Why is it hard to be financially responsible?

Infographic from the Money Summit & Wealth Expo 2012
Infographic from the Money Summit & Wealth Expo 2012

How do Filipinos rank in financial literacy?
News from Rappler, 16 July 2013

The Philippines recorded 68 index points and ranked 8th among 16 Asia-Pacific countries covered by the latest MasterCard Index of Financial Literacy.

The Philippines’ score in MasterCard’s 4th annual survey is almost the same as the Philippines’ index score of 68.2 in 2011.

“This Index of Financial Literacy is a good measure of whether and how people in the Asia/Pacific region are making informed decisions around their home finances,” said Georgette Tan, MasterCard’s group head of Communications, Asia/Pacific, Middle East & Africa.

The recent survey, released on July 3, was conducted with 7,756 respondents aged 18 to 64 from Asia/Pacific markets between April and May 2013.

Three major components are considered in the calculation of the final index score: basic money management (50% weight), financial planning (30% weight) and investment (20% weight). Regional Aggregates had been calculated via the average of the components of individual countries before these weights were applied.

Philippine respondents rounded up 67 index points for basic money management, 74 index points for financial planning and 58 index points for investing.

The ability to manage money involves skills such as day-to-day budgeting, paying up bills, handling credit commitments and saving up for big purchases. Investment proficiency includes understanding bank statements and complex investment concepts.

New Zealand remained at the top of the list, with 74 index points, and also in matters related to fundamental money management skills. China has come out as the most proficient in investment, Myanmar in financial planning.

Japan fell at the bottom of the chart with its overall financial literacy at 57 index points.

“There are divides across our markets that reflect the gap between the developed and the developing. Financial literacy is a concern where a large proportion of society are without the support and education that is taken for granted in the developed world,” Tan added.

A developing country, the Philippines was the sole market from the list to have low levels of financial literacy from the demographic of 30-year-olds who are married at the same time. Becoming financially savvy is more pronounced with marriage and increasing family obligations, such as household expenses, education and financial commitments.

Link to original site here

saving is a bitch
saving is a bitch

How about you? Do you find it easy to arrange your finances and set it in order?

For almost five months now, putting my finances in order has been my sole obsession. I don’t know what prompted my quest to scrimp, save and invest aside from the fear of dying and leaving nothing to my family in spite the crazy hours I spent working.

As embarrassing as this may sound, my financial IQ is nil and almost non-existent. I lack the discipline to save my money and look the other way when it comes to my wants and not needs. I am currently trying a lot of ways to save, invest and keep. I’ve read somewhere that 10% of our salary should go to our savings, 20% to our investments (different from the rotating money in the bank) and 70% should go to our day-to-day expense.

I wish I could tell you that everything is going according to plan and that all my savings are growing according to the same gaant chart that I prepared with gusto. However, the reality is that, like any other Filipino, my monthly expense sometimes outweight my monthly earnings. Instead of allotting money first for my investments (mutual and emergency fund) and savings (revolving fund) accounts, what happens is that I am forced to pay for my bills before I set money for my savings. According to the many investment and financial websites I have studied, what is correct is to pay yourself first before you pay others.

Here are some financial literacy tips from Investopedia

1. Responsible use of credit cards
If you have a credit card and you’re barely paying the minimum payment due per month, then there is something seriously wrong with your financial spending. Credit cards are convenient tools and provides you financial flexibility but they shouldn’t be taken in as substitute to cash. Stop using your credit cards to pay for your wants (yes, very easy to say when there’s no H&M, Forever 21 or GAP near your office). Credit cards should be used for emergency expenses only (thing is: a plane ticket qualifies as an emergency to me).

2. Pay yourself first
As mentioned earlier, make it a habit to pay yourself first before you start paying your bills and other obligations. Since this is the part of my financial journey where I struggle the most, I am planning to do something to improve how I do this. One plan is to NOT use my money, and not withdraw anything unless I have paid myself using the medium I discovered — 10% savings (revolving funds) and 20% (investment/emergency funds).

3. Have an emergency fund in hand
Shit happens — people get sick, appliances get broken, unemployment happens and insane discounted tickets to Japan gets announced (kidding on this one); it’s best to always have money in store to use for instances such as these. Since I was young, I was told that one must have at least three times the worth of her salary in her bank account. But apparently, amount should be equivalent to six times your salary in order to cover living expenses and even cases like hospitalization.

4. Stop keeping up with the neighbors
Just because your neighbor happened to buy a new car doesn’t mean you have to line up to the dealership also. Be contented with what you have. Your neighbors do not pay your bills, so their opinion doesn’t and shouldn’t count on how you live a financially-independent life.

