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I am a teacher, and I am a millionaire!

How much money do you have in your bank account? A teacher should forget his chances of being wealthy and set aside his own gratification and hone within himself the unselfish love which is deemed required in this profession. A complete lie!

Generally, teachers are not millionaires. If someone aims to be wealthy, he shall not dream to be a teacher otherwise, his dream will run afoul of his goal. It sounds frustrating and demoralizes the teaching profession. Perhaps one of the reasons is that most teachers are academically genius but financially ignorant.

On the positive view, however, it is a reality test as to whether someone will continue to reach out to his dream to be a teacher notwithstanding the reality that he will probably realize once he gets there, to the brighter side, the purpose is to test one's eagerness to pursue the sacred and unselfish profession. The old saying goes, ‘’The teaching profession is the best profession for it is the mother of all professions.’’ Lawyers, doctors, engineers, nurses, and other professions emanated from the effort and perseverance of someone who chose the teaching profession. The whimsical story of a robber is a classic example of how exemplary the teaching profession is. A group of robbers rode on a jeepney with force and intimidation declared a hold up to the passengers. One of the passengers was a teacher. The robber who was instructed to position at the back of the jeepney, recognized his teacher when he was in grade four. He told her, "Mam, bumaba na po kayo." (Mam, you may alight the jeepney) The robber continued their criminal act as soon as the teacher alighted. –What a heart-warmth story. It gives chill to the bones of their shapeless hope.

Many teachers are financially prisoners. They only owe temporary liberty. Anyone who fails to perform the act required will be a prisoner of dereliction that leads to unsatisfied life. In other words, being rich is far from reality since their financial aspect is run-of-the-mill, only few emerge victors when it comes to pecuniary abundance.

Are teachers not lacking on a daily basis? Do they struggle to accrue their savings for the future? The answer is dependent upon who answers the question. Aristotle, in his great ideas of ethics, avers, "If the only questions about wealth concerned the means of getting and keeping it, the cause of its increase and decrease, the idea of wealth would be confined to economics." In this sense, wealth is measured by the decrease and increase of one's economics. Many teachers venture to different spheres of challenges taking cognizance of the future. Teachers in public schools, with audacity to go beyond their comfort zone, are those who emerge one or two steps ahead of others.

Way back in 2017, the Department of Education had to address the problem. Notwithstanding the dissenting opinions of many teachers, the former regulated indiscriminate loans to avert financial bankruptcy of teachers, for many teachers are known to be addicted to loans. Is this evident of financial stagnancy? The Department forwards in a positive point of view, ‘’Financial literacy is the key to solve the predicament of all teachers who rely on loans. Consequently, the inherent power of the state flexes its muscle to act on teachers' plight notwithstanding the substantial number dissenter to the said regulation.’’ The shark loan is now under prohibition.

Take this for an example. Teacher X has been teaching in a public school for ten (10) years. On the second year of being a public teacher, he decided to enter to a loan agreement with the amount of P300,000.00 with high interest. The same was used for hospital bill of his spouse and for the purchase of a tricycle. He incurred 75% demandable monthly deduction for three years. In effect, the remaining of his monthly salary plummeted to P5000.00. The burden he incurred was so hefty that the remaining salary was also susceptible to deduction of house rental and transportation. This is a very demoralizing income for a professional individual.

Many teachers incur the same predicament due to multiple loans but without which, where teachers rely upon, they are not able to send their children to college. Trent Locher, in his personal experience, states as a public teacher in his country confessed, "When I tell acquaintances that I’m a public school teacher and the sole provider for my family of five, they immediately reach in their pockets to donate money. When I explain that I live quite comfortably and don’t need their money, they insist there’s no shame in accepting charity. Then they plead with me to swallow my pride and take the money, if not for myself, for my kids.” Accordingly, Locher’s personal view reflects, "Many teachers thrive economically. They are not doomed to welfare lines and bankruptcy. Their children do not have to do without. It is not their destiny to be the feature story in news magazines about the struggling middle class. Teachers possess the two most important wealth generating resources available: a mind capable of intelligent thought, and time—lots of time, time in the summer, time over the holidays, time in the afternoon."

