Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lessons from the Bees at Work

We were fortunate to see some few hundred gigantic sunflowers in the University of the Philippines – Diliman Campus. They were so enormous that the circumference of palm, including my fingers can fit into the core of the flower.

What caught my eyes were the bees buzzing from flower to flower doing their chores to balance nature.

Pollination is 80% done by bees while the other 20% is done by butterflies and other insects.

Looking at the bees, I was able to learn three things from them.

1. Bees get out of their comfort zone.

Their hive can be a few hundred kilometres away from the sun flowers. Despite the distance they go to the campus to get some nectar for their queen. They didn’t mind travelling that far. They didn’t mind the pollution. Once they get there, they work as hard as they could.

2. Bees work until the job is done.

Bees can be called one of the hard-working insects. They gather nectar or pollen depending on the demand. They go from flower to flower until they are full and ready to go home.

3. They don’t mind distractions.

Bees have extreme focus. I, myself, am a distraction when I took pictures of them. They didn’t mind me. They went on. If they got irritated by my perseverance they move on to the next flower away from me. They didn’t lose focus. They knew what they have to do and did exactly as what the job requires.

~Till then

Monday, May 16, 2011

Money and Happiness

Financial literacy is important to all and I think should be taught in school, not just in the house.

One of the questions I always encounter when teaching about personal finance is, “Are you still enjoying your life?”

Many would agree that their view on saving money is equivalent to giving up nicest things in their lives. It means they will live with lower budget, lower-end life style, no more clubbing or expensive vacations and the like.

I always tell them, “I enjoy the best things in life and at the same time not sacrificing my future.”

Enjoying doesn't mean you have the latest fashion statements in your wardrobe, the latest gadget from Apple, going to the latest club nor having an expensive vacation in a secluded island.

Enjoying life for me means I get the best of nature with a fraction of the cost – that’s why we have a mountaineering club in the office. It means communicating with my family and friends all over the world and cherishing every moment with them – that’s why we have cell phones and social networking sites. It means laughing out loud when the situation permits. It means crying my heart out at times when I am upset. It means meeting my goals physically, emotionally, financially and most important of all spiritually. These kinds of enjoyment don’t require a lot of money. They don’t rob me like a bandit.

Yes, money is important. But if you put a price tag in your happiness then something is wrong with your mindset. The happiest people in the world don’t have the “best” things. They simply enjoy the things they have and make the most out of them. Simplicity is the key.

~Till then

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Membership Rewards

I have recently claimed my Globe reward points and converted it to SM Advantage Card (SMAC) points. My Globe reward points reached 652 points - more than enough to convert it to 500 SMAC points.

Well 500 points is not easy to accumulate. For members to have a point, 200Php must be spent at their establishments and partners. I only earn an average of 5 points a month since we are keeping our grocery expenses low. We don’t buy a lot of things and most of the time we go to the market (palengke) first before going to the mall lowering our overall cost. Another reward I get is if I use my eco-friendly bag, I can get additional two points. Sweet huh? J

My 500 SMAC points is equivalent to 500Php and can buy me goods worth the same amount. I am saving it for Christmas so that we can have a good meal for the festive season.

~Till then.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

5 Simple Ways to Put Yourself in a Deep Financial Mess

There are practically 5 so sickening simple ways to put oneself into a deep financial mess. Follow these and you’ll find yourself in trouble in no time.

1. Spending more than you earn

People fall into a deep financial trouble when they start to spend more that what is earned. This is what I call the credit card dilemma. Credit card companies want to entice you by saying “You can borrow money from us and pay as little as this amount every month.” People who don’t compute fall on the bait and start spending on credit.

The solution:

Unless you pay your credit card bill in full every month no interest will be charged. Practice living below your means.

2. Not planning ahead

When a person says “God will provide” he is actually strengthening his faith that God is the source of everything. But he should also realize that God will not provide unless he works for it.

A plan is laid before a goal is achieved. No man ever achieved anything without it. The simple task of going to a place has a plan. For example you want to go to Makati City from Quezon City. You envision yourself riding on a jeepney going to the MRT Station then from MRT Station you will ride the train going to Ayala Station. From there you can walk around Makati City. Another option is to ride a bus going to Makati City. Depending on your goal (time of arrival), you will arrive at your destination because you plan how to get there.

