On Bikes, Quality And Your Budget

On Bikes, Quality And Your Budget  In a lot of cases, bikes are a convenient and cost-efficient means of transport. And if space is at a premium, folding bikes become even more convenient; they don’t take up much space and can be stored conveniently. Of course, as with most things, quality is important when it comes to bikes. Especially for folding bikes which tend to have more parts (and by simple extension, more possible points of failure). So it’s really handy to have the Taiwan Excellence seal point out which bikes are really high quality.
I really love the fact that gas prices have been going down. It's a good deal for almost everyone.

It's already resulted in a lower minimum fare.

Retail goods shouldn't go up too much as well, because of lower cost of transport.

Were it not for the looming energy crisis, power rates could have been expected to go down as well.

And for a car owner like me, it just gives your budget some breathing room.

But actually, gas prices aren't the only big expenses when it comes to your car. The cost of just owning it is pretty steep. You'll likely need insurance, even if the most basic kind. In addition to that: registration fees, parking fees, maintenance service, replacement parts...

It’s still cheaper to take public transport. But of course, public transport here in the Philippines is not without its own hassles.

I guess that’s why there’s been some great innovations on personal transportation vehicles (segways, personal cars).

Oddly enough, the answer could be relatively old-school – bikes. Especially the folding bikes.

Your 13th Month Pay and You

One of the benefits of working here in the Philippines is that, by law, you get a Christmas bonus - your 13th month pay.

But did you know that you don't actually get your one month's salary? You wouldn't think so from it's name, but in almost all cases an ordinary employee doesn't actually get one month's worth of salary.

Digital Christmas?

So, like a lot of people on earth, I was wasting time on facebook and happened to come across a post from tahonews.com about 10 shocking predictions for 2015.

It didn't really seem that shocking, to be honest. Most if not all were current trends, just taken to an extreme conclusion.

Specially the one about online shopping.

3 Silent Traps That Hold Back Your Finances

A lot of threats to our finances are external - from rising retail prices, sneaky charges or big red signs(sale!) at the mall.

Some are more internal - something we do to ourselves without realizing it.

Metrobank UITF

I had to pay a bill at Metro bank. And while waiting for my turn, I browsed through some of the pamphlets they have.

I just love bank pamphlets, they're such riveting reads. Yeah ok, I was bored to death.

I got through a couple and saw one about UITFs. I read through it and felt like I was in the twilight zone.

5 Simple Ways To Take Advantage of Lower Gasoline Prices

For a while now, gasoline prices have been relatively low. Although you wouldn't feel it if you aren't a car owner.

Fares are still the same. And we can hardly expect noche buena items to really get cheaper as Christmas approaches. Of course prices in general are a little cheaper due to the numerous sales. But that would have been the case even if fuel prices had risen.

If you're a car owner though, it's a pretty nice thing that prices are down. It can give you a little more breathing room in your budget - until the prices inevitably increase, that is.

It's too bad gasoline prices won't stay low forever. But there are ways for this temporary rollback to benefit you permanently.

Are LED Bulbs Worth It?

I'm the type that likes to save as much as possible without "down-grading". So when we moved in to our new place (still renting) about two years ago, one of the first things I did was to close the water valve a little bit to conserve water and switch to LED bulbs.


So now, I'm wondering if the LEDs were worth it...

How do you teach your kids to save?

How do you teach your kids to save?
This is going to be my problem in a few years.

I'm not exactly sure how to do it. Even when I think back to how I was raised, it might not directly apply. I have just one kid right now, and I doubt we'll want to have more than two. So there's a bigger slice of the pie to hand out, so to speak.

I've found a lot of tips though, and that should help. I'm just not sure how to make them work.

The Progres Of My New Year's Plan for 2014

Personal finance apprentice The Progres Of My New Year's Plan for 2014
Ok, there's really no progress.

But between slamming into a wall with that possible taxi business, I managed to make some extra money here and there.

Buying a Quality Product Is Still the Best Way To Save

Like most people, I like trying to find more reasonably priced alternatives before buying anything. But I've found that buying a quality product is still the best way to save.

How to Get an SSS Salary Loan

How to Get an SSS Salary Loan  So how do you know if you can loan from SSS? How much can you loan? What are the Requirements when applying for an SSS Loan? How do you apply for an SSS Loan, if you are qualified? How can an OFW be an SSS member?
You typically don't want to take on debt, but when you do, it's good to be smart about how you do it.

Which is why you typically want to avoid loan sharks (5/6). And you definitely don't borrow against your credit card.

Unfortunately there are instances when banks won't lend to you. But if you really need a loan, at least try borrowing from the government through SSS (or PagIbig) before resorting to loan sharks (or even micro lenders, since their interest rates are also usually high).

