By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca
PBA player Doug Kramer and TV host – actress Chesca Garcia make a handsome couple. They have been together since October 9, 2003 and, exactly five years later, “We got married on 10-9-08, our fifth anniversary,” shares Doug. They are blessed with two beautiful daughters, Kendra (almost 3) and Scarlett (4 months old).
Both lived independently when they were still single. “I was used to paying for my own bills and issuing my own checks and he was also used to doing the same, So when were already husband and wife, I would find myself still doing my usual accounting,” recalls Chesca. “We discussed about it and came to an agreement that since he’s the man of the house, he will take charge of the finances. So far, so good naman. Magaling s’yang mag-handle ng money namin and he’s very organized.”
“Mina-Microsoft Excel ko pa yan dati. I have a complete list of expenses. Now, [I do my accounting] in my phone na lang. I [found] something simpler [to use],” owns up Doug. “I am the one who fixes [our finances] kasi si Chesca, she stresses quickly. I’m able to budget everything and handle it properly. Especially when she was pregnant, I didn’t want to talk to her about that so ako na lang ang bahala sa house expenses and investments. It was our practice naman.”
Chesca clarifies that it’s her job, on the other hand, “to overlook the household, make sure that everything’s okay, and the house is clean.” Although they both earn and have their own money, she makes certain that, “When I do anything, I also let him know because he’s my husband. I did not marry naman somebody to just disregard his opinion.”
“I don’t consider that there are disadvantages when you’re single and you’re just thinking of yourself. In fact, there are also advantages because you are able to save up money and you’re able to basically fix a goal for your life. Kasi kapag single ka, you’re able to make a career plan, a goal plan, or savings plan for yourself,” she points out. “The advantages naman when you’re married, you have someone to help you sa pag-iipon ng money, sa decision-making. You have somebody to discuss your goals and your finances with and it’s no longer just about what you want.”
Securing the future
Doug reveals that he made investments when he was still single. “I [bought] two properties [but] made sure I was still liquid, of course. Once I saw an opportunity to try and invest in something, I made sure I pay the down payment and schedule monthly amortization for the rest because it’s a bit expensive.”
“Kuripot lang ako [noon],” he laughs. “I only bought the things that I really wanted. When I was single, I didn’t spend on a lot of things; I’d really hold on to my money. My parents invested in properties so, siguro, I got that from them.”
“Ako, I invested in insurance like life and health,” says Chesca. “I think it was my job that made me more aware of the value of money and how hard you work for it. That’s why I appreciated my job and the money I was earning. It was more of that eh. At the same time, that also [inspired me to set] goals that I wanted to achieve.”
She adds that before they got married, they also bought land together. “Initially, we were planning to build there but, just in case we’d be able to find a buyer for a good price, we can sell it. It’s definitely much more expensive now than when we bought it five years ago,” affirms Doug. “If it’s hard to sell, especially now, then we’d probably build [our house] there. It will depend on our decision perhaps by the end of this year.”
As for their kids, the couple confides that they have opened bank account for their daughters. “Liquid accounts,” emphasizes Doug who further shares, “Kendra, who’s turning three in two months, is able to, quote-unquote work [by] guesting in some talk shows with her mom. Whenever she gets talent fees, we put them in her account. But just to make it fair for the younger one, we make it pantay. We don’t want the other one to be angat.” Their firstborn also has an educational plan already and the Kramers affirm that they’re also getting one for Scarlett soon.
“Kendra also has a Sunlife insurance that’s a gift from my father-in-law. I think they put in a monthly amount and it will mature when she turns 16,” says Doug. Both girls moreover have health insurance which their father believes is very essential. “Kendra got pneumonia last year and our hospital bill was around P80,000 but I only ended up paying around P4,000 because of the health card. So that’s an important thing. Philhealth, malaking bagay din yun!”
Taking stock of finances
Doug and Chesca are firm believers in savings and investments. “If you want to save so much, you should not live beyond your means although it’s hard and, sometimes, we experience that,” he admits. “The rule of thumb is, if you’re earning a hundred thousand; don’t spend a hundred twenty thousand a month. You should also be able to set aside something. Up to now we’re still learning that. It’s not something you can just do right away especially if you have obligations on investments.”
