Save, spend, and invest, the Chinese-Ilocano way

By Melvin Jao Esteban, as told to Lynda C. Corpuz, MoneySense magazine

Posted at Mar 08 2009 06:18 PM | Updated as of Mar 10 2009 03:00 AM

If you have to spend, spend. What you can save, save. That is what my mom tells us. She says, “One of the best things for you to be able to handle money well is to know how hard it is for you to make it.” And we know this by heart.

What you do not see, you do not spend. My credit card is attached to my checking account where my salary comes in. Once in, it automatically pays my credit card.

Go auto-mode.  The reason why some find it hard to save is because of the pain involved in departing from their money. Say, you are told to save P200,000 annually. Now, you have P200,000 in cash and it is so difficult for you to save it but if you save P200 to P300 daily, it is easier. Start when you are young. If you are young, you have greater potential to make a lot of money, but only if you know how to invest properly. Basic rule: go long-term. You will not be tempted to spend it.

Know where to make money. Make sure to look for opportunities with relatively higher returns than others. Like in the stock market – how would you know if an investor or a fund manager is good? It is when the stock market goes down the last man standing is the best investment manager. And surprisingly, you can make money in the stock market whether it’s going up or down, only if you know how to invest properly.

Spot good and talented people. Managing your business hands-on is good. But if you want it to grow big, you should hire good people to expand the business for you. This is the concept we are applying in Congo Grill.

Follow your gut. This is the beauty of the Chinese way of doing business. A lot of Chinese, malalakas ang loob, kaya nga pag sumabak sila sa negosyo, hindi nga minsan calculated, bahala na kahit high-risk. Of course, that is not always good for you are exposing yourself to too much risk.

Get good exposure. I am also thankful I have very good corporate exposure. Instinct combined with corporate discipline – that is powerful and gives me a very good foundation in looking at things with a better perspective.