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Having an emergency fund is a must in any financial plan as we do not want to touch the savings we have for our children’s education or the retirement fund we diligently built-up when some unforeseen events happen.
Although the pandemic disrupted this principle especially those who lost their jobs or got saddled with sickness, this simple guide remains to be relevant: a prescription of at least 3 to 6 months of your monthly cost of living and if you have more savings, it is better to put the excess in an investment fund that gives you better returns.
But first, why is an emergency fund important? Quoting Zach Buchenau, a personal finance expert (https://bethebudget.com/why-is-an-emergency-fund-important/) “emergency fund is important because it acts as a financial cushion in the event of an unexpected expense. Whether it be medical bills, home repairs, or a family crisis, an emergency fund can help you steer clear of debt, protect your assets, and avoid unnecessary financial struggle.”
Chart your monthly income and expenses. This will help you determine not only your monthly cost of living but can also help you identify where you can cut expenses in order to set aside for the rainy days.
Set your emergency savings goal. As I mentioned earlier, a quick guide is 3 to 6 months.
Develop a plan to start saving. For some, cutting costs is a must and tracking your expenses can help you find what items you can give up to give way to savings.
Put your emergency fund in an accessible place. A regular bank savings account is a good place for this as you can access it without paying penalties. As such, do not mind the very low interest rate as that is the reason why you can withdraw it anytime.
Stick to your plan. It may not be easy as there are lots of reasons we come up with why we can’t set aside the amount regularly until the fund goal is reached but resist the temptation and stick to the purpose of the fund – it should only be used for Emergency.
I must add that expenses like tuition fees are not “emergency” expenses as these are scheduled and can be planned ahead. There are health plans that can help cover medical expenses and it is always advisable to get covered for these expenses too.
Finally, this Covid-19 pandemic has exposed our financial vulnerabilities and has taught us so many lessons including ensuring having a sufficient emergency fund, having health plans and insurance coverage. Let us not waste these lessons by not acting on them and plugging the holes in our financial plan.
Let’s not take for granted setting up an emergency fund anymore. It’s one lesson from this pandemic that we must learn and act on.
All women love strong and shapely legs right? As we age, the forces of nature work their way towards our body and puts unsightly bulges here and there and we start looking at our old photos and wish…
…And wish we go back to our past shape. Hey, we actually can for as long as we are willing to do the sweat price (because the easier cosmetic route does not give you the benefits beyond what the eyes can see).
This teaches a simple truth: Effort produces results, no effort produces nothing. The effort is worth it.
Amby Burfoot, podiumrunner.com
I started running in July 2018 at age 52 so it’s not yet too long ago but this is the best I have felt so far as far as my body condition is concerned. I’ve never been really overweight though but at that time, I was heavy at 134 pounds and I didn’t like it when I noticed I had to buy clothes a size bigger than the previous year so I thought it was time to level up my work-out. (I am 113 pounds now and overachieved my 115 pounds goal). It was so timely because I had been wanting to join the Angkor Wat Half Marathon which our company was a sponsor of. I downloaded a 5K Runner App and the rest is history. Since then I had been running at least 3 times a week. Prior to this pandemic, I travelled a lot so my running shoes are always with me. That’s another benefit of running – you get to explore new places and see them from a different perspective when the place is still quiet and not busy at sunrise (I’m a morning runner).
Running adds years to your life and life to your years. Because of the overall effect of running in the body (cardiovascular, body composition, hormonal balance), studies show that runners actually gain 3 years into one’s life span.
Running helps you sleep better.There is a direct correlation between exercising and getting a good sleep and many studies validate this.
Running can improve your knees and back. I am sure you have heard the opposite of this and would not believe this is a fact. Burfoot shared a study of 675 marathoners by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery which revealed that the “arthritis rate of active marathoners was below that of the general U.S. population (Arthritis prevalence was 8.8% for the subgroup of U.S. marathoners which is significantly lower than the prevalence in the matched U.S. population of 17.9%). I am sure, a big part of this is the fact that runners take extra care of their knees by doing strengthening exercises to make sure that they continue running.