5. Have a budget
…and stick with it.

Brave A.F.

It’s not everyday that you decided to do something brave. Or crazy. Or equally both.
In my humdrum life as a corporate slave, I woke up one day and decided to jump the gun and just do it. Whatever opportunity that life will offer me, I told myself, I will take it.

Blindly and crazily and without any hesitation. And then, just like that — it happened. A good friend offered me the opportunity to be one of their partners for an upcoming production outfit. How and why I said yes, I have no idea. Except for the fact that–in my mind–the opportunity to start something that is (possibly!) great does not come often. The opportunity to finally break out from the desk job and earn a living doing something you love? That is mother-effin’ precious.

Jump for faith!
Jump for faith!

Nothing to report here, as of yet. The venture is still on its infancy but the backbone – like meeting with the other business partners, readying the paper work for filing for business loan with the bank, the brainstorming for the company name and the timeline and budget, scouting and finding a host for a potential program — it’s all being managed and being taken cared of at the moment. I am excited, scared shitless and hopeful of what five kids with a dream, a little money and lots and lots of chutzpah can do. The moment everything becomes final, I will be glad to share it in this page.

Right now, I will continue to do my part in my current job — one because, it’s a good training ground and experience should I plan to eventually decide to focus on our “little thing that could” and two, because it pays all the bills.

Leaving you with these thoughts:

bravery in the bible

bravery

Health care should be for all: PhilCare’s prepaid emergency health cards fill a gap.

The nature of my job and the industry I am in allows me to see a face of health care in the Philippines that is not visible to common Filipinos. Because of my job, I am aware that only 4% of Filipinos have access to efficient health care in the country. This usually means the top hospitals and clinics in the country, helmed by some of the best doctors and most efficient nurses and with access to some of the best technology in the industry.

But what about the rest?

Unfortunately, doing PR within the health care industry means I come across depressing statistics: for example, did you know that six out of 10 Filipinos die without seeing a doctor? While government hospitals are there, we do know that long lines, the sheer density and number of patients and the long wait usually turn off any potential patients. A common (but unfortunate) joke that usually goes around when visiting a local government hospital is that you have to be a step, jump and skip away from death before the dedicated (but overworked) doctors can assist to you due to the number of patients they also see.

Would it be possible for Filipinos to have access to emergency health care at a more affordable cost?

PRESS RELEASE

PhilCare ER Vantage Cards
PhilCare ER Vantage Cards

PhilCare, one of the pioneers in the Philippines’ HMO industry, has recently launched its ERVantage products, a line of prepaid emergency health cards that provide easy and immediate access to any of the company’s many affiliated hospitals nationwide during emergency situations.

PhilCare Health Vantage
PhilCare Health Vantage

These prepaid health cards have the following variants:
* ER Vantage (Emergency Care and Hospitalization) for coverage of hospital emergency care leading to hospitalization, including the ERV40 (P900 for one-time coverage per year up to P40,000 health benefits), ERV60 (P1,100 for one-time coverage per year up to P60,000 health benefits), and ERV80 (P1,300 for one-time coverage per year up to P80,000 health benefits) variants

* ER Shield (ERS) for out-patient hospital emergency room coverage for one-time coverage per year, available for P800 with up to P50,000 in health benefits

* Smart Check-Up (SCB) for annual physical examination or pre-employment package available for P499 that includes tests such as Medical History Taking, Physical Examination, Chest X-Ray, Complete Blood Count, Urinalysis, and Fecalysis

Both the ER Vantage and ER Shield cards are inclusive of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, nationwide access to more than 400 designated PhilCare affiliated hospitals, Go!Mobile app access, as well as PhilCare 360 participation. The SCB card, meanwhile, may be used at any PhilCare Clinics and Hi-Precision branches in Metro Manila.

For as low as PHP800, any one can have the opportunity to receive premium and immediate emergency medical attention to any of PhilCare’s affiliated designated hospitals in the country. What’s PHP800? That’s just a quick round of burgers and fries for a group of three in any of the high-end burger places in Makati. PHP800 is a prepaid cellphone load good for a month; it’s also a pair of jeans from Forever21 or H&M.

My point is, we Filipinos often times find a way to buy the latest gadgets and even the latest phone accessories for our Smart Phones. Don’t you think it’s also wise to invest a small amount to take care of your self? After all, at the end of the day, you’re not just buying a card promising you prepaid emergency health plan — you are buying yourself peace of mind and the comfort of knowing that you will be taken cared of during times of emergency.