It can be deduced that teachers have everything, more than wealth, if only they know how to maximize and utilize time for economic gain. A teacher’s career is not confined in and limited to six hours of teaching. If life and circumstances require them to go the extra mile, they opt to make it not just for family but for self-gratification. What pushes someone to be a teacher? It could be different reasons, some do have good answers, others just try to appease people by giving an idealistic answer like to be a hero or something, to serve the country, or help the children. Probably some tell the truth, but it sounds hypocrisy to the ears of people who are accustomed to dealing with different people.

In most cases, after graduating from high school, most students do not have choices but to take courses which suit their family earning capacity and what is economical. Education is one of the most economical courses as to why substantial numbers of incoming freshmen choose education even though it is not their first choice. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) released that education is one of the most in demand courses in the year 2014 up to 2018. The list shows notwithstanding the complaint of teachers in their salary, that the education course thrives.

When people of other professions reach out for the answer why teaching, the ideal answer that makes someone who chooses the teaching profession stands out is "to make a difference.” For many people who choose to become a teacher, they are fortunate enough to have a teacher who positively had an impact to their lives. Now, they want to give back and make a difference in the lives of others.

"Hard work is what successful people practice."

One may ask why there are persons who are dauntless in taking challenges and risks to reach their set goals whilst others succumb easily to reluctance. Or why there are persons who are willing to sacrifice almost everything only to live the lives they wanted to whilst others are too afraid conquer their fears by taking the first step to success. Absolutely, hard work does not lead to hunger, neither make people nose-dive to failure. Failure is not the absence of success, but it is a portion of success. If it was not for the idea of failure, the idea of success would not have been introduced. The idea of success intertwines with an attempt which means “an act trying to do something." At an opportune, the word success is the desired result of an attempt, thus, attempt and failure are elements of and interconnected to success. A dream without trying to fulfill it is a dead dream. A person who wants to be successful must try hard and be desperate to and keep on trying until he finds the key that will unlock the door to success. Do not be afraid. Trying something new often requires valor and valor is itself a self- gratification. How magnificent to open a floodgate of valor and be carried on its stream to destination of advantage and attainment. An inventor makes new discoveries by trying something new which is uncommon because an invention that is common to many does not constitute invention but just an improvement of something already discovered. Trying something new forces you to grow and succeed. Is it possible that there is success without incurring failure? Possibly, because the former is just a portion of the latter, but is there success without an attempt or trying? The answer is no.

Some people are successful because they enjoy wealth, fame, and title or entitled to usufruct without their attempt, but the attempt emanates from the other persons, still, their success boils down to an attempt of others. Most successful people do not limit themselves to one task or a job. Usually they venture into different fields to make use of their abilities and time. Among professionals, lawyers are known to be hardworking. In lieu of going home after the office hours as corporate or government lawyers, most of them teach in law schools and colleges at night helping the law school dean in producing future lawyers with, of course a high rate of compensation. They also give legal services as their subsidiary income; they appear in court for litigation for those who hired them for their services. In addition, they also make pro bono cases where they render free services to qualified clients. No wonder we have not heard of or seen lawyers go financially bankrupt, but we usually see them on television wearing elegant attire or featured in a newspaper. Medical doctors likewise are known to be hardworking; most doctors render services not only in their private clinic but also to different hospitals. They are scheduled in different hospitals in a week as to why their source of income is not confined in one source, but they accumulate it from different sources. Teachers are also known as hardworking. However, we cannot deny the fact that most of our teachers live lacking and struggling financially, notwithstanding the hard work and passion they dispensed with.