Same is true in your finances. No plan simply means that your goal is not a goal. It is just a dream.

The Solution:

If you don’t know how to plan financial goals, sit with your friend who knows. It only takes a little bit of courage to say the words, “Can you help me?” Analyze the goal and plan the path. Don’t worry it will not require algebra or trigonometry. Simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division will do.

3. Buying wants over needs

Do you really need 20 bath towels stocked in your cabinet?

Do you really need 20 rolls of tissue paper seated in your stock room?

Do you really need 10 rags lying on the floor every single day?

Do you really need 2 cars even if you use only 1 car going to work?

Do you really need a large house even if there’s just the two of you inside?

Do you really need 10 boxes of cereal stocked and rotting in your pantry?

Do you really need to shop for 5 pants and 5 blouses/shirts every month?

Do you really need to buy a pair of shoes every pay day?

Do you really need that expensive coffee fix everyday?

Do you? Really now!


The Solution:

A want is something you can live without while a need is something you cannot live without. Differentiate the two and you’ll go far.

4. Not having proper insurance/Canceling an insurance policy without replacement

Seldom do people think about the importance of having an insurance. To know more about the benefits of having an insurance please click here.

The Solution:

Get yourself insured especially when you are the provider of the family. The rule of thumb is multiplying your annual income by 10 and you’ll get how much insurance coverage you need. I always recommend term insurance.

If you have an existing policy, analyze it first before deciding to get rid of it. Moreover, talk to your agent and ask further questions. I’m sure he will be willing to help you. If you are not satisfied, research and do the math.

5. Not having time for financial education

Financial education is more important than the basketball game, more important than the drama series, more important than idling on Facebook or Twitter. But people are so fond of doing the opposite because they are not aware with what they are losing every time they postpone learning about their finances.

The solution:

Make it a habit to listen to business news instead of celebrity news. Celebrities will just make you feel inferior because they display high social status which makes you want to spend more to “be like them.” Read at least one financial literacy book every month. Apply the concepts learned. Attend financial workshops. There are so many free financial seminars and workshops in the Philippines. Not attending one can actually loose you millions after a few years. Talk to people who are financially literate. If you want to be like them mingle with them. Ask for guidance. Believe it when the Bible says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

~Till then.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lessons I Learned from Employment and Networking Sites

Social networking sites are at the top of their careers, no questions asked. I bet 1 out of 10 Filipinos has an account in Facebook alone which has more than 640 Million registered users world wide. (March 2011)

Networking sites such as Twitter, Plurk, Tumblr, Flickr and Friendster has also gained their fair share of popularity in the social networking community.

It has become a standard that employers take a look at your social networking sites for background checking. I was told by my friend, that during her interview with one of her prospective employers, one of the panel Googled her name and found her Facebook site. Lucky for her because she has always been a fan of making her personal things as private as possible. All they saw was her profile picture and not so much information relevant to the employment process.

I wrote down here some things all of us must make to make us more worthy of the positions we are applying for or will be applying for in the future. And of course to make us more pleasing to the eyes of our current employer.

1. Never post a profile picture (or any picture) that suggests obscenity.

You don’t want your employee and your co-workers to see you as a high class whore, do you? Be as professional as possible and have a quality check before hitting the upload button.

2. Never say bad words about your current employer.

This includes: “I’m sick and tired of my job. I want to resign.”

“My employer doesn’t pay me well.”

“I have a low salary. I must work 4 hours to compensate.”

These are bad attitudes and should be avoided.

3. Never say something bad about the other person.

Bad personality is often reflected in social networking sites. Some people tend to think that they have all the rights to post anything on his wall. Be cautious because the world sees and hears you. You don’t want to end up in jail just because of your wall post, do you?

4. Always say what you mean and mean what you say.

Some people crumble when confronted. If you don’t like this to happen to you, always say what you mean and be tactful.

5. Maintain a positive attitude.

Employers don’t want to hire people with negative attitude. They know that if they hire them, they have the risk of contaminating their company with social viruses. Always maintain a positive attitude in every post. Anyway, positivity attracts positivity.

Now, if you don’t want these suggestions, go to the privacy settings of your social networking site and hit the “for friends only” choice. Or better yet make yourself unsearchable.

~Till then.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Why do People Complicate Things?

