Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Proof of Life

To make up for the more than two months of blog silence, I wanted my last post of the year/decade to carry some definitive news like: I made it! I was appointed! or I didn't make it :( Sniff! 

But the waiting continues into the next decade and there's really nothing I can do about it. Actually, there is something I can do, and that is to prepare for the inevitable 2-3 month salary delay in the event that I get an appointment.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Invisible Hand and the Bleeding Hearts

I attended a two-day seminar on the Philippine Competition Act last week and during the Q&A portion, someone asked the Philippine Competition Commission chair about his earlier statement that the rice tariffication law* was a good example of competition at play. He was asked if he really believed that, considering the hardships that our local farmers were now experiencing with the lowering of palay prices. 

I don't remember if the commissioner answered, but one of the speakers, an economist from the US Federal Trade Commission, replied that the rice tariffication law was indeed ultimately good for the consumers because it would give them the lowest price for the best goods. She emphasized that all the players would be forced to compete at optimum level making the consumer benefit and have a higher purchasing power.

Saturday, September 21, 2019


Regular readers may have had a surprise when they saw the blog's "new-old look." It's new-old because this was how it looked like before I moved to my own domain and spruced up the blog with a template that I tweaked and personalized.

The past few weeks have been rife with challenges as my blog became the subject of a brute force attack. It's a good thing that my husband is an IT/ web design / tech magician so he knew exactly what was happening and how to go about it. The following logs were lifted verbatim from his Facebook page:

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Ready to Pivot

One of the most mind-blowing television series I've ever watched was "The Good Wife". The premise itself isn't all that fantastic (it's a legal drama), but the idea that a 40 something year old woman who had been out of the legal world for more than a decade can start again and compete with others almost half her age, really struck me.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Leveraging Your Credit Cards

I first saw a credit card in action when my US-based cousins came back for a vacation and they would give the waiter a plastic card to pay for our meals or would hand the card to the cashier, who would then swipe it before handing my cousin his/her purchase.

It was pure magic and I wanted to be doused in its pixie dust.

Not long after, my dad received a credit card and I finagled a supplementary card for myself. There was no stopping me now and I quickly made regular stops at the mall.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

State of the Jill Address (SOJA)

With President Duterte's upcoming State of the Nation Address causing a tizzy (Who will be the next Speaker of the House? Will there be artsy angles from Brillante Mendoza again? And will he be the director again? Abangan! Dum-dum-dummmmm!), I thought it best to have my own state of the nation address for all 2 of my loyal readers.

First things first, I am still waiting for news on my judicial applications. I was shortlisted for two positions, a second level court in Laguna and a first level court in Biliran, and the appointments for second level courts in Laguna are supposed to come out very soon. On the other hand, the appointments for the Visayas will probably be released during the last quarter of the year at the earliest.

The grand plan is for me to get appointed in Biliran because my parents are already based there and I do miss them terribly. Also, the position I applied for there is a first level court so it's going to have a bigger pay and it will be more challenging than a second level court.

But getting appointed in Biliran means that either I bring my own family to the island, put my kids to school there, and figure out something for my husband to do; or I shuttle back and forth between Manila and Biliran so that my eldest can continue going to school here and my husband can keep his consultancy gigs.

While an appointment in Laguna means that I can theoretically go home everyday since the commute is "only" 3 hours one way, thus, the change will not be that extreme.

This waiting also means that we can't plan a vacation or big purchase because an appointment not only translates to a possible relocation, it also brings with it a 2-3 month salary delay so we'll have to be prepared for that too. Hence, the waiting game is actually a sort of limbo where only the present counts because I can't account for the future yet, but at the same time, have to prepare for it.

Did I just say that we can't go on vacation yet while waiting for the appointment? Let me retract that because my boys and I are going back to Tokyo in a few months. We received free tickets from Cebu Pacific because our flight home in our last Tokyo trip was delayed twice. As in we were in the airport for 2 days and had to be bussed to and from a hotel type of delay. It was no fun at all and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

But the good thing that came out of this fiasco was that I am now more relaxed with travels with my family. After all, we were able to survive that Cebu Pacific epic fail, so everything else will be a breeze by comparison.

On the financial front, my assets received a significant increase or about Php400,000.00 worth of increase. Nope, I did not win the lottery or profited from the recent bull run. I merely updated the valuation I used for my condo units. I realized that I've been using the same property price for the last 3 years and when I checked out the selling price for similar units, I was surprised at just how much I undervalued my own units. So I made a mental note to adjust the value of my condo units in my next quarterly net worth check-in and I'm so excited to see the steep rise in my net worth! True, I can't access that money and it's pretty much worthless unless I sell the units we're living in now, but an increase is still an increase, even if it's only on paper.

Again on financial matters, I have two personal loans that will be ending by August bringing down my personal loans to a total of two, with one ending in December and another in January of next year. I can actually pay off the last two loans in full but there's a pretermination fee and fees are yucky, so I'll let the loans run their natural course.

I also finished with my GSIS loan last March so I've been receiving my full salary without any deductions. Then the last round of salary increases took effect in May(?) so my take home pay also went up.

Not having to tweak and plot our budget to make room for all our loans and accountabilities still feels kind of new to me. I keep waiting for someone in my family to get sick again or for someone to need a bail-out because that's been our normal for the last few years. I've had to devise a plan for my "spare" cash, otherwise, I'd just fritter it away. In fact, my husband just recently sweet talked me into buying a camera because "the kids are getting bigger and we need to capture the memories".

In an effort to counteract my predisposition towards mindless spending, I've created a monthly saving plan which we can dip into during the 2-3 month salary interruption if I get appointed. I'm 4 months into the saving plan and have only had a 50% success rate so I must channel my inner Mr. Miyagi and whip my financial self into a lean, mean, saving machine.

Okidoki, I think I've rambled enough for now. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Crazy Rich Fans

For the record, I have never bought anything from Shopee (I'm more of a Lazada and Zalora girl) and I don't know who Blackpink is, but the recent Shopee + Blackpink incident really piqued my interest because I couldn't fathom how kids could spend hundreds and thousands of pesos just to qualify for a contest. To be more specific, I couldn't understand how kids could spend hundreds and thousands of pesos, period.

Are kids these days richer than kids during my day? Or am I wrong to assume that Blackpink fans are kids? When I say kids, I'm thinking 21 years old below, about high school and college age, or have just entered the workforce.

Again, do kids in that age range already have the financial capacity to spend hundreds and thousands of pesos (or even just several thousands of pesos)? Or did they do this all on credit? Do banks give credit cards to kids?

It's ridiculous just how many questions I have.

I'm thinking of my pre-teen nieces and wondering if they're the only "impoverished" ones in their generation because kids just a few years older than them are already snapping up mobile phones and doodads on Shopee to meet their K-pop idols.

Whoever conducted the survey that revealed that a huge percent of Filipinos consider themselves poor, obviously didn't include K-pop fans in its survey.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Election Day Ramblings

It saddens me that I don't write for this blog as frequent as I used to. The culprit is yoga.

I used to block off my Saturday mornings for developing and writing blogposts, thus, I was able to churn out a least two posts a month. But now Saturday mornings are for yoga and I honestly don't know where to sneak in writing for my blog. I must reassess my schedule though since I really don't want to give up this blog and I have so many half-composed posts milling around in my head.

Another thing that bothers me is the repeated questions on Manila Bankers Life Insurance, questions that can be answered just by reading the post. I have half a mind to just post a nasty "Hindi ka ba nagbabasa?!" reply but then I think twice and remind myself that they were already victimized and that I should be more empathetic to their predicament. It's really a good thing that I only go through comments when I'm in a good mood, otherwise, meet Mother Dragon.

Third thing on my list is the realization that while I'm a conscientious payer of bills and debts, I'm not as diligent when it comes to saving. It's so easy to pay off bills because they're scheduled and already factored into my budget, but it's not the same with savings and investments.

Debt and bill payments are usually on top of my financial priorities because the repercussions of not settling them do not sit well with me. But now that I've almost paid off all my personal loans, I now have the good problem of deciding what to do with my extra cash.

The financial rockstar way would be to pour all of that cash towards one of our mortgage and then once one is fully paid off, to work towards decimating the second mortgage. In that way, both mortgages (which are now below Php1,000,000) will be gone in less than 2 years.

But our 11-year old starter car is starting to show its age, hence the need to save up money for a downpayment for a new or new-to-us car and then make room in our budget for a year's worth of car payments. The grand plan is to get an Avanza or Ertiga at 50% downpayment and then pay off the balance in 12 months.

Because I am no financial rockstar, just a groupie at best, I have decided to do both. Make extra payments towards one mortgage while saving for a car downpayment. Of course, since I'll be traversing the middle ground, I won't be able to do any one of those as quickly as I would like. But I'm ok with that.

Setting up a PERA account, reviving my COL Financial account and opening up a TD Ameritrade account to buy US mutual funds are also on my list. But that's still for the future, because our present goal is mortgage reduction and saving up for a car downpayment.

But before you get all impressed with my financial discipline and fortitude, I would like to inform everyone that my boys and I will be going to Tokyo tomorrow and will be there for 7 days. In short, we'll be spending money that could have been used for extra mortgage payments and/or car downpayment. But I have no regrets because I saved up for this trip while also paying down debt and running a household.

I know myself well enough to know that going all out with debt reduction will only make me miserable since I'm all about finding the right balance between enjoying the present and saving money for the future. Of course, enjoying the present does not always entail spending money, but you have to admit that having some money will add to the enjoyment.

And with that, I end my ramblings because I have to get ready to vote and do my part in securing a Philippines that will be worthy of my kids and grandkids.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Moneygment App: A Quick Overview

I regularly get feature requests through email and I respond only to those that address me by name (It's Jill, btw. Not "Hello," or "Hi,"). And of those that I respond to, I turn down about 99% because I have long decided not to do sponsored posts or link exchanges to make my life easier. But every now and then, a request gets through my two filters and actually piques my interest.

The email from Moneygment was one such feature request because it claimed that its app can pay government benefits. Well hello there! Nice to meet you Moneygment!

Moneygment describes itself as:

"[A] one-stop shop financial solution for self-employed individuals, small and medium enterprises, homemakers, OFWs, and unbanked Filipinos. Current Features available are the payment of Pag-IBIG, Philhealth, SSS, and BIR contributions and taxes. Other features are currently in the works and will be released very soon."

My primary motive for doing this post was to find out for myself how Moneygment will process Pag-ibig housing loan payments because I'm always on the lookout for a more efficient system than what I already have. This image beautifully summarizes how to use the app to pay Pag-ibig, as well as Philhealth and SSS.

This was the summary for my Pag-ibig transaction:

No additional fee(s) for Pag-ibig housing loan payments! Yay!

I received a similar summary in my email with information on Moneygment's bank accounts because I chose the "Deposit to Bank Account" option. But payment can also be made through EC-pay, 7-11, Dragonpay and Paypal.

From what I gathered, Moneygment is not an authorized Pag-ibig housing loan payment partner like Metrobank and Landbank. Rather, it is a third party that the app user authorizes to process and remit payment on his/her behalf.

Since I already pay my Pag-ibig housing loan directly through Metrobank online, I really don't need an intermediary to act on my behalf. But I can imagine that the Moneygment app will be so helpful to those who don't have a Metrobank online account since lining up to pay for bills is a mind-numbing task that should be avoided as much as humanly possible.

While it may be quite useful for Pag-ibig housing loan payments, Moneygment really shines when it comes to SSS payments as detailed in this post by SSS Inquiries. Apparently, SSS has added an extra layer of bureaucracy to make paying your SSS dues more challenging than it already is:

Starting January 16, 2018, the Social Security System has implemented a new rule on paying a contribution. This has drastically changed the process of paying and most find it really inconvenient. Before, you just have to have your SS Number then go to any SSS Branch, Bayad Center or any payment center that accepts SSS contribution, accomplish their form then pay on their cashier. Now, you will need to obtain your SSS Payment Reference Number first which is a series of 14 alpha numeric characters that uniquely represents your SS Number, the month and the amount that you are paying for. The SSS PRN is currently used for paying SSS Contributions only. SSS has explained that the SSS PRN is implemented to facilitate correct and real time posting of payment and contribution.

Because of the implementation of SSS PRN, we have observed that the number of banks and payment centers that accept SSS related payments became limited. I used to pay for my SSS Contribution voluntarily to the bank near my office, but the bank teller told me that SSS has required them to upgrade their system to comply with the SSS PRN implementation and until they have complied with the required upgrade, they cannot accept any payment for SSS.

Before, I also used the Coins.ph App to pay for my SSS Contributions and Loans, however, they temporarily discontinued accepting payments for SSS, maybe also due to the compliance being required by SSS just like with other banks.

I tried to go to the SSS Branch in Diliman to pay for my quarterly SSS Contribution, but the queue can consume all your patience. There will be two process that you have to undergo: 1) Get your SSS PRN and 2) Line up to their Payment Teller. Many who were there told me that paying their contribution can consume half of your day just lining up to get the PRN and Pay it at the Payment Teller. For Self Employed and even Full-Time moms, a day wasted can really cost you a lot.

Good thing that when there is a problem, a solution arises! When I got discouraged with the new payment scheme of SSS, I searched the Facebook if there is some kind of “short-cut” to pay my SSS Contribution and Loan. And I found this Moneygment App by Togetech Inc."

The post then went on to detail how to use the Moneygment app to quickly and painlessly generate a Payment Reference Number and pay the SSS contributions. Kudos to the people behind Moneygment app! This is the sort of technology we need in our lives, technology that saves us time and saves us from bureaucratic inefficiencies.

You can find out more about Moneygment through its FAQ section and download the app through Google Play or the App Store.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Thoughts of a First Time Showbuyer

UP Law Block C 2006 with the Red Team

One of my law school blockmates, together with his fraternity, bought a showdate for Ang Huling El Bimbo the Musical's first run last year. There were 5 shows for the first run and all 5 shows were sold out.

About a dozen of my blockmates saw the first run and they were so moved by the production that when rumors of a second run came up, they eagerly signed up to buy a showdate and sold the idea to the rest of us. I joined in a heartbeat because Eraserheads plus a first run that sold out? A show that will literally sell itself? Where do I sign up?! It seemed like an effortless way to get at least a 20% return on our investment.

Or so we thought.

Let me just jump to the end of the story and say that we did not lose any money in the endeavor but we didn't make 20% either. We made way, way below 20%, as in lower single digit level (cough2.5%cough). Also, getting to break-even took a tremendous effort on our part, but despite all of that, I would do it all over again.

I always thought that I could never sell anything, because I just don't have the personality and chutzpah to move products or ideas. However, the sight of hundreds of unsold seats and the thought of losing our Tokyo budget forced me to hustle like I've never hustled before. Pakapalan na ng mukha, in short.

But if I were to do it again, I would definitely think twice about buying a show from Resorts World because it did not effectively market the show leading up to the opening. In fact, I don't think it even marketed the show outside of the posters INSIDE Resorts World. I found this really surprising because isn't Resorts World famous/notorious for its radio ads? I mean that female voice whispering "Resorts World Manila" was all over the airwaves a few years back. It also has billboards all around the airport area, but I did not see a single billboard for Ang Huling El Bimbo. Yup, I'm still very disappointed about it.

In fairness though, the cast members had some radio and TV appearances a week or two before the first show opened and Full House Theater Company really made a valiant effort to market the show through social media, but this was clearly not enough or was a little too late, thus the first weekend did not break-even.

When it became clear that the show wasn't going to sell itself, as we all thought it would, and Resorts World wasn't going to help out, we had to do the selling ourselves, thus the roller coaster of emotions for the past few months. From the high of selling 10 tickets in a single day to getting seen-zoned dozens of times, I went through it all.

It really helped that my friends and I were together in this experience because I had someone to share my ups and downs with. This show became so much more than a mere investment that when our showdate closed to a standing ovation, I was probably as euphoric as the cast members. I had my heart wrenched out by the production and I couldn't stop humming Eheads songs for the next few days, but the overriding feeling was one of relief that it was finally over and I could go back to my humdrum life.

Now that my emotions have mellowed down and I can think things through rationally, my takeaways as a first-time showbuyer are as follows:

  1. Choose a show that you love or a concept that intrigues you, thus, it will be easier for you to sell it.
  2. Include the scope and timeline of marketing efforts by all parties in your contract.
  3. Unless the show is actually sold out by the time it opens, don't believe any claim that it will sell itself. Heck, even Phantom of the Opera and Lion King did not sell out all of their shows.
  4. Hustle and sell like you've never done before.
  5. Choose to work with people who will also hustle as hard as you.

Ultimately, it's just money and the piddling returns have not turned me off from going into a similar venture in the future because the experience obtained from this venture was well-worth the effort. However, it's highly unlikely that I will dip my toes into showbusiness in the near future because I still have to recuperate from the last show. Mahirap pala talaga magbenta.

If you haven't watched Ang Huling El Bimbo the Musical yet, I highly encourage that you do because despite the very sad ending (you have been warned!), the nostalgia factor alone is worth your time and money and the performances are just jaw-dropping. They've added another showdate so it will now run until April 12. Tickets are available at Ticketworld.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Ang Huling El Bimbo (The Musical)

The past few weeks have been extremely busy, thus, the silence in this little ole blog of mine. But let me make a quick shoutout and promote Ang Huling El Bimbo (The Musical) at Resorts World Manila.

My friends are sponsoring the March 17 (3pm) show and you can buy tickets at Ticketworld.

I wasn't able to watch the first run so I'm really excited to watch it and sing along to my favorite E-heads tunes. See you at the March 17, 3pm showing!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Thank you Moneymax!

I received fantastic news the other day that this blog was included in Moneymax' Top 10 financial bloggers to follow in 2019. Awesome!

For the new readers who reached this blog through the Moneymax article, welcome and feel free to browse through my past posts. You can go chronological by going through the posts monthly or by categories, the links for those can be found on the right column.

I'm glad that you found my blog because that means you're interested, or at the very least curious, about personal finance and are probably trying to better your own personal finance. We're all in the same boat.

I can't guarantee that reading this blog will magically make you a personal finance ninja, but at the very least, you will know that you're in a safe space where you won't feel ashamed for talking about money or what you don't know about money. More on this in a future post because the husband and I have a date at our most favorite place in the world, the grocery. Catch you all later!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Looking Back and Moving Forward

In line with the annual essay writing contest in time for the new year, I also began to reflect on the year that just passed, but for the life of me, I couldn't remember half of what happened or how I felt about the events of 2018.

A quick browse through my Instagram account reminded me of how eventful 2018 actually was. To recap, 2018 was when

  • I finished the second month of my maternity leave;

  • I got to know my second son and reacquainted myself with the joys and challenges of mothering an infant;

  • I had my face-palm interview with the Judicial and Bar Council (although to be kind to myself, it must not have been all that bad since I did get shortlisted for a position);

  • my husband had an angioplasty;

  • we almost lost my parents' house;

  • my sister went back to New Zealand and her family followed a few months after;

  • my mom sold a property which netted her several millions and then spent/gave/lent most of it in a span of 1 month;

  • my new niece was born ( lucky number 13);

  • I lugged my baby to Bacolod and Cebu just because he was the chillest baby ever (sadly, he's not so chill anymore and he's morphing into a little diva);

  • my baby turned a year old; and

  • we spent the holidays in Biliran and I got to spend time with my in-laws and US based cousins.

In between that was work, time spent with family and Netflix.