FAMILY FINANCE The Cost of Big Dreams


By Ma. Salve Duplito

The Cost of Big Dreams

Can you remember your big childhood dream? You know, THE dream. The one that made you doodle on all your notebooks or the big idea that caused you to stare into space risking your mother’s wrath at the dinner table.

I tried to remember mine and came up a blank. I know I had a happy childhood! Well, not perfectly happy of course, but no dreams? That can’t be right.

The center of a one-parent, 6-sibling household, my mom worked incredibly hard to make our dreams come true. I would like to believe every parent does that. That’s what makes parenting so much of a selfless pilgrimage. You mothers and fathers dedicate your lives to embolden the dreams of children that one day will fly the coop and will never again be the same little child you nurtured. You dedicate your whole life to a human being just to let go in the end, so that they can live the dream you worked hard on.

Or at least, that’s the intention. But what if you are barely scraping by and here comes your daughter, with a wistful glint in her eye declaring that she wants to be a ballet dancer. The pink tutu is cute as you picture her in your mind. But you know the math that would lead to her big dream: expensive training and equally expensive cultural exposure.

So, we end up doing the insidious financial calculations that choke dreams and kill color in a child’s world. They are all around you– countless would-be dreams that are doused cold by cruel reality. Dreams of becoming a doctor, a chef, a pilot. Heck, when you hear your son say, “Mom, can we go to Africa on a safari so I can see those cool elephants and big, big cats?” don’t you think immediately about how much it would cost?

But a child feels more than thinks. A child dreams, instead of counts. These are intertwined with their childhood DNA. I so envy them because we parents have to deal with the realities of money, paychecks and the high cost of medicine. Perhaps that is why as adults we squelch our inner cravings—to start over in our career, to pursue a hobby, to build a company that will help others and drain the retirement money. After all, amid our daily financial struggles, where do dreams fit in?

I probably lost mine as I worried alongside my mom. She was not the type who stifled aspirations, but I was the type who worried about the cost of school projects, daily transportation and making it to college. I probably shed my childhood and my dreams too early to make them grow.

I hope I don’t make the same mistake in my own family. I hope I can make my children believe no dream is too costly. Perhaps I can begin with the inner child in me so that I will once again believe none of my dreams are unreachable even at my age.

As a personal finance advocate, I say the math will work itself out with proper financial planning, self-awareness when spending money and belief that the universe will respond to our desires. Faith. After all, can be the ultimate God-given currency in building dreams.

Ma. Salve Duplito is a freelance financial journalist who has been writing about personal finance for more than 10 years. She is also co-editor of the best-selling books Pwede Na: The Pinoy Guide to Personal Finance and Pwede Na2: The Pinoy Guide to Estate and Retirement Planning. More importantly, she is a mother of four, has been married for more than 10 years, and has been through a lot of the struggles in family finance. Email her at

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