Make an average seven year old child solve a math problem and he can do it in less than 3 minutes. Make a man in his 30’s solve a debt problem and he will complicate things.

Is it not that debt problems are math problems? Ask a child how much does it take to pay an ice cream and he’ll tell you its five pesos. Ask a man how much does it take him to pay a pair of shoes and he’ll grab his wallet, take out the plastic card and says “This much.” Ask a child if in case he doesn’t have money, will he be able to buy an ice cream and I’m sure he will say “No.” But ask a grown up and he’ll say “Yes.”


Do not spend more than what you have. Apply some rules I’ve been applying for the past years.

1. Never spend for things if you don’t have the means.

2. Plan for every purchase.

3. Wait for 30 days before finally deciding for a big item.

4. Don’t mind the status quo.

5. Learn how to be happy with simple things. Happiness comes from personal relationships, not from material things.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

When Family Members and Relatives Mess Around with Money

What you are going to read is based from a true to life story. Names have been changed to protect the identity of the people involved.

Andrea is a successful accountant has a lot of ambition in life. She supports he family quiet well and saves enough for her future. Being an accountant opens her mind to the wonders of money-management and is determined to put the knowledge in practice not only in her professional life but also in her personal financial life. She is a God-fearing person and loves her family so much.

One time her aunt came to their house and talked to her mom. She asked her mom if she could borrow a certain amount to pay off a debt. Her mom talked to her about the matter and pleads. Being a loving daughter, Andrea agreed to shoulder the debt of her mom’s sister. She did not mind how much it was because she was able to set aside some extra cash. She just wants to please her mom and unload the burden from her.

The borrowing did not end there. A lot of times relatives come to her mom. And she already felt the burden of having too much debt to settle. Their relatives did not pay back her money. She is having a lot of trouble meeting her financial goals because of those unexpected relative debts. She started asking herself about the matter and decides to seek professional help.

How many of us are like Andrea? How many of us are blinded by emotion when dealing with money matters? How many of us seek financial help when needed?

Andrea’s story is common to Filipino families because we have these great family ties. We tend to bond with our family more than our counterparts in the United States or in any other countries. As much as possible we don’t want any of our family members in trouble. We are very close to each other and help one another the best way we could.

In Andrea’s case, “helping the best way we could” doesn’t mean paying off other person’s debt. What Andrea did was baby sit her relatives. They now know that anything happens Andrea will never let them down because she loves her mom so much and she doesn’t want to disappoint her. The end result, she found her self not meeting her needs and goals because she is taking care of other people’s dilemmas.

Here are some suggestions so that you can avoid similar situation as Andrea.

1. Don’t use your emotion when dealing with money matters. People who are blinded by emotion usually make wrong financial decisions. Always think logically, not emotionally.

2. Make the family and relatives understand your goals in life so that they can help you achieve it. Discuss to them why you can’t give them what they want. Instead, give only what you can afford to lose. Family/relatives who borrow money seldom pay back what they owe. Don’t mix relatives and money. They simply don’t go together.

3. Helping out family members is a good practice but making them get used to it is not healthy at all. Remember that people should be responsible of themselves.

4. Teach the family and relatives good money habits. Discuss to them that the only thing that can solve their recurring problem is through savings.

5. Focus on your goal. Nobody will help you achieve your goal but yourself. Always focus on them and don’t let anything hinder you.

~Till then.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The High Cost of Waiting

My friend asked me how to invest through mutual funds. I explained to him how mutual funds work, the pros and cons and some few reminders. I gave him a mutual fund account opening form hoping that he will act as soon as possible.

I waited for quite some time and realized that my friend lacks decisiveness. He cannot act as soon as he can.

He knows that investing in mutual fund is good. He knows that it can bring him financial freedom. But he still waited.

I talked to him last April 11, 2011. If he invested shortly after April 11, example April 12, then his money should have grown by 1.8% (growth from April 12, 2011 to April 29, 2011). More than what banks offer in a year.

Do you know that banks offer an average of 0.65% per annum?

Investing is not that hard. It’s actually fun seeing your money grow.