Running helps you lose weight, and keep it off. We all know of those who lose weight by doing some diet of sorts and while there had been success stories, there are more cases of “losers” who gained it all back again. On the other hand, if you lose weight by running (as it is one exercise that really makes you burn more calories) and you keep on running at least three times a week, you will most likely keep the extra pounds away. The average person burns 280 to 520 calories with 30 minutes of running. Amount of calories burned depend on weight, time spent running and speed. ~https://caloriesburnedhq.com/calories-burned-running/
Running improves mental health, and reduces depression. For sure, running makes you feel good. It gives you a rush of endorphins that runners refer to as runners high. This chemical in the brain has been found to have many positive effects on the body including pain reduction, boost in happiness and pleasure and reduction in stress and anxiety.~https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/runners-high
Running lowers your blood pressure. Running and other moderate exercise is a proven, non-drug-related way to lower blood pressure and this is because running strengthens one’s heart muscles and make it more effective.
Pre-run and Post-run stretching
I have to stress how important pre- and post-run stretching is to avoid injuries and muscle aches. Pre-run stretches should be dynamic (active stretches where you engage your muscles and joints warming them up causing blood circulation) while post-run can be static (stretches where you hold a pose for 15-20 seconds) to cool down your muscles and slow down your breathing. Check this CNBC-TV18 you tube video for great pre- and post-runs stretching routine: https://youtu.be/qq1kGDd4Q60
Running and Yoga
Since running involves the use of the same muscles and joints, I can say that yoga is its perfect partner as the latter works out the other muscle groups and joints not used in running. Thus, it further enhances your run. Yoga exercise improves mobility and strengthens your core which improve one’s stability and performance. The other great thing with yoga practice is it teaches you the correct breathing which is so helpful in running. Read more on mobility : https://strengthrunning.com/2019/10/mobility-training-for-runners/
Another reward that makes me feel so good is when I know that someone has been encouraged to exercise because of me. I was able to organise an informal group of runners (mostly beginners) and we would participate in different runs. Some of us even joined runs abroad (Cambodia and Vietnam) and we had so much fun!
There you go – there are just so many benefits that running gives and it certainly goes beyond having great legs. Just a word of advice though, if and when you decide to start running, make sure you build your endurance and increase your mileage just about 10%-15% every week. This way, you avoid getting injured and be traumatised so early before reaping any of the benefits and if you have a medical condition, make sure you ask your doctor’s advice if running is good for you.
And make sure you invest in a good and appropriate pair of running shoes!
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
One thing I am truly proud of as a Filipino is how we value education and parents go through great lengths to have their children finish a degree as we believe that it increases the probability of our children having a good future.
My story is no different. The conversation I had with my father that fateful night when I was in second year high school continues to be vivid in my mind until now. He came home and saw me crying because I was not yet enrolled as he was still sourcing the money. He sat me down and told me that no matter what happens, I will be enrolled and he promised that even if it takes selling all that he has, he will make sure he gets me through school. He passed away when I was in my junior year in College and indeed, he left provisions so I could finish my degree. His life insurance policy made sure I continue my studies despite the unstable income of my mother from her “sari-sari” store (a sari-sari store is a small neighbourhood store that sells common sundry items; sari-sari is a Filipino word for variety).
Thank you, Papang for fulfilling your promise.
When it was my turn to have a child of my own, setting up an education fund for our daughter was one of the first decisions we made as parents. Both my husband and I got separate policies three months apart. Last year, after 15 years, our education plans matured so we now have her college fund ready (she will be entering college in less than 2 years). Since both my husband and I are still earning, we have the choice to re-invest a portion of it which she can use later after graduation or if we need it for some education requirements, we can do that too. Our decision to set it up early gave us the options now plus the peace of mind that no matter what happens to our ability to earn, she can finish her chosen degree just like what my father did to me.
The key is to start early. As soon as your bundle of joy is born (or better still, before birth), start setting up his/her education fund because the more years you have to grow the fund, the less amount you need to start it.
Invest it in a fund that is not easy to access. Simply putting it in a savings account does not only put your money to sleep (as it hardly earns anything) but it also gives you easy access to it so the risk of diverting it to other things is high.
Make it grow. If you start it early, like ten years or more before you actually need it, you can be more aggressive in the funds you invest in. Aggressive funds like equity give more upside but may also be more volatile. However, the longer time horizon you have mitigates the risks. Do frequent top-ups so you catch the “downs” of the market and get higher returns. Don’t just invest one time. Invest frequently.
Having more children requires an even more deliberate approach to education funding especially that we have other needs to prepare for like our retirement. Considering the ever-increasing cost of education, it’s either you will compromise the comforts of your daily living now by cutting your expenses here and there or you compromise your ability to save for a comfortable retirement. Both require long-term planning.
So while you still can, start it now. Every delay has a price to pay.