Sunday, December 28, 2014

Paano pa ba kami nakakatipid?

Finally, I am home with my little girl. Such a sweet smile when she saw me alighted from the bus yesterday  afternoon. She is actually beaming with pride with the priceless smile painted on her lips. What a precious sight. Indeed she missed me after five days working away from her. If given a choice I would always wanted to be a stay home mom to personally attend to her in everything. But then, the situation itself is teaching us a very important lesson in life - the true sense of sacrifice.

So bakit hindi na lang namin siya dalhin dun? In the first place, husband and I are there. Well, we have so many considerations to be bother upon.

  • First, a house or maybe a safe place to stay. Metro manila is metro manila. And don't forget the exaggerated pollution.
  • Second, yaya. We all know how difficult to find a good one. We have fears especially when we hear news about those nannies who took away babies. I know, i am paranoid. But this is a valid reason for me. My child is my life. 
  • Third, financial capabilities. We do not want for her to move just anywhere else when we can no longer sustain the high cost of living in the metro.Note: For those starting up a family, I must say, please consider financial planning before moving forward. It will help a lot. :)
She is one of the reason why we are working hard. Why we are learning our way to financial freedom  so we can have the next generation be financially aware and equipped with financial knowledge. In that order, they might minimize if not totally eradicate our generation's money matters mistakes.

Right now, these what keeps us afloat in our finances when it comes to our little girl.
  • Diapers are much cheaper in the province. Milk and mineral water as well. Her basic needs. 
  • Vitamins, wipes, antibacterial bottle washing, and others are also cheaper.
  • No diaper during the day. This helps avoid rashes. And of course, tipid din sa diaper.
  • Vaccines are way cheaper by hundreds to thousands in the province. Plus, there is the barangay health center. If the vaccine is available there, we take advantage of it. It's free.
  • Since my mom takes care of her, saves us on nanny's fee. And gives me the unquestionable security that my child is being taken care of well.
  • Hand me downs clothes from her big cousins. Come on, we know to well, how babies grow too fast. She can easily outgrown those new clothes and shoes. Trust me, I gave birth to really a little baby that I cried the first time I saw her kasi napakaliit niya. 
When I was about to give birth, some said to ask my mother how she gave birth to me. They say, it may be the same way. I also asked my mother once who took care of me when I was a baby. She told me that my grandma did because she had to work. And I can therefore say, it is a cycle. Kaya for the meantime, sila muna ang nagaalaga.

So far, ganito muna ang set up namin. And just like I often said, different strokes for different people. A very unconventional set up at the moment but hopefully a better one in the very near future.

Happy holidays! :) Smile.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My 2014 Financial Review and Reflections

Yesterday, I was contemplating whether to go for a little 'me' time since I have been putting it off for quiet sometime due to time constraints. It was only yesterday that I have free time for some little hair trim, pedi, and a possible facial sana, but then, at the last minute, I changed my mind and walked away from the salon. I instead went to grocery and bought salad ingredients. Hahaha. I was from a 1.5km walk and had thought considerably that the money I will have to spend on my 'me' time will be of more purpose for my husband and I noche buena since we are going to celebrate it away from home. Yeah, I still have to work on the 25th morning shift. No complaining, just thankful I still have  work to help support the family needs.

This year has taught me well dealing with the proper finance mind setting. I started studying and learning about VUL, UITF, MF and though I have been with COL since 2011, it is this year that I started to study the specifics and details. A long way to go, but with continuous study and determination to learn, I know time will come I will be equip enough to teach my little girl and the members of the family of such. Of course, what comes along all this financial literacy is being wise with the money choices and being frugal enough to meet our target goals. And this is one of the best gift for 2014 so far - Learning more on how to deal with our finances.

I started with 2 quarterly paying VULs as I mentioned in my very first writing as one of my Financial target this year. Yes, VUL. I am not into Term Insurance and this is just me. With higher fees and all,  I still opted for this. Basically for our retirement if I live longer than the expected life span and for my little girl's college fund. I wanted to be protected just in case something happen to me and an investment added into it. No one can tell the future. But I wanted to leave something for my family so they will not feel the burden of me being gone and can proceed with normal life with no issues with how to sustain their current lifestyle for a certain period of time until they get back on their feet.  Just in case I am gone, my little girl's fund will be fully paid and will only have to wait until she reaches her legal age to obtain the receivables. That is if she doesn't want to continue topping up. As a breadwinner for my parents, I needed this too for them.