Review of Philippine Banks' Home Loan Interest Rates and Process Part 2

Review of Philippine Banks' Home Loan Interest Rates and Process  We will go over the process for getting a home loan as well as check which bank has the lowest home loan interest rates. Part 2 of 2.
In part 1, we discussed the minutiae of home loans here in the Philippines. Now, we tackle the key aspects: The interest rate and years to pay.


So who's got the best home loan rates?


Own a Home Through a Loan

A house could be the biggest investment middle class families will make. It is thrilling to live in your dream home, but the cost of owning one could be so high that you will just opt for a decent home that fits your budget. Buying a home is a major decision because it could mean applying for a home loan to afford it. Most Filipinos are able to own a house through housing loans offered by banks and other financial institutions.

Review of Philippine Banks' Home Loan Interest Rates and Process Part 1

Review of Philippine Banks' Home Loan Interest Rates and Process  We will go over the process for getting a home loan as well as check which bank has the lowest home loan interest rates. Part 1 of 2.
Since my post on car loan rates is one of the most read posts in this blog, I figured it would be equally helpful to find out more about home loans.

So during some free time, I went out and talked in person to several banks about their home loans. And were you aware that there are different types of home loans?

Why Go Local?

forex local broker
If you've been browsing personal finance sites (or even just news sites - or almost any site, really), you've undoubtedly come across ads about Forex.

It's a high-rick investment and before getting into it, you should definitely learn more about it. And today, guest blogger Bwayan Jordison is here again to share more info about forex trading

7 Fuel Efficient Driving Tips, 2 Myths, 3 Strategies and 3 Maintenance Tips You Should Know

7 Fuel Efficient Driving Tips, 2 Myths, 3 Strategies and 3 Maintenance Tips You Should Know.  Fuel is expensive, but there's a lot you can do to make sure you use it as efficiently as possible.
Fuel is expensive, but there's a lot you can do to make sure you use it as efficiently as possible.

11 Useful Credit Cards That Can Help Your Budget

You've probably heard of people having multiple credit cards. Great way to get buried in debt, right?

If you have no financial discipline, that's the most likely outcome.

But if you can control your spending, some credit cards can actually give you an edge. Here are some examples of useful credit cards that can help you with your budget.

Credit Card: Points vs Rebates - Which is Better?

(Unfortunately it's another one of my long, math-filled posts. Please bear with me, there's some good points here.)

Most credit cards let you earn points that you can exchange for rewards. Some give you "gifts" when you spend a certain amount (though usually that means spending a lot),

But some offer rebates - letting you get money back on purchases you normally make anyway.

So how do you know which card is most "rewarding"?

On Advertising

You may have probably guessed that I'm not a fan of ads. I could probably give my views on them, but that would probably be a long and boring read (if not rambling and confusing).

But luckily I don't have to, you can "learn" all about ads from Jerry Seinfeld in this 4:37-short video clip.

Angat Pilipinas Awards

You may have read me mention that I'm a member of Angat Pilipinas. It's an organization, mostly of OFWs, whose aim is to promote financial literacy and entrepreneurship here in the Philippines.  Ans as part of that effort, Angat Pilipians will be holding the first and only personal finance awarding event in the Philippines.  The awards were created to recognize excellence and achievement in financial literacy and entrepreneurship.   So if there's any personal finance or business blogger that you feel has really helped you or taught you a lot, please nominate them. After the nomination phase, there will be a voting phase, and the awarding will be in April 2015

You may have read me mention that I'm a member of Angat Pilipinas. It's an organization, mostly of OFWs, whose aim is to promote financial literacy and entrepreneurship here in the Philippines.

Ans as part of that effort, Angat Pilipians will be holding the first and only personal finance awarding event in the Philippines.

Is It Ok To Buy Generic Medicines Or Is That Being Too Cheap?

Is It Ok To Buy Generic Medicines Or Is That Being Too Cheap? I think most people just equate the low price with low quality. And so if generic medicines are cheap, then there must be something lacking or wrong with them.  But what sometimes isn't considered is that when we buy branded medicines, we aren't paying for just the drug. We also pay for a lot of other things: the nicer (more expensive) packaging it comes in, the initial research done (even if it was completed decades ago), and the marketing/advertising for the drug.
A while back, I was reading an article about savings tips, and one of the tips was to buy generic instead of branded medicines.

To my surprise though, one of the commenters was wailing against skimping on your health by buying "unknown" (di-kilalang) brands.

The person was of course right. But "unknown" brands are different from generic medicines. More importantly, they aren't really any less effective.

Is it ok to get a loan?

