Christmas is just around the corner and the scene of malls packed with shoppers, and major roads looking like parking lots have become very common. And this has not changed over the past years, especially after the malling units of Henry Sy, the Ayalas and John Gokongwei dotted Metro Manila with numerous shopping havens. Every time people fill their malls, especially during the Yuletide season, these tycoons laugh their way to the banks. Their banks.
But how Filipinos are handling their money is slowly changing, as the latest Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’s Consumer Expectation Survey (CES) showed that the percentage of Filipinos setting aside money is increasing.
The CES showed that Filipino households with savings continued to increase in the fourth quarter of 2013, or to 26.2 percent from than the 24.5 percent recorded in the previous quarter.
According to the BSP, the increase in the percentage of surveyed households with savings was observed among the middle- and low-income groups.
Also, the percentage of households with savings “increased significantly” in Metro Manila, according to the BSP.
Furthermore, the survey showed that respondents were saving money for emergency fund, health and hospitalization, retirement, business capital and investment, and education.
The CES is a nationwide survey started in 2007. For the third fourth quarter of 2013, the survey was conducted from October 1 to 12, with a total sample size of 5,912 households.
While only a majority, or 65.1 percent of those who saved put their money in a bank, the steady increase in households setting aside money for savings is very encouraging, especially if one takes into account that there was no dramatic change in the unemployment rate of the country.
The National Statistics Office (NSO) said last week that the employment rate as of October went up by 0.3 percent to 93.5 percent in October from the 93.2 percent in the same time last year, despite the rise in typhoons hitting the country in August and September. This means that unemployment went down 6.5 percent from the 6.8 percent in the same period last year.
The miniscule change in the unemployment picture shows that even those earning today could lose their jobs within the next few months.
Also, savings can help households get out of poverty, because savings can be used to build a small business or to make sure family members get a good education until college.
National Statistics Coordination Board Secretary-General Jose Ramon Albert said also last week that the country’s overall poverty picture “did not seem to change” through the years, because the numbers of people getting out of poverty and going into poverty were almost the same since 2003.
With employees and workers getting their 13th month pay and even bonuses during December, this month of the year is the best time to start the savings habit, or further increase their household’s level of money set aside.
This does not mean, however, that Filipino households should forget about the Christmas season just to save money. But then, spending less during the Yuletide season shopping can even help Filipinos become more aware of what Christmas is all about—the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Besides, the mall tycoons are already assured of profits for the year even if households downscale their shopping for savings. Actually, none of the top conglomerates in the country, including those operating malls, never reported a loss during the first three quarters of the year.