UITF is new to me and even MF. I have gone to different forums, blogs, and readings. Thankful for every tidbits of information I have acquired. And I have dipped my toes to both last October 2014. My officemate and I opened the BDO EIP. The staff at the BDO branch we went to was very accommodating and was able to answer our queries that time. I only opted for the 1K per month cost averaging equity contribution. And it will be 6 more months until I can get my first COP. I did open up as well for Sunlife MF. They have a 5k starter account. These are huge steps for someone like me but I hope that 2015 will help me take care of the top ups.

All these are materializing while we are in the process of building our emergency fund. Currently, we now have 71.9% of the emergency fund on our BPI Auto Save Up and in a 1 month time deposit account which we have tried working on since November 2013. Not everything is as easy as it reads.

  • We have sacrifices. A lot of sacrifices of foregoing the wants and going back to basic.
  • A commitment to make it happen.
  • A focus on the target goals
  • Faith that no matter how bad this day, there is still another one tomorrow.
  • A grateful heart that we are blessed with what we have no matter how very basic it is.
  • An accepted challenge to sustain and beat the obstacles coming along the way.
  • Prayer to the High above that He will give us the strength and the wisdom to know which can be of greater good for the family.
  • A delayed gratification knowing that someday, my little girl's needs can be meet.

Thank you Lord for everything.

Happy Holidays! :) Smile.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Feelings for Holiday Gift Giving

A little story: During my college days, my parents would gave me a week allowance for my fare back and forth our province from the university I have attended. The fare that time took 16% of that allowance. Included in that meager allowance was my budget for the 5 day-food allowance and school projects. I actually needed to tighten the belt to be able to fit in all my needs as a student. I walked to and fro the school university each day. And though I am from a no privilege family, I am not a good cook myself. So I ended up buying bulk of frozen foods and my favorite was - canned tuna in flakes in oil (One can for 2 meals - breakfast and dinner. Hahaha. Super tipid talaga.)

With that situation,  I needed to budget well my allowance or I may end up with nothing to eat before going home the following week. Good thing was that before going back to the boarding house, i brought along rice. (Mahal kasi ang bigas). But, consciously, I have to save. Why? I wanted to give something for my inaanak during christmas. Bakeeet, ikinain mo na lang sana? See, when I was a kid I envied those kids who received their presents from their god parents. Because I don't. My godparents lived far from us and did not bother sending me a gift or even a card. And I understand why they were not sending gifts to me, now. But before, I do not and often wonder how does it feel to receive one. I told myself that no matter what and how, my inaanak won't feel the same way I felt as a young girl who only wishes a surprise present from Ninong and/or Ninangs.

Note: If I only continue to be frugal after graduation, I may have achieved my goals already. Sadly, I learnt the hard way.

So with what little I have, I have to buy presents even if it were biscuits, handkerchiefs, socks, or anything that my budget allowed me to. Diligently wrap it. Oh I love the feeling of wrapping gifts. I know, it is not environment friendly. But, it is the indescribable feeling that enveloped me when I hand the gift to them and saw those gratitude in their eyes. Plus, those anticipation I can feel when they tore those glittery gift wrappers. Such a wonderful sight for me. Gives me the giddy feeling of able to give.

As years go by, it is the same tradition I have promised myself. Not just for my inaanak by then. When I started working, I have included gifts for my family and relatives. Last year, I did the mistake of last minute shopping. I overspent. So, this year, as early as October, gifts were wrapped. Aside from it did not give me stress doing the christmas shopping, I was able to grab those items on sales and even was able to grab some from Divisoria. Personally, I still wrap those items. It gives a little surprise on what is inside the wrapper.

As I mentioned I did last minute shopping last year,  but I avoided the long queue for the free gift wrapping provided by the department store. So instead, I opted for the take home christmas' gift wrapper. I was not able to use it all though, I kept it. And it was of good use this year. Hehehe. Saves me from buying wrappers this year.

Since, I haven't thought of yet and considered which charity institution I will support this year, I just decided to wrap little christmas' presents for those less fortunate kids in my hometown. And a planned little christmas party for those kids is now in the works once my holiday vacation starts.  I know it is only a small thing, but I hope to see smiles on their faces knowing that they are able to open something and enjoy the holiday spirits.

Happy holidays! :) Smile.

Monday, December 22, 2014

How My Goal To Go On Diet is Another Form of Savings For Me?

Earlier this year, I have this new year resolution to go on a diet. Yes, I am one of those who included dieting in my resolution. Hahaha. (So traditional.) Well, after giving birth to my little girl, I have this post maternity weight plus loose belly fats. My target at the start of the year was to go back to my pre-pregnancy weight. 54 kilos at the end of the year. I was around 56 to 56.5 kilos during that time. And I did not intend for any crash diet.

