Saturday, December 23, 2017

Theft and the Law

My first job as a lawyer was as an associate in a tiny law firm in Alabang. One of our clients was a real estate firm with lots of developments around the country, including Cavite. During my first appearance at the Municipal Trial Court in Bacoor, Cavite, I was surprised when a few minutes before 8AM, a court staff asked the crowd inside the courtroom to group themselves as follows: SM to the left and non-SM to the right. The crowd dutifully complied and moved seats. After a few minutes, the left side of the courtroom was packed, with people even standing at the back, and the right side, where I was, had less than a dozen people.

As it turned out, the people on the left side had been caught shoplifting at the nearby SM Bacoor and since SM did not have a policy of settling criminal cases, even the smallest act of thievery was prosecuted.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Saving on Christmas Gifts

Christmas doesn't faze me one bit. Nosirreee.

This is primarily because I don't subscribe to the notion of giving the perfect gift to everyone you know. It's just unnecessary stress to add to an already stressful season. It also helps that I grew up with parents who didn't wax poetic about Christmas being the most magical time of the year.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hello Earth!

I'd like to introduce you all to my son, JC aka Truck (his special name courtesy of his big brother).

Monday, November 27, 2017


And just when the finish line is almost within viewing distance, I've hit another snag in my pregnancy. The dreaded bedrest (kaboom!).

I've been getting some cramping a few days before my 36th week and during my 36th week checkup, my OB declared after examining me that the baby was already lying low and that my cervix "admits tip" which meant that it was starting to dilate. Considering that I'm supposed to reach 39 weeks because of my gestational diabetes, going into labor at 36 weeks was too much of a risk to take.

Thus, the bedrest, which is more of a house arrest really since I can move around the house and go on short walks. But my usual commute with walking to and from work is definitely no longer allowed.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Dealing with Gestational Diabetes

I'll be 35 weeks pregnant by tomorrow and I'd like to believe that I'm handling my gestational diabetes tremendously well, which basically means I haven't caved in and scarfed down a whole pizza pie or chocolate cake (although I really, really want to!!!).

The great news is I have been able to keep my blood glucose numbers in check with dietary changes so my endocrinologist will no longer prescribe meds or insulin. However, I still have to continue monitoring my blood sugar level an hour after meals. When I first consulted my endocrinologist, she required me to take blood readings before and after meals, but my pre-meal readings were consistently normal so I have graduated to taking readings only after meals. Yay me!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Getting Ready to Retire

First things first, I am no way ready to retire, nor do I want to, but that doesn't mean that I don't think about retirement and am not preparing for it.

The details are still quite fuzzy when it comes to my ideal retirement, but I do know that when I am retired, I will no longer have to wake up to an alarm clock (except if I have to catch an early morning flight) and will not have to endure reckless drivers and mind-numbing traffic just to get to work.

Retirement planning may seem daunting but you'd be surprised that some of the things you are doing now, or should be doing, are actually paving the way for a picture perfect retirement. Here are the three things that I'm currently doing so that future me can be a happy retiree:

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Happiest Time of the Year is Almost Here! (A Debt Update Post)

That's right boys and girls, end of year bonuses will soon be upon us! Wheeeee!

You can feel the magic in the air and see the twinkle in everyone's eyes because when you're a working stiff like most of us are, receiving a month (or two!) of your salary as a bonus is the thing dreams are made of.

While the impulse would be to spend a huge chunk or all of your bonus to celebrate Christmas, I personally see my upcoming windfalls as the best way to make 2018 easier by allocating majority of it towards debt payment. This year has been financially taxing, but with the careful allocation of this year's bonuses, I can make sure that 2018 will not be as financially difficult and will be the year I shift my efforts from mostly Debt Payment to Security/Safety.

And on that note, here's where I currently stand when it comes to non-mortgage debts:

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pregnancy Update: 30 Weeks

Just 8-10 more weeks to go before I give birth to my son and things are moving steadily along, but with tiny bumps along the way.

