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Ignorantia juris non excusat. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. ‘It’s your fault, buddy, if you didn’t know what you were doing was illegal. Don’t waste energy blaming the system, take your punishment and learn from it.’
Taking that legal principle and adapting it to other areas of life, we can use it more positively, as an encouragement to find out about beneficial things that are readily available to us but we simply hadn’t known about them. ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’, so to put it, yet at times the question doesn’t even enter one’s head at all.
A little appreciation
I say this following my somewhat pleasant recent discovery of a Certificado de Depósito a Término (CDT), what we’d call a fixed deposit account in English, with my Colombian bank, Banco Caja Social. That I didn’t know of its existence until just a few days ago was largely down to the fact that for most of my time here I hadn’t any savings of note to put aside for a defined period.
So when I had a steady, fixed income from December 2018 to January of this year I was fairly content to see my monthly salary lodged to what is termed a savings account here, cuenta de ahorros, but what in effect is simply a current account.
‘At least I can now say my money is working a little bit for me. It certainly wasn’t heretofore.’
Somewhat paradoxically, it was only in recent weeks and officially unemployed (freelance, isn’t it?) as I am, that I started thinking more so about the money — and not that much, I hasten to add — sitting in that confusingly called savings account. I’m not even sure if it accrues any interest. Whatever the case, it’s effectively depreciating with each passing month when one takes inflation into account, which will be in the region of 3.5 per cent for 2020.
By pure coincidence, in casual conversation with my current housemate — it can, literally, pay off to move place regularly — she told me she had just received an email from her bank, Bancolombia, about saving in a CDT. I hastily got in touch with my ‘insider’ at Banco Caja Social and he told me that, of course, and in classic curse-of-knowledge fashion (‘Didn’t you know, Brendan?’) such an account exists at that institution as well.
With annual interest rates slightly north of four per cent, dependent on the amount lodged and length of time this is locked in for — there is considerable flexibility on both fronts — these accounts are far better than their equivalents in the likes of Ireland and the UK. Hence my eagerness to get in on the act.
Now, to state the obvious, I’m no financial expert and I’m generally risk-averse when it comes to money, so I’m sure the savvier types on such matters will say I’m still selling myself short by putting my small savings into a CDT. For such operators, these accounts no doubt don’t even constitute a real venture, so any talk of a true gain is nonsensical.
It’s a start, though. At least I can now say my money is working a little bit for me. It certainly wasn’t heretofore.
Plus, I’m not exactly in the position to invest in something of a high-risk, high-reward nature. Indeed, my disposition and closeness to people who have suffered badly by taking on this type of gamble may mean I never really will engage in such behaviour.
Let’s see the state of affairs in six months when my little ‘investment’ matures. For now, I’ve to learn to live with even less disposable income. At least these coronavirus times and the current restrictions imposed to combat it make that somewhat easier to do.
Here’s hoping there are no nasty surprises in the meantime that will make me regret my money move. Maybe I didn’t ask enough questions before diving in. Oh well, I will only have myself to blame.
Listen to Wrong Way’s Colombia Cast podcast here.