Saturday, April 16, 2011

Incentives of Being Single #1

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Incentive 1:

           In our world today, where everyone is turning into a mini version of Scrooge or Tiny Tim, the credit balance at the end of the day is important. No matter how much we may have believed in the past about things coming in their own due time, once we are out there in the world we come to the realization that life is not as easy as we once thought it to be. And particularly for those not blessed with family riches, the credit balance at the end of every month after all the expenses and taxes have been dealt with, will exert its inevitable crunch. And to most, the bite is painful.
            If love makes the world go round, financial security (note: not money for the philosophers who might lash out there, LOL) greases its wheels. I've seen the hell raised among family because of the red lines that emerge in the budget and it's not a pretty sight (so for the idealists still believing that love is the answer, wake up, it crumbles oh so easily). I wish there is an easier way of telling you that its true but there isn't. Reality is different from the Harlequin romances you grew up with. Love is a once in a lifetime thing left to the carefree days of youth. Adult relationships are centered upon the rather unromantic foundation of respect and compromise.
             From the standpoint of economics, one is often better than two. This is the first advantage of choosing to be single. While it's true that getting married would merge two incomes: his and hers BUT....there is a huge 'but' here: chances are, one of you would be unemployed. The latest census data from the government states that most households in the country have only one income generator. Which is rather in line with traditional beliefs (that is, the man should work and the woman stays home), a tradition that is becoming rather moot as modern times roll on.
             This context is further excacerbated by other data. The unemployment rate of the Philippines is 7.4 % from the last data (http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?c=rp&v=74

 
) though this number is probably doctored by somebody with a PhD somewhere in the government bureaucracy. Ask my engineer friends, nurses, students who try their hand at the job market today. They will tell you that there are little to no jobs out there. And assuming that it's true which is doubtful, that's 7.4% of 37.9 million people (the labor force of the Philippines in 2010) which is roughly equivalent to 2.8 M people (that's 2,800,000 jobless people: thats 2.8 with 5 zeros).              So there's a good chance that you or your spouse would have no job when you decide to get hitched. And believe it or not, the average median annual income of Filipinos according to the census is $2,603 (around 130,000 pesos which then translates to a monthly pay of 10,845.00 pesos. Then consider the taxes which hovers around 30% ... do the math and you'll get the picture). A hospital nurse in 2010 starts at PhP 8,000 monthly gross pay (6,000 net pay) that is, if she's lucky even to be employed in a hospital and not just be a volunteer who pays the hospital  instead for the act of volunteering(!!!??? It's illogical but it's true and they work just like real nurses). An engineer on the other hand, starts at 10,000 pesos or maybe even less as a rookie.
               Think of the other jobs out there which pay even less and you'll get the picture. So assuming we have this compensation package you must now divide your pay for expenses, after the tax deductions that is, then the rent, and if your husband is not a saint, there is the 'kupit' for the boys (women be warned of this when your husband is the income generator – 90% of men do this 90% of the time).
                Roughly put, your payslip would look like this

                         Salary Slip for the month of June
                         Mr. Jack Ibagbaga
                         Salary Grade: Engineer II
                                  Basic Pay: 10,840.33
                                 Withholding Tax: 2,239.78
                                 SSS Premium: 366.70
                                 PAGIBIG Premium:100.00
                                 PHILHEALTH: 125.00
                         Total Deductions:2831.48
                         NET PAY: 8,008.85

                And that does not include your loans and the other deductions your company could levy upon you (it gets ugly. Most wage earners learn not to look at the right side of their payslip because of this, developing selective vision to get through the month). Simply put you get to bring home 8,000 pesos which is equivalent to $160. To feed one, maybe. Two, errr... barely. Three or more, wow man, the words to describe that scenario won't do it justice.
                  And that's just the pay, now we look at the expenses.

                         Board and Lodging:3000 – 4000
                         FOOD: 2000 – 3000
                         Utilities (Water and electricity): 600.00
                         Fares: 500-1000
                         TOTAL: around 8,000.00