For more information or to purchase, go to www.philcare.com.ph

Finding Reprieve Right in the Middle of Summer

If you are from the Philippines, chances are you are one of the many individuals who are bemoaning everyday the intense heat of the Summer afternoon sun.

Recent reports from local TV channels and as vetted by the local weather bureau, the heat index is expected to reach to as high as 40 degrees on Friday, May 22. For many sun-worshipers and beach goers, the warm weather provides the perfect opportunity to get their much-desired tan while lounging in many of the country’s beautiful beaches. In my younger years, I would fall asleep on shore right in the middle of the afternoon. I would usually emerge, burned to a crisp, (literally) smoking hot but happy to add depth from my usual pale skin tone.

But growing old usually comes with tons of neuroses. One of my usual paranoia is suddenly dropping dead due to heat stroke. The worsening heat this summer of 2015 is not doing my paranoid mind any good.

The weather until this weekend. Screenshot from Panahon TV
The weather until this weekend. Screenshot from Panahon TV

Temperature is expected to soar to 36 degrees Celsius, with the heat index reaching to as high as 40 (SOURCE: here and here).

Aside from the discomfort that the hot weather brings, the number of illnesses related to the heat is a threat to everyone, especially to the elderly who is more susceptible to it. I am lucky that my work starts at 9AM which means that by the time the sun reaches its hottest in the afternoon, I am safely ensconced inside one of Makati’s many offices, basking in free air-conditioning.

Stay healthy even when it's summer!
Stay healthy even when it’s summer!

During weekdays where I have to bear the summer heat at home where I have no free AC, I swear by these things to keep me sane and alive:

1. Drink lots of water – I always try to drink as much as eight to nine glasses of water a day. Usually, from the moment I wake up, I automatically drink up to three glasses already. Basically, this is my way to wake up my internal organs, not to mention that I tend to wake up really parched from sleeping. Through out the day, I keep a tall water bottle which I usually refill up to 3 times. It keeps me hydrated even during the middle of the day. Invest in a good water bottle. There are a lot of local brands in the supermarket for as low as PHP200 for a sturdy one. As much as possible, limit drinking coffee, sodas and alcohol.

2. If you can help it, stay indoors. If you need to go out, bring an umbrella, cap to protect your head from the sun, and yes — also your water bottle. During weekends, I tend to hibernate like a bear inside the room. To lessen the heat, I usually open the windows to let the summer breeze come in, I switch off the lights (saves energy too!) and chill with the fan on full blast.

While on the cab yesterday, the radio reporters announced that the stiffling heat is expected to last until the end of this month. God knows if Manila will be finally blessed with a cooler weather.

Vinyls and the classics

The old 45s
The old 45s

Every once in a while, we kids get the chance to visit the in-laws who live somewhere South. Being carless and busy most of the time, we don’t get to visit the elders as much as we would like. My favorite part of every visit is sitting down with my father-in-law, now a septuagenarian, while 50s and 60s music play in the background. The father-in-law, usually, sits on the lounge, a glass of red in hand while reminiscing about times gone by.

He used to be the lead guitarist of a band before, back in the 60s when every musically-inclined young guy wants to be the next John Lennon or Paul McCartney. In their den hung a faded black and white photograph of my father-in-laws and their band mates back in the 60s in black suits, instruments slung over their shoulder.

So last Sunday afternoon, we chanced upon his old classic jazz vinyls, some in mint condition, while some rarely played. I had to control my drool from falling.

The father-in-law, in a nostalgic moment, quipped “All these — I will leave in your hands when I am gone,”

While I would rather enjoy more years with my father-in-law listening about his music recollections and learning new Beatles trivia for him, the fact that he might give us his extensive music collection is just so awesome. Imagine Coltrane, Long Tall Dexter, Beatles recordings, 50s and 60s music all waiting to be discovered?

My future child is lucky to have the opportunity to discover what real music sounds like.

A little bit of pampering comes a long way at Nature’s Way

As someone who loves walking to places and now indulges in a lot of running to keep fit, I can say that my feet are one of the most abused part of my body. 

It often ends up tired, sore and callused — thanks to my many rigorous activities. I know that k should learn to treat it better, I mean it’s the only pair I have and have served me pretty well in all my 30 plus years. 

When the Hubs decided to renew his passport at the DFA West office located in SM Manila and I was left with no choice but to wander around because DFA does not allow companions inside, I decided to indulge a bit and get a foot spa at the Nature’s Way Aromatherapy Salon in front of the DFA office. 

