When people think of Ilocanos, it’s a common stereotype that they are kuripot ( stingy with money). Unfortunately, Ilocanos haven’t quite been perceived as generous or giving. However, I’d rather see this regional trait in a more positive light. Instead of stingy, I think llocanos are practical when it comes to handling money.
Take my mom, for instance.
My mom is one of the thriftiest people I know. I say that lovingly and with much admiration. She is frugal in more ways than one. Before she decides to buy anything, she spends a lot of time weighing whether it is a want or a need. She finds use for things that most people would throw away. I remember she upcycled two green wine bottles into pretty vases and used old Christmas ornaments as flowers. Ten years later, they are still in the living room of our family home.
This is not to say that she is not generous. I actually think thrifty people save more so they can give more. They skimp on personal luxury to afford provisions for their family. They figure out ways to cut out unnecessary expenses so they can do more for people with what they save. Besides, as the poet Kahlil Gibran wrote,
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
Growing up in an Ilocano household, my parents, my mom especially, have these sort of financial mantras, if you will, that I’ve heard over and over again. They are mentioned practically all the time: when giving us our school allowance, when we are at the mall, every time we spend too much time on the TV or the computer, when we forget to turn off the lights or water, when we are sick, when we are on vacation and anytime they feel like giving us a lecture on money matters.
Anyway, let me share with you six of my mom’s favorite sayings. Some are borrowed from popular quotes and financial experts while some are her own.
No. 1: Save for the rainy days
Early on, my mom encouraged us to put some of our allowance into savings. Moreover, she used this line to discourage us from spending too much on our wants. It seems pretty effective since I have this at the back of my mind pretty much like my financial conscience.
No. 2: It doesn’t matter how much you earn, what matters is how much you save.
I used to think that you have to earn a lot in order to save a lot. But a few years ago, my mom told me this line and my perspective radically changed. She got it from a TV show she was watching and shared it with me with much enthusiasm. It does make sense, doesn’t it? Because even if you earn millions but you live lavishly, you really won’t save anything.
No. 3: Health is wealth.
This is perhaps my mom’s favorite one. She constantly reminds us to take care of our health, not only because she cares for us, but because she knows being sick is expensive. A common cold can easily turn into pneumonia which will get you in the ICU and cost you thousands of pesos. So, when she sees us without jackets on during cold weather, she’d tell us this line and ask us to put them on.
No. 4: Always make a list.
When my mom goes grocery shopping, she usually has a list of things to buy. This stops every one from getting too much junk food and buying things impulsively. It also saves a lot of time because you don’t need to think of things you need while in the supermarket.
I think I got this from her. These days, I actually have more than one list when we go out. For example, when we go to the mall, I bring a to-do list ( buy slippers, pay the bills, deposit money, get a haircut ) and a to-buy list. These lists save us a lot of time and money because I don’t get easily swayed by promos and sales when I have focus.
No. 5: Live below your means.
Perhaps everyone has heard of this popular piece of financial advice: Live within your means. But my mom got this great quote from Suze Orman, a personal financial guru:
“Live below your means but within your needs. ”
I think it’s solid advice. You don’t have to impress anybody with new gadgets or a posh lifestyle even if you have the means to do so. Just spend on needs and save the rest.
No. 6: Cents matter.
My mom loves comparing prices of items of the things she needs. Unlike other people, she doesn’t find it bothersome. She does what it takes to save even just cents. Sometimes, she would even take note of prices from different supermarkets to know where the lowest priced items are.
I know a couple of cents might not mean much. But imagine saving a few cents on a regularly used item like cooking oil. Over the years, you could have probably saved a lot from buying a slightly more affordable one.
I consider myself lucky to have an Ilocano mom. I think her practical money saving skills helped me put a lot of value on hard earned money and labors of love. If in the future someone would describe me as a kuripot (“stingy”) mom, I’d smile and proudly reply, “Yes, just like my mom.”