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Why Thinking Like a Fresh Grad Helps

By Lennie Oliver, Brighterlife.com.ph

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BL_graduationPassing by the Philippine International Convention Center and seeing students all dressed up for their graduation reminded me of when I marched in the very same venue for my Communication Arts degree many years ago.

I remember getting mixed emotions then: I was excited about finally finishing school and was looking forward to building a career, but I was also scared about plunging into the world of grown-ups and competing with many others for a job in my dream industry which was broadcasting.

That our family was experiencing a financial crisis then added to the pressure of immediately finding a means to earn. Every Sunday, my head would be buried in the Classified Ads section of different newspapers (no Jobstreet nor JobsDB yet then – man, I am old!), encircling my prospects with a red pen. My interview outfit was a cheap suit I got in a department store, and was the only one I had.

I went through several interviews, many of which were awful and, not surprisingly, did not bear fruit. But I guess practice indeed makes perfect, because when I applied at a radio station of  broadcasting company, I nailed it and landed a job as a radio newscaster.

But. The pay was pretty small and I had bills to pay. So I applied to be a writer in the company’s television arm, and I fortunately got in. I thought that was it but a bigger opportunity came: the radio station of the country’s biggest broadcasting company was in need of a newscaster and I was able to get an audition.

Thankfully I got in. The pay was so much better and, since it was a big company, there were several opportunities for sidelines. Looking back now, I sometimes wonder how I was able to juggle all those jobs. But I do remember enjoying every single thing I did, even more so because thanks to all those, I was finally somewhat financially capable.

 FIRST JOB JITTERS. Six months after graduation, here’s me with singer-songwriter Jennifer Paige after an on-air interview. (Photo by author)

I felt like such a grown-up managing my own money. Every payday, I would withdraw cash from my atm, divide it according to the things that needed to be paid, and label them accordingly lest I’m tempted to spend the money on something else (like shopping, and yes, I did make that mistake and it definitely taught me a lesson!). Back then, I was not making as much as I am earning now, and yet, I was never really short on cash. I could pay the bills, treat myself once in a while, and survive okay until the next payday.

Now, there are more bills to pay and other necessary stuff to spend on, that budgeting can be such a challenge.

This reminds me of what motivational speaker and financial guru Chinkee Tan once said in a Sun Life Financial Planning Session, something along the lines of “mabuti pa nung konti ang pera, hindi nasho-short. Nung nagka-pera, mas madalas pang kinukulang.”

Do you agree? I guess apart from having more bills to pay, it’s also because as we earn more, we get exposed to comforts and luxuries and sometimes get spoiled by these. Plus, after years of being so tight with money, it’s liberating to indulge a little.

Except “little” turns into “a lot” sometimes, and that’s when trouble comes in.

So maybe we should try and bring back that discipline we had with our finances when we were young, fresh graduates and had lesser money. Imagine combining that restraint with the bigger paycheck you’re enjoying now – you can definitely set aside something for the rainy day, and even more.

Image used under Creative Commons from Sakeeb Sabakka

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