Meet Allan Liwanag, Twitter handle @PracticalSaver living in the state of Maryland. Allan has graciously allowed me to interview him about his money beliefs and behaviors. Allan is an avid saver but he didn’t come by it naturally. Here is his story.
Allan is a husband and father of one child. He and his wife are committed to having her stay at home with their little one for now. So he is the chief bread winner. His family is very important to him, and they weave a common thread through many of his thoughts. He seems very grounded in what truly matters in life.
Money as a Practicality or Coveted Item?
I was curious as to why he used the word “practical” for describing his saving efforts. Apparently his mom and dad imprinted that type of thinking on him. He needed to be practical about buying a car with the sole function of getting one from A to B, rather than spending excessively on added amenities. He need to be practical about buying a functional shirt that would get the job done versus buying something fancy that still only provided the same basic function.
His parents also taught him to prioritize. There is the balance of tomorrow versus today when it comes to needs and wants. There is also a fine line between a reasonable spend versus a cheap spend. A reasonable spend gets an item that gets the job done. A cheap spend means the item may fail. This interpretation of course varies with each individual need.
Parent Money Behaviors are Powerful
Allan grew up in the Philippines. He is one of 9 children who were fed by his working father on $1 a day. No, this is not a typo. Just $1. And although many countries have different costs for a basket of goods or varying levels of inflation, it is very reasonable to suggest that Allan’s parents completed the impossible. Allan ate rice with powdered milk and water. Every day.
This is the type of experience that could imprint on anyone and form solid money attitudes one way or another. Sometimes when we have parents who behave certain ways with money, we rebel instead of copying. We are all our own person, and filter the world accordingly. So why did Allan learn from his parents rather than rebel against poverty and vow to compensate by spending on all he had missed?
Although Allan and his siblings were fed, emergencies would throw the family into turmoil because there was no extra money set aside. He witnessed the struggles first hand. Money came to mean security to Allan. And he knows his father did the best he could, so Allan has committed to doing the best he can for his family too – and hopes to provide a more stable life. Despite a challenging childhood it seems that this is where Allan has garnered his strong sense of family as well. He never felt deprived. Rather than rebel, he simply wants to take his parents behaviors to another level.
Combine 2 Goals into One Meaningful Behavior
Allan and his wife used to go to Olive Garden occasionally. His wife loves the pasta dishes there. They concluded that it could not be a regular budget item for them, so they found a great compromise. Allan has recipes for some of the Olive Garden dishes so he can cook them for his wife. They have their own past maker, and prepare these dinners together. It enables them to spend quality time as a family while saving money.
Can Saving Too Much be a Problem?
Allan is a pretty impressive saver. As a matter of fact, he worries that he saves too much. He saves 40% of every paycheck, with the saving allocations taken before he receives the net amount. His transportation is budgeted for $20 a month. His groceries are a specific budget amount and they fit the desired foods into the budget. They have an emergency fund and a specific “miscellaneous” fund of $20 they can tap into. For the record, saving 40% per paycheck is way above average. Saving 15% of salary is often presented as an industry benchmark, and many of us don’t achieve that – regardless of how much we make.
So why does Allan fear he saves too much? His one brother was wealthy, but died when he was 40. Allen is committed now to ensuring he enjoys every day while still planning for the future – college for his child, travel, time with family. We all have new things to learn when it comes to money attitudes and behaviors.
I’m impressed by Allan’s fortitude. He is grateful for everything he has, and isn’t too tempted by the trivial. His friends eat out, whereas Allan brings his lunch. His friends understand his commitment and Allan doesn’t feel alienated in any way or any pressure to “keep up”.
Related Article: Since When is Saving Rational?
Are We Too Spoiled?
I wonder if Allan’s grounding and ease with savings is due to coming from a simpler life, into a country where we have so much. Just having ‘more’ than what he had in the Philippines could be considered wealth, and enough to truly enjoy what is important in life. Are some of us just worse at saving because we've grown up in a country wrought with material items and expectations? Does it take a significant event to impact us physically and emotionally and imprint the need to save?
Kudos to you Allan Liwanag. May you and your family enjoy Happiness and Financial Health. Thanks for taking the time to talk.
Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. Behavioral Cents, LLC and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.
Carrie Rattle is Founder of BehavioralCents.com and a veteran executive of financial services. She works with women to build money confidence and change their money behaviors for the better - without deprivation. Instead of simply telling women what to do, she helps them fight the tide of daily temptation to reach their dreams. Women gain control and feel comfortable making their own wise money decisions. Thoughts always welcome: email@example.com.