                 Eighty five percent of Filipino workers rent so B & L gets the lion's share in the budget. That's why you see people sharing small rooms just to save. Even families get crammed into small units to shave a few hundred pesos from the monthly bills. It costs that much and if you are wondering about having your own home. Well, heres the picture. A 55 square meter condo with 1 BR, sala/kitchen, a small toilet/bath costs upward to above a million pesos. That's the cash price. No one can afford that in one go so if you really want it you will opt for financing. Twenty years to pay with current interest rates would actually triple this amount. Get it, the 1 M is in reality 3 M through financing whether through bank or PAGIBIG (which won't cover it at our compensation package, we wouldn't be eligible for the loan.)So if you don't have a house as 'mana' welcome to the ranks of the homeless.
               The next expense is food. Food cannot be scrimped off and that's why most people get to become expert bargainers at the market because of the budget limitations it presents. As youngster before  we were ashamed when our mothers tried to haggle a peso off the price of a head of cabbage which costs 15 pesos. To us then, it would seem that a peso is not that big a deal. Believe me, it is a big deal. You will know this when you reach the point where you yourself must haggle in order to survive the budget deficit.
                Next, utilities are like taxes. Even when you don't get their worth, you pay for them in full.
                And lastly as we all commute, fares count. Either that or you walk.
                Ideally this is a budget for two people. It requires a lot of streamlining to fit all things but with a good and disciplined work ethic, a salary on the median range would cover much of the basic necessities for two. Sadly, there are no savings (this is the reason we are not a country used to savings. We just have bank accounts where our money gets temporarily stored before we withdraw them.) This is what is literally called 'isang kahig,isang tuka'. And the government has the nerve to label wage earners in this category as middle class. We are the poor dammit.
                  Now, can you imagine life with this lifestyle? Going to work like an automaton just to feed yourself; to put a rented roof over your head, bargaining with itinerant vendors for pechay and beans; with no savings at all. People would say its life. It's how everyone lives. To question it is to question life. But do we really want it? Is it the life we want? It's a staid life filled with work and more work with no real end in sight. Do we just accept it? No wonder people get old fast. We become trapped in a prison we cannot see until old age and constancy makes them painfully acceptable.
                  And then there's the issue of children. It's a mystery how two people become three in a short span of nine months, and then four, then five and God forbid, six in just under five years of living together. There is an article somewhere that says the cost of raising a kid till he's 18 is around $124,000 (6.2 million pesos). Multiply that by the number of kids you want. Then fit that in the budget above. I shudder at the mere thought.
                  Let's say you do want one. Our Filipino upbringing has ingrained upon us the necessity of having a progeny. Somehow, life ain't complete without a mini version of us. Lets look at it objectively. Giving birth at a hospital normally will cost you 20,000 pesos. That's for normal births; if God forbid, it's a caesarean or breech delivery, the cost would soar and the father has to scramble to get a loan somewhere which would then eat at the budget for the next five or ten years. While getting one's first child is a time of exultation, this is also the time when first time fathers develop their first wrinkles. That's just the birth, next, add the cost of milk, diapers, baby food... and when the child grows up add the tuition fees, book expenses, Christmas day contributions, woof.....to that. In the span of ten years, the cost will simply escalate adding twenty years of stress. (We often wonder how married friends get so old so quickly, this is one of the reasons.) What if the kid grows to be a bad son or daughter and commit bad decisions? It makes even the most loving of parents cry buckets of tears. After all their sacrifices and effort, their child just throws everything away in one moment of utter stupidity. And the sad thing is, even when your kids turn into adults, they still ask for allowance. That's why parents deserve to be called saints. They give a lot for something that isn't definite.
                   The tragedy is this: this scenario would work for only 20% of all marriages. Half the time (for 50% of couples) the husband turns out to be either a drunk or a womanizer; or the wife is a TWS (taga waldas ng suweldo) or a U (utangera). Ten percent of the time, the man or the woman tends to look for someone else; 10% of the time, one of them goes abroad and the relationship becomes transient; and the last 10% are given to those who somehow fit in between the classes.
                   Their version of happiness are a few weekends a year spent picnicking at the Asin hotsprings or a stretch of beach down at the lowlands. I don't say this to put them down. For the 20% of married people who make it work,there is no better sign of accomplishment than them coming as a family to find the silver lining in the gray limbo that is this life. I tip my hat to them. For the other 90%, however, it is a farce not worthy of emulation: a crumbling façade that hides the painful reality hidden behind fake smiles.
                   Now, imagine that you are single with the same compensation. Even with an 8,000 pesos take home pay every month, you'll find little wonders that make life seem amazing. You can buy a beer costing 40 pesos, a cost which you don't have to explain to anyone. Alberto's and Ginawang would accept you even when you are fortyish and looking like a DOM and you can spend your nights away to no ones peril. You can save a thousand bucks every month and buy that phone or camera you like at the end of the year. With an outlay of 500 per paycheck, you can count off seven or ten years and you can afford a fairly serviceable second hand car. You can even invite friends for brief weekends in Pagudpod or sponsor a group outing to Bora once a year and maybe even get to throw a bet in the blackjack table while you're at it. You can eat out every once in a while (splurging on steak at 350 pesos a pop without worrying much about how cheaper it is to just haggle with a matron in the market, then marinating the meat and getting greasy cooking while hoping that it will turn out just as good.) Simply put, with this median income, you attain a degree of relative comfort. Not luxurious but enough.
                   I'm not a materialist. I'm a pragmatist. I'm not saying that you shouldn't marry. I'm just saying to you that before you exhort someone to get married or before you yourself get married, you must first reflect upon simple facts and then make the decision.
                   And this is just the first reason.

                   The next reason: You save the earth...

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