Practicing the Art of Being Debt-Free (Maximize Your Money)

Practicing the Art of Being Debt-Free

The Philippines has 13 major dialects. When I was new here in Manila, my Tagalog friends would always say it’s like listening to Chinese when they hear me talking to my Mom over the phone. If you say “utang” however, everybody will understand you alright. And perhaps they will run for their life.

Utang is delicate subject. Each of us has, at one time or another, been asked by someone for money to be paid on St. Never’s day.

say no to debt

When I attended a Money Minded Seminar, the rule of thumb about utang is that you should never lend money if it something you cannot afford to lose. It was a nice exercise. We even had role playing games to teach us how to say no in a way that would avoid offending the other person. Here are 2 scripts I often use:


“I know you needed 2 thousand but I can only lend you five hundred. Please give it back next payday because I will be using it for XXX.”

“Here is the 500 pesos. I trust that you will give it back next week because it is my allowance.”

The one thing that can generally lead to debt is spending more than what is being earned.

On the flip side of the coin is avoiding being that person always asking people for arrears. The one thing that can generally lead to debt is spending more than what is being earned. There are no steps I can give for this because it is about self-discipline. Or wife-discipline if it’s your wife. When your business starts earning big–and no matter how big it will get–you might end up paying for something that’s already gone. e.g., credit card bill for a posh restaurant.

“We can train our ability to delay gratification, just like we can train our muscles in the gym. And you can do it in the same way as the child and the researcher: by promising something small and then delivering. Over and over again until your brain says, 1) yes, it’s worth it to wait and 2) yes, I have the capability to do this.”

On a positive note, delayed gratification may help curb your appetite for spending. No, that is not just something I came up with on my own because it is backed by science. Here is what James Clear, a writer and researcher on behavioural psychology has to say:

“We can train our ability to delay gratification, just like we can train our muscles in the gym. And you can do it in the same way as the child and the researcher: by promising something small and then delivering. Over and over again until your brain says, 1) yes, it’s worth it to wait and 2) yes, I have the capability to do this.”

Here are 4 simple ways to do exactly that:

young asian businesswoman cheering

Start incredibly small. Make your new habit “so easy you can’t say no.” (Hat tip to Leo Babauta.)

Improve one thing, by one percent. Do it again tomorrow.

Use the “Seinfeld Strategy” to maintain consistency.

Find a way to get started in less than 2 minutes.


You can find his article here which also describes the study about delayed gratification and how it contributes to our success in life.

So if you want to buy that nice and shiny car, think about those people who never grew up in a house and died on the streets. Oops, going back to being positive! Take a picture of that car and save money for it. Owning something without worrying to pay for it later is a very nice feeling. YES, a very nice feeling indeed.

P.S. It is not that I don’t believe in credit cards. It is useful once you already have that self-discipline.

Knowledge Management Business Analyst
(ANZ Group)
a.k.a Tonette is a mother to adorable Bella. She combines writing and data analysis for an Australian and New Zealand Bank. She's also an introvert striving in a world that values extroversion.

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