November 03, 2019 at 08:00 pm
Joviel R. Teves
Viral, trending, meme-worthy. In today’s social and digital age, these are among the key words that will tell if an event, a topic or issue, a place or a person is popular or significant and, hence, captures huge attention.
There is one topic that regularly shows up in my social media account newsfeed, and I bet I in yours as well, at least every mid and end of the month. You guessed it correctly, memes about salary! It’s a variety of hilarious images depicting the daunting days of stretching a meager amount of money while waiting for payday, the pleasure of that most awaited day, and the grief immediately the day after.
Generally, these memes get me to burst into laughter. But then again, deep inside me, I know that these memes communicate a serious financial literacy issue. Is this really the plight of a lot of working Filipinos?
According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, a meme is “an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) or genre of items that is spread widely online especially through social media.” Taking it at face value, memes appear to be “mindless entertainment,” but these actually are “complex cultural objects” that are reflections of what’s happening in our society.
I am teaching finance and one of the advocacies that I want to get involved in is how to promote financial literacy in the country. News about “baon sa utang ang ating mga guro” and thousands of Filipinos falling prey to investment scammers, among many and other related broader issues such as poverty, reflect the country’s state of financial literacy.
In financial behavior literature, saving is one of the financial behaviors that benefits an individual in the long run. Savings constitutes the fundamental component of financial and economic growth. The latter is acknowledged to be primarily driven by investment. The main determinant of investment, on the other hand, is savings at the aggregate and household levels, hence the importance of savings in development cannot be denied.
So, what drives an individual to behave in a financially rewarding way? A popular behavior theory has been used in literature to identify what factors lead to a positive attitude towards a certain behavior. In using this theory to study saving behavior, a positive attitude towards savings will result to higher intention to save. When the social circle also saves, the individual will perceive that he ought to do the same and will have higher intention to do so. Finally, when an individual perceives that he can easily perform the behavior, his intention to behave accordingly will be high.
In 2018, I conducted a study aimed to understand the saving behavior of the graduating students from our school, the Visayas State University in Leyte. They are now among the pool of manpower in the country. I hope that they will not experience the “sad plight of the employed” depicted in the memes about salary that we see today. Using a behavior theory, I sought to find if financial literary affects the saving intention, and consequently saving behavior of the students.
Does financial literacy matter? Conventional wisdom will tell that financial literacy will positively affect beneficial financial behavior such as savings. Financial literacy equips people with requisite information and ideals needed to make sound decisions to manage financial resources and to improve financial capability. From the results of my study, the answer to the question if financial literacy matters, is yes, at least to the group of students who participated!
Are efforts then to educate people to become financially literate worthwhile? Results of the study indicates it may be worthwhile to pursue such endeavors. While saving is found to be difficult and many of the students in my study have identified various reasons why they are unable to regularly set aside funds for future and emergency use, making them financially knowledgeable may help them further understand and consequently find ways to be able to save.
Finance teachers and advocates alike may take advantage of the stickiness of the message depicted by memes. While preparing students to become financially savvy, they can bring humor in class by using memes containing lessons about money.
Joviel R. Teves is a Doctor of Business Administration student of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, and is an assistant professor at the Department of Business Management of the Visayas State University in Leyte. She is teaching finance and is desiring to contribute to promoting financial literacy in the country. Her research interests are social enterprise financing and capital market investments. She can be reached at [email protected] The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.