I once heard finance advisor Chinkee Tan say in his seminar “If you have a debt to pay, you should refrain to watch movies in the mall.” I thought it was harsh.
Until he turned the question around at me, “Richard, how would you feel if you saw a man who owed you 20,000 pesos, watching a movie with his girlfriend in a mall and not paying you for many years?”
Then I understood he was teaching us the right way to handle money, especially paying debts. The way a person handles debt will tell you a lot about his/her character. And whether you like it or not, it will affect your relationship with him/her for BETTER OR WORSE.
My wife’s stories best illustrate 2 contrary attitudes on handling debt.
Meet Popoy and Ping-Ping:)
A person very dear to me (Let’s call him Popoy) owes me money. This debt has been accumulated over many, many years of borrowing, promising to pay back, but never actually doing so.
I try hard every day to let it go in my heart. I think I’m fine because I don’t see this person all the time.
But if I’m really honest with myself, there’s a hurt—I feel cheated out of opportunities: investments I could have made, vacations I could have spent on, etc. And also because this person I love made promises and broke them repeatedly. The battle to forgive every day is a messy one, and a whole other topic.
“Pero hindi naman niya sinasadya, hindi niya ginusto yun…” (This was not his intention, he did not want this situation…)
True. People who don’t pay their debts are not out there TRYING to be evil. The last time Popoy and I spoke about the debt was a year ago, he said he was very sorry and assured me that he is doing all he can to return the money. Someday, someday maybe, when the business gets better, when he sells his car, when he wins the lotto…the debt will be paid.
Recently, Popoy invited me to a small birthday dinner at an expensive restaurant. There will be 10-15 guests in total. He’s paying for it, as a thank you to his friends. Friends who are UNAWARE of the financial trouble he is in. Still, no mention of paying the debt.
It was lunchtime at school. Having saved some money from modelling, I was planning what to do with my little cash. A small business? Time deposit? New shoes?
Later, I hear that one of my friends “Ping-Ping” may not be able to enroll for the next semester. Her family was suddenly going through tough times so I lent her the money for tuition. She and her family were very grateful.
They promised to pay the full amount in 3 months. But couldn’t. Ping-Ping’s father called me to explain. I had a sinking feeling that I may never get my money back. Did I make yet ANOTHER stupid lending mistake? He ended the call by saying he would pay at least Php 2,000 a month.
Was he serious? At that very small rate of payment it would take over two YEARS to pay it all back. I just agreed. What else could I do?
But they were CONSISTENT! Monthly, my classmate would hand me an envelope with Php 2,000 and a sincere “sorry”. Toward the end of the school year, the amount in the envelope gradually increased. My classmate said their family was recovering.
The WORDS (apologies) of Ping-Ping’s family were accompanied by ACTIONS. Their CONSISTENT payments showed me they took their debt VERY seriously. My resentment melted away. I became confident that I was going to get it all back.
Their debt was paid in 19 months. Ahead of schedule.
How about you?
How do people see you in handling debt? Are you like Popoy or like Ping-Ping?
Have you ever lent to a Popoy? Did you feel resentment as a lot of stories have come up, but no action to pay back your hard-earned money?
Have you ever lent to a Ping-Ping? Did your admiration and respect for the person increase after he/she showed you great commitment & responsibility by paying you back your money?
How much has a person’s character in handling debt affect his/her relationship with you for better/worse?
, November 5, 2014