"Hahaha... just 2 kilos?" you may say. Truth is a big yes. Why? One of the reason during that time was I can only walk a block and already felt exhausted with my feet and legs already sore as if I ran a 3k run. I felt like my stamina and endurance has gone down. My knees hurt even for a little faster stride than the usual. And oh my, I am only 33. I thought during that time that when my child started to walk and run that I may not be able to cope up anymore. I wanted to keep up with my growing little girl. To be able to play with her and of course to bond with her with outdoor activities. I wanted her to feel and experience my childhood days. Those days when children go out, meet with others, make friends, play and argue. I remember, when I was child and have colds. Kapag tumulo ang sipon ko, pupunas ko sa suot kong t-shirt kasama ng putikang kong kamay. Once I got home, lagot ako sa nanay ko.

  •  Walking. I started with walking from office to our little boarding house. I can still remember my first ever day walking that far. I think it is around 3km only. Everything hurts that day that I ended up sleeping right away. Each following day was a lesser torment than the first one though. Walking is the only exercise for me being I am a little busy person with an 8-hour job. Besides, gym was and still is not an option for me. First is the payment amount that I have to shed and second is my availability to go to the gym. And as I walked, I regain my endurance. Added to that, I eventually saved my 2-ride jeepney fare. Yey! (Note: There is no direct ride going to and back to work)

  • Fastfood diet. Hehehe. No fries or burgers or pizza unless it is FREE (libre)- that's my mantra. Honestly, been years since my meals was a daily fastfood. Except when I got pregnant. The usual offerings of a fastfood, serves faster (even deliveries). So it was easier for me to grab one and heed to the office. With my mantra, as the year ends, my taste buds has changed its preference to a more healthier food options. It helps that I bring my own 'baon' in the office to keep me away from the stalls around the office area.  Saves me a lot.

  • Grocery list? We have reduced canned goods, instant noodles and those frozen foods. Hooray. Yes! I encourage my husband to cook healthier meals since our rented space is closer to wet market. I can or he can always drop by before going home. Saves us a lot as well. Imagine a can of corned beef nowadays. We can always substitute it with cooked veggies with the same price.

I guess, those have helped me achieve my 53kilos this day. Yes! I even got beyond my target of 54 kilos. And though Christmas is around the corner, I may as well behave as I was in the past 11 months. Working on my next goal of 51 kilos at the end of 2015. That is if i am not going to be pregnant for our second child. :)

Happy Holidays! :) Happy Learning.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Version of Credit Cards Horror Story

Truth be told, I am super embarrassed sharing my horror experience with credit cards. That is the reason it took me so long to publish this blog. But then, as time passes by, I have given it a considerable thought. I am only human. I made mistakes. At present, I have realized it and I am trying to be a better person than yesterday. And I hope that I can sustain it. :)

Just like what I shared from my last personal experience. I was once in deep trouble with credit cards. I was once a revolver. I paid only the minimum amount due each time. Sometimes, I even missed it. And so as months passed by, the compounding interest is getting bigger and bigger. To the point that I can no longer pay. The purchasing power of those plastic cards provided me was beyond my supposed to be means of living. My minimum due amount was even bigger than what I earned and received on my monthly pay. Imagine, where would I get the payment? I only have one source of income. I have no one to turn to anymore. Borrowing more money means another interest added to my boiling issue of dues.
The culprit? Spending without thinking. Spending more with friends and trips because I wanted to belong. Like keeping up with the Joneses. Spending on things which eventually collected dust in my closets. Dining out each day. Straight purchases and oh those sweet tempting installment offers. And the worst cases, were always resorting to cash advances.

I can't sleep well. I have to think of the next day. What it will bring me again. Another series of different calls. Another sets of making promises to pay and ignoring some calls. I get startled at the rings. What puts me to a limit was when those credit collectors started sending snail mails at home stating they are from law offices. I felt like I wanted to be swallowed whole by the ground whenever I came home finding another email treat with another larger amount to be paid. I was afraid. Ashamed. Lost. I exactly literally do not know what to do that time. Just three cards and it had turn my days and nights to nightmares.

Looking back, I am grateful I was able to get out of the pit. Yes, I have learnt the lesson the very difficult way. After that chapter of my life, I was able to breath. What I did? I did the best thing for me during that time. I have changed lifestyle. From lavish spending to going back to basic. No shopping, even window shopping. Every centavo counts, listed, and budgeted. Every frugality tips counted. If it is a walking distance, go. Staying at the apartment on rest days as well. I have compromised. I dedicated myself to payment and ending my credit saga little by little before anything else. Baby steps. No excuses. And it is true, if there's a will, there is actually a way. There maybe humps along the way, but those are nothing when you are focus.

