Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How Mama Saved Us From Financial Hardship

          Amid my recent expenses last year, i.e. plane fare to and from the Philippines, traffic ticket, paramedic and ambulance charges plus emergency room co-pay, I would been in a financial hole for a few months. To add to those financial concerns, I anticipated digging into my savings for Mama's hospital bills, caregiver salary, rent, utilities, and medications. A couple of times, I've sent her my tax refunds for expenses in addition to the ones I send for her birthday and Christmas. This is just something that Filipinos do for their relatives in the Philippines and I actually fall short of what others do because they send money all year round.
          Thankfully, I did not fall off the fiscal cliff and this is due to the unanticipated gift that our Mama left us. Even when her death was imminent and through her eventual passing, Mama was still thinking about her children. We have always been aware that she never wanted to burden us, but unbeknownst to me, she had a modest stash of money in her bank accounts left over from years and years of saving and the sale of our Zamboanga house (which I helped pay off after Papa had his stroke). How she made all of that last without any income for more than two decades leaves me in awe of her budgeting prowess. This is how I think she was able to do it - by mostly living off the interests of her regular bank accounts and time deposits while keeping the principal amounts steady. Sounds simple enough, isn't it? Well, if it were so and if other individuals and governments followed such example, there would be no budget deficits.
          After we buried Mama in Zamboanga, my brother sent me an accounting of expenses and cash left over. He had briefly mentioned the estimated amount before I Ieft the Philippines and it astounded me then and continued to do so when Larry sent me the itemized list. With Mama's own savings and despite having no other income for decades, we were able to pay for her hospitalization, doctor's bills, caregiver and helper salaries, medications, and funeral expenses. With all that, there were still some left over for me and my brother to share. As I mentioned before, it is a modest amount dollarwise, but enough for me to catch up with my bills after Larry sent me the first installment. I don't know how his share is going to affect his financial status, but I'm sure it's going to help a great deal in one form or another.
          As of this writing, I am still awaiting a second installment from my brother and am seriously considering paying down the principal of my mortgage with it. So Mama, we appreciate everything you have done for us and given us in life as in death. What you have done with this unexpected gift is an example of what we can aspire to in our own lives. To me, it is not the end result but how you led your life to accomplish that result which ended up as a gift to us, your children. Thank You So Much and We Love You MAMA.

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