9 Filipino Money Proverbs That Still Make Sense

Last Updated on: September 20, 2023

Filipinos have a lot of timeless sayings and catchphrases we use as a guide to living, including an abundance of Filipino money proverbs.

Unfortunately, many Filipinos have an unhealthy relationship with money that is passed down through a bunch of dangerous financial advice.

However, even though money is a sensitive topic on our family’s table, some good money lessons were also passed down through the years.

Here are some of the best Filipino money idioms and proverbs that still make sense today.

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1. “Kapag maiksi ang kumot, matutong mamaluktot.”

Translation: When the blanket is short, learn to curl up.

This idiom means we must learn how to adjust our expenses relative to our income. It is commonly referred to today as living below our means.

So if your monthly income is not enough to cover your wants, it would be wise to wait it out, save first before spending, or increase your income to afford items beyond your range.

2. “Kung may itinanim, may aanihin.”

Translation: If something is planted, something will be reaped.

Filipinos love the idea of savings. Unfortunately, this often remains an idea as many families live their lives without any savings and just go with the flow.

Aside from savings, this proverb is also about investing your money today so that you will reap your benefits in the future. 

The good thing about our generation is that more investment options are available today than a few decades ago. 

Remember, you can’t expect to reap anything without planting its seeds.

3. “Pag may tiyaga, may nilaga.”

Translation: Hard work has its rewards.

The Internet encourages working smart, but before you know how to work ‘smart,’ you’ll first need to work hard.

Working hard and working smart go hand-in-hand, and if you spend time long enough, you will be rewarded.

It may not always be monetary, but the reward of satisfaction of a job well done.

4. “Kung may isinuksok, may madudukot.”

Translation: If you save today, you can pull it out one day.

Saving is an important part of anyone’s finances, and a crucial part of it is your contingency or emergency fund.

If you have an emergency fund, you’ll not worry too much about losing your job or some unexpected events because you know you’ll survive somehow.

You can save 3, 6, or 12 months of expenses, depending on your situation.

5. “Ang hindi napagod magtipon, walang hinayang magtapon.”

Translation: He who is not tired of gathering doesn’t care if it goes to waste.

This proverb says that those who grew up spoiled or never sacrificed to get something will not hesitate to waste things because they never worked hard.

I remember the story of a Chinese family whose business is in the textile industry. Whenever they buy something, they always compute it in terms of yards of cloth.

Because they know how hard it is to earn money and the feeling of lack, they are very frugal and think carefully before spending.

On the other hand, I know some people who never appreciate the importance of education because they grew up in a household where they could get everything they wanted.

Then they grew up with no passion to strive for themselves because they thought they could always call their parents to bail them out.

Unfortunately, when their benefactors are gone, they soon realize that life is hard, and they waste their time and money, so they repeat the poverty cycle.

6. “Ubos-ubos biyaya, pagkatapos nakatunganga.”

Translation: Spend luxuriously, and you may end up with nothing.

This saying relates to many employees’ glorified “petsa de peligro” event, where they spend their salary during the first few days and are forced to cut back on their necessities in the next few days or even go into debt.

So living within your means and learning to be modest is important. Remember that no one will save us from our financial mistakes but ourselves.

We also don’t want to burden your children and family. So, we need to prepare.

7. “Daig ng maagap ang masipag.”

Translation: Punctuality beats diligence.

Punctuality is an underrated virtue, especially in our culture where being late is the norm and is almost expected, hence, the “Filipino Time” epithet.

This Filipino proverb is similar to “the early bird catches the worm,” stating that being early is often rewarded.

Arriving on time or earlier is also a sign of respect to the people who will have to wait for us if we arrive late.

8. “Habang may buhay, may pag-asa.”

Translation: As long as there is life, there is hope.

One of our most important virtues as humans is our ability to hope. It means that no matter how bad things go, we believe that everything will eventually fall into place.

I think modern people’s lack of hope is also one of the reasons why too many people today are suffering and even depressed.

So, while this proverb covers the general sense of the importance of hope, we can also apply this to our finances that even if we’re struggling with our finances now, as long as we’re alive, there is hope to succeed.

9. “Nasa Diyos ang awa; nasa tao ang gawa.”

Translation: God is merciful, but people still need to work.

Since the Philippines is a Christian nation, people have faith that God will provide. However, too many Filipinos often leave it as that, and they miss the opportunities God may have already answered their prayers.

This idiom reminds everyone that God is indeed merciful, but we also need to work. Sometimes, the opportunities are already right in front of us, but we’re too complacent to act.

Final Thought:

Filipinos often have an unhealthy view of money that keeps our nation poor, but there are also some nuggets of wisdom we can relate to, like the nine idioms about money above.

Remember that money is only a tool and is not the be-all-end-all goal of our lives.

May we strive to be a better nation, not just in our finances but in uplifting everyone’s lives. God bless you!

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