Pasko Na? Christmas is upon us. Yes, I know I am writing this on the 9th of December but many of you may not have thought about something. Better think of it now, right away, and make your own personal plan. Trust me, it’s important.
The end of any month here in the Philippines always involves time and money pressure … see
for an explanation and some hints of how to insure you don’t have “month left over at the End of Your Money”.
But for those of you who are new to living in the Philippines … especially for those of you who insist on living with an ATM card as your sole source of income (something I emphatically warn you NOT to do)
You better take a close look at the calendar and do some fancy footwork .. or your holiday season is liable to very stressful and unhappy.
Philippine Facts of Life:
1. Banks Will Close: Banks here in the Philippines will close for a number of days before Christmas, in between Christmas an New year and possibly for a day or two more into the new year. If you typically wait until your wallet is light and then run to the bank for a cash withdrawal, or to the ATM machine to restore you stash of Pesos, think it through carefully. Each major bank has different rules but for a certainty, there will be non-trivial holiday closures between 19 December and 3 January. Probably not all those days, and again, it may vary, but do NOT plan to run to the bank just before Christmas Eve and expect to get money. You may be very frustrated (and broke).
2. But I use the ATM in my local Mall: Well yes, fine. BUT. ATM’s will go empty, often. This is a huge season for “remittances”. people who have no use for an ATM the other 11 months of the year are liable to have money to withdraw now. And people also get their traditional “13 month pay” at this time, so those two factors together put triple stress on the ATM’s and their network. The heavier ATNM’s are being used, the bigger the chance you arrive at one and find the deadly “black screen”, or a “Not In Service” notice flashing.
Also, regardless of how hard the bank tries to keep their ATM’s “serviced” (full of loot for you), there are actual shortages of cash this time of year .. especially P1,000 notes. If they fill the machine to capacity with P500 notes as a substitute guess what? Only half as much cash “fits”.
Machines get filled by teams who travel in armored trucks. Care to guess what happens when an armored truck is sent off to do a “Cash Fill” run that normally takes 4 or 5 hours in this season’s notoriously horrid traffic? Yep, the team with the bags of ATM money may still be stuck, hours away, when the machine “runs dry”.
3. A Lot of Businesses Run on an Annual Basis: Are you sure you don’t have any bills you have forgotten about (car insurance, house insurance, balloon payments on this or that) that might show up, unexpectedly, before the end of this month.?
4. You ARE Going to Spend More: It’s Christmas, after all;. Relatives will appear out of the woodwork. And you are going to get your wife or girlfriend 9aor both if that be the case) something nice for the holidays, yes. And you know you will eat out more, travel more, etc.
So, as the old saying goes, “Forewarned is Forearmed”. I can’t cure your overall cash flow problems, but you can’t say I didn’t warn you that NOW is the time to get all your ducks in a row, and NOT the last week in December. Godspeed.