If you could go back in time to give financial advice to your 21-year-old self, what would you say? In this new series, our blogger friends share the things they wish they knew about saving money when they were 21.

“Transformation can happen only when you are willing to break open your old self to make way for the new one to emerge.” These words by Yin Yoga in Asia Founder Victor Chng are part of Jane Uymatiao’s continuing journey to transforming herself inside and out.

Jane is a blogger and yoga practitioner who merges the teachings of the art into her financial health. What money lessons would she share to her 21-year-old self?

A Different Time

“I am a Type A person. In my younger years, I was an achiever and very competitive in school and at work,” Jane says. “It showed because I graduated high school valedictorian and top of my graduating class in college. At work, I also tried to be one of the best — reason why I was the second woman to be sent on scholarship to a U.S. Ivy League school. Back then, women were sent to a local MBA school while the men were offered scholarships abroad.”

Jane is a CPA and began a distinguished 15-year career with SGV. Her drive to excel at work was recognized by the company, earning a scholarship to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She moved on to become Vice President and Head of the Corporate Planning Division of a commercial bank, but events in her life eventually led to a complete departure from the corporate world.

Her relationship with money was that of a generation that believed ‘money is the root of all evil’.

“I am still unlearning the cliché which my generation was taught by the generation before us,” Jane explains. “It implanted a subconscious message in me that having a lot of money was something people should not aim for because it would put you on the wrong path.”

She says that she has always acted from that point of view, but it was seeing people like Bill Gates and other self-made Billionaires donate time and money to charities that support healthcare, environmentalism, and move to end hunger and poverty.

It was seeing this that sparked the knowledge that these people would not have been able to do these things if they only had enough to support their families. This began the transformation of her mindset into one of abundance, which she says:

“It is important to have an abundance mindset where one aims to maximize one’s financial health at a very early age. But coupled with that mindset should be an objective – to use part of one’s earnings to uplift the lives of others. The other perk to an abundance mindset? Financial freedom in your retirement years when you are no longer earning but living off a financial nest that just keeps earning even without you lifting a finger.”

Love, Light, and (Financial) Peace

Jane took up blogging in 2006, establishing several blogs that allowed her to speak on her varied interests – including the world of investing and one’s financial health. To date, she writes about her journey as a yogini alongside tech and lifestyle.

She says that with the wisdom of the years and knowing what she knows now, there are more than a few things she’d like to tell her younger self about money.

“Work to build a financial nest but do not neglect your health.”

She says on her blog that experiencing a health crisis in the family made her think long and hard about how one’s wealth and health are intertwined, that it’s never a good idea to not think about your health as you work your way towards wealth.

“Build an emergency and retirement fund – NOW,” Jane emphasizes. “The time to build a retirement fund is not 3 years away from retirement. If you truly want to be financially free to live the rest of your retirement years doing what you truly love doing, start TODAY. As a CPA, we learned the equation Income -Expenses = Savings. The real equation that works is Income – Savings = Expenses (set aside first what you need to fund and spend only what’s left).”

She also says that the thought of retirement being a long way off makes you think about postponing it. Time is your only advantage when it comes to an emergency that requires money.

“Buy assets that appreciate, not depreciate. Food, travel, gadgets. This generation loves to put their money in this,” Jane says. “While I am not espousing junking them completely (I still love to eat and have new gadgets), we need to be aware of its effects on our money. They do not appreciate in value. In fact, gadgets depreciate in value as soon as you buy them. Study the value of assets that have the propensity to increase over time (real estate, well-chosen jewelry, blue chip stocks, etc)”

Coming from a family of siguristas, Jane says that she was often cautious about investing – that she always had to be sure that it would work.

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Better to fail FAST and learn early on from its lessons than to fail later in life.”

Her own need to be certain she says was the reason why her friends earned better while trading stocks. She would sell or buy stocks much later, waiting on a sure uptick.

“Many lessons can be learned from some of our taipans who have not even attained a college degree. Precisely because they did not have a degree to fall back on, they depended largely on their intuition and insights. They observed the markets and trends and followed their gut.”

Today, Jane is well on her way to financial peace. Through her blogs Yogini From Manila[1] and janeuymatiao.com[2] – and Twitter (@yogajane), she teaches people about investing and making sure that a balance exists between health and wealth.

What financial advice would you like to give to your 21-year-old self? Tell us in the comments!