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Financial Wellness

 5 Good Money Habits Your Team Needs To Start Doing Now

Is your team struggling with financial anxiety? The MindNation CareNow© Plan includes 24/7 teletherapy sessions with psychologists and WellBeing Coaches to help ease their stress and worries. Partner with MindNation to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.mindnation.com or email [email protected] now.  

When it comes to financial well-being, there is no better time to build good habits than today. With your guidance and help from MindNation WellBeing Coaches, your employees can commit to their money goals, budget better, and be happier, healthier, and more productive. Below are some healthy money habits they can start practicing:

  1. Track their finances regularly. Every month or every payday, remind your team to sit down and go over their cash flow. How much income came in and what are their expected expenses? Of the amount that they are able to save, how much will be allocated to the different funds?

“People tend to just go with the flow — ‘Oh, my expenses this month are high so I need to remember to spend less next month’ or ‘Wow, I was able to save a lot this month, I can spend more next month!’” explains financial coach Yani Moya. Yani is also the founder of Peridot Consulting, a financial consulting firm . “But this is a bad habit because money ends up controlling them, which can cause stress; a good habit is one where you control money.”

  1. Save before spending. “When people receive their salary, they spend it first on their needs and wants, and whatever is leftover is what they consider to be their savings,” Yani reveals. “But income is not the capacity to spend. So set aside money for savings first, then budget whatever is left for their different expenses,” she adds. 
  1. Set boundaries when giving money to family. It has become part of Filipino culture for an adult child to give a portion of their earnings to their parents as a way of repaying the years spent raising them. “There is nothing wrong with this if they are giving the money whole-heartedly,” Yani clairfies. “But if they are doing it because they feel obligated, this will lead to poor mental health. So remind them that if they must give, give only what they can.” 

Unpaid bills or outstanding loans are forms of negative money energy that contribute to stress, anxiety, and poor productivity.

Yani Moya, Personal Finance Coach
  1. Clear up negative money energy. Unpaid bills or outstanding loans are forms of negative money energy that contribute to stress, anxiety, and poor productivity. The only way to clear up negative money energy is to start paying them off, so help your employees make a plan to achieve this. “For example, this month’s focus will be on finishing off the remaining balance on Credit Card X; next month’s goal is to settle the loan they took out from Person A,” Yani explains. 
  1. Give back. If there is negative money energy, there is also good money energy. And when you give out good energy in the form of tithing and sharing, it will be returned to you, if not in the form of money then in terms of better opportunities, relationships, and even well-being.

“So just as much as your team member has to allocate money for their wants, they also need to build the habit of setting up a giving fund,” Yani advises. “The amount does not have to be big, it can be whatever they are comfortable with giving.”

By practicing these good money habits, your team will develop the skills and confidence needed to handle anything that comes to money. “How we are in one thing is how we are in everything,” Yani points out. “So if we want mental clarity, emotional peace, and good relationships, fixing your finances can be a big help.”

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Financial Wellness

The Emergency Fund: Help Your Team Build Theirs Even During A Pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, many employees learned the hard way how important having an emergency fund was. Having money tucked away in case of job loss, reduced income, or other large and unexpected expenses can help ease stress and create a financial buffer to keep one afloat during times of need without having to rely on credit cards or taking out a loan (both of which they might have difficulty paying off in the end).

“An emergency fund is a form of savings account. You keep it in the bank and only spend it on dire situations,” advises financial consultant Nicole Suarez. “Only when you have met your target amount can you explore putting the excess in investments.”

If your team is experiencing financial stress or need help building better budgeting habits, partner with MindNation to avail of 24/7 teletherapy sessions with WellBeing Coaches who can help ease their anxieties. Visit www.mindnation.com or email [email protected] now.

