A Look Back on my Financial Journey in 2009

I have been reflecting the past couple of days on the many blessings I’ve received in 2009 and realized that no matter where you are, no matter what you do, there’s only one person responsible about your finances – YOU.

Living in Malaysia

My financial journey over the past year started by working as an IT professional in Malaysia.  My 2-year contract with my foreign employer just got extended for another year.  To top it off, my wife also got absorbed by our client company and got a new contract.  We both got a raise, though it was only minimal due to the ongoing recession.  We were both safe & fortunate to say the least.

Some of our friends were not as fortunate.  Their employer had to terminate their contract to cope up with the recession.  Some even have their families with them, which makes it more challenging.  Panic was everywhere. It was disheartening to see everyone trying to stay focused while their eyes reveal their fear, wondering whether it was their turn to be let go.  The recession made everything “temporary”.  Nothing was permanent.  Not your job.  Not your house.  And certainly not your visa. 

Thankfully, my wife and I was not hardly hit by the ongoing recession. 

Financially, we were doing OK.  We still had jobs.  We still had each other.  We have earned enough to put up an emergency fund.  We have stayed debt free. And more importantly, we were able to set aside some of our money, which we could use to support us if our employer decided to shorten our stay in Malaysia. 

If we learned one thing in our stay in Malaysia, it is to be prepared, always.

On the bright side, we were also able to enjoy some of the money we earned. We splurged on a lot of “doodads” as Robert Kiyosaki puts it.  We bought a 32’’ Sony LCD TV (which is now broken and could not have it fixed because it costs more to repair than the original price I bought it for – duh??), a Nikon D60 DSLR (which I love to this day), and a Macbook which my wife loves very much because she can do her video editing projects and post her Facebook pictures very easily with it.

We could have stayed in Malaysia if we wanted.  However, something was just not right.  We knew something was missing and we had to change.  And after much discussions over dinner and sleepless nights, we decided to take the chance of finding what we were missing in our home country – the Philippines.

Going Back Home to the Philippines

By middle of 2009, I got a call from my previous employer from the Philippines.  They have a big project going on and wanted to check if we’re interested in going back to the Philippines.  At the time, my wife and I have been contemplating whether to finally go back home or not.  To cut the story short, we left a life full of promise in Malaysia to a seemingly challenging life back home with family and friends in the Philippines.

To be honest, the next two months were REALLY challenging.  We had to immediately report to work as soon as we arrive in the Philippines.  We didn’t have any vacation at all.  We had to squeeze everything including preparations for our working papers, fit to work health clearance, and unpacking the 5 “balikbayan” boxes in a span of two weeks.  To make it worse, a 10-day self-quarantine was required after arriving at the airport because of the ongoing AH1N1 virus scare.

It’s been 5 months now since we arrived and I like to think that we have already adjusted living in the Philippines again.  Yes, work is stressful and challenging.  Yes, because of stress we got sick a lot of times during the past few months.  Yes, the traffic is bad and watching bad news on TV is sickening. But on the bright side, there were also lot of things I’ve been very thankful for for the past few months. 

First, my wife and I were able to attend Bo Sanchez’s Truly Rich Financial Seminar and Truly Rich Financial Coaching Program since we’re now in the Philippines.  We learned a lot, not only about the many ways you can make & invest your money but also about how my wife and I view money as a tool to help ourselves and other people. 

Second, I get to eat my favorite Filipino food like “longganisa” (locally made sausage), “inihaw na isda” (grilled fish), “chicken and pork adobo”, and many many more. 

Lastly, I am also thankful I was able to spend some time with my mom and dad, as well as my in-laws.  I get to know more about them, their concerns, their plans, their dreams.  The time I’ve spent with them is priceless and I won’t trade it for anything else in this world.  

All in all, year 2009 was great for us financially.  We were able to transition from being an IT professional in a foreign country to a similar work in the Philippines.  We’ve started investing in Retail Treasury Bonds.  We’ve also opened an account in one of the leading online stock brokerage firms in the country (I’ll tell you more about this in one of my upcoming articles).  And we’re also starting to learn to give back to other people.

How about you?  How was your financial life the past year? 

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