Do they follow the save-first-before-paying-your-expenses rule? “That’s the proper way but, for now, we’re paying our obligations on our investments first,” acknowledges Doug. “We don’t want to save naman then find ourselves having a problem pala in paying for monthly amortizations on a property … talo ka rin sa interest nun.”
This sensible investor reiterates his conviction that properties are always a good investment. “They will always appreciate especially if you have a good location. And you’ll have an advantage if you do it early,” he describes. “Disadvantage is, when you don’t know how to invest properly, you could lose your money. If you don’t have enough knowledge and choose the wrong investment, kawawa ka. Magta-trial and error ka sa profit mo doon.”
Asked how he got into property investing and if he took any courses about it, Doug confides, “Nothing formal. I ask friends where’s a good place to put money and invest in. You ask your friends who have done the same thing then [gauge] if it’s okay to buy this property. If you see in the near future that it’s going to appreciate, then invest there. [Mine and Chesca’s] advantage was, we were able to get ours at a cheaper price and, five years down the line now, it’s appreciated by more than P1000 per square meter. That’s an 800 square meter property so it’s pretty good.”
Chesca adds that once you have kids, one no longer has the luxury of just buying whatever one wants all the time. “You have to take better care of your money and plan for your children’s future. I’m not saying that when you’re single, you make unwise decisions or unwise investments. But when you’re married, you’re a little bit more careful. You [have to] look into prospects that you want to enter or invest on. When you have a family na, there’s no room for wrong investments. You can’t anymore say that ‘Oh it’s just money, I can earn that.’ No, ‘pag may family ka na, you have to make sure that the things and the decision making you do will benefit your family.”
Along with their resolve to secure their future, the Kramers still recognize that savings and investments should not rule one’s life. “When we have enough money, we give gifts to each other. We worked hard and [we deserve] to give ourselves something nice,” illustrates Chesca.
“Whenever we decide to buy major purchases or investments, we consult each other. When we know we have enough and know we can buy something that we want, we buy it. It’s also important that, once in a while, you also reward yourself. ‘Di lang puro invest ng invest ang ginagawa namin,” explains Doug. “You should buy something din for yourself; do it once in a while just to make you happy. Get a certain gadget or go on a vacation, stuff like that — personal happiness naman. Having an awesome vacation will help make your relationship healthy.”
Finding more opportunities
Aside from her work on television, Chesca has started producing a sleepwear line last year that she had to put on hold when she got pregnant. “She just gave birth four months ago but she’ll start working on it again once she’s able to move about more properly. The brand is called Dulce Besos which means Sweet Kisses,” describes her doting husband. “She doesn’t have a shop yet but she’s already having her designs executed by a mananahi. She’s a good designer. Of course, you have to establish first that your brand exists and you can’t just go into the mall and start your store right away. You want to start at home first.”
Doug is optimistic that his wife would benefit from utilizing social networking sites for doing word-of-mouth advertisement. “She has a lot of followers on Twitter, she has a lot of friends, that’s the benefit for her. If she’s able to [market her products online], then hopefully, when people start hearing about the brand and once she gets her market already, then she can put up her own store when she already has a following. Hindi naman basta-basta ito.”
He, on the other hand, is kept busy with basketball every morning until noon. “In the afternoon, I spend time with the kids. At the end of this year, I want to start my own business. I have a lot of ideas in the air. Maybe I’d go into the transportation business like invest in taxis. Marami eh, nothing’s for sure yet, it’s just ideas. Para we can have income above our salaries.”
Their biggest goal though, expresses Doug, is to stop paying for house rent. “I came out of college [when we got married] so you can’t expect me to have [a lot of savings]. So, by this year or next year, we can hopefully stop renting because that’s a waste of money.” He plans on getting a loan from the bank to have a house built. “At least, the amortization would go towards paying for a house that we own and not spend it on rental fees. Hopefully this year, we’ll get to start building on our property.”
DOUG’S AND CHESCA’S ADVICE FOR COUPLES
- Don’t live beyond your means. Make sure you are able to set aside money for a rainy day.
- Study investment prospects well before letting go of your money.
- Invest on health insurance for your kids and for yourself because that’s going to give you big savings in case any of you gets sick.
- Get educational plans and open up bank accounts for your kids. Teach them how to save and keep their money there.