I decided to avail of their Foot Spa service (P410) consist of a nice soak on the foot spa machine, another round of soak on the mint creme, rigorous buffing to remove the calluses, a good scrub and then a bit of massage. 

  

 
The whole service took about an hour  and was worth every penny. The spa staff was quick, courteous and very efficient. With quick strokes, I can imagine my calluses removed, smoothened and buffed. The massage was heavy but was not painful. With the first few strokes, I was pulled to sleep. 

 

nice interiors
 
  
Falling asleep is not impossible: considering the over stuffed chairs, the plump pillow propping you up while “ate” worked magic on my very tired and pathetic footsies. The spa has dimmed lighting, but no ambient music. The only thing that can be improved is the endless banter of the spa technicians which tend to be loud at times, which tend to ruin an otherwise peaceful “Me” time. 

The spa chairs was positioned on top of a sink covered with a “trap door” — so the staff can easily access the sink and the water source. It’s a convenient and ingenious idea and one that gets the job done. 

Would I recommend Nature’s Way? Yes. This aromatherapy spa gets the job done while not putting a dent on your wallet. 
NATURE’S WAY is at located at the third floor of SM Manila. This is not paid advertisement. I paid for the service I availed. 

The Royals – Pageantry, but Without the Pomp and Sophistication

It’s been a quite a while since my favorite guilty pleasure, Gossip Girl, has been off the air. Since then, there’s an obvious lack of a TV show with all the glitz, glamour, plush velvet chairs and expensive interior decoration — I have actually changed allegiance and have become a true convert of the legion of the Walking Dead and became a denizen of Westeros.

That is until I was surfing the net one evening and chanced upon this show called “The Royals” about a fake British royal family and all their dirty little secrets behind palace doors.

The Royals

The premise is pretty simple. What happens if the “spare” suddenly becomes the “heir”? The second son and essentially the spare, Prince Liam (ruggedly handsome, a bit of a playboy, character out of the Prince Harry playbook) suddenly becomes heir to the British throne when his older brother, Prince Robert is killed in an accident while serving in the military. This threw the already dysfunctional (this family is more dysfunctional than an episode of Maury) family into turmoil. Prince Liam’s twin sister, Princess Eleanor (who is now the “spare”) expresses her anger by guzzling the whole monarchy’s wine supply, getting drugged out every day and having sex (with almost everyone, including her bodyguard). This of course angers the queen, Queen Helena whose main purpose for existing is to ensure that the reputation of the Royal Family doesn’t end up in tatters. Thankfully, the reigning monarch, King Simon has the heart of gold and is even seriously considering abolishing the monarchy. Their little family is completed by the King’s brother, Prince Cyrus and his two dim-witted daughters.

the-royals2

the-royals

I am still on the 4th episode, but I have some comments:

1. For a royal family, their castle looks underwhelming. I’ve seen Domyouji/Dao Ming Sui’s house in Meteor Garden (Taiwan version) and I find their house is more imposing and posh than the castle of the King and Queen of England. Somehow, in my mind, I was expecting the castle to have more Louis XVI furniture and gold inlays and Faberge eggs laying around as decor. All I get in “The Royals” are heavy, plush, velvet chairs.

2. I get that Prince Liam should be really cute (and since he is played by Peter Pevensie from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe), but there are times when he just looks scruffy. I can’t imagine a dashing prince looking scruffy — even if he does sleep around.

3. Speaking of Prince Liam, I don’t get his obsession with Ophelia (the American-born daughter of their head of security). She’s pretty, yes — but not in a Kate Middleton…err… I mean Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge-kinda way. I guess, true love?

4. My favorite character so far is Princess Eleanor whose tabloid fixture puts Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus to shame. A bit disconcerting though to see a princess act so trashy and slutty. I mean, aren’t they supposed to be dainty, prim and proper, with the ability to feel a pea stuck somewhere between a tower of thick mattresses?

5. A second favorite is Prince Cyrus, who is so evil –he seems to have trained from the “Disney School of Villains.” Witty one-liners and morally-conflicted drug-addled king wannabe. I love it.

6. Can they do something about Prince Cyrus’ daughters? For the times they are on screen, I always wish that they are incarcerated at the Tower of London and waiting for their heads to be put on spikes.

7. Elizabeth Hurley plays Queen Helena. Obviously, she is not a Princess Diana. If Maleficent and Cruella de Ville had a daughter, then she would be it.

I am not totally blow away, but the show has the potential to be more interesting. I am giving it a chance and besides, aside from zombies, the Marvel franchise and warring families from Westeros, there is nothing to see on TV.

Here’s the first episode of “The Royals” — what do you think?