Being in debt isn't always a bad thing. There's good debt and bad debt, and it's important for us to be able to tell which is which.

But sometimes it can get confusing. Like, is it better to save and invest for a house rather than buy it through a housing loan?

To give you an idea, here a 6 examples of when it's ok to get  a loan, and 6 examples of times you're just burying yourself in debt.

On gadgets and goals

Last week was a little tough.

It started with my phone's sim dying. But that's not a big deal. Last time I had to buy a new prepaid sim. This time I got it replaced for free (postpaid; plan zero!), I just needed to report it to globe.

But then my PC sorta died too. It kept shutting down after 10 or 15 minutes. That isn't as small a problem. Last time that happened to me I had to replace the CPU - and the motherboard since the new CPU wouldn't fit my old motherboard.

To make it more interesting I noticed my phone now has about half the battery life it used to have. It won't last 24 hours even with only reasonable usage.

They're both around at least 5 year's old, so it's not a total surprise they're breaking down. I just wish they didn't do so at pretty much the same time!

But then last week, my MEG shares where shooting through the roof. I had a pretty decent profit! And just in the nick of time, it seemed.

If You Want To Achieve Your Goals, Don't Focus On Them

Keep your eyes on the prize, right? I mean, that's how it's supposed to work.

Once you have a goal, keep it mind, right it down, tell people about it, yada yada yada.

Apparently that's not how it works, or at least that's not enough...

8 Modus Operandi To Rob You Of Your Money

8 Modus Operandi To Rob You Of Your Money.  There's been a lot of scams over the years (decades, probably) and it might be helpful to go through them, since criminals are likely to cycle through them until it doesn't work anymore.  So here's a list of 8 modus operandi, that hopefully will never work on anyone again.
Lately there's been another rash of ATM hackings. It just goes to show how persistent and resourceful some people are when it comes to chasing "easy money".

The rest of us just have to be vigilant and be aware of these things in order to protect ourselves.

But that got me thinking, there's been a lot of scams over the years (decades, probably) and it might be helpful to go through them, since criminals are likely to cycle through them until it doesn't work anymore.

So here's a list of 8 modus operandi, that hopefully will never work on anyone again.

Insurance You Don't Need

Insurance You Don't Need.   Are there really insurance you don't need? And is life insurance always necessary?  It really depends on your situation and what you really need.
A while ago I read an article on Yahoo Philippines about saving money by avoiding some unnecessary, though not necessarily frivolous expenses.

I browsed through the comments and was surprised to see that a mini-argument was brewing about the necessity of life insurance.

The article was saying you could save money by not buying insurance you don't really need. A couple of commenters were insisting that insurance is always a necessity.

So that got me thinking, are there really insurance you don't need? And is life insurance always necessary?

Keep It To Yourself

In order for you to achieve your goal, it's been said that you should tell your family and friends. So that way they can hold you to it.

But telling someone your goal may actually lead to you not achieving your goal...

On Living Simply

(This is going to be another one of my longer posts...)
On Living Simply.  My opinion has always been that to live simply means not trading in my years-old smartphone for the latest model. Or basically not chasing any of the latest trends.  That's true, but apparently that's not the entirety of it.

My opinion has always been that to live simply means not trading in my years-old smartphone for the latest model. Or basically not chasing any of the latest trends.

That's true, but apparently that's not the entirety of it.

Is It Better To Get A Bigger Basic Salary Or A Bonus?

Given the same annual salary, is it better to have bonuses or a bigger basic salary?  They have different pros and cons but in the end, I guess it doesn't really matter. What's really important is how we use the money, and not how we receive it.
Given the same annual salary, is it better to have bonuses or a bigger basic salary?

I used to work for a company that gave out bonuses quarterly. Inevitably I'd hear different people express how wonderful that was. I remember all my coworkers would be excited whenever the bonuses were about to be paid out. Including me. Everyone loves bonuses, right?

Eventually though, people would move on to higher paying jobs. Usually those jobs would only have 1 or two bonuses a year, but annually they earned more.

But I always wondered, if everything else was the same, which "method" was best? They have different pros and cons...

Risk Reward Ratio

Risk Reward Ratio  In an earlier post, I talked about position sizing. Basically, if you don't want to lose your shirt in the stock market, you have to buy "smartly" - never placing a good portion of your money on a rather risky stock.  That tells you how much to buy. But how do you know if that stock was worth pursuing in the first place? That's where the risk/reward ratio comes in.  If you're going to make a risky investment, you might as well take the one with the highest payoff, right?
In an earlier post, I talked about position sizing. Basically, if you don't want to lose your shirt in the stock market, you have to buy "smartly" - never placing a good portion of your money on a rather risky stock.

That