Based upon propositions we can deduce that mostly are not in cognizance of effective administration of their financial. The Department of Education exquisitely wants to inculcate to teachers Financial Literacy program in compliance to Republic Act No. 10922 or “An Act Declaring the Second Week of November Every Year as Economic and Financial Literacy Week”; and Republic Act No. 10679 or “An Act Promoting Entrepreneurship and Financial Education Among Filipino Youth. The laws want teachers to take full cognizance of their earning capacity and refrain from spending beyond their means, spend less to wants and allocate the budget to basic needs. Financially successful people are able to acquire basic needs as well as wants without susceptibility to starving their family. Able to travel outside the country for vacation, purchase car, own a house in exclusive subdivision, and able to send their children to prestigious school. Financial success is often time gradual and step by step. In other words, someone must do something. Someone must have the audacity to take an action or attempt. It does not usually come in instant unless you hit the winning lottery jackpot. Do teachers' hard work render futile? Hard work does not guarantee success without identifying the situation and planning as to how to effectively get things done. Self-evaluation is vital step to start. Evaluate and know individual’s intelligence, potential, and skills to come up which field to be ventured to without prejudice to responsibilities in school. Staying inside your comfort zone is like giving up the opportunity to be successful. You must go outside the box. In an IQ test, the only way to connect nine dots is to go outside the box. Do not condone the thought that bars the experience and discovery of new things. Get rid of stale thoughts and try new things and step out of your comfort zone.

A teacher must stop being nice to himself and spend within his means

Spending within your means is spending less than the net or gross income or it equals to the monthly income. In other words, the expenditure shall not exceed the income you receive each month. Thus, if teacher X receives P20,000.00 income each month, his expenditure shall not be more than P20,000.00 otherwise, he spends beyond his means.

A teacher should never expect others to get things done for him, not even his relatives, friend, or superior. They are all busy with their own needs. No one will achieve goals for you. It’s all personal. Be an autodidact for everyone who is too busy writing his own story. Can a teacher become a millionaire with his salary in teaching? Certainly not, but there are teachers who became millionaires because they refuse to be stagnant.

A teacher, 38 years old, became millionaire. He did not win a lottery nor inherited a substantial portion of inheritance. He was a high school teacher somewhere in Manila. At the age of 21 after graduating from his course Civil Engineering, he applied to different companies, but the circumstances did not go in his favor. After two years, he was still not able to land to a job related to his course. He was forced to work as a sales representative at SM malls. It came to his knowledge that teaching is promising. He took several units in education and managed to teach in public school. Even though he enjoyed benefits from teaching, his salary was not good enough, there was something in his mind that he had to do something. He brainstormed and planned what he could do. He scored all companies in Ortigas to find subsidiary job. After his work in public school, he would go to Ortigas to teach Mathematics to high school in tutorial center. He made use of his Mathematic skills to earn additional income. He held various jobs and did not cease finding opportunities that would give him additional income, whether passive or active pursuit of business. At the age of 31, he had already read more than 300 books in finance, business, and investment. He noticed that one thing is common, someone has the nerve and be courageous to try. He invested all his money in real property that generated monthly rental payment. He also founded his own tutorial centers and supervised it alone without affecting his first bread and butter which is teaching in public. He became a millionaire at the age of 38. He travelled the world and set his permanent residence in the United States with his wife. People with great ideas and plans strive hard and become successful in their field. Their endeavors have not to come to futility when the throes of trial and error have caused them to become adept in the realm of eminence. Suffice it to say, people with skills and ideas must keep on searching for intractable success.

Another story of success

An aspiring boxer built his own training room and saved money to purchase a pair of gloves and pads. He deposited sand in a hand-made sack covered with old fabric. He would train on his own, day and night and followed the boxers' diet. In four years of training, he reached great shape but all of these did not make him to be a boxer simply because he did not get in ring and fight.