How much is needed?
The general rule would be to set aside three to six months’ worth of living expenses,” Nicole suggests. But even then, she says that it also depends on one’s personal and financial circumstances. “Is the person a breadwinner? A parent? Or are they single and living with parents who provide for all their needs?” she enumerates. All these factors should be considered when computing how much money to set aside. For example, employees who are breadwinners will need to save even more, while those who are single can put small amounts into the emergency fund and just increase it over time. “The important thing is to build the habit,” she adds. 

How to build the fund during the pandemic

Replenishing an emergency fund on a reduced salary can be hard but it’s not impossible. Here are some suggestions you can offer your team members so that they can find extra money to set aside:

  1. Just start with what they can. Employees who are living paycheck to paycheck should not be expected to set aside an entire month’s salary right off the bat; it’s unrealistic and will set them up to fail. “Suggest that they set aside whatever they are comfortable with,” Nicole stresses. “When it comes to saving money, any amount will help.”
  2. Turn clutter into cash. “Look for things at home that they no longer need but can sell,” Nicole advises. These include pre-loved clothes, toys, and other household items. “Of course, they won’t be able to price them as high as they would want, but assure them that a small amount is better than nothing.”

“When it comes to saving money, any amount will help.”

Nicole Suarez, Financial consultant
  1. Cut down on expenses. “Remind them to be mindful of how much takeout they order in a month and to resist impulse buying during payday sales,” Nicole says. “Ask them to review their monthly subscriptions, like meal services or streaming services — is it possible to downgrade the subscription or cancel it entirely?”
  1. Look for other sources of income. “If your employee is particularly skilled at something, encourage them to turn it into a side business,” she suggests. This article by Forbes lists the reasons you should let your team moonlight: it will boost their financial health, give them an outlet for pursuing their passion, improve their creativity, and make them happier overall — all characteristics of a good employee.
    But to make sure that their side hustle does not interfere with their work in the company, clearly communicate your rules and boundaries during you regular one-on-one sessions; having an honest and open conversation will benefit you both. 
  2. Don’t go into debt. “An emergency fund is something that is built over time; because there is no pressure to come up with the money right away, it does not make sense to borrow money to fill it,” Nicole explains. 

During these uncertain times, an emergency fund can go a long way to boosting your team’s financial and mental health.

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Financial Wellness

The Financial Accountability Partner: Your Buddy For Better Financial Health

An accountability partner is a person who helps another person keep a commitment. You can have an accountability partner for the different areas of your life — someone who will hold you to your work deadlines, another person to remind you to do your exercises for the day, or even a loved one to remind you to set your boundaries or to unplug at the end of the work day. And if you are struggling in some areas of your financial life, having a financial accountability partner can be a big help. Specifically, they can:

  1. Help you set financial goals
  2. Brainstorm the steps you need to take in order to achieve those goals
  3. Make sure you stay on track

How to find the right financial accountability partner

“A financial accountability partner does not have to be a financial adviser or financial planner, it’s just a bonus if they are,” assures Enery Franklin Dy, a licensed financial adviser and founder of Financial Literacy PH, an online community that aims to spread financial literacy and where anyone can talk freely about savings, budgeting, insurance, and investments. “Friends, family members, or even team members can be good accountability partners if they are enthusiastic about money and investments and practice good money habits.” If your organization partners with MindNation, MindNation WellBeing Coaches are also available to help team members build better financial habits or have a better relationship with money.

Friends, family members, or even team members can be good accountability partners if they are enthusiastic about money and investments and practice good money habits

Enery Franklin Dy, Financial Adviser

That being sad, it’s also important that the person you choose to be your financial accountability partner posses the following traits:

  • Trustworthiness. “Money is a sensitive issue, and some matters like salaries should be kept confidential,” Enery reminds.
  • Honesty. “They should be able to give you constructive criticism and push you to achieve your goals,” he adds.
  • Diligent with record-keeping. This is important if you need help budgeting, although Enery admits this is not a deal-breaker since there are already many apps available to help you track your money’s movements. 

At the end of the day, what’s more important is you find someone who has the same financial goals as you, or who has faced similar financial struggles as you but emerged successful. 

