2015 Recap

I’m still at awe that another year has gone by. There are so many things to be thankful for; the blessings of good health, family, friends, travel, career, and the fulfillment of plans. Speaking of plans, budgeting was a big help this year. Writing each goal down and carefully planning for them made life less stressful.

It also made my 2015 wishlist easier to achieve. First, I was able to save up for my annual VUL payment. I also managed to begin stashing away an emergency fund, which I intend to grow more this 2016.

Funding my graduate studies also happened last year. I decided to take up a Master in Development Communication through the University of the Philippines’ Open University. I’m now enrolling again for the 2nd semester!

Travel-wise, I was able to take my little sister on an out-of-the-country vacation in Myanmar. That was such an enriching trip and quite affordable too, if you plan it properly. (Note: Click here to see highlights of our trip as captured by Project Magellan.) Our family also revisited Bacolod and enjoyed their delicious food.

We were also able to maximize the holidays as we spend the New Year on the beach for the first time! Special thanks to Jo & Johnny’s Dive Inn at Tali Beach for accommodating us, 11 hoomans and six dogs. It made the memories so much fun, not just with the whole family being there, but also some of our furbabies were on the beach for the first time in their dog years! (Note: Please always inform the resort ahead of time, for their approval, if you are bringing any pets. Jo & Johnny’s charges PhP300/pet/night, which is fair enough considering not all resorts allow pets in their property.)

Budgeting is definitely something I’ll continue this year and well after that. It’s definitely a skill that one should constantly develop. You really do get to enjoy more out of life when you have less worries. There’s still a long, long, long way for me to go in terms of achieving bigger goals, though, like buying a house and having financial freedom. But I’m hopeful, that gradually, I will claim it.

Loops Through Loops: Crocheted Toys and Clothing

Even at an early age, my little sister has always loved arts and craft. Steph always kept a sketch pad nearby. As an adult, she is now a 3d artist designing video games. She took to crocheting as a hobby and has natural talent, it turns out.

Steph recently created Loops Through Loops to showcase her creations and be officially open for business. Please do check out her Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/loopsthroughloops

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Loops Through Loops has a special surprise for everyone. Once it reaches its first 500 likes, Steph will raffle off this foot-tall, cuddly Baymax doll. So don’t miss your chance. Visit and like Loops Through Loops.

Au Brilla: A Natural Solution for All Skin Types

A few months ago my sister and her friend started their own company  called Au Brilla Skin Solutions. They manufacture and sell a product line composed of soaps, moisturizers, lotions, and make-up, among others, that are made mainly from natural ingredients. A variety of skin concerns is addressed like ageing, acne, dark underarms, and more. You can read about Au Brilla Skin Solutions by clicking here.

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My sister (left) poses with Au Brilla's regular customer, Coleen, at the Super Sale Bazaar

I personally like promoting them, not just because of family ties, but also because of their safe, effective, and cruelty-free products. Though the company is fairly new and available on Instagram and Facebook, Au Brilla has been actively participating in bazaars with much success. It has also been featured in Unang Hirit.

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With the ladies of UG: Connie, Susan, and Luanne

I learn a lot of things by helping out from time to time, mostly promoting the company’s products and events. It’s also a good way of augmenting one’s income, if you want to have a business while still working full-time. I also sell the products and my officemates  and friends have been my best customers and promoters too.

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Me as storekeeper and sometimes flyer girl

If you’re interested to know more about Au Brilla and it’s amazing product line, you may contact +639258274552 or e-mail aubrillaskin.main@gmail.com.

(Watch out for my next post featuring my little sister’s up and coming toy store: Loops Through Loops.)

The best things in life are free

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It’s true what they say, the best things in life are free. As I came upon an e-mail invitation for a Megaworld event, I knew it would be an opportunity I’d be a fool to miss. Why? First, I get to hear great speakers like Randell Tiongson and Francis Kong. Second, the venue is New World Hotel. Third, a full-course dinner. Lastly, everything is for free courtesy of the event sponsor! (In Tagalog, ikaw na lang ang kulang.) As an added bonus, I get to meet like-minded people from different walks of life.

Since I really came for to hear the speakers, let me share with you what I’ve learned about life and investing. Randell starts the program by painting a lovely picture of the Philippine economy’s rosy future. He sets the tone by showing figures that hint perfect investing opportunities and cautions on get rich quick investment scams, specifically that of the controversial Emgoldex. Randell also emphasized the step-by-step guide of achieving financial success, starting with getting out of debt, increasing your income, investing, and insuring against risks, and so forth.

On the other hand, Francis Kong gives his personal insights on life and success. It was actually my first time to hear him in action. Most of his speaking engagements have expensive door fees. Now I know that the fees are actually worth it.