There is nothing wrong with credit cards as long as we are able to pay the full amount that we are due. As long as we do not permit the credit company take what is more from us by being not a revolver. So long as we are in control of those cards and not the other way around.

Different strokes for different folks. :) Have a wonderful holidays.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dealing with Finances as Couple

We just got married. With only 1 year and 9 months to boost. :) And here is our take on our family income.

We both have our jobs away from our hometown. And we rent a small space, typically a little room for the husband and I. We do our own grocery both from supermarket and wet market. We cook our own meals which usually is good for 2 meals already each day. Well, sometimes we indulge ourselves dining out especially when there's an occasion to celebrate. Some monthsaries when our schedule permits. :)

As a wife, it is my own choice for the husband not to give me his paycheck every payday. This is not the case for everyone, and this is just for us. He manages his own money as well as it is my business to manage mine. We do have common grounds, everything for the family expenses are split such as grocery, baby needs, space rent, and even fare. Those 'libre' comes when we have to dine out and he usually shoulder our little 'date's' expenses. Sometimes, I do. Everything else is split into two. And it works for us.

We go to the grocery together with a specific list on hand. Only those that we need for a month such as toiletries, few canned goods because really even canned goods are pricey nowadays. I can cook sauteed veggies with a price of a canned good. So, I often tell the husband, that we opt to buy veggies in the wet market instead. More so, it is healthier for us. We allot at least around 1500 to 1800 per month for the supermarket grocery, usually we buy in bulk for detergent, tissue paper, and condiments.

When all else have been charged and divided, the remaining amount in our paychecks are up to us to manage. I personally have to allot a portion of  my salary to my parents allowance, their grocery, and their electric bill. And of course, on my savings and investments. The husband as well allots his own money to his parents allowance and for his savings. And you may say, we have a big salary? No, we try to make both ends meet. We try to give as much as not sacrificing our long term plans.

We have a joint time deposit account for our emergency fund where we allot 500 pesos each per month in addition to the traditional business' income generated per month. Religiously. We maintain separate savings account. We truly believe that we are our own steward of what is provided to us as an individual. We just have to remind ourselves once in a while that what one of us do will certainly affect the other thus a better communication on every detail of our finances is a must for both of us.

Note: Different strokes for different folks. This is only our take to our finances. :) Happy learning.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Organizing: A Little Help In Personal Satisfaction and Savings

Okey, now I know, I have goals I have written in front of my PC as a a daily reminder that I set early this year, 2014, for me to accomplish with no excuses. And now, I have to track everything to identify my progress. Honestly, I have notebooks and some excel sheet where I update regularly for changes. Be it a positive change or a negative one. But, and there is this but, I can't bring myself to organizing all the papers and notes. Some were updated, some were left out.

It is a factor that when someone is organize, one is able to easily check and properly update those needed updating. One is able to perfectly see what is lacking and what is not. Unfortunately, I am not born an organizer. Well, I keep everything even receipts. However, it is not enough to track, correct, and locate where is what is.

So I decided to organize my files. Yey. I started with writing what are needed to be organized. I placed all the insurances in one folder. Including the receipts. Next, are bank documents. And then Mutual Funds Investment in a separate envelope. Labeled each. Stack those files in a locker.

After that, I felt a sense of pride. I finally was able to organize those financial documents. I then, turn to personal documents such as SSS, philhealth, pag-ibig, passports, IDs, and others.. I checked what needs to be updated. After checking with our HR, my pag ibig status was not yet updated. I listed that on my to do list and scheduled a visit to the branch. And i just completed that last Friday.

It helps, that, when we organize those files, we can easily determine what are still needing some updating and can be listed in our to do list. If not listed, yes, it can slip our mind and forget about it until the time when we need it again. Well, that is just for me, different persons have different approach just like in savings. I continue having a jar for different purposes such as for gifts, tithe, bills, and planned purchase. I find joy looking into those jars half full and nearing my goals. Positive thoughts.

Happy organizing and savings! :) We can do this.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Learning the Hard Way

And I am in the mood of writing and sharing. What came in my mind last night was to write where everything else starts. I considered myself as one of the living testimony that regrets happens at the end. I know we have some regrets at one point in our lives and how to work that out is the next question. How we moved on and how we conquer those fears and pains determines of what and who we are in the present.

