A millennial dancer’s financial adulting journey

This is the story of how Michelle Kawpeng pursued her passion for dancing and teaching

MANILA, Philippines — Michelle Kawpeng has always been passionate about dancing.

But since she needed to earn a living, she decided to follow a more practical route. Fresh out of college, Michelle started to work for a start-up advertising agency.

Back then, it was what she believed she wanted to do. So even though she had been dancing her whole life, she traded her dancing shoes for marketing briefs and pitches and took her first real step towards adulting.

It didn’t last long. After she left her advertising gig, Michelle found herself dabbling in dance anew, albeit on the side. The security of a stable job may be strong but her passion for dance and being able to share her talent with others is stronger.

Michelle started to accept requests from friends and acquaintances to teach private workshops for their children here and there — in between baking and selling cookies, that is.

Eventually, Michelle found stability once again by becoming a licensed Plana Forma instructor. She taught Zumba and pilloxing, too.

While it kept the cash flow steady, it didn’t really satisfy her on a more personal level.

It was then that Michelle finally decided that it was time to follow her passion full time.

Dancing is Michelle’s lifelong calling. She knew this since she was 5. She started dancing ballet and went on to practice contemporary jazz. When she got to college, she became part of a dance group and participated in local and international competitions. 

But even if she was already doing what she loves, she knew she could do so much more. Sure, she had her own fears and uncertainties about making dance her bread and butter but she didn’t let them get in her way.

“More often than not, being scared is a good sign. It means it’s worth it,” said Michelle.

Jumping from a stable and more comfortable life to a fulfilling yet risky one was never a problem for Michelle. She knows she’s blessed with people like her parents who are always ready to help and support her dreams but Michelle also looks out for herself.

She makes sure she always saves a portion of her earnings, a habit that has been instilled in her since she was a kid.

From a simple “money box”, Michelle now has her own savings account. But she also knows that to make her money grow, she shouldn’t just stop at saving. With the help of her grandmother, she started investing her money in stocks two years after college.

“I’ve decided to invest because my money wasn’t doing anything,” said Michelle.

She also opened up her own mutual funds account with COL Financial, with fund managers managing it. This way, she feels more secure about her finances.


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Now, Michelle leads her own contemporary dance team, REDph. She also runs her own humble studio, one that she started in 2015, from the basement of her parents’ house.

From just teaching one student, Michelle now holds around 45 dance classes for 2 to 12-year-old kids.

It’s because of Michelle’s go-getter attitude that she was able to make her dreams come true. But being smart about her finances – saving and investing early on – is what made this possible.

“When you decide to do something, commit to it,” she said.

But Michelle, now 28, is not stopping here. She continues to dream bigger, aim higher.

“I always push, always push for bigger, go big or go home talaga,” said Michelle. “All out or get out.”Rappler.com

Take control of your tomorrow, today. COL Financial helps you reach financial stability as you pursue your life goals. Sign up for one of their seminars by clicking on bit.ly/COLreadytoadult to learn more about investing today.

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