Teachers should learn from boxers. Boxers train so hard to achieve weight limit and body condition. They wake up before the dawn heralds the day to do several kilometers jogging, body conditioning, sparring, and learning techniques. They are very strict in diet because every pound counts during the weigh in. They surpass their body limit and make hard work a daily habit; mind and body must work together to achieve the perfect condition before the fight night. But all these things will come to futility unless boxers take up the gauntlet and give their best to be the champions of the world. Cassius Clay, also known as Muhamad Ali, said; "I have not seen a champion who is not a hardworking." In this premise we can deduce that hard work is essential element of success but without trying to get in the ring someone can never be a champion. On the same account, a teacher who does not try to explore and utilize his talent and skills despite of his hard work in teaching will never achieve financial security.

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers it food at harvest” - Proverbs 6:8.

The way we manage our money in the present time will have a significant impact on our future. All of us once in our life, had a thought as to what would happen to us in the future. We cannot foretell the future, but we can prepare for it. Effective management of money is one of the secrets of financially independent people. Some of them, their wealth is enough to live on even during retirement. Or even without working, their wealth can cover all their lifetime expenses. All financially independent people may be different in terms of how, when, and where they invest their money. They are engaged in various spheres of finances, but they all have one thing in common. They are all financially literate.

Financial literacy is not taught broadly in schools. As a matter of fact, many teachers have a limited understanding about it. In effect, it leads to misconception and ineffective financial planning. Financial literacy is not limited to saving money and being frugal. To simplify, when a customer is on the verge of choosing between a frozen meat that costs ₱135.00 per kilogram and fresh meat that costs ₱160.00 and then she chooses the former because she can save ₱25.00, that does not constitute financial literacy. It is merely choosing what is cheaper and disregards the quality of goods.

This is also true when your spouse chooses to purchase vegetables for lunch over beef in which disparity of prices is obvious. But again, the same is not financial literacy. Protein needed by our body cannot be found in vegetables. On the other hand, some vitamins and minerals as well as fiber, cannot be found in beef. Suffice it to say, one cannot claim that he is financially literate by just saving P10,000 in a month. Neither is a person who avoids purchasing expensive branded jeans and shirts. Although it forms part of it, financial literacy is the totality of different facets. Hence, it is one's ability to invest, save, and spend money wisely. It is a full understanding on how money works and make an effective managing and making good decisions on financial expenditure. For example, if X purchases a leather belt that costs ₱1000.00 that will last for 5 years whilst Y purchases synthetic belt that costs ₱400.00 that will last for a year, X is considered as the smart purchaser given the facts that fall under the purview of financial literacy.

In year 1200 even before the Spaniards subjugated the Philippines, our ancestors and Chinese traders have been in vendee-vendor relationship. There was a friendly relation between Chinese traders and Filipinos for they were both pursuing trade through barter. As Merriam Webster defines it, barter is a system in which goods are exchanged for other goods instead of for money. After the colonial period, barter had become imperceptible when cash was used for daily purchasing. Today, the way we purchase is totally different. The use of credit cards and online shopping have been gaining ground in the last ten years. Buying appliances, clothes, shoes, and so on, is so easy as it is just one click on the internet. But it is also the easiest and fastest way to escalate debt. It is like a quicksand that buries the debtor and it is difficult to get out of it. Teachers are susceptible to debts because they are being targeted by credit cards companies and loan businesses who are in full cognizance of teachers' ability to pay.

It is easy to put oneself in debt but getting out of it is gradual and difficult. One of the easiest ways to buy goods is through online shopping. It is available even in smart phones where one cannot resist the temptation of buying new styles of dress and bag whilst many loan businesses offer easy approval loans. In effect, teachers are buried in debt so deep and it becomes distressful specially when the same has unconscionable interests.

So, you may now ask me, “How much money do I have in the bank?” I do not have much but I am staying within the purview of financial literacy, exercising a living faith, and having an idea of a non-stop pursuit of a good fortune. I do not have much, nevertheless, I invested so much courage in life because I believe fortune favors the brave!

I am a millionaire not in pecuniary estimation but in terms of working and doing things I know someday will turn the table.

Article written by:

Mark John G. Ortiz

San Juan Elementary School - Teacher III


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