MANY of us would want to achieve financial freedom in the near future. However, getting there may be a challenge as we try to balance where our money goes.
John Eynard "EJ" P. Bastes, who comes from a regular middle-class family, is now enjoying a financially healthy life after being buried in debt and struggling financially for years. His secret? Discipline and being financially responsible.
"When I was in college my mindset was to find a decent job," Bastes said.
In 2009, he graduated from Ateneo de Davao University (Addu), cum laude, with a degree in management accounting.
Aside from landing a decent job, Bastes also had a goal of having a good financial standing like becoming a millionaire.
After graduation, he was accepted at Deutsche Bank in Metro Manila.
"I was lucky to have a decent job at that time," Bastes said, adding that this job may help him reach his goal of having a good financial standing.
He said after three years he realized that he has not reached his financial goals yet.
"Three years na pero feeling ko hindi ko pa rin nahi-hit at least one-fourth ng goal ko...10 percent ngahirapna," Bastes said.
He also realized that in the past three years of working he was living pay check to pay check.
"I earn, kahit decent na earning, mauubos pa rin," Bastes said.
After these realizations, he thought of ways as to how he can become better financially and reach his goals.
"My first option at that time, after working for the company for five years, is to look for another company," Bastes said.
Eventually, he landed a higher-paying job with Hewlett-Packard (HP).
However, despite the higher paying job he has not experienced any changes in his life as he still lives pay check to pay check.
After reflecting on how he was living, he observed that he spends a lot and was not able to set aside money for savings. He also realized, to be able to reach his financial goals, he needed to find other sources of income.
"After one year working with HP, I looked for part-time jobs," he said, adding that he also used to sell clothes.
Aside from diversifying his sources of income he also started to save money.
"Before when I receive my salary, I spend it and what is left are my savings. But I decided to change it where when I receive my salary, I immediately set aside my savings," Bastes said.
He said a change in the way he spends his money was difficult at first since he had to limit his spending on certain aspects of his life like spending money on parties or eating out.
"For a couple of months, napansin ko nakakapagtabi na ako. Yung problema at that time hindi lang sa income but sa lifestyle ko rin. Kahit ano yung kikitain ko, hindi naman ako nakapagtabi ng maayos, wala pa rin," Bastes said.
Another hindrance to his goals were his excessive use of his credit card where he tends to use it until it hits the limit.
"One problem I had before is nakakapagtabi ako but hindi ko napapansin ang laki pala ng utang ko sa credit card," he said, adding that despite his savings he still has debt and cannot reach his goal of being financially free.
One way that helped him to pay out his debt was being involved in small businesses like selling supplements.
He said being exposed to business-minded and investment-minded individuals has also allowed him to learn how to become financially free.
"After a few years in Manila, I decided to come back in Davao City," Bastes said, adding that despite having savings he came back here with a huge debt.
"I was in a financial mess," he added.
While in Davao, he met financial coaches and joined seminars that taught him how to properly plan out his financial goals.
"Somehow, na-change mindset ko and I was able to slowly pay my debt," Bastes said. He also ventured in businesses where he has a passion for.
He said being financially free was not a fast process where it took him two to three years to pay his debts.
After years of hardwork and discipline, Bastes attained his goal of becoming a millionaire at 27 years old.
He said after getting a taste of what it was like to be financially free, he made it his advocacy to also help others overcome their financial difficulties by becoming a financial coach.
At present, Bastes coaches different individuals from all walks of life in helping them reach their financial goals. He also taught his mother and aunt about proper financial management.
"I brand myself as the Millennial Wealth Coach. Millennial because I am one and the majority of our population are Millennials and Baby Boomers," he said, adding that he wants to reach out to his fellow Millennials on becoming financially responsible.
Bastes also said he wants to help individuals build their wealth so they could enjoy the things in life and be financially stable.
"One attitude that people need to develop is patience in building our wealth," he said.
Bastes can reached through his Facebook Page, Ej Bastes - Millennial Wealth Coach or Coach Ej - Davao Financial Coaches, where he posts tips and shares his knowledge on becoming financially free.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on May 20, 2017.
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