  And if you absolutely cannot find anyone who fits the above bill, communities like Financial Literacy PH and other personal finance groups are available to anyone interested. 

How to work with an accountability partner
Enery says there are no set rules on how often or how long you should meet; it can be daily or weekly, as long as it is done regularly and there is ample time to go over progress and answer any questions that you may have. And even if you don’t have a goal due for completion, it’s still advisable to check-in on your partner so that you monitor your progress and build the habit. 

And speaking of building habits — remember that just like with eating healthy or setting boundaries, doing the work is your responsibility. At the end of the day, your success will depend on the efforts you exerted. The financial accountability partner’s job is to simply listen to your progress and provide helpful suggestions if they can. 


The MindNation CareNow Plan© includes teletherapy sessions with WellBeing Coaches (available 24/7) to help team members build better habits or advance in their careers. Email [email protected] to learn more about what WellBeing Coaches can do for your organization.

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Financial Wellness

Mariel Bitanga: 5 Rules For Better Financial Health

Contrary to popular belief, good financial well-being is not achieved by simply having a lot of money in the bank. For Mariel Bitanga of Simply Finance, a boutique financial planning firm committed to empowering Filipino women, having adequate savings is a good start but it’s also important to regard personal finance holistically. This means saving and spending your money properly, borrowing wisely, and setting clear financial goals. “Good financial health is all about balancing each of these pillars,” she advises. 

Mariel provides more specific tips below:

  1. Have a savings plan. Saving your money is good, but don’t fall into the trap of  becoming an over-saver, or someone who constantly puts away money — and just leaves them there. While over-saving is an admirable practice on the surface and is better than over-spending, it’s better to invest your savings in money market accounts or mutual funds so that the money grows in value over time. 

Another way to maximize your savings is to split them up into different accounts, each with its own purpose. “By opening multiple savings accounts, it becomes easier for you to identify financial goals and make sure you are on track to achieving them,” she says. 

  1. Stick to a budget. The basic rule of managing your expenses is to make sure you are not spending more than you earn. This does not mean, however, that  you should forego buying your ‘wants,’ be they make-up, fashion, toys, travel, etc. “Buying these are fine on occasion,” Mariel assures. “Just make sure you spend more on the things that are important to you and less on items that are not as important.”
  1. Borrow wisely. “It’s perfectly okay to have debt, but don’t take out a loan to buy frivolous things or because you are in competition with someone else’s standard of living,” Mariel advises. “If you must borrow money, do it to purchase things that will increase in value over time, like a house loan or to further your education.” 

“It’s perfectly okay to have debt, but don’t take out a loan to buy frivolous things or because you are in competition with someone else’s standard of living.”

Mariel Bitanga of Simply Finance

Furthermore, don’t forget to scrutinize the terms of the loan carefully before finalizing the deal. “Read the fine print, because some companies charge a higher interest rate after a certain number of years,” Mariel says. “Also check if the monthly repayments fit your budget or if they will bleed you dry. Lastly, make sure that the person or institution that you are borrowing from is licensed and legitimate so that you do not get scammed.” 

  1. Plan for the future. “Setting financial goals does not have to be intricate,” Mariel assures. “You can plan for as short as six months to as long as five years, although I recommend that you review your plan every year or even every quarter so that you can adjust accordingly.” For those who are wary of making plans because of the pandemic, Mariel counters that today’s uncertain times make financial planning even more important. “The more you don’t know what’s going to happen, the more you should have a roadmap that shows you where you see your money going, how you can optimize it, or even how you can attack debt, so that in case the situation worsens you at least have something to guide you.”
  2. Talk about personal finance with as many people as possible. Exchange personal best practices with peers and family members, not just with a financial adviser or financial planner. And rest assured that you do not have to be a financial expert to broach the topic with others. “The concepts about personal finance — such as saving and spending — are all very basic, simple, and what many of us already know to a certain extent,” Mariel shares. “Conversations about financial health need to be normalized. The less the topic is taboo, the more people can help each other to make smarter decisions about money.”

