Reggie Rullan-Borromeo, Manila, Philippines

NOVEMBER 7, 2014

Bad financial habits are hard to break.

Harder still to keep are financial resolutions that are aimed at unmaking the bad financial habits accumulated over the years. What is one then to do when stuck in the stark reality of a financial mess?

If one were to ask a range of financial advisers or consult financial books, the single thing they will all agree on is that savings is not only a way to grow money; savings is also a way to become wealthy.

In a recent brunch series of the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Randell Tiongson, director of Registered Financial Planners of the Philippines, shared how he turned around his personal financial life.

The most striking thing he shared was that he used to be a liar and that worst of all, he lied to himself about his financial standing. Whilst he had long reformed his financial ways, he said he was still paying for his financial mistakes.

The good news is that it is never too late to rise from a financial mire. One can work one’s way out of it and get on the road towards financial recovery, just like Randell did.

As he talked about how consumerism took a crack at his financial stability, I was thinking, Randell, a finance whiz, is just like any of us. He is just as prone to the lures of advertising as the next guy. He tried to keep up with the Joneses (the Zobels; the Gokongweis; the Tans and the Sys), just like many have.

Yet what he was getting at was how our purchasing habits have formed a lifestyle that has set us on the path of fewer savings or worse, no savings.

This set me to thinking of how many people actually live within their means and how much has the power of credit lured many to live beyond said means. Living beyond one’s means not only results in a credit rating disaster. It can lead to a lifetime of debt if left unchecked. Compounded interest leads to burgeoning debt as one struggles to pay only the minimum of a credit card statement.

“We know that here in the Philippines, people put too much effort on lifestyle,” shares Randell. “Whenever there are new items or sales in malls, people get out of control. We spend too much money on luxuries, and yet our problem remains to be poverty — so much poverty, so much instability. The biggest problem is our behavior.”

Randell goes on to encourage Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf aficionados that one’s lifestyle dictates whether or not savings is possible. If lifestyle changes are made to make room for savings, then the light at the end of the tunnel will soon come in sight. Developing the habit of saving is a lifetime lifestyle habit that one must make to achieve financial stability. To begin, one must stand in the truth of what one can and cannot afford and begin to shave of expenses that may be turned into savings instead.

“If you ask a lot of people right now, their level of savings is not that ideal,” shares Tiongson. “There’s a study that in the Philippines, we only save about 18 to 20 percent of our income. When you compare that figure to other countries such as China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, their savings are at about 30 percent. Knowing that ours does not even reach 20 percent makes us realize that we are going to have a problem in the future. There’s a magic number for saving and spending-if you save about 30 percent of your income, you’re going to be financially stable. In fact, you could be rich,”
he adds.

When Randell was asked how one may teach children to save, as well as not to be consumer crazed, his answer to both questions was one and the same: “Live it!” he admonished. If one is teach a child anything, the first step is to set the example. The buying and saving habits of parents can have more impact than constant lectures.

This brunch series: New Financial Habits for a Brighter Future is part of Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s Great Exchange Program, highlighting the new Single Serve Beverage System. It is a personal barista coffee and tea maker that can make up to 70 varieties of Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf products right in the office or at home.

For more information log on to

Send us a Message


Dinah Sabal-Ventura

Geraldine “Reggie” Rullan-Borromeo

Malu Mora-Rullan