I still commute to and from work even if I get tired so much faster now. However, I power through it because it's currently my only form of exercise. I conserve most of my energy for work and even then, I just stay seated most of the time because walking around tires me out and I want to save my energy for the commute back home. Weekends are for resting and checkups, that's why I've accepted that I have to dial down on my activities for the next few months (which is why I had to beg off from the Belle de Jour talks next week).

Saturday, September 30, 2017

What's Up, Metrobank?

I've had a Metrobank checking account for almost ten (10) years so I've received a few credit card offers through the years. But yesterday's cold call was too bizarre not to blog about.

It started innocuously enough:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Vicki Belo Rich

Just how rich is Vicki Belo exactly? FYI, the good doctor is a certified billionaire.

Which is why some people reacted when Vicki Belo posted a video during her honeymoon  in Italy, playfully "pretending to be rich."

Some people bashed her and her supposedly faux humility and insensitivity, but some praised her work ethic and drive to continue racking up achievements after achievements despite already accomplishing so much.

What struck me about this whole non-issue though was how subjective being and feeling rich actually is.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

How to Transfer Funds to Other Banks Using the Landbank Mobile Banking App

I would have done this review of Landbank's Mobile Banking app earlier except that my smartphone ran out of internal memory and the external memory I added was useless, so I couldn't download the app. I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to make do with Landbank iAccess using my desktop and really, it wasn't such a bad deal because iAccess addressed most of my banking needs, except for the interbank fund transfer.

But just recently, an officemate downloaded the Landbank mobile app and I was ecstatic to discover that interbank fund transfer was possible using the app! And so I reassessed the existing apps on my phones and deleted the ones I didn't use (I'm talking about you Grab...) and also deleted photos and other nonsense that my phone would automatically save. To make a long story short, I now use the Landbank Mobile Banking app and it has made my banking chores so much easier.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Following the Hierarchy of Financial Needs

There was a time I had about 3 months worth of expenses in my savings account, I was steadily buying stocks, and would go on regular trips, both local and abroad, with my family and friends.

I recently reminisced about those happy, flush days while I filled out another stock withdrawal form and I couldn't help but ask: "How did it all go downhill? Where did I go wrong?"

And the answer was simple, I tried to do too much too soon.

If I had only seen this financial needs pyramid from Boomer & Echo 2-3 years ago, I bet I would have been smarter with my financial decisions. Or so I tell myself :)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

How to Get a Police Clearance from Paranaque City

*Update as of June 19, 2018: Bad news folks, PNP Paranaque City has a new service provider for the police clearance cards and certifications and it's experiencing a very painful birthing process, so what only took 30 minutes from start to finish before, will take upwards of two hours now. I recently had to get a police clearance and it took me almost 3 hours to get cleared. Be prepared for a lot of lining up and waiting in a hot, muggy and jampacked area. Bring a fan, a bottle of water, something to amuse yourself with and a lots and lots of patience.

I'm hoping that the new service provider will be able to resolve all its issues ASAP and that the local government will be able to come up with workable system and provide on the ground assistance since confusion was rampant in the two days I went to the police clearance area with only one local government employee available for questions (the same guy who was issuing the order of payment and makeshift numbers).

Paging Mayor Olivarez! Your constituents are suffering! Please do something. I have seen how efficient the police clearance process used to be and have also been witness to how easy it was to have my driver's license renewed in Paranaque City. The existing chaos at the police clearance center is a pox on your good record and should be dealt with ASAP.

Maybe you can deploy some of the municipal employees who oversee the number queueing machine at the treasury department to the police clearance area to herd the restless crowd. Last time I went the treasury department, there were three people sitting in front of the machine doing the same function. I'm sure one or two of them will be more than capable to provide on the ground assistance at the police clearance area.

But for anyone out there who needs to get a police clearance from Paranaque City, you have been warned so act accordingly. (end of update)


I recently had to apply for a police clearance from Paranaque and I took a leave from work just to get this done in anticipation of the long lines and the usual time consuming, patience reducing ordeal when it comes to applying for any government document. But I was pleasantly surprised to find out that getting a police clearance was actually a painless and hassle-free experience! Good job to our Philippine National Police and the Paranaque city government for a very efficient and streamlined operation! Read up for the details.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

My Future Foretold

Whenever I pass through the Padre Faura gate, I usually walk past this man in a white collared, short sleeved shirt tucked neatly in his pants. Sometimes he would be reading a newspaper or smoking a cigarette but he would always be stationed near a small table with two stools and an electric motorbike.