MindNation WellBeing Coaches can help you build better money management habits so that you can save, spend, borrow, and plan your money wisely. Message https://bit.ly/mn-chat  so you can book a teletherapy session now.

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Financial Wellness

6 Types Of Savings We Recommend You Should Have

We all know that it’s important to save money for the future. Surprisingly, the easiest way to accomplish this is to actually split up your savings into different accounts instead of just maintaining a single one. 

“By opening multiple savings accounts, it becomes easier for you to identify financial goals and make sure you are on track to achieving them,” says Mariel Bitanga, financial advisor and founder of Simply Finance, a boutique financial planning firm committed to empowering Filipinos. 

While managing more than one account may seem time-consuming, Mariel assures that the benefits outweigh the extra work required. Splitting up your money into different categories makes you more aware of where your salary is going. “When you know what’s happening to your money, you make better purchasing decisions and can adjust your financial goals accordingly.” 

Mariel adds that people now have the benefit of living in the Digital Age. “Opening a bank account is much easier to do now than before,” she explains. “There are so many digital banks now where you can open an account online without even having to talk to anyone. Most banks even have a feature where you can open sub-accounts under one account, so you can manage your money conveniently.”

Small earnings should not be a deterrent either; you can still split up your savings. “Put in small amounts here and there just to get started,” Mariel advises. “When your money is small, it’s easier for you to keep track of them and manage them; the key is to build the habit so that when you have more money, you’re still able to budget wisely.” 

When your financial life becomes more organized, you will become less anxious about your personal finances, make better money decisions, and enjoy better health.

“When you know what’s happening to your money, you make better purchasing decisions and can adjust your financial goals accordingly.” 

Mariel Bitanga, Financial Advisor and Founder of Simply Finance

Types of savings

There is no hard rule about how many accounts a person should have. “It depends on your personal situation, so always reflect on what’s suitable for your lifestyle and what you want to achieve,” Mariel points out. That being said, here are the six types of savings that she recommends:

  1. Emergency fund

As the name suggests, you only touch this money when a true emergency arises, such as job losses or other disasters that you need a lot of money to cover like major home repairs, car repairs, or even pet-related emergencies.

If you have dipped into your emergency fund because of the COVID-19 pandemic and do not have the income to replenish it yet, it may be time to think of ways to cover the loss. “Consider other ways you can make more money, such as taking on a second job or starting a side business, so that you do not deplete your emergency fund,” Mariel advises. 

  1. Retirement fund

This ensures that you will still have enough money to pay for your bills and expenses when you are no longer working. Start putting money into this fund even when you are still young; the earlier you start, the more opportunities you will have to grow those savings through investments. Consult a financial advisor on what opportunities are available for you.

  1.  Personal savings for day to day and regular expenses
    Since you can’t touch your emergency or retirement funds, this is where you should get your cash for your food, utility bills, and other essentials. 

As with the other types of savings on this list, the amount you should have in your personal savings depends on your lifestyle and needs. You can calculate this by adding up your monthly contribution to your retirement and emergency fund, and then subtracting these from your income. From what remains, make a commitment to set aside a reasonable amount that still allows you to have enough to meet your daily expenses. 

  1. Expenses for short-term goals

This is for expenses that require you to save up a little more than usual before you can spend them, such as a wedding, a downpayment for a car or gadget, or a vacation. 

  1. Hospital and medical expenses

This is money intended to cover a medical emergency, specifically something that might not be covered by health insurance. Even if you are young and at the peak of health, it would be wise to start setting aside money for this fund now. “We need to approach things responsibly especially now that we are in a pandemic,” Mariel says. “As human beings, it is inevitable that we or our loved ones will encounter medical emergencies or expenses at some point in our lives, so the smart thing to do is to have money set aside to cover those because they are really one of the first things that can deplete our investments and savings.”