Here are some of the nuggets of wisdom I was able to take note of/remember (as of writing, I realized I might have accidentally erased my notes from my phone):

1. The self is the hardest to please. Don’t measure your worth with the material things you have.
2. Change is scary, but it is scarier not to change.
3. Three stages [of personal growth, I guess]: survival, success, and significance.
4. Three major deprivations: time, attention, and sleep.
5. Invest (quality time) with your family/loved ones.

I consider myself really lucky for catching this event and learning a lot at absolutely no cost. I’m still on the lookout for other free learning opportunities. Earlier, I had the opportunity to lunch and learn with successful women in business. They are such an inspiration and very generous too in sharing life lessons even for just a short two hours. I have my eye on this free conference about women who have successfully launched a startup and looking forwa4d to learn from the guest speakers as well. So, don’t ignore the opportunities for free learning! You’ll never regret it.

2014 Recap

Not so long ago, in 2014, I began a  personal tradition of revisiting goals I’ve set at the start of the year and creating new ones for the next year. It helps me keep track of the changes I’ve made in my life and be able to look forward to the coming year filled with positivity. Looking back has really been an eye-opener for me because I usually regard my day-to-day as uneventful pieces of my life, not realizing that the little things I did have a big impact on my year.

One of the big surprises for me is how sticking to my budget plan afforded me a stress-free holidays. Everything went according to plan. Although there were some unexpected expenses, particularly medical, I did not struggle much because of my rainy day fund.

Second, I finally made up my mind about life insurance. I found one that is very affordable and also enable me to save up for retirement. On a side note, investing in a UITF went well this year. I invested in equities which yielded more than 10% return. I ended up using the money I invested to fund my life insurance.

I was also able to close a credit card account and am well on my way to closing a second one. I intend to keep my third card, since the interest rate is lower and no annual dues. I’m learning how to use a credit card responsibly now.

2014 was also a year of learning. I’m glad to have invested in attending seminars on social media management, events management, marketing communications, and real estate investment. Hopefully, I’ll be able to lock-down my plans for graduate school soon.

While there are other things that I’m still working on right now, I am happy with what I was able to accomplish so far and hope to be able to do so much more this time around. A look back in 2014 made me realize that I’m not looking to have a “new year, new me” thing. Instead, I see many positive things that I would like to continue doing and improving my game plan along the way.

Happy New Year!

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Make Money With Rental Properties

Remember those e-mails where they ask you to answer a survey, but you don’t because: (a) you have no time, (b) you’re not interested, or (c) it might be a scam? Well, I was able to attend a seminar for free just because I took the time to answer a survey from Learning Curve. I have attended some of their events before and I always gain new knowledge.

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Photo op with Carl Dy (front and center) and the attendees (that's me in the front, second from the right)

Last October 25, I attended the second batch of Carl Dy’s Make Money With Rental Properties. I specifically chose this seminar among the other great offerings by Learning Curve because this is the business that I want to be in. My parents have been making passive income from rental properties for as long as I can remember and I wanted to start doing the same.

Carl Dy is an architect by education. He is the President of Spectrum Investments, a property portfolio management company. He has over a decade of experience in the real estate industry working for property giant Ayala Land as Sales Director of Ayala Land Premier. [Fun fact: As he was introducing himself, he mentioned that he used to work in Palafox Associates, an architecture and planning firm where I am currently working as Communications Manager.]

There is so much to learn from the seminar and I identified 10 things that I want to share with you:

1. Investment puts money in your pocket. Liability takes money away. Just because something is of value doesn’t mean it’s automatically an investment. For example, a car is a liability because you pay for gas, repairs, etc. It only becomes an investment if you make money out of it, e.g. taxi.

2. Your home is your best property investment. It grows while you are able to use, enjoy, and create memories.

3. It’s not too late to invest in properties even if you are 45 years old.

4. Investment is not always about money. Intangible investments, like relationships, are also important for success.

5. Cash flow is the ultimate goal in rental properties. As much as possible, hold on to the properties you acquire unless you really need the money.

6. Property is easier to manage and profit is easier to compute, as compared to other businesses.

7. Before you start investing, make sure you have the following in order: improve your cash flow, get out of bad debt, set up an emergency fund, and get protected from life’s risks.

8. A property is VAT-exempt if it is valued at PhP 3.199 million and below.

9. There are different types of property ownership: sole ownership, equal partnership, industrial partner, investor, and leasing.

10. Questions to ask yourself to know if you are ready to buy a property includes: Do you have 10-20% for downpayment on hand? After paying monthly, would you have enough left for your other needs? Do you have an emergency fund? How much is the bank loan? Do you have an upcoming big expense? Do you have a negative debt bank record? Is your income documented? Is your source stable? Do you have an exit plan?

Overall, the seminar is quite an eye-opener for me in terms of gaining insight on the things I need to deal with in this type of business. It’s also an affirmation of the wisdom of my parents’ in choosing this business and following through with it to this day. I really hope that, with my newfound knowledge, I’ll be able to help my parents manage their rental properties and also be ready to start my own soon.

