Can we have it all in 2022—and be richer, healthier and happier this year? Or must we walk the tightrope of balancing between fat bank accounts, trim waistlines, and overflowing souls?
Here are some how-tos to bring you closer to your goals.
Go legit: Register as a barangay microbusiness
During the pandemic, thousands of new businesses came to life, thanks to the Filipinos' can-do and make-do attitude. There happens to be a little-known law that actually rewards entrepreneurs by exempting small start-ups from income tax.
Passed exactly 20 years ago, it’s called the "Barangay Micro-Business Enterprise (BMBE) Act of 2002" (or R.A. 9178). This delicious piece of legalese was first brought to my attention by my brother, a barangay captain in San Juan, and I was in such disbelief that I consulted one of my favorite lawyers, Atty. Toñico Manahan, who confirmed that it was all true.
The law says that businesses with assets below P3 million and are not connected to a professionally licensed service (doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects and so forth) may apply for BMBE status. The benefits? That exemption from paying income tax as well as the minimum-wage law.
It entails registering at the LGU where you are located; and in San Juan, you are required to present a business permit. Caveat: The law is so little-known that it's best to bring a copy of it (downloadable on the internet) to wave around city hall.
I only wish that the country’s mayors would pay more attention to this fantastic piece of legislation and establish a one-stop shop to assist entrepreneurs when they are just starting out. The law is written so that LGUs are required to pose the least amount of regulatory requirements and red tape, but it needs a firm advocate in the LGU. (A bureau to help navigate the BIR requirements—which are simple enough to follow, according to the law—would be even more helpful.)
In this way, livelihoods are established, businesses are developed and when they get big enough to pay their share, the government can benefit.
No to hoarding
Hoarding is an anxiety-driven condition created in response to a threatened disaster, whether natural (typhoons and floods) or man-made (crashing currency and war).
We saw it and, worst of all, learned it in the last two years of the pandemic when goods were in short supply or expected to run low. (New research shows that it takes between two and eight months to form a habit; and we certainly had more than enough time to internalize hoarding.)
Easier said than done, but the act of hoarding, such as cornering a year’s supply of toilet paper or Paracetamol, is a self-fulfilling action that guarantees that these basics will run out.
…But yes to savings
It’s not just groceries that run out in a pandemic; so do jobs and livelihoods. A hard lesson to learn is to build up as much savings as you can afford, particularly for expenses that are hard and non-negotiable. Typically, these are rent, utility bills and loan payments; although, at the start of the pandemic, landlords and banks threw everybody a lifeline—although not all without the consequences of increased interest rates.
The rule of thumb is to squirrel away a minimum of three months’ and up to even a year’s worth of living expenses as a buffer for unpredictable times.
Invest in self-care
Self-care is the year’s new mantra. And to do so sensibly, you’ll need to find a family doctor that you can trust.
In the sea of medical specialists, it’s easy to forget the importance of the “GP” (or general practitioner), more recently known as the family doctor. This MD is your first line of defense when you’re coming down with everyday ailments and an important advocate when you suffer something more serious who can steer you to the right specialist, if necessary.
Your family medic can also guide you in the time-honored new year’s practice of the annual physical, blood work, x-ray, eye checkups and any special tests appropriate for your age and gender.
The results will be your roadmap as to what other treatments to take on in your quest for the better, healthier you.
Horror stories abound of whopping hospital bills and the outrageous cost of COVID-19 treatments. One way around it is to load up on as much medical insurance as you can afford. There are payment schemes that give you installment terms over three to six months, at zero interest, just like if you were shopping for a designer handbag or an airline ticket to a green-list country; and if you come to think of it, those items are far less important in the scheme of things.
Beyond the blonde highlights and the Botox packages, the latest meaning of self-care has it that “exercise is medicine” and, for that reason, you should also rely on professional coaches and trainers to guide you in exercise and nutrition.
A personalized regimen that builds discipline and consistency should be your first step before you run out and buy a treadmill, a set of weights or a Pilates set-up, all of which can set you back up to six digits.
Strategize the revenge spending
"Revenge spending” is the feel-good release of pent-up demand—not to mention, all that consumption paid for by the forced savings from stuff you could not go out and buy during lockdown.
It’s a worldwide phenomenon so you don’t have to beat yourself up about giving in; but there are smart strategies to go about it, including indulging in the thrill of credit card swiping, but only at sales.
There are exceptions, of course: buying investment-grade watches and jewelry, artworks and even automobiles after due diligence can net you an asset that will continuously appreciate.
Invest in your country: Support Filipino businesses
Finally, there is one more thing that will be worthwhile investing in and that will make us also better citizens: That is to invest in our own country and the talents and artistry of local businesses, BMBE or not.