His name is Maestro Geno Ginintuan and he's as much a landmark of Padre Faura as the Supreme Court, UP Manila and the Department of Justice.

After almost a year of walking by him, I finally gave in to my curiosity and plopped myself down on his stool. Some quick chatting revealed that he's been at his post, rain or shine, for the last 20 or 30 years. He gets an average of 50-70 clients per day and he charges Php50 per client. He claims that his predictions and readings are 100% accurate. Even President Duterte has called him over to Malacanang for a personal reading, and he has regular clients who seek him out before making any important decisions.

Now for the good stuff. Let's talk about his predictions for me.

He first asked me for my birthday and wrote it down on his notepad.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Preparing for Baby No. 2

I am currently 17 weeks and 4 days pregnant which means that this baby is due to arrive about a week or two before Christmas.

Being the second born, the hubby and I are no longer as wide-eyed with excitement as we were with our first. Yes, there is still joy with the thought of having another tiny human to cuddle and love once again, but this joy is tempered with the thought that we are now responsible for two human beings, thus, we have to get our shit together.

Getting ready for baby number 2 means: (a) preparing my body for the birth; (b) preparing for the actual birth; and (c) preparing post-birth.

As a second-time mom, I know that I can only really prepare for a & b, while c just means going with the flow and dealing with things on a day to day basis.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Budgeting My Way to Being Debt-Free

Budgets come in all sorts of variants and permutations, but the best type of budget is the one that actually works for you.

The strictest budget that I know of is the zero-sum budget. With it, you have to "spend" every cent you make or to be more precise, you give every cent you make a job to do since money that isn't allotted will only be spent mindlessly. My preferred budget though is the anti-budget by Paula Pant of Afford Anything where you save/invest a pre-determined percent of your income per month. It pretty much goes like this: take out money, save/invest accordingly, and spend the remainder of your monthly income as you please. Easy peasy.

Unfortunately, it will take me a while before I can use the anti-budget since I still have consumer and mortgage debts to deal with, necessitating that I micro-manage my money until I can completely wipe out my debt.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

What to Do After You Get Scammed By Manila Bankers Life Insurance

Without a doubt, my post on the shady practices of Manila Bankers Life Insurance is the most popular post on my blog.

I'm still amazed that the comments keep coming in and how Manila Bankers continues to prey on innocent people who hand over their credit cards in good faith merely for verification purposes, but would later find themselves saddled with an exorbitant insurance premium.

Questions of available remedies for the duped and unwilling life insurance holders appear with scary regularity and the most popular suggestion was to submit cancellation letter with Manila Bankers within the 15/30 day cooling off period. It was also suggested that the Insurance Commission be given a copy of the cancellation letter and/or to submit a separate letter complaint to the Insurance Commission.

As it turns out, the Insurance Commission does listen and act on complaints! I don't know why I'm surprised to hear this though, maybe I've become so used to hearing about government apathy and incompetence that I've forgotten that government is also filled with silent workers that toil without glory or accolade in ensuring that the system runs smoothly while protecting the interests of its citizens. It just so happens that bad news is broadcasted on loudspeaker and is so much sexier to report on, thus, the resulting negative image.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

What Happens to your BPI Save Up Account After you Die

I've talked about BPI Save Up quite a lot in my blog since it really is a good product.* In a nutshell, it's a savings account with a life insurance aspect, a tie-up between BPI and Philam Life. The depositor is the insured and can nominate a beneficiary(ies) upon opening a BPI Save Up account.

I'm quite satisfied with the product because it seems straightforward enough and, despite its recent fiasco, BPI and Philam Life are mammoth companies that can be relied upon to honor a valid claim. But I've always wondered how things will proceed once the insured dies. How will the beneficiary claim the insurance proceeds? And will the beneficiary even be informed about the insurance policy?

