Floi Wycoco: An ex-OFW who went from Mr Spender to Mr Investor
7 stitches on a busted lip.
7 minutes to go.
#7 was down 15 points.
This was the deficit that Ginebra’s the Big J, Robert Jaworski, faced in an Oct 22, 1985 game against Northern Cement (NCC) in the PBA. He was busted by Jeff Moore with a massive elbow and had to get stitches in the hospital.
Unexpectedly, Jaworski returned to the arena, and to everyone’s surprise checked back into the the game!
Northern Cement was caught off-guard, it sparked a frenzy among fans, but more importantly it inspired his teammates to fight this uphill battle through the sheer will to win displayed by their star point guard.
Ginebra brought a fight back never seen before and passionately overcame all odds and ended up with a win for the ages. A true classic. A game that is remembered to this day as the day…
NEVER-SAY-DIE attitude was born.
Now I know that this is basketball, but don’t we all have battles of our own. Problems that seem impossible to overcome? Things like not “kulang kinikita ko”, “wala akong ipon” and “hindi ako makauwi sa Pilipinas nang kulang pa naiipon ko” or maybe even all three, that was what our interviewee, Mark Caguioa look-alike, Floi Wycoco experienced.
Floi is the pillar of The Global Filipino Investor (TGFI), a group purpose is to spread financial literacy among Filipinos. This is a far cry from his days as a fast-living, free-wheeling spender who only knew how to press “withdraw” on the ATM.
He was working hard and playing harder and was simply living for the moment. And that’s how long he has his money lasted A MOMENT and voila! It’s gone. Despite having a high-paying job, he still bit the bullet and left his family to go abroad and earn even more.
And what happened next, well… would’ve made the Big J proud.
The lion, king of the jungle, is a symbol of courage, strength and power. Awe-inspiring characteristics that Floi, upon arriving in the Lion City, had NONE of.
All he had was FEAR.
A fear that developed from seeing a big fat Php0 in his bank account after 5 years of high-paying work. A fear of not being able to provide for his immediate family.
He was starting anew. Moving into a new environment, earning an even bigger pay and surrounding himself with new people should do the trick – a fresh start.
A six figure income can perk anyone up & that’s exactly what happened to Floi. So much so that he bough a Php70,000 luxury wristwatch, an amount he hasn’t even earned yet. Yup, you figured it out, he borrowed it. “Yabang eh” he quipped.
Pain of Discrimination
Part of the sacrifice of being an OFW is acclimating yourself with people from a different culture. And unfortunately for Floi, he felt the pain of being discriminated against because of his nationality. He felt that every move he did was being closely scrutinized and judged. “Parang ang hirap gumalaw” Floi confesses.
He did what anyone would do – sought refuge. Being away from home and family, he did the only thing he knew that would bring comfort and happiness, even if it’s just temporary – he spent… a lot. He’d overspend to make up for the loneliness he felt and bring back some semblance of normalcy.
But the joy he got from his new shiny toy didn’t last and his depleting savings is just caused him more stress. He couldn’t come home because he fears what a lot of OFWs are afraid of… “Nakakahiyang umuwi nang walang ipon”
Where to Go?
Singapore wasn’t working for him but coming home isn’t an option either.
There was nowhere to go… but within.
One day, he shared his ordeal with his friend. Sensing Floi’s despair, his friend lent him a book entitled “How to Live A Life of Miracles” by Bo Sanchez. It was the first book he EVER read and finished it in 2 days.
It was a major turning point.
The book made him realize that he is truly blessed and God has given him the skills to be an inspiration to others. Little did he know how big a role being an inspiration to other people would be in his life.
He realized that he wasn’t really going for greener pastures but was really running away from the behavior that has put his financial standing in ruins. He discovered that he carried “Mr Spender” wherever he went. And to stop this cycle, something has to change, not in his environment but IN him.
