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‘Ipon Challenge’ stirs migrants’ interest in fin-lit

17 January 2019

By Daisy CL Mandap

For about 80 Filipinas who attended the financial literacy seminar given by CARD Hong Kong Foundation at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office on Jan. 6, the need to save part of their monthly earnings was what stirred the most interest.

As a result, many of those who attended began their own “Ipon Challenge” to make sure they leave some of what they had toiled for each month for their own needs.

The idea was to have an improvised piggy bank – be it an empty plastic bottle, a sealed box or a small soda can - where they force themselves to deposit loose $10 or $20 bills until a set period. The money is then used for a project they have difficulty funding outright from their salary, or added to their bank accounts.

One of those who inspired the challenge was a former Card trainee, Lyn Navio, who told The SUN of how she started saving all her $20 bills for six months, and came up with  $21,760 in total.

She said she immediately deposited the money into her peso account, and so now she has more than Php120,000 parked there which she could use for investment, or save as part of her old-age pension.

“Dati kasi mahilig akong magbili ng kung ano-ano, o kaya ay mag blowout ng mga kaibigan kasi mas mataas ang sahod ko sa kanila,” said Lyn, who showed pictures of the money she had stuffed in a transparent plastic soda bottle.

When she attended Card’s finlit seminar, Lyn a nursing graduate who is separated from her husband and has an adopted 16-year-old son,  said she came to realize that she had been wasting her hard-earned money on useless things, and forced herself to save.

With the success of her first Ipon Challenge, Lyn is aiming higher, this time including $50 to the $20 bills in her stash. She is excited to find out how much she will end up saving by the time her current challenge ends in June this year.

The latest batch of trainees are less ambitious, but are nevertheless fired up by the thought that they could save up for a future project or an anticipated expense without resorting to borrowing.

One said she was saving up for her son’s 7th birthday, but most said they wanted to set aside money for themselves.

A participant said in the Facebook group, Domestic Workers Corner, that she was going to start a chat group for those who wanted to join the challenge, and immediately got more than 100 requests from members.

But for many of the Card trainees, the lesson learned was not just about to need to save for the rainy days, but to better appreciate the money they work hard for, and put it to better use.

To achieve this, Card trainors led by Vicky Reyes-Munar taught them about goal-setting, avoiding loans, practicing “tough love” with family members,  and investing wisely.

The lessons appeared to have hit home with most of the participants that they sat through the lectures attentively, and happily took part in some of the activities.

One was so appreciative of having been invited to take part in the seminar that she promised to convince her friends to join the next session so they, too, could be enlightened. Not only have they failed to save up anything from their earnings, most are also mired in debt with financing companies, she said.

With the lessons she learned from Card, she said she would work hard in paying off her loan, and not resort to borrowing again.

Card Hong Kong’s next free finlit seminar is set for Jan 20 at POLO’s Community Hall on the 18th floor of Mass Mutual Tower, 33 Lockhart Road, Wanchai. To register, call 56002526, 54238196 or 95296392.

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