and so forth. I think I must have shed a whole pool of blood trying to edit this one paper about bananas, though. Ahh, the things I did for extra cash.
I even tried doing an online job. There was a season (pre-thesis season) when I re-wrote articles for a news site. Hey, those hours of mulling over tech, health, world, entertainment, and travel news taught me a lot (about writing, copyrights, etc.) and bought my capo, new guitar strings, and that orange book that a friend is reading far, far away. (And oh, that extra cash for Tagaytay)
In the season of transition between my VIVA and my current job, I also found myself creating simple websites and designing simple graphics. Looking back, it was real divine intervention that those jobs came up. I never asked for them, but I guess God must have known that I would need them. Truth is, the amount I got from those projects paid for my initial office wardrobe and for the last leg of my June office transportation.
So now here’s another project. I never asked for this one. After all, I’m quite confident that the pay that I get from my day job would be more than enough to pay for the bills, transportation, what have you in the month(s) to come. But since I need taxi money (like crazy) and thesis-binding money – Okay, Lord, go ahead. Plus, it’s going to be interesting working on this project. I never worked with a partner before. Well, never worked for money with one. I wonder how this would all turn out. : )
So… going back to my first statement – money doesn’t grow on trees. God has a funny way of bringing them to the laps of His children though. It may not be handed on a silver platter, but He hands them out anyway.
10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” (Luke 16:10-11)