For investor-wanna be’s:

  1. Decide as fast as you can.
  2. Have the courage to act as fast as you can decide.
  3. Have a long-term goal for your investment.
  4. Don’t wait for tomorrow, you might not have one.
  5. Get along with people who will teach you how.
  6. Manage your finances. Live way below your means.
  7. Have time allotted for personal finance.
  8. Manage your debt. As much as possible don’t accumulate debt.
  9. Investing is not a substitute for debt.
  10. Enjoy life.

~Till then.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Script of Life

Got this from International Marketing Group Materials

If we track the life of average educated people, the financial script often goes like this:

The child goes to school, graduates, finds a job and soon has some money to spend. The young adult now can afford to rent an apartment, buy a TV set, new clothes, some furniture and of course a car. And now the bills begin to come.

One day, the adult meets someone special, sparks fly, they fall in love and get married. For a while life is blissful because two can live cheaply as one. They now have two incomes, only one rent to pay, and they can afford to set a few peso aside to buy the dream of all young couples, their own home.

They find their dream home, pull the money from savings and use it for a down payment on the house, and they have a housing loan. Because they have a new house, they need new furnishings. So they find a furniture store that advertises those magic words “No money down, easy installment payments.”

Life is wonderful and they throw a party and have all their friends over to see their new house, new car, new furniture and new appliances. They are now deeply in debt for the rest of their lives. Then the first child arrives.

The average, well educated, hard working couple after dropping the child off at nursery school, must now put their nose to the grindstone and go to work. They become trapped by the need for job security simply because, on average, they are less than three months away from financial bankruptcy.

From these people you often hear, “I can’t afford to quit. I have bills to pay.” Or a modification of a song from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.”

~Till then

Sunday, May 1, 2011


I passed by a taxi stand once and someone caught my eyes. It was the old taxi driver seated in front of the steering wheel patiently waiting for passengers. It was almost midnight and by the looks of him he should be sleeping on his comfortable bed enjoying the night with dreams and the midnight sky. But that wasn’t the case.

Suddenly, I thought of myself when I grow old. Will I continue working for money? Will I spend overtime for work? Will I still be employed?

It really saddened me seeing people at the twilight of their lives still working for money because they were not able to save anything for themselves. They give all their efforts for their family not realizing that they are robbing themselves of the good life they deserve after almost a lifetime of work, work and work.

What’s more frustrating are the old beggars in the streets. They beg for money or food from the passersby and commuters in the busy intersections. The mere look at their condition will really persuade the people to give alms.

These scenarios encourage me more to save for my retirement. I believe that nobody (except God of course) will take care of my future but me. I don’t want to burden my child in taking care of my personal expenses when I am old. I want my child to have a life of his own and I want him to focus on attaining his life goals. I should be able to help him if I have enough money set after withdrawing from a career.

~Till then.

Complaining is for Losers

It has been proven that people are never satisfied. We always want more if we can squeeze more. We always want the best. But after achieving the best we see another best and want to have that too.

Same is true when it comes to finances – especially employees. Employees want to have the best things – best salary and the best benefit. As much as possible they don’t want to compromise. Well I guess that’s human nature – always wanting for more.

I had this encounter with a friend, whom I will call Peter, where I was made to answer an intimidating question. We were inside a bus together with another friend. The other friend I will call Jay. Jay asked me if our salary has been given. I said yes. I also said it already includes our mid-year bonus, transportation allowance and meal allowance for the month of April. Then Peter suddenly mocked us if our salary is good enough. He said this with sarcasm. I calmly answered him, “Yes, it’s good enough for me. Actually I was able to save and invest more this year regardless of how low my income is.” From then on he shut his mouth and went to sleep.

I went to a deep thought and asked myself why this man reacted that way when it comes to salary. I’ve known him from day 1 but I never imagined him reacting that way when it comes to money matters. Maybe he has money problems and his salary is not enough to suffice his wants and needs. Maybe he is stuck in the same company without career growth. I don’t know. I don’t want to make further hypotheses about him. I knew he needs some guidance in handling money matters but he is the kind of person who never listens.


The company you are working for will never give you all that you wanted. It will never give who what you always wanted. But this should not hinder you to find creative ways how to satisfy your wants and your needs. We should not always resort to complaining because complaining is for losers. You cannot change the company but you can change your attitude towards it. If you are not satisfied with your salary, talk to your boss and express yourself in a professional manner. If the company doesn’t give what you’re asking for then find other ways how to create money.