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Saved by her savings

Cannot people realize how large an income is thrift?—Cicero

Nora Villaver deposits in the bank 80 percent of her monthly salary and makes do with the remaining 20 percent for 15 days, or until the next pay day. She doesn’t touch her savings except for emergencies like hospitalization.

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“I use money wisely,” she says when asked how she manages to survive on such a tight budget.

Villaver says she eats three meals a day and only indulges in snacks when they are free. Her slim figure is the result not just of eating sparingly but also of walking daily more than a kilometer from her house to the office to avoid paying the P9 fare.

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Villaver records the dates when each consumable item at home is bought to help her keep track of her expenses and make sure things do not go to waste. The date guides her on how long the LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) tank in her kitchen or the shampoo in the bathroom should last.

“You should know your consumption rate and learn to (stick to it) to avoid going over the budget,” she says.

She shops for clothes only once a year and buys stuff on sale. Salesclerks call her when department stores are holding sales.

Her former boyfriend did not have to worry about spending for dates and buying her gifts. In the four years of their relationship, they ate out just twice. Villaver preferred bringing food home so the rest of her family could eat.

“Don’t bring me flowers or send me cards,” she told him. “Say your feelings out loud.” They broke up because he wanted to settle down but she didn’t feel she was ready. But they remain friends. He was grateful to her because he was able to build a home for his family with the money he saved from having a low-maintenance girlfriend.

As a community organizer and children and youth point person for Childfund Philippines’ Kalambu-an Project, Villaver is now sharing the lessons she learned from personal experience with children from indigent families, teaching them how to make do with meager resources.

Villaver says she understands the children’s plight because she herself comes from a poor family. She grew up in a house with a cogon roof and no electricity.

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Now, with her earnings, she is able to pay the mortgage for the family house in Dumingag, her hometown. The cogon roof is now galvanized iron and the house has electricity.

With her savings, she has bought a house in Pagadian for herself and a farm as a source of income for her parents.

Villaver, who learned the value of saving and hard work while still in high school, paid her own way to college. She sold banana fritters and guavas to her classmates to earn tuition money.

When she graduated from high school, she surprised her parents by giving them gifts bought with her savings. “I wanted to thank them for helping me finish high school despite the financial difficulties,” she says.

Villaver is now helping send nephews and nieces to school. While she would deprive herself of a lot of things, Villaver says she doesn’t scrimp when it comes to education.

“If everyone knows how to earn and save money, then no one will be poor,” she says.

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TAGS: Personal finance, Personalities, savings
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