Pajama Stocks

We sat around the dinner table with family some time ago and my brother in law, Joel, found out that Elijah started investing in the stock market last year. Elijah talked about what companies he had picked to invest in and the rational behind his choices. And he said this all while wearing pajamas. It just seemed a little bit funny I suppose, that a 9 year old (this was before he turned 10), would be chatting about financial investments. So Joel said, “Why don’t you write an article about it and call it ‘Pajama Stocks.'” I thought…that’s a great title. I love it. But I had put it off until today, when Edric asked me to have Elijah share about how he ventured into it to encourage parents to teach their kids to start being financially literate early.

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Here is what he wrote (with some help from me):

I first became interested in financial markets two years ago. My dad had asked me if I wanted to invest in stocks and we did some research together online to understand the process better. My dad told me to fill out the online form of Citisec but I actually lost the form and forgot about it.

It wasn’t until last year, when I was 9, that I became interested again, especially since my dad was hosting a money show. He would talk about financial investments often. And since he promised to help me set up an account, he told me that I would join a stock seminar with him so we could do it together. By then, the name of Citisec online had changed to COL Financial. 

I was so excited and nervous. I was in a room with a lot of adults, including my dad and I was the youngest person attending the seminar. The seminar took about two hours. It was very interesting. I learned about tips on investing and how the stock market works, and what companies were performing the best at that time.

For example, I learned that Jollibee had grown 40% from 2009 to 2011 because they kept reinventing. And a lot of people like to eat in Jollibee. The seminar was like a homeschool lesson for me.

When we got home, my dad told me he would give me a fund to work with but I had to do research. A lot of research. For one whole day I looked up different companies from different categories, like financial, services, industrial, property, holding firms, and mining and oil. All this information is available on pse.com.ph.  My dad also gave me some advice. I was also able to study the background history of a few companies to track their performance over the years. What really helped me were the charts that showed how the companies have performed over time because I could see changes, gains and loses. One company even lost 500%! I am not going to tell you which one?

Several weeks later, while my dad and I were having one on one bonding time, he helped me set up my account and invest in my top picks. I chose BDO, BPI, Ayala Corporation, Aboitiz, Globe, and Ayala Land. Recently, I also added Meralco. My main criteria was to get companies that went up steadily for the last two years because I intended to do long term investments. That’s why I didn’t invest in mining and oil. I found their performances too wild.

The one exception was the company 2Go, which I plan to use for market timing. It will just be a short-term investment and experiment. Since it’s passport season for people going on vacation, I hope that its stocks will go up so I can sell them.

Since I invested in stocks last December, by God’s grace, my stocks have grown. I’ve earned a little bit of money and it makes me more excited. It also makes me realize that earning money is not easy!

Now, when my parents or people give me money, I think of how I can invest it again or, okay, buy online books because I love to read.

I’m still learning a lot about the stock market and actually, I just invested a small amount to get experience compared to what older people do. But I put it in as much as my dad gave me because he told me it’s not good to leave money lying idle in an account. It won’t grow. In the COL seminar, I learned that inflation rates are higher than interest rates. So it’s not good to leave money in a bank account, either. 

I’m thankful for this experience. And I think it would be helpful for other kids to learn how to manage money, too. We don’t have to wait until we are older. The earlier we start, the more time our investment has to grow. 

I’m praying that my investments will grow if it’s God’s will so that someday I can use it to bless others, to tithe, and to save.

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I’m embarrassed to admit that Elijah knows way more than I do about the stock market. One evening, when a female relative asked him why he didn’t invest in their company, Elijah replied, “Honestly, your company doesn’t have historicals in the PSE yet, and if you look at your growth last year, you only grew by 0.2%.” Everyone who was within ear-shot of this conversation started to laugh out loud. I was slightly floored. Who are you?! I thought, looking at Elijah. At the same time, I realized that homeschoolers have unique opportunities that other children don’t have. They have the advantage of time to pursue interests. Elijah would be swamped with homework if he were a 4th grade student in a conventional school. However, our homeschooling lifestyle allows him to explore and learn beyond books.

