Money Advice for Women, from Women

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Mar 04 2019 01:54 PM | Updated as of Mar 08 2019 05:38 AM

Come March every year, we host National Women’s Month and join in the worldwide celebration for International Women’s Day, happening this Friday, March 8.

It’s always an eventful day across the globe, and I personally look forward to seeing women take the center stage. They could be ringing the opening bell in the stock exchange, or receiving awards for outstanding work in various fields, or doing their best to get timely message across in conferences. Every single one of them deserves recognition and respect, but I must say I am partial to successful women who are financially independent and doing their share to pay it forward.

Amazingly, there is no shortage of such women here in the Philippines and I am honored to showcase 3 of them here. It’s an interesting coincidence that they all started their careers as bankers, and maybe that in some way shaped them to all become prudent money managers.

Stella Cabalatungan
Executive Vice President, BDO Private Bank

When Stella started her banking career, she recalls it was not the best of times. “There was a financial crisis, the economy was not doing well, and unemployment rate was high.” She was working in sales and while she had to wrestle with perpetual sales goals, she thrived despite the very competitive environment. 

“I enjoyed building banking relationships with different types of people. Apart from my sales responsibilities, I was given the opportunity to handle process streamlining projects, conducting product and sales trainings, even developing operations manuals,” she said. 

When she left her first employer and joined another multinational financial institution, Stella diversified her experience from retail banking to the fixed income business. Her second employer was later acquired by BDO Unibank in 2003, who then established the first stand-alone domestic private bank with its own commercial banking license. 

Stella put all her years of banking know-how in the newly-formed BDO Private Bank, and was rewarded when she became BDO’s youngest female Executive Vice President at the age of 43 back in 2008.

With her banking career a success, it’s natural for friends and family to come to her for money advice. She generously shares what she knows including these 5 things: (1) Start your financial planning early; (2) Spend within your means and more importantly, save for a comfortable future; (3) If you do not trust your spending and saving habits, buy insurance to secure yourself and your heirs; (4) Do not spend too much on things that depreciate; and (5) Invest in long-term investments.

She also credits husband Cris for money advice. “He showed me how he tracked his expenses and his thought process in making major expense decisions. I may or may not always follow him but his pointers definitely form part of my decisions.”

When Cris joined a government bank after his retirement from the private sector, the couple was required to file their Statement of Assets and Liabilities. “Though tedious, we both realized this to be a very good way of taking stock of all your assets and for planning future investments. After his retirement, I continued this exercise for my own appreciation,” shares Stella.

Stella and Cris appears to have passed on their money smarts to their 22-year old son Chico. He actually sounds quite the old soul when he said that “the extravagance of today is the poverty of tomorrow”. Now, that’s not something we usually hear from the live-in-the-moment millennials.

Kaye Tinga
Co-Owner and Manager

Despite having a high-profile husband who made political waves as a city mayor and congressman, and now breaking new grounds as a green entrepreneur, Kaye Tinga is a success in her own right.

She started her professional work experience as a banker, first as a financial analyst in a local bank, and later in account management with a multinational bank in its offices in Manila and Hong Kong. Today, Kaye manages W/17 which seems disrespectful to simply call a furniture store. She describes it much better as “a retailer of curated products for the home.” W/17 is a conscience-driven business that values the works of artisans and age-old crafts as viable sources of livelihood. Complementary to this, Kaye runs a livelihood center that provides opportunities for women through training and placement. 

But she is likely better known for her commitment to mounting the annual Red Charity Gala fashion show featuring top Filipino designers. As co-chair to this yearly fundraiser, she has raised millions for the benefit of the Philippine Red Cross, the Assumption HS 84 Foundation and a number of other equally worthy beneficiaries.

During her banking years, she had quite a lot of experience in managing funds, and the one advice she gives to women and men alike: save. “Save, save, save while you are young and single and living under your parents’ roof. But also go and indulge in your passion (within reason) because that’s what savings are for.”

Kaye also recalls that “one of the most important advice I have received is – if it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true. There is no such thing as easy money, if you are being offered a product or an investment idea that promises way over market returns – it’s probably a scam. I have said this often to people who have asked for my advice, unfortunately not everyone listened.”

Kaye has 4 children, and she is doing her best to raise them with money smarts too. “My 2 older children, my daughters, Kylie and Kerry, are 23 and 21, and are both starting out their careers. Because they went to university abroad, they have learned to manage their own finances and to budget. I advise them to grab the opportunities that come their way especially if it is something they enjoy and can actually earn from, or even something that might initially be not in their area of interest. Study it, maybe it might be something they will enjoy and even benefit from whether financially or just by gaining valuable experience.”

“My 2 younger children, my sons, Kody and Kristian are 16 and 11 respectively, and have a long way to go. I give them financial responsibilities especially Kody, such as taking care of the household budget when my husband and I are travelling, and when both their sisters were living abroad. He learned the challenges of managing a household quite young even for very limited periods. When there is something they want, we tell them to wait for a special occasion, or to save up for it, to teach them to be patient and to understand the value of money, that anything worth having is worth waiting for.”


Flor Gozon Tarriela
Philippine National Bank

Flor is one of the most successful female bankers in the country today. She is chair of Philippine National Bank (PNB), as well as PNB Capital & Investment Corporation and PNB IBJL Leasing and Finance Corporation. She also serves as director, trustee and advisor to institutions of varied interests including the Lucio Tan Group, Foundation for Filipino Entrepreneurship, Tulay Sa Pag-unlad, and Makati Garden Club.

She has blazed many trails for women in banking, from when she became the first Filipina vice president of a multinational bank in the 1990s and most recently as first woman chair of PNB. As author of several inspirational books and columnist to 2 leading newspapers, she dispenses money advice to her audience from nearly 4 decades of banking experience plus some she learned at her mother’s knee.

“My best role model is my mother Carolina, known as Arling to friends and family. She was a businesswoman and wife of a Cabinet member. She was always simple and you would never know when she has money and when she doesn’t for she is consistently matipid (frugal).”

Flor learned the value of living below your means growing up. “Whenever my father, a former government employee, would be promoted and given a raise, my mother would save the increases since they were used to living on his old salary anyway.”

When she would speak at conferences to women and families about finances, Flor makes sure to always cover the basics. 

One, encourage your children to save. “My father Benjamin instilled the virtues of saving in us children by matching at the end of the year any amount that we saved from our allowances. This was a great incentive for me to save because I can see my savings grow yearly.”

Two, have a goal. “What worked for me was having a goal to save such as downpayment for a car or lot, spending money for a trip or vacation. I realized that if I didn’t have a goal, I always ended up spending what I have in my wallet.”

Three, invest. “It isn’t enough just to save. We need to make money grow. Some guidelines in investing: don’t invest in anything you don’t understand; don’t put all your eggs in one basket; make sure you have liquidity so don’t invest all in liquid assets; get an investment counselor you can trust; and don’t be too greedy.”

Finally, Flor reminds us about the importance of giving and sharing. “I have so many examples of stories proving the saying ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’. Think positively, and manifest not lack but abundance.”

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.