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Friday, May 22, 2015

Saan Nga Ba Nakakarating Ang Sahod Ko?

I met up with friends whom I haven't seen in almost a year last Monday. It wasn't actually a good timing since I just came back from the province, went to the office in the morning, and met them up at 3 in the afternoon in Makati. With barely an hour sleep, I thought I could never catch up with the talk.
 
It is good to know however, that in one of our discussion we came into the topic of putting up a business aside from all the stuff we have shared like what's new and what we are up to these days.
I can say, we have been a little more mature with the topic of money matters. Unlike before, that it was almost like a taboo to speak about our finances. Where we could only hear either one of us always saying "wala akong pera" or "mahirap ang buhay". Well, it is true mahirap naman talaga ang buhay, but what  makes it more difficult is the idea that we do not handle well our finances. Where we do not actually know how much is coming in and going out and worse when expenses are even greater than our income.
 
So how do we actually manage our income or salary for employed individuals? There are a lot of ways or method we can always adopt. There is the 70-20-10 rules. And more others which are applicable to some and may not be to others. Different strokes for different folks, right?
 
For me, as married with a year old little girl, it's been a little challenging  than when I was single with no dependents other than my parents. Today, I have to consider my little girl's needs.
 
My salary comes in every 15th and 30th of the month. I enrolled the 10% net of the salary to auto deduct as a retirement fund from which the company offers a match of 3% on the first 3% of the 10%. This provident fund actually earns an interest which we can check periodically or upon request from our payroll. Nonetheless, I still keep a tracking excel sheet for my contributions and the annual interest it earns. While the 3% match up from the company is dependent on the number of years serve, it still a big factor for this retirement fund.
 
Since the retirement already is deducted from my salary, whatever is net, I allot at least another 5 to 15% for emergency fund (savings and time deposits) and investments (mutual funds, stocks, unit investment trust funds).  Roughly 12% for our insurance. Around 5% for charity and tithes. The next 10% to 15% portion is for the monthly recurring bills such as monthly rental of our little space in the metro, gas, electric bill, and our postpaid plans. Around 20% to 25% goes to my parents and their needs. Our groceries and for the little girl around 20%.  And the rest for personal stuffs.
 
Husband and I shared a lot of things but my salary is up to me to budget and the above partition is where my monthly salary actually goes to. Honestly, it is more difficult in actual than writing it in here. The range varies depending on the situation per month thus it is of great help tracking my own expenses by listing it down and by knowing the budget - the expected income and the actual. I made it in a percentage way kasi depende naman kasi yan eh. Whether mataas or low income earners tayo, it is still up to us how to budget ang sahod natin. At kung saan napupunta. What's important is, it is well planned and expenses are not beyond what we receive. And this is only about my salary, all other extra income, for the meantime goes to another form of investments or savings.
 
But as I repeatedly mentioned, this may work for me at the time being, but may have been different to yours. One way to finally have a budget plan that works for you or the one that fit yours, is to be realistic what is coming in and by knowing your expenses.
 
Just sharing. God Bless. :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sweldo o Pambayad lang?

I've been there. Where, when  payday comes and all my salary just passed by me and went directly to all my debts whether cash loans, minimum due on credit cards and others. And then nothing left again for the next 15 days. And I would resort again to borrowing, swiping the card again and stretching whatever I could until the next payday. Yes, the most difficult part of my life where I was taught the hard way of getting out of bad debts.
 
I felt terribly lost. Stressed. Frustrated. Self esteem lowering. And I thought of breaking the cycle. I know it was a hard habit to break. A frustrating situation I thought I could never survived. But God is good. He makes things possible and fall them into right place in His perfect timing.
 
Coupled by my focus to get out of the bad debts, I started to see the light from the darkest tunnel where it has once been felt like a home. Back then, I do not know I am following the snowball method of paying off my debts. Yes, snowball method is really helpful in paying off those debts. I started with all the cash loans. Small amount first. Each of them, speaking with the bank or those law firms, negotiating, and coming to terms to  pay each loans. When I did accomplish small one, I turned into the next bigger loan and that goes on until I paid all my credit bills. Why small first when the interest of those bigger loans are higher? Because, we need to feel that we are accomplishing something otherwise, we will feel discourage if we are not seeing any progress. Agree?
 
All those while, I was living a very frugal lifestyle. Having a strict budget from day to day. Kasi ang sweldo ko those times are pambayad lang sa utang. Kung meron mang tira, enough to let me survive for the next 15 days before the next payday. I took advantage of the over times. I covered someone else's shift para lang me extra income. Looking back, I have nothing. No emergency fund or savings at all. I wanted to invest pero pambayad na nga lang kulang pa ang sahod ko.  Had I gone a little sooner, I have nothing but for my family to pay off the debts I left unsettled. And the thought scared me.
 