I was once in deep, deep, deep debts. Literally. Credit cards bills and personal loans included. We are not from an average income family thus having those sky high debts gave me sleepless nights, stress looking face, and irrate attitudes to everyone else. Ha! How can I think clearly when I am being chase everyday by phone calls from different banks and law offices? How can I chose my reactions when a phone ring startles me a lot?  And those letters from law offices that my mother handed me every time I went home. Those were the long days before.

I graduated from a fine school, dreaming of having a good work and uplift my family's situation. Both my parent's family came from the not so privilege family in short poor and I admit that. We have loans from everyone to keep up our daily expenses. 5/6 included. Those lenders have taken advantage with our situation and it was business as usual for them. We have no one to turn to. Added to that, my father got sick.

After passing the board exam, I immediately looked for a job and luckily landed on a job 3 hours from home. It's a six day a week job and worked fine for me doing regular overtime to increase my take home pay.

At first, I sent my salary to my family and have shouldered the house expenses. Sent my brother to college. And I don't regret those. But what comes in between those, was my spending habits. I wanted to belong. I wanted to change the lifestyle I was thought of to something above average. I wanted more to keep up with the colleagues and I spent more from what was left of my salary. To the point of having loans here and there spending on unnecessary things , dining out - a lot, and malling. I started to get cash advance from my credit card to sustain the make believe lifestyle I created. Paying only the minimum amount due in my credit card bill and sometimes let it slip. I never have savings.

So much of the bad decision making skills. In 4 years time, the horror of that spending slap me right in the face. I can't no longer pay my credit card even the minimum due amount. Those personal loans from the bank were unkept. I do not have any one else who can help me pay those bills. I was miserable.

When I can no longer hold myself and just thought of running away, I pray for strength to keep up. God is soooo good. He let me land a job. With higher salary. Though farther away from my family. Hey, not in abroad. Only in the southern part of the island.

I cleared my mind. I listed my dues. Banks and law offices still gave me headaches. I requested for amnesty programs from the banks. Yes, i have communicated with them finally assuring them that I am going to pay my dues. I can't pay in full and though there were still those interests, the amnesty program worked for me. You see, I still have a family to support. It took me another 2  years to complete each payments. I am glad I have gotten out of the pit. And an experience I do not want to go back.

Looking back, I know there are only a few who truly knows oneself and avoid this pitfalls after college life. And the difficult part is I am not one of them. Had I known it, I could have been a better spender. But then, yes, we sometimes need to learn the hard way. The best part of it, is after everything else, I have emerged a little wiser financially. I still have my credit cards I used sometimes for those reward points and freebies, but this time, I pay in full.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Financial Goals - What It Takes to Achieve?

My interest for income and family protection rooted when I entered family life. Having a baby in the family has given future things to worry about. Woa... So this is it. A life depending on me until she is able to provide herself a living on her own. And what if I got terminated from my current job? What if i can't no longer work? What if something happened to me accidentally? (Morbid thoughts) And so many other what ifs. What will gonna happen to my child?

So many questions that I have stumbled in so many readings. And oh boy, I am so late with all the lessons I should have learned 10 years back. Yes, I am working for the past 10 years with no savings at all. Awwww... this reality hurt much.

But hey, the positive side is that at 33, I am now learning. I know, I know , I know. I am late. But still with determination and focus, I can do this.

I started this year, 2014, right. From my perspective. Here are the things I have done and been working on until the year ends.

1). Checked and reviewed my current situation - my bank accounts, current incomes, side lines, etc. This was last January, 2014. From my current situation, I know I have to do something to improve my current net worth.
2). Started listing down my goal at the start of the year. I listed 5 goals.An investment in a small time traditional business. A ride on on a current traditional business. Start building my emergency fund. What?!? You may say, but like I have told you, it never crossed my mind before. Start for two Variable Life Insurance.
3). I noted that the 6 goals are time-bounded. That I can achieve it this year. No Buts at the end. I have added notes on how to achieve each.
4). Posted it on in front of my PC so that every time I open my PC I got reminded of my goal and how to achieve it.
5). Check each every time, review and determine where I am.
6). Cross out what I have accomplished every time there is.
7). Review and amend some of the goals as needed.

And happy to say, that I am sticking with the plan. One traditional business started and earning good. Started paying for the 2 approved variable life insurance. Past 50% completed in my emergency fund. There are temptations everywhere and it takes a lot of energy to stay away from those new gadgets my friends have, those new clothes they were in the office, those starbucks coffee on their table, those mouth-watering foods in instagram, etc.

My only reward is, when I look into my portfolio quarterly, there are changes. :) I will continue to post my journey to financial freedom and awareness.

Note: Forgive my writing as I am not a good writer. I only write to express my thoughts.