So you can just imagine how happy I was to stumble upon a Supreme Court case that answered those questions.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Getting Rid of My Middle Class Mindset

I am the sole breadwinner in my family. I brave Metro Manila traffic twice a day to get to work. And when I do get to work, there's always this nagging feeling that I'm not good enough and that my boss will eventually agree with me.

Stress! Stress! Stress!

Of course I deserve this treat!

I deserve to eat out after an extra long day at work. I deserve this new blouse because I worked so hard. I deserve this out of town trip so I can relax and recharge my batteries.

Does any of this sound familiar?

If you're remotely human, then I'm sure these or similar thoughts have ran through your head to justify taking cash out of your wallet when an insistent voice is whispering to put that money in the bank instead.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Kasambahay Insurance

I don't remember a time when we did not have a kasambahay.

Growing up in my grandparents' house in Zamboanga, we always had kasambahays who helped my Lola cook and keep house. The kasambahays were usually distant relatives whom my grandparents were putting through school, or non-relatives who offered their services in exchange for the chance to go to school. I'm proud to say though that unlike Lola Pulido, my grandparents never treated any of their kasambahays as slaves since aside from schooling, the kasambahays also received salaries.

My aunts also took on this practice and would accept young girls as kasambahays precisely because they wanted to put them through school. I don't remember my own parents doing this though, but that was mostly because our own kasambahays were already in their 30s or 40s when they would go to us.

I have my own kasambahay now who not only looks after my son, but also cooks and cleans for my small family. So yes, having a kasambahay has always been my norm. But that's not to say that I've never felt unease over it.

Friday, May 19, 2017

State of Debt

I used to make regular net worth updates and then post them here on my blog. I still regularly track my net worth, although I just don't post them here anymore because, honestly, I'm disappointed with myself and my failure to dramatically increase my net worth.

But since this is a personal finance blog after all and I would like to be held accountable for my actions, instead of my net worth, I am going to publish how much debt I'm in and then track that. I have a feeling I'm going to regret this airing of dirty laundry, but what the heck, I never claimed to be a personal finance rockstar. So here we go:

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Empire Has Fallen!

In a perfect world, I will be just like the FQ mom who writes timely posts on events a day or two after they happen. But sadly, blogging is a hobby, not even a lucrative one at that, and it's usually fourth or fifth in line on my list of priorities on a Saturday morning.

And that was my long-winded way of explaining why this post is several weeks late, but hopefully, it still proves itself to be relevant to some people.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Less Your Travel Budget, the More You Need Travel Insurance

I'm back!

I just settled in after an almost 3 week vacation in the USA which was immediately followed by a week in Baguio due to work. Needless to say, I've had enough of long-haul flights and long car rides for the time being and would love nothing more than to just go back to my boring, humdrum life with hours of Netflix bingeing thrown in for good measure.

Even though the trip to the US was as budget as they come, it was still not the wisest thing for my finances since there were 1001 other things that needed to take precedence over a costly vacation (i.e. extra mortgage payments, upcoming tuition fee payment etc). Nevertheless, nandyan na eh and I'll just have to make the numbers make sense again, one way or another and be more disciplined moving forward.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Unsolicited Advice to a Millennial had this article where Marie, a 26 y.o. in the publishing and advertising industry, tracked down her expenses for a week. While I wasn't surprised with how the author spent her money, I was taken aback with the vitriol generated by her article.

The outpouring of criticism was most probably was spurred by her closing statement: "Through it all, I could say that I'm proud of myself for holding up. Managing your own household, feeding yourself, and prioritizing your needs while paying off debt is something that not all people my age could do, but I am doing it in a slow and steady fashion."

In a nutshell, the comments were along the line of: Proud ka sa lagay na yan bes? Ang kapal naman nang mukha mo!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Bima Microinsurance

I'm a firm believer in insurance. While I don't believe that everyone needs life insurance, I strongly hold that everyone should have critical illness insurance and personal insurance. What's sad is that those who need personal insurance the most are those who tend to shy away from it because they don't realize the importance of insurance, think that it's too expensive or, worse, don't know that such an animal exists. That's why things like microinsurance really excites me because it provides a viable solution to a real problem.

