At 29 years old, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach has all her ducks in a row, especially now that she has been finalizing her new home.

“It’s been a few years already since I won Miss Universe, and… parang delayed 'yung pag-absorb ko sa kanya,” she shares during the recent opening of Blue Water Spa in Greenhills, one of the many brands the spa-loving beauty queen endorses. “Ngayon ko palang nare-realize na parang, ‘Oh, I can actually get my own place now, and I have my own car, and I don’t have to worry about getting by every day or paying the bills every month.”

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She also finds it to be a great opportunity to learn to manage her earnings better, saying, “I’m just really grateful for that, but of course, I’m making this a lesson na rin to learn how to save, to learn how to invest for my future, and yes to make everything better, not just for myself but also my family.”

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Pia has always been financially savvy since childhood. “My biological father… he has always taught me how to be punctual and then also the value of money. I mean at such a young age he already taught me how to save, how to open my own bank account, how to check my balance… That’s very important to him.”

The Miss Universe Organization has also taught her a thing or two about money management.

“I got a lot of good advice from Miss Universe because they knew that this was a big change from my live back then. So, they knew that before letting me pass on my crown, kailangan i-educate muna nila ako na they know if they’re not around anymore that I can handle myself and I’ll be wise… It can go easily if I’m not careful.”

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But it hasn’t always been peaches and cream for Pia, who entered Binibining Pilipinas thrice before becoming the country’s bet for Miss Universe. “Like every month would be a struggle,” she recalls. “You think when everybody wins… You always see her in a gown, and these jewelries, like lahat ‘yan mahal, but the truth is we just borrow all these!”

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The road to the crown for her meant being frugal when it mattered without sacrificing her personal brand. “It’s really a challenge to earn ‘yong gan’on lang, this much lang, then you have to pay for the rent, the gas, the bills, like your whatever needs you have in preparation for Miss Universe, mahirap talaga!

But there’s one thing that Pia is proud about: “I was never in debt,” she says. “Wala akong utang. Wala rin akong credit card noong mga panahon na ‘yon, so maybe that helped. I mean if you don’t have the means kasi, why would you keep spending, ‘di ba? So parang nadisiplina ko naman ‘yong sarili ko.

While she was determined to represent the Philippines when she entered pageantry, Pia has always been level headed, planning ahead for when things don’t go her way.

Nung third na sali ko sa Binibini, sabi ko, ‘Alam mo kung hindi pa rin ako mananalo, mag-fa-flight attendant ako,” she reveals. “Kasi gusto kong magkapag-travel pa rin. ‘Yong makita ko man lang ‘yong mga gusto kong mapuntahan na lugar abroad, kung hindi man as a title holder, at least as an F.A. nagawa ko ‘yon. So ‘yon ‘yong Plan B ko.

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When she won Binibining Pilipinas Universe, her Plan B changed. “Sabi ko ‘Lord, kung hindi ako mananalo sa Miss Universe, ewan ko kung makakauwi ako ng Pilipinas,” she laughs. “Pero sabi ko baka mag-artista ako. So ayon. Nagawa ko naman lahat.

When it comes to her career and her finances, Pia has always been maabilidad, but she shares that she isn’t one-of-a-kind. “I think gan’on naman tayong mga Pinoy. Kaya talaga nating gumawa ng paraan. Marunong tayong gumawa ng budget, marunong tayong rumaket, ‘di ba? So we get by…

“And now when I think about it, paano ko nga ba nagawa ‘yon?” She admits. “Mahirap talaga pero, kailangan marunong kang mag-prioritize kung ano ‘yong important.

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