Spending time with family is an investment

By Randell Tiongson on February 15th, 2011

Sharing my last column for the Business Mirror. It has been a great 3+ year writing for the RFP Personal Finance Column but its time to let the younger and more talented writers take the helm. When we step aside, the next generation levels up and takes over!

Randell T.

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I AM pondering a topic to write as this is the last time I will be writing in this column to give way to newer and more talented personal finance writers; then I realize that I should write on something close to my heart, family finance. The issue of family finance is always an interesting one to discuss. In all my engagements, I get the most fun discussing issues that revolve around family finance. Given a choice, I’d prefer discussing and writing about family finance issues as against the stock market, macroeconomics, fixed income securities and the like.

The topic on family vacations is always a tricky one to discuss. You will see that personal finance books and speakers/writers look at family vacation expenses with much disdain and its budget would be one of the first things that get axed whenever one is in a difficult financial situation. There are many families that do spend a big part of their budgets on vacations and when left unchecked, it can wreak havoc on one’s finances. I once counseled a couple who wanted to increase their savings and investment fund but found it difficult considering both had substantial incomes. Upon closely looking at their cash flow, I immediately saw the reason for the shortfall—very expensive family vacations. In such extreme cases, I do agree that family vacations should be placed under scrutiny.

However, worldly pressures always prevail upon our senses and we often equate cost with quality and we find ourselves stressed for taking family vacations and therefore have a negative feeling towards it. It is sad when we would look at family vacations as obligatory activities rather than opportunities to further strengthen the bonds of the family.

In reality, vacations are perfect opportunities for parents to really bond with their children, and spouse to spouse and sibling to sibling. My fondest memories growing up are those trips I took with my family. My wife, kids and I often reminisce about our vacations. Family vacations are actually excellent investments we make. These are opportune moments to better learn about each other and create memories that will forever be etched in our hearts. We should invest on memories.

Are family vacations an excuse to be financially irresponsible? Nope. Cost does not equate to quality. You can be in a posh island resort or in a nice city in Europe but it doesn’t mean that you are forging bonds with your children if you are distant, pre-occupied and refuse to focus on your family. Likewise, you can just be in the outskirts of Manila swimming in a small pool and devoid of luxuries but you can have a grand time because you know what your priorities are. Here’s a tip: prepare, plan and save for family vacations properly. Be prudent, watch out for promos or try to scour for friends or family who can help you get good deals or even use their facilities for free.

My family and I just spent five glorious days in Palawan, something we never thought we can experience, let alone afford (an unbelievable blessing from the Lord). Thanks to airline promos, I was able to get a booking late last year for a flight for the whole family and spent a fraction of what you would normally spend on fares. I really love how Cebu Pacific comes out with promos; you just need to plan ahead of time and be quick in getting a booking. We were also blessed to get a very good deal for our accommodations at the beautiful Marina Gardens (www.mgelnido.com) in El Nido, Palawan. The owners were very accommodating and very compassionate towards families wanting to spend time together that they gave us really good deals and even helped arrange our transfers and a breath-taking island hopping around El Nido.

When I was updating my Twitter that we were in El Nido, people were amazed since they always associate El Nido as posh and expensive—not so. There are two resorts in El Nido that are very exclusive and very expensive but the other resorts are really inexpensive despite being just as nice, like Marina Gardens.

Yes, our recent family vacation cost a bit more than our usual ones but my wife and I believe in putting money where it counts most, into our relationships. Proper planning, bargain-hunting and creativity allowed us to have a great time and yet not break our piggy banks.

Here’s a thought, spending some money to have better relations with my family will save me more money in the end – we probably will not have to buy the affection of our kids when they are older by buying them more expensive items just to please them. We spend money where it counts, and when it counts the most.

This is Randell Tiongson, signing off.

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Spending time with family is an investment