  1. Optional: A fund for hobbies and other “wants.”
    “Wants” are defined as things that you buy for fun or leisure; you could live without them, but you enjoy your life more when you have them. These include expenses such as collectibles, games, or beauty treatments. If you see that you regularly spend a considerable amount on these items, consider setting aside money to exclusively fund these so you still spend with care.

How to get started

This is definitely not an exhaustive list of all the types of savings accounts that you could set up, but it is a great starting point. When you are ready, Mariel suggests that you start by making a list of all the categories mentioned above, as well as other categories that you think you need to budget for. After that, check all your current bank accounts and tally them up so see how much money you have to start with. Finally, start allocating to the various funds. Financial advisors can also help in this regard. 

For those still feeling unsure and overwhelmed, MindNation WellBeing Coaches are also available 24/7 to help you build better money habits.  Book a session now through https://bit.ly/mindnationchat or email [email protected].

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Financial Wellness

6 Ways To Help Someone Struggling Financially During The Pandemic

Money concerns are one of the main causes of stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the results of a 2020 Pulse Survey conducted among 6,085 employees by MindNation’s Consumer Insights Team, nearly half (46%) of respondents listed financial pressures as their source of mental health problems. 

“Financial security is really uncertain right now,” says Mariel Bitanga, a financial planner and founder of Simply Finance, a boutique financial planning firm committed to empowering Filipino women. “So many have been retrenched or furloughed, and even those who are lucky enough to still be employed are always worrying that their company will go under at any moment.” 

This constant threat of ongoing debt or insufficient income can result in feelings of loss of control, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. If you are in a position to ease the financial stress of a loved one, know that even the smallest acts of care can make a difference. Mariel suggests the following simple and concrete ways you can support someone who is struggling with money:

  1. Offer emotional support. Start by simply reaching out to let them know that you’ll be there for them in any way you can. “This lets the person know that they are not alone and eases their anxiety,” says Mariel. 

    Also, because people tend to anchor their identities and self-worth with their work and income, emphasize to your loved ones that they are cherished and valuable no matter what. Remind them of their core strengths and highlight the small things they do each day to contribute to their family and the community. 
  1. Help them come up with a money-making gameplan. “Sit down with them and brainstorm ways they can earn extra money or manage their existing finances,” Mariel suggests.
  2. Utilize your connections. If you have another friend whose business is stable or thriving, ask if they have job openings, or if they would be willing to hire your friend on a freelance basis. “But if you’re unsure about the financial state of your friend’s business, best not to bring it up,” cautions Mariel.
  3. For those who have put up businesses, support them through social media. This past year has seen many people turning to home-based side businesses to augment their income. While the pressure to buy their products can be strong, Mariel assures that there are other ways to show support. “One of the most powerful ways you can help their business grow is to spread the word on social media. Be deliberate in tagging them on online marketplaces, sharing their posts, and leaving glowing reviews,” Mariel says. “Doing these won’t even cost you anything.”  

    In the event that you disagree with your friend’s business plan (i.e. you feel the product is too expensive), be careful in voicing your opinion. “Just express it subtly, like ‘Hey, I saw another person selling the same thing as you but at a lower price, and it’s doing very well; maybe you can try doing the same?’” advises Mariel. “Always make sure that feedback is constructive, not solely critical.”

“One of the most powerful ways you can help their business grow is to spread the word on social media. Be deliberate in tagging them on online marketplaces, sharing their posts, and leaving glowing reviews,”

Mariel Bitanga, SimplyFinance (on supporting your loved one’s business for free)
  1. Help them find local resources. “Good financial planners don’t just help with money management, we can also sit down with them and strategize how to earn extra money,” explains Mariel. 

    When choosing a financial planner, make sure they have legitimate credentials and offer a holistic program. This means that instead of just focusing on a specific area of a person’s finances (i.e. insurance or investments), the financial planner considers all aspects of the client’s personal circumstances and financial position to identify the actions that need to be taken to meet their goals for the future. 