* If you are interested to attend a seminar on real estate investment, Learning Curve, together with Carl Dy, has come up with a 4-week workshop. It promises to be more hands-on, with valuable workshop activities to simulate actual property investing. You may visit http:// http://www.iluvlearning.com/real-estate-investing-for-passive-income/?utm_source=Learning+Curve+Master+List&utm_campaign=38dd0c7df3-REIPI_10_24_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2476cff506-38dd0c7df3-408120793&ct=t(REIPI_10_24_2014)&mc_cid=38dd0c7df3&mc_eid=a9d2767e1d for more information.

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Committing to being healthy

Two years ago, I got sent to the emergency room from what I thought was just stomachache. It turns out it was much more. I needed to undergo an endoscopy and was hospitalized for three days. I just thanked my lucky stars that our company provides health insurance and it covered most of the costs. However, the medicines I need to maintain afterwards were quite expensive and really set me back a bit financially.

Sadder still, my doctor said I might need a second endoscopy, but the insurance company refused to cover it. Good thing the medicines worked because I knew I would not be able to afford a second endoscopy easily at that time.

Fast forward to today, I underwent an endoscopy for the same symptoms again. I was more at peace this time because my employer upgraded to a better HMO. Sure enough, all the expenses were covered except for the medicines, of course. Expensive as they may be, I realized I should not be worried because it would help me get better. Also, this time, I managed to start saving a bit of an emergency fund for these types of situations.

Having a good HMO provider and saving for emergencies can really come in handy in times of need. It can also provide peace of mind that whatever happens, you got it covered. If your employer does not provide health insurance or if you are self-employed, make sure that your PhilHealth is updated, at the very least. It would also be wise to invest on your own health insurance.

On my part, a commitment to healthier lifestyle is also needed. Though I don’t smoke or drink and I don’t skip meals, I am kind of lazy when it comes to exercise. Never have found a sport to my liking. But there are a few suggestions, mostly from my family, like walking the dog, buying a treadmill, or walking home from the office. I’d surely give those a try. After all, the price of laziness can be more expensive.

How my ‘ghost’ month went

August has been known around our office as the ‘ghost’ month, when not much really happens. This is because the superstitious does not want to engage in any business deals around this time for fear that it might bring bad luck.

August also brought with it two non-working holidays August 21 (Thursday) August 25 (Monday). Lucky for me, I had too many unused vacation leaves to spare and was able to use one of them to create the longest weekend of the year.

I used the much-needed free time to spend time with the family out of town. My sisters and I spend quiet afternoons bringing out the artists in us. We brought this “painting by the numbers” set along with us and pretended to be painters. Despite the lack of television where we were, I was able to keep boredom at bay with this.

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No TV. No problem.

I also tried to catch up on my reading. The book, Mind Over Money, was something I didn’t plan on buying. I was intent on Robert Kiyosaki’s Retire Young, Retire Rich, which I did buy too. Though I’m still halfway through the book, I really like how the subject matter combines personal finance and psychology. I thought I’d be bored, but I’m quite surprised.

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My sister even made me this cute origami bookmark

Lastly, I also revisited the goals I’ve set this year and even created ones for the long-term. I’m super excited for the plans I’ve made for the next two years and hope that I’ll have enough guts to follow through. It could really be a game changer.

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The Richest Man in Babylon: a review

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The latest book I have finished reading from my growing list of must-reads is George S. Clason’s The Richest Man In Babylon. Set in ancient times, it is tells of tales about how a man can accumulate abundant wealth.

I don’t know what it is with this book. In the past, I have read several personal finance books and I’ve taken from it nuggets of wisdom. But this book really made a mark in me and helped me spring into action when it comes to my own finances.

The lessons in this book are pretty simple: work hard, save, and invest. It emphasizes that you can do these simple steps in whatever salary you are receiving now. The recurrent theme in this book is also about being consistent because a truly rich person never takes shortcuts.

After reading this more than a month ago, I had the opportunity to practice its principles. I was pretty amazed with myself for really committing to save a portion of what I earn. The book says 10% of your income should be set aside for savings to be invested later on, 20% should be allocated to paying past debts, and live off on the remaining 70%. I usually struggle to live from paycheck to paycheck every month, dumbfounded and confused as to where the money went. I am proud to say that last month, it wasn’t a struggle at all.

Having my affairs taken cared of and money put away for the future gives me peace of mind and the hope that my financially-independent days are well within reach.

I recommend this book 1000% to anyone who has the same dream of  financial freedom.

Presenting bravoweddings.ph

I have previously teamed up with my sister for a wedding planning and coordination business. To date, I have assisted her in five weddings already, most of which are destination weddings. In addition to helping her out on the big event, I also manage a blog featuring the weddings we have coordinated.

Please do check out the link below for the most recent piece I wrote. Be sure to also follow us. Thanks.

http://bravoweddingsonline.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/almonte-imperial-wedding/