MANILA - People in business usually brace themselves for ghost month, a time when clients stop buying products or postpone their plans to prevent bad luck.
This year, ghost month starts on August 22 and ends on September 19, 2017. According to Chinese legend, ghost month is when evil spirits are unleashed from hell and roam the earth, bringing bad luck wherever they go. This is why superstitious businessmen, and there are surprisingly many, lie low during this time.
Unfortunately, this usually means a slowdown in business as well. Cash flow might suddenly be tight. If you’re a stock market investor, you might find that the market is in the doldrums. If you are in sales, you might suddenly find your regular customers postponing their purchases, leading you to miss your targets. You might even discover that it is more difficult to collect money from your clients, simply because they are holding back.
It’s not just the entrepreneurs who are hard-hit by ghost month superstitions. If you’re an employee, you might discover that some of your bosses refuse to start projects, simply because they think that it is not an auspicious time to begin one.
This is why you have to be ready for ghost month and other similar events, when everyone seems to be on a slowdown mode. Although the best way to deal with ghost month is to prepare in advance for it, there are also ways to help you go through it with less difficulty.
Here are 7 ways to help you cope with ghost month:
1. Stick to the basics. During a slowdown, it’s best to prioritize the most important expenses instead of buying items that are non-essential. You can cut down on restaurant and entertainment expenses at this time, and just focus on food, utilities, transportation and medical needs for the meantime. Find ways to reduce expenses through cost-saving techniques.
2. Reschedule large-ticket expenses. While uncertainty reigns, it may be good to postpone large-ticket expenses that are not urgent. If you’re thinking of buying a new laptop, but are not too sure about your cash flow, you can reschedule this to the next month or when your sales are on track and your cash flow situation has improved.
3. Don’t miss paying bills. When you’re experiencing a cash crunch, it’s tempting to postpone paying bills. Don’t. This will cost you so much more in penalties and finance charges. A late payment fee can start at P400. You may wish to just pay the minimum amount due on your credit card for the time being, but make sure that you honor all commitments in order to keep your credit standing good.
4. Take on extra jobs. If you need extra cash, then get creative and find other income sources to help you through this time. You may wish to sell stuff on the side, offer tutorials, or run errands for people in exchange for a fee. Be resourceful so that you can survive ghost month and similar slowdowns in the future.
5. Avoid taking unnecessary debt. Ghost month may make it tempting for you to take on a loan to pay for everyday expenses. While it is not wrong per se to borrow money, don’t do so unless it is absolutely necessary, such as in the case of medical emergencies and the like. Instead, try to limit your expenses or postpone purchases until business begins to pick up.
6. Start an emergency fund. Ghost month is a recurring phenomenon, and you will encounter many other slowdowns. For this reason, you may want to think about starting an emergency fund that you can tap next time this happens. Start at around 3-5% of your income. If you make P20,000 a month, that will be from P600 – P1,000 a month. Open a savings account where you can deposit a fixed amount regularly so that you have money to use next time ghost month comes around.
7. Stay positive. There’s nothing like having a positive attitude and disposition to get through these dips. Know that these are temporary and with a little belt-tightening, you can get over this hump. While things are slow, focus on preparing for what may lie ahead. Don’t be disheartened, knowing that ghost month will soon be over and that things will eventually look up.
Not everybody believes in ghost month, but when it comes to business and especially financial transactions, preparation is the key. You may not be a believer but it’s possible that the people you deal with do. In such cases, err on the side of caution and be ready for anything. There is nothing to lose by simply being careful.
Grow Your Money is an editorial partnership between News.abs-cbn.com and Citi Philippines to promote financial education and provide helpful information to Filipinos on how to better manage their personal finances.
Visit www.citibank.com.ph for more information.