After my ordeal, I have realized that we can always get out of any situation if we become determine and focus on achieving our goals. We can always stand out in the midst of a very shaky situation if we pursue something with the ends in mind. No one can help us if we don't start within ourselves. Talks without an action will remain as a talk or just a dream. Find ways to increase whatever is insufficient such as cashflow when it is in terms of finances. Make no excuses. And never forget to pray for His guidance and mercy.
 
It has been years, I was ashamed to talk about this part of my life before. But as I go to the process of acknowledging I made mistakes, I know it was a part of who I am today. That anyone can be better too. That we only have to remain positive with what lies ahead. That whoever we are, at some point in our lives, we commit mistakes and that at the end of the day, we are willing to acknowledge those mistakes, repent, start again and never make the same mistake again.
 
Just sharing. God Bless. :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Praying for Nepal

Since I read the blog of Bo Sanchez when in comes to watching tv, I myself have removed it from my routine. Aside from the fact, that the time when I accidentally read about him not watching the news was the time when the Mamasapano incident happened. I can't forced myself to watch how the Fallen 44 have died thus, it was easy for me not to watch any news anymore.

I came to know the earthquake in Nepal via instagram when some celebrities posted photos of prayers and just read about the news last week. It was a heartbreaking news knowing that thousands of individuals were hurt and are hurting over the loss of loved ones.

And yesterday, another quake near the Mt. Everest. I can't go further with reading about it. All I wanted to know is how an individual could help with not much of means like me. Our prayers for them could help. Let's all do our share of helping out. We may not be physically around them to assist, console, and give them our hug, however, we can pray for their healing and strength in this difficult times.

There are various organizations now in the field assisting. We can construe whatever we can share with them specially food and water. Quoting the World Food Programme I found in their website "Every donation makes a difference." We can help even a small amount. You can visit their site to donate: http://www.wfp.org/ . There are more organizations out there, feel free to send your help to one you believe  and trust in.

Let us help. Let's make a difference. They need us. Let us pray for them. Nothing is small in lending our help to them.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

In 'Bad' Debt and He Wanted to Invest

I have quote the word 'bad' in debt because there is actually a 'good' debt. And before, all I know is that either way, debt is still bad. But then, I finally understood it's full context when I met my mother's 'kumare'. She pawned some of her jewelries to start a piggery business and all the while I thought as to why would she do that? Because, honestly, pawnshop has this big interest right? But then, with the money she got from her pawned jewelries, she was able to raise more than enough money to redeem her jewelries and still manage to continue growing the piggery business. And so, from there, I have known that that was actually a 'good' debt since she has used the money to gain more.

Debt becomes 'bad' when we use the money for something that does not appreciate or that does not bring value in the long run. Like owing money to buy luxury phones just to impress people around you who doesn't actually cares for you. When we have to borrow money just to keep up with the Joneses. When we have to swipe our credit card for brand new items just to show off. Instead of gaining something, it turns out to be a nightmare when we have to face the pile of debts which are beyond our source of income.

My office mate approached me the other day, and asked me if I am into investing of any kind. I did not actually see it coming. But maybe it is coming out of me naturally. My  current lifestyle could be attracting the same vibes I wanted myself to be so he asked me what are the investments he can dive into. I gently told him, I am not an expert and just at the starting point. 

My first question to him was if he has some debts he had to pay. And he honestly answered me with the truth - yes. I told him outright that he cannot invest if he still has debts to pay. However he insisted on knowing how to invest. I asked him again, 'Do you have an emergency fund?' And he was a little bit speechless from what I asked. He answered me truthfully again - none. All his income at this time is for the family needs and and paying off their debts.

He again told me that he really wanted to invest and even ask me where I am invested. I know the drive to invest. I know the feeling. I've been there. When you know someone that is doing something and are earning from it, all you wanted to do is join the same boat. Take the same momentum from an sprouting MLM,right? To be honest, you have this urge to join right away so you won't be left out. But, unfortunately, it is not the same thing.

I have been into the same situation before. And honestly, I can't make the two  work together - 'bad' debt and investment. So, I told my office mate that if you really wanted to invest, then pay off your 'bad' debts. Start building your emergency fund and then study the investment types and finally dip in. There is no shortcut, I told him. If you invest, with no emergency fund and in 'bad' debts, and there comes a time when you are face with an emergency situation, you will be force to pre terminate your investment. And you will have to carry the burden of pre termination fees or maybe you will be force to get the money short from your expectations or even short from the capital if you invested on high risk.

Taking on the rationale behind that is very obvious. Debts has interest and due dates. If the income is short and you have to borrow just to meet ends meet, then it not yet the best time to dive in any investment vehicles. You should increase your cash flow first.

I told him again, I am no expert on this matter, but that is what I learned from my own experience.

Note: I am grateful to all these generous financial blogger who taught a lot about financial wellness. And now I can share as well to some few interested people.

It's a long way to go. But I am positive that as we live by example, we can all make a difference.

