Here’s What I Know

‘Tis the season to be jolly!  A wonderful season of LOVE and SHARING.  A season for family and those we hold dear to our hearts.   And alas, a season for over-spending and over-indulgence. We are a generous lot, us Filipinos.  We are a loving, giving people. We love to share our blessings - sometimes to our detriment.  We also love Christmas. In fact, we love it so much that in the Philippines, Christmas is celebrated for about 4 ½ months – from Sept. 1st to about Jan. 15th, when all the decorations come down. Such devotion and dedication to the faith is both enviable and admirable.  It takes an unwavering commitment to one’s values, to partake in this annual ritual which can take a toll on someone, emotionally and financially. Such loving and sharing however, comes at a price.  A financial price tag that must eventually be addressed. I’ve seen many go into insane debt, just for the sake of being with their loved ones in the Philippines, doing everything they can to make them happy.  I’ve seen many spend money they have yet to earn, just to be “home” for that all-important time of the year. There’s really nothing wrong with wanting to be with those you love, for Christmas.  What is disheartening is the amount of resources it takes to make this happen. That, and the amount of time it’ll take to balance your cheque book, so to speak. It’s not my problem of course, but when I deal with this situation daily and see clients struggling with out-of-control spending; maxed-out credit cards; 29.9% interest rates; delinquent credit records and plummeting credit scores; people on the verge of repossession or worse, bankruptcy; it becomes alarming, and I feel compelled to reach out and educate/warn/help when I can. As I see it, the problem lies not in our generous spirit, but in our unwillingness to say NO.  Regardless of our personal situation, when someone from back home asks – medical emergencies, weddings, graduation, baptism, starting a business, whatever the reason, our first impulse is to help, even if we didn’t have the money or resources to give.  I don’t know why we have the compulsion to help – even outside the immediate family, but it’s there, much to the detriment of many. Just the other day, I spoke to someone over the phone, who wanted to see if she could take out a loan for $10,000.  When asked what the loan was for, she explained that she had a family emergency in the Philippines a few months back and ended up borrowing $10,000 from a “Lending” company.  The problem is, she’s paying $500 in interest PER. $500 PER MONTH???? That’s crazy and illegal, I think! Then there’s this other individual who’s paying 34.9 percent interest on a $5000 loan taken out to finance a business venture.  Then there are the many who want to take out loans in order to finance the upcoming vacations to the Philippines. I am not here to lecture anyone on how to spend their money.  I mean, this is a free country and everyone’s free to spend their hard-earned $$$$$ the way they want to spend it.  Instead, I’d like to suggest a slight modification in the way we respond to cries for help:
  • IF YOU DON’THAVE IT, DON’T SPEND IT.  Don’t go into unnecessary debt for anyone
  • IF YOU MUST, BORROW MONEY RESPONSIBLY.  Make sure you can afford the additional debt.  Make sure you can pay it.
  • NOT ALL EMERGENCIES ARE LEGITIMATE – ask questions and offer alternate solutions
  • DON’T BE AN ENABLER.  Teach your loved ones to fend for themselves.  Just like what the bible says…. You can give them fish, or you can TEACH THEM HOW TO FISH.  
  • TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, BEFORE THINKING OF OTHERS.  Afterall, if you are weak – physically and financially, what good will you be to others?  Make yourself physically and financially strong first, and then you’ll be able to help others that much better.
  • BEFORE I COMMIT TO HELPING SOMEONE, I ASK MYSELF THIS QUESTIONS: If I died today, what will happen to him who is asking for my help?  The answer is always the same….. I’d be dead, and they’d be alive and seeking help from someone else.  So the moral of the story: you refusing to help, won’t be the end of the world. They’ll go ask someone else.  Promise.
  • THINK OF ALL THE MONEY YOU’VE GIVEN AWAY TO BENEFIT OTHERS.  Now, think how much better your life would be, if you had kept that money for you and your immediate family!
  • LEARN TO SAY NO.  Your well-being, and that of your immediate family is of paramount  importance.
If you find yourself in a financial bind and need someone to talk to, CALL ME AT 780.710.4895. I CAN HELP.  


Tony Surtida has been involved in the auto industry since 1990 and has had a long and distinguished career not only as a sales consultant but as a sales manager and finance manager as well.  He currently works a Finance Specialist at FILCAN CARS. His knowledge of the auto industry will be an invaluable tool for those in the market for a new or newer vehicle. The insight he shares in this column is a culmination of years of experience which he hopes will provide information one needs to make an informed choice.  Kung Sasakyan din lang naman, ‘wag nang kung saan-saan pa.  Kay Tony Surtida na!