I first wrote about microinsurance almost a year ago and I'm happy to report that I discovered another microinsurance company that also aims to service the marginalized and underserved sector by providing low-cost insurance coverage. Everyone, meet Bima.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Lifetime Assessment Series: Travel

I am ending this series with my biggest and recurring financial sin, travel.

Be it road trips, plane rides or even boat rides, my itchy feet don't seem to care and would take every opportunity to take a mini or extended break.

Our most recent trip was a weekend jaunt to Angeles City to attend a friend's birthday party. Instead of driving back and forth for a total of 7-8 hours, I decided to book us overnight in a hotel and play tourist the following day.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Chairman's Message + Webinar on Stock Trading

I received this year's COL Financial Chairman's Message and it began with this panama quotation:

"If investing is entertaining, if you're having fun, you're

probably not making any money. Good investing is boring."

--George Soros

I must be doing something right then because my stock portfolio is the most boring thing on the planet right now. And that's because I haven't touched my portfolio in more than a year. Sadly, my stock investing has been downgraded in my financial priorities. Debt payment has taken the first spot and insurance premiums and the office cooperative have become my primary investments. But don't you worry my dear stock portfolio, you'll have my undivided attention soon enough.

 Alright, enough chatter, here's the chairman!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Lifestyle Assessment Series: Housing

We had barely spent a week at our then new condo unit but I was already plotting how I would resell it (using an assume balance payment plan), take out another Pag-ibig loan and buy a bigger house for our growing family. Checking out house and lot ads and calculating how much loan amount would I qualify for and how much of my salary I should allot for that, became a mini obsession for a while

I didn't think twice about all this because this was my norm, what I grew up with. My parents renovated our bungalow twice and in the process, took out 3 different housing loans in a span of 10-15 years. I thought it was normal to fret over money all the time and to rush to the bank every month to fund checks, otherwise, the PDC would bounce and we would be in deep shite.

But when I began to immerse myself in the personal finance universe and my eyes were opened to the joy of being debt-free and even early retirement, I realized that I was perfectly free not to saddle myself with so much debt. That being debt-free was a viable way of living (imagine that!).

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Lifestyle Assessment Series: Transportation

My parents gave me a car a few months after I became a lawyer and joined a law firm near our house. I guess they got tired of my sister and I squabbling over my mom's car, which my mom also used, and they couldn't fathom that their lawyer daughter would take a jeep or tricycle to work (they were snobby that way).

So they bought me a Hyundai Getz, which I named Toyang. However, my parents only paid for the downpayment and left me to settle the monthly payments. Those monthly payments amounted to more than half of my take home pay (I worked in a small law firm which wasn't very generous to its associates) and I swore to drive that car to the ground because that's how much I hated those monthly payments.

Toyang will be celebrating her 10th year later this year thanks to my husband's religious maintenance, and it's been 7 glorious years since I last made a car payment.

Without a car payment to deal with, this is how our monthly transportation expenses usually look like:

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Registered Financial Planner Program- Is It For You?

I received some questions regarding the Registered Financial Planner (RFP) Program that I took up a few years back. In order to address the frequently asked questions, I am posting in full my correspondence with a reader who was thinking of taking up the program too. I hope this helps out others who are also considering the RFP Program!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Lifestyle Assessment Series: Foodstuff

As part of the Uber Frugal Month Challenge, I've been scrutinizing our expenses to see what parts of our household budget we can improve on. My main goal in participating in the UFMC is to minimize spending and throw all that extra cash towards building up our savings and investments which have been decimated because of life and its sick humor.

A second goal, although no less important, is to reset my mindset by being deliberate with my spending and thinking over each purchase before I open my wallet. Hopefully, by doing it often enough, a month to be exact, this will become second nature and my purchases will end up aligning with my goals (i.e. build up savings and investments).

First up for scrutiny is our food expenses. Here's how we fared food-wise in the past 6 months: