"Me Time!"

Yes, there is life outside of work!!! Let's go!

The Garden is Abloom

The Lenten season is a time for reflection.  Oftentimes, I only turn to God when I have problems or when I feel sad.  But sometimes, God nudges me and makes me see the beauty of all his creation and my heart fills up to bursting.  I feel the love, God.  Thank you for a wonderful world.  You never said life would be easy but thank You for leading us through it.  Thank you for giving us everything that we need, even if we don’t realize it.  Thank you for forgiving us even if we commit the same mistakes over and over.  Lastly, thank you for loving us unconditionally.

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My Financial Awakening: Good Morning!!!

“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

Sounds true… but is it?

Six years into the workforce, I began to wonder how to better my situation.  I didn’t like being in the rat race and I didn’t want to retire poor.

I began to read books on money management, investments, and entrepreneurship as well as books on personality development.  I attended free seminars on the workings of the stock market and I paid for some seminars on how to make my money work for me.  I read up on articles from the internet on how to change my employee mindset to an entrepreneur mindset.

And like a 1-week-old kitten, I felt my “eyes” open for the first time.  There is hope after all, for a middle class girl like me!  I suddenly realized that I was blessed to be where I was because I was born with a choice to either go up or down the financial ladder!

So what did I learn?

1.  Have a financial goal.  For me, this is to be able to provide a comfortable life for my family and to be able to retire early and still live comfortably.  I would like to see the time when I would work just because I WANTED TO and not because I NEEDED TO.

2.  It doesn’t matter how much you earn, what matters is how much you save. After receiving my paycheck, I prioritize my savings.  I save at least 20% of my income and allot the remaining 80% for my expenses.

3.  Live within your means and live simply.  At first, I found it hard to live off on only 80% of my income. I started to document all of my expenses daily (to be OC about it, I recorded everything down to the last centavo!).  After 1 month, I discovered I could take out most of my unnecessary expenses like frequent eating out, movies, shopping… However, I didn’t want to feel deprived so I set a budget for my “Happy Fund.”

4.  Look for ways to augment/supplement your income.  My significant other and I tried our hand in two businesses.  The first was a food cart business which sold rice toppings and street food.  Unfortunately after 9 months, we had to cut our losses.  The employees of the office building where we put our cart apparently did not have that much buying power.  So despite us lowering our prices and giving out discounts, they still preferred to buy from a carinderia outside the building.  (Mental note:  Location, location, location!)  The second business was a scrub suit/linen business.  Since we were just starting out, we decided it was more cost effective to outsource the sewing.  Our mistake:  We were at the mercy of our sewers and when they couldn’t deliver the quality required at the designated time, we lost our clients. (We haven’t given up on this, we just need to revise our business plan!)  Presently, my significant other and I are freelance sales marketing associates for a corporate giveaway company.

5.  Don’t just depend on your active income.  There is such a thing as passive income.  Passive income means that you don’t use your own talent, time, and energy in order to earn.  How do you do this?  Through investing in mutual funds. In mutual funds, there are fund managers who study, research, and choose the best companies or government securities to invest in.  You only need to invest a minimum of 5,000 pesos ($125) and you can sit back, relax, and let the fund managers to the job for you.  The 5-year return of my peso bond fund is now 40%; the 3-year return of my balanced fund is 68.5%; and the 3-year return of my equity fund is now 100%.  Not bad eh?

6.  Pay it forward.  If possible, allot 10% of your income for helping others.  You can give it to your church, to charitable institutions, to orphanages, or to wherever your heart tells you.  Believe me, this makes it all worthwhile.

7.  Be an inspiration to others.  Teach others whatever little you know on how to better their finances.  Here in the Philippines, the majority of the population is still living in poverty.  I read or heard from somewhere that the poor are poor not because they don’t have money, they are poor because they have lost hope.

So, the question is… am I rich yet? No, it’s still a long way, but I know I’ll get there in God’s perfect time.

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My Financial Awakening: In the beginning…

I’m a doctor; therefore, I’m rich.  This is probably the greatest misconception.

I come from a middle income family.  Both of my parents were government employees who were barely able to make ends meet.  Despite our grandmother sending us to school and saving my parents this trouble, there was little left after budgeting for basic needs.  Like many Filipinos, my parents had an employee mindset.  “You should study hard and get good grades so that you can get a well-paying job,” they told us.

When I was in preschool, I was valedictorian! Ahem.  My parents probably saw my potential and instructed me, “When they ask you what you want to be when you grow up, tell them you want to be a doctor,” and they continued to brainwash me until med school.  I knew I had a choice but I just didn’t want to disappoint them.  I knew they equated being a doctor to being rich.  I knew that they wanted me to give our family a better chance at life.  So, I studied hard, got good grades, got a scholarship in med school, and passed the board exams.

And guess what? I am now rich!  No, not yet.  Apparently, being a doctor does not equal to being rich like my parents thought!  What my parents didn’t know was that after passing the boards, they would have to support me for another 3 to 10 years through residency and fellowship.  What they didn’t know was that residents and fellows got meager wages/allowances during training.  What they didn’t know was that we needed money (a lot!) in order to buy shares of stock to be able to practice in a reputable hospital or have a clinic put up.  What they didn’t know was that the majority of patients were unable to pay our professional fees.

My mother died of pancreatic cancer during my second year of med school and my father retired right after I passed the boards.  It was my turn to support our family.  I decided not to pursue residency and proceeded to gain employment.  Like any new board-passer, I did my share of moonlighting in small clinics and hospitals.  I became a lecturer of microbiology and parasitology and later of medical transcription.  I was then asked to manage a medical transcription company which unfortunately threw in the towel due to internal conflicts.  After exploring the other faces of medicine, I decided to practice as a school doctor.

Six years into the wonderful world of employment, I woke up one day with a cold, heavy stone in my stomach.  Nothing was happening.  I chased every payday, sighed with relief upon receiving my paycheck, and chased the next payday.  I was officially in the rat race.  I had nothing saved.  I felt a wave of panic course through my body.  This was when I realized, “There must be a better way!” Hence, was the start of my financial awakening…

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Of Cats and Dog

Of Cats and Dog

I used to be a dog person. Now, I’m confused.

Dashy

My dog, Dash, is a daschund-cocker spaniel mix. He’s now 8 years old and as playful and as sweet as when he was a puppy. He was my “happy pill”. Then along came Luna the cat.

Luna

Luna was given to me by a friend in exchange for a bag of Whiskas. He had three Siamese cats, a male and two females, which equated to “kitten factory”. Luna was a fluffy all-white kitty with sparkly blue eyes. I was in love! I bought catfood, a litter box, a carrier, some milk, and a pretty blue collar to put on my kitty’s neck. I gave Luna some milk as a welcome home treat. A few hours later, Luna started gagging and vomiting. Like a first time mom, I panicked and immediately went to the 24-hour vet at 11 p.m. My kitty looked so weak and didn’t move much. My eyes were brimming with tears… The vet said, “Oh, that’s okay… cats can’t tolerate cow’s milk. Your kitten’s fine. See, your kitten is grooming.” And immediately, Luna stopped grooming and seemed to look at me to say, “Wut?!” Cha-ching!!! A thousand and five hundred pesos down the drain. At least Luna was fine.

Luna was such a pretty cat… until a few weeks later. “Are those… balls?!” Oh. Luna was a boy. What a HANDSOME cat. And what a unique character he was. He was literally a grumpy cat. I could only cuddle or pet him for 5 minutes then he would start to bite or claw at me. His general disposition was “annoyed”. Nonetheless, I was hooked.

Fast forward two years later, my friend asked me if I wanted another kitten. Hmm, maybe Luna was grumpy ’cause he felt lonely… OR, maybe all the loud meowing was because he needed a mate! I said, “Okay, but can I have a girl cat?”

SkyProfileSky. She has a brown mask, brown ears, a brown tail, and brown booties. What a sweetheart! She is the exact opposite of Luna. She always wants to be picked up and cuddled, she waits beside Dash to welcome me home, she weaves through my legs when I walk, she purrs happily and meows ever so sweetly when I hold her, and even groomed me a couple of times!

The happy, the grumpy, and the sweet. What a nice balance. Dog person or a cat person? It doesn’t really matter. All we need is LUUURRRV. Have a nice day!

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Learning from the pros

Learning from the pros

What the?! I hope Sky is not thinking of using these moves on me!

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Welcome, Summer!!!

Our picWell, hello summer!!! In the Philippines, you know it’s summer when:  1.  You are more sweaty than usual, just after walking a couple of feet from your house.  2.  Perspiration runs down your neck a few minutes after your bath.  3.  You burn your buttocks by sitting on the seat of your car after it has stayed out in the sun for 30 minutes.  4.  You feel the need to wear lighter (or less) clothing, sunglasses, and flipflops.  5.  You feel the urgent desire of drinking a cold glass of soft drink or eating ice cream/halo-halo (shaved ice, milk, and boiled fruits).

Of course, summer means only one thing… it’s time for out-of-town trips to the beach or to cooler areas like Tagaytay or Baguio.  So, my very significant other (henceforth will be referred to as JY), our friends, and I decided to have a road trip to nearby Laguna for some cooling off.  After a 1-1/2-hour drive from Manila, we arrived in Calamba, Laguna.  Since we did not have any reservation, we drove around to check out some private pools.  We chose a quaint little place with 3 rooms,  a small pool, a mini kitchen, a barbecue grill, and a videoke machine (yes, we all loved to sing!).  Because of our expert haggling skills, the rent came down to just Php 5,000 for an overnight stay.  What a steal!!!

The very first thing I did was… I took a nap.  Yes, how exciting but well, that’s me in my chill mode.  Don’t judge me.   When I woke up, JY was finished grilling the pork skewers, Diane was done cooking binagoongan, Julius was delivering the first set of his concert at the videoke, and our other friends were already swimming.  But of course, any party would not be complete without drinks (if you know what I mean!).  I gobbled up my share of the food, coughed out a couple of songs, and quickly jumped into the pool.  After a couple of laps, I floated on my back and gazed at Mr. Moon.  There was a soft glow around him with wisps of clouds flitting by.  If that wasn’t relaxing, then I don’t know what is!

Our little party lasted until the wee hours of the morning.  The funny thing with this kind of parties is that it’s a cycle.  Eat-lounge about-chat a little-sing-swim-eat…  When no one was making any sense anymore, we decided to give in to sleep (to me it felt like just another nap!).

And just like any vacation, it was over all too soon.  But no worries, I felt fully recharged and ready to get back to the grind on Monday.

Chill time complete.

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