    Finally, Mariel adds that there is also a wealth of credible and free financial planning resources available online. She recommends the following:
  • Chinkee Tan’s “Chink Positive” (available on YouTube and Spotify) 
  • Thea Sy Bautista (available on YouTube)
  • Marvin Germo (available on YouTube)
  • Vince Rapisura (available on YouTube)
  • Simply Finance TV (available on YouTube)
  1. As a last resort, you may offer a cash gift or loan — but tread lightly. Only offer to lend or give money if you have a close relationship with the other person. “Otherwise, you risk hurting their pride or making them feel beholden to you,” explains Mariel. 

    When you do decide to offer financial assistance, do so without expectations of repayment. “When you put conditions on your assistance, you put an additional burden on the other person. So make sure your offer is an amount that you are comfortable letting go of,” Mariel advises. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, your loved ones may truly need your financial assistance. Before you commit to helping, be sure to think through what you can and can’t afford to do. Remember that if your own resources are limited, there are meaningful, effective, and creative ways to help others.

If someone you know needs help managing their financial worries, MindNation’s WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions in the PH and in the Middle East and North Africa Region. Book a slot now on FB Messenger or email [email protected].

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Financial Wellness

5 Tips For Financial Wellness During the Holidays

The Christmas season is the most wonderful time of the year, but in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be stressful for team members who are grappling with reduced income and yet feel that they have to spend to celebrate properly. So instead of feeling love, peace, and joy this Christmas, they end up feeling stressed, anxious, and guilty. 

“Financial worries can lead to poor mental health and productivity.” says Mariel Bitanga, a financial planner and founder of Simply Finance, a boutique financial planning firm committed to empowering women. “And it can get worse during this time of the year when people end up overspending and enter January with less savings or in debt.” 

To ease the anxiety and achieve financial wellness, your team needs to be more mindful and responsible about how they manage their money during the holiday season. Here are some suggestions you can share with them: 

  1. Start early. Ideally, planning for the holidays should begin in the months leading to December, not during December itself. This way, you have a head start in setting aside cash and avoid the panic that comes with scrounging for funds when D-Day comes along. MindNation WellBeing Coaches are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7 to help your team set goals and build better habits. Visit http://www.mindnation.com to know more about the MindNation CareNow Plan©.
  1. Make a list, check it twice, and stick to it. Just as your parents taught you to never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach because you’ll end up buying more food than you originally planned, neither should you do your holiday shopping without a ready list of recipients and corresponding budget.
  1. Great gifts don’t need to be expensive. “Scour online for cheap but useful finds,” Mariel advises. “If you are crafty, make something out of your own hands. Lastly, promote sustainability by normalizing giving secondhand gifts, like a dress that doesn’t fit you anymore but you know will look good on your friend.”

    Gifts can also be non-material. “During these tough times, a simple gesture or word of encouragement will mean the world to someone who is struggling,” assures Mariel.
  1. “Don’t go into debt just to impress people or make them happy,” Mariel says. This means you shouldn’t feel obliged to give gifts if you really cannot afford it. “If the gift giver is sincere and a real friend, they will not expect anything in return; just don’t forget to say ‘thank you,’” she adds.
  1. When all the spending is done, reflect on what you could have done better and set your goals for NEXT YEAR. “Financial responsibility entails a lot of self-reflection,” Mariel reminds. “When you have the time, sit down and audit your finances. Think about what you can improve on, and what your financial goals are for the following year so that you can start preparing.” A financial planner can help you outline your goals in an objective manner, help you make sense of the computations, and create recommendations and action steps to fulfill those goals. “We’re here to give advice and present a clearer picture about your financial status,” Mariel explains.

And in case you do overspend or miss out on your financial goals this Christmas season, forgive yourself. “We are going through tough times right now, so don’t be too hard on yourself,” Mariel assures. “There are always ways to change the financial plan and save more, you just have to be creative and trust the process.”