Just sharing. Happy weekend. God Bless! :)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Few Simple Tricks I Do To Save - Part 2

As I promised, I am sharing the Part 2 of my simple tricks to save more. These are my way to be able to at least stretch what we have.

As  part of me not wanting to spend in the salon or spa, I started to learn how to make my eyebrow line as well. Youtube is a very helpful source of do it yourself. So I do not need to go to the parlor to have it threaded. Saves me a few hundreds as well.

I also carry my water bottle anywhere especially when I have to travel every rest days. Saves me from buying bottled water with added cost at the bus stations. Not just I don't spend, it also helps our  mother earth.

Coffee addict? Yes, I do. I can gulped 4 cups a day before. But now, since I lessened the coffee intake due to hyperacidity, I am having  at least a cup of free coffee in the office. Why not? Right? It's free.

I have exchanged paper bills to 25 cents. Call me super kuripot, but honestly, those jeep drivers don't give the exact change. The other day nga, yung ale sa tapat ko nagbayad for 2, 20 paper bill yung pera niya, sinuklian siya ng 4 pesos, sabi nung Ale, "Kulang sukli" nagalit pa yung driver. Seriously? I know naman na they have needs, same din naman tayo, meron din tayong pinaglalaanan di ba? Kaya exact fare lang talaga binabayad ko. I can't complete a hundred without a 50 cents.

I am not sure if this works for some others. But to me this is working, I have this free membership card for a supermarket in the metro and whenever we do our grocery, we would swipe it for points. Last year, I was able to save 700pesos for the grocery since I pay with points. Last month, I was able to use the points again, 200pesos to be exact since I only bought 2 liters of oil, packed soy sauce and vinegar. It helps, right?

In the province, yes, I have  this free membership card as well for a local supermarket, and from the last time I check, I already have 700pesos ready for check from the points or I can swipe to pay with the points. Not bad. This is aside from the discounts we have from some items under the senior citizen ID of my mother.

And yes, I still own a credit card like I mention before, it has this promotion for last month and this month, where if we meet a certain amount, I can have either a free chowking or greenwich meal. Not bad either, I already have 4 ready to redeem. But I am thinking of redeeming each when I do not have a packed lunch. Saves me a free lunch.

As we are try to live a frugal lifestyle, husband and I, we try to stretch our income as employees to the family needs. All other sources of income goes to investment. It's money making money. Though it is still a very few amount, I am thankful we are able to save at least. Gives us a little peace of mind.

Just sharing. God Bless! :)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

April - Spending Less and Less

Hello, month of May. April was such a wonderful month and though it was the official start of summer and heat is really not much fun, I am thankful I learned something about myself too. As the days go by, I am beginning to see and study my spending habits as well. Thanks to the notebook where I list down my daily expenses.

I hardly had a grasp of the days that went by. But, to be honest, I indulge myself of buying a new wallet that cost me 300 pesos on the first week of the month. And honestly too, I don't have specific reason in mind as to why. I just wanted a smaller wallet where I can carry anywhere. Bulky kasi yung wallet ko na nabili ko pa last 2009. Matibay pa rin naman siya and really worth the price of the leather. Pero, takaw pansin kasi pahaba siyang tignan, so I opted to buy a new one na mas maliit at square size lang.

Truth is after I bought the wallet, I felt a guilt pang. Bakit? Kasi, hindi pa naman sira yung isa kong wallet. Okey pa naman siyang gamitin pero bumili pa rin ako. I know within myself na want lang yun at hindi naman talaga need.

After 2 months na wala akong nabili for myself, ang nabili ko naman is something naman na hindi pa naman talaga kailangan. So maybe the 2 months of not buying something for myself gave me the  feeling to reward myself afterall. And this is not a good sign. I have managed not to shop when I felt little stress or burn out as seen on my previous posts even though I frequented the mall. And this I have to take note again. Like what I often say, I am a work in progress and April taught me  to better understand what are my wants and needs. How to spend my income as an employee.

The good news for myself is that at least, I am able to ponder about it and had stopped making excuses of my purchase because all I wanted is to be honest with myself. And next time, I will be reminded of this month not to make any new impluse purchases. I think I should consider the $3 Mcdo meals of Pinas for Good, where I can indulge myself to something so as I will not feel being deprive of anything and not result to being an impulse buyer. I will see. For the meantime, it is a thought hanging.

I am thankful, though I make mistakes sometimes (I acknowledged that), I am learning as well. As I am aiming for a bigger picture in the future, I am glad I am able to determine what are actually my needs and wants. Dati kasi, pakiramdam ko lahat  na lang needs kahit hindi naman talaga. And that, I have accepted the fact that being honest with myself is to just stop making excuses. And next time to be better in spending my hard earned money. Kasi ang laking sacrifice to be just apart from my little girl and to spend how much of my work hours in the office just to buy those things na hindi pa naman talaga need.

Thank God for this new learning.

Just sharing. :) God Bless!