The book changed his perspective in life from that of scarcity to abundance. This is what he calls his “Enlightenment”. He started seeing opportunities everywhere. A week later, he attended a financial literacy seminar and it rocked his world. This is what he has been needing for a looooooooooong time now.
And this was just the start.
A fire has been lit under his belly.
Not satisfied with just one seminar, he searched the internet everyday about different topics in personal finance – savings, stock market, mutual funds, insurance etc. He joined one group after another.
He absorbed these principles like a sponge. More importantly he applied them in his life with discipline and vigor.
It changed his life. He was finally able to not only save his money but invest it as well. After just one and a half years of implementing his learning, he did the unthinkable…
With an offer to extend his 6 figure income in Singapore on the table, Floi walked away…
…all the way back to the Philippines.
He’s came back home.
But the hunger didn’t end there.
Care to Share
Remember that thing about inspiring others? Well Floi took it to a whole new level.
He wasn’t satisfied with the contents or groups he was seeing online. It was too focused on just one thing say forex or stock market. “Parang may kulang” he candidly puts it. He wants a more holistic approach where Filipinos can have a venue where their questions about anything personal finance can be answered.
He felt that Pinoys are afraid to approach professionals because of one major fear – “baka bentahan sila”. So he created a safe and low commitment environment where people could post their questions without this fear thus The Global Filipino Investor (TGFI) was born.
It currently has more than 21,000 fans on Facebook where members can post their questions and financial experts drop in to help answer them and point them in the right direction.
Oh and did I mention, those 21,000 just came from their very first year – 2013.
Friendly advice to OFWs
Floi shares that in order to see a difference in your life, you must know your goals for the long term and ask yourself HOW you are going to accomplish it. Build this idea in your brain AND your heart. You must stay committed and disciplined in achieving it.
He noticed that OFWs would remit 40-50% of their income back home and would use the the rest on basic needs and to feed their “luho”. He feels that his fellow OFWs have resigned themselves to their fate of working abroad as the ONLY way to provide for their family instead of saving something for the future and pro-actively looking for opportunities to make their money grow passively or as the cliche goes “make money work for them”.
As a first step he suggests getting their hands on Randell Tiongson’s book “No Nonsense Personal Finance”. It covers the basic information you need to know to handle your personal finances. You can read the review here.
Reminder for Fresh Graduates
–>Start investing early and never stop learning.
Floi cites the example of Mr. Marvin Germo, author of “Stock Smarts”, who started investing in the stock market very early – in his mid teens at that. He’s “very geeky” about the stock market and continuous to learn non stop from watching Bloomberg and Reuters.
Now not all of us are naturally interested in the stock market like him. But the point is you need to start thinking about your future early on and don’t get overwhelmed by your first salary and be a “Baby Mr Spender”.
–> Time is your biggest asset
Your biggest asset is not the income you take home but your TIME. Take advantage of the compound effect and invest early and often even if it’s just modest. Think bigger than what you see in your payslip and keep studying on how to make money work for you by reading books, attending seminars, asking Google etc.
–> Measure, measure, measure
Last and definitely not the least, create a file where you keep track of your income and expenses. You may want to put it in a spreadsheet. Numbers won’t lie to you, you may “feel” you’ve been saving a lot but those small expenses here and there do add up and one look at your stats and you’ll the real story.
Measuring is one of the BEST ways to not only keep track of your progress but motivate you to get better one small step at a time.
We are all common in one thing. We all have problems.
The difference is what are we willing to do about it. Your uphill battle may seem daunting but just like any big problem, you have to solve it one small bit at a time.
Just like how Ginebra came back in that 1985 game, you can’t get back from a 15 point deficit in just one shot. It takes two points at a time, chipping away little by little. Don’t overwhelm yourself, just do some baby steps.
Remember it’s never too late, and it you need teammates to help you out, the people at TGFI are willing to lend a hand. From what I got from Floi, there will be plenty of willing and able people to help you out. They will tell you a lot of things but you can make sure that there’s one thing they won’t say…