Some years ago, I created a tagline for one of TMA Homeschool’s advertisements, “The World is My Classroom. Is it Yours?” Just like his siblings, Elijah surprises me with lessons learned that are beyond the scope of what I have taught. It’s humbling and encouraging at the same time to know that my children are not limited by what I can give as a teacher. This is one of the benefits of homeschooling —  children have access to a world of experiences that no other conventional classroom can possibly give them.

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The Habit of “I Love You”

At 1:45 in the morning, I was in between dream state and wakefulness when Edric came in to the room and got into bed beside me. “I love you,” he whispered like he almost always does every night since we got married. I whispered back, “I love you, too.” And he took my hand and held it for a while.

Ever since I can remember, these have been his closing words right before he goes to bed, no matter what his day is like.  It could be a great day, a stressful one, or a day when we’ve had an argument and he doesn’t feel like saying “I love you.” But he says it nonetheless because he wants it to be the last thing I remember before I sleep.

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I remember the day we first met. We were sitting on a bench outdoors. It was during a Psychology 101 class. Our teacher brought us all outside while we presented our projects. Under the shade of a tree, Edric sat at one end of a blue bench and I sat at the other. The gravitational pull must have been pretty strong and we sort of got lost in our own little world, striking up a random conversation about God and faith. A curiosity bloomed. I found him honest and unpretentious. He told me later on that he was “mysteriously fascinated.” (I like that description.)

From then on, we seemed to run into each other more often. Edric actually timed his encounters with me and I would strategically place myself in areas where he could find me. But he had to look. I wasn’t going to dangle myself and make it too easy. It sounds like a game, eh? Well, I would like to quote what Edric once said to singles. “Guys like the chase, the challenge of pursuit, but they need to at least see a tail or some part of the deer that makes them hopeful.”

So I gave him a measure of hope. After all, I was interested in getting to know him, too. During our encounters, I was friendly and engaged, and he picked up on this. That was the “tail.”

We shared similar values, family cultures, and interests. But our personalities were quite different. Yet, we connected in the most important ways, especially spiritually. By my Junior year, we were a couple. If I could’ve done it over again, I wouldn’t have dated in college because Edric and I struggled with our physical relationship. I would’ve waited till after college, when we are at the marrying age. But God has since redeemed all of this.

In 2001, two years after graduating from college, Edric asked me to marry him. This was after we had broken up for 6 months to discern about marriage. I was 24 and he was 25.

I had prayed that Edric would be the one I walked down the aisle to. That time of separation purified our motives and gave us clarity about marriage. We received the blessing of his parents and my own, and four months after he proposed to me, we got married. No, we were not pregnant! We wanted a short engagement. After all, we were absolutely sure that God had called us to marriage so why wait any longer than necessary?

On July 22, I stood in front of Edric, said my vows and heard his, and we declared our commitment to one another. It was beyond incredible. But that version of I love you pronounced before God, family and friends had no real experience. It knew little of real commitment or unconditional acceptance.

The test came after the honeymoon, during the first years. It was then that Edric and I really began to understand that love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person for their highest good, which often requires sacrifice. We were two very selfish, prideful people in need of a good spanking from the Lord. He taught us what it really means to love one another. And over time, our love has endured through life’s seasons, by God’s grace.

Edric has loved me unconditionally, flaws and all. And each night that he says I love you means more to me than the day he put a ring on my finger. Why? Because this love has mileage! It has gone the distance and weathered the crazy ups and downs of marriage. It has been thrown into the “furnace” of experience and survived!

If you have been a follower of this blog, you know that I have written entries about our romance. We are big cheeseballs. Yet, at the end of the day, our relationship cannot be anchored on romance. It is a commitment we have made before God, to one another. Declaring “I love you” even when we don’t feel like it reaffirms this.

It’s a practice that has made a big difference in our relationship – a reminder that marriage is the habit of choosing to love your spouse, for better or for worse, and living out that choice the next day, and the next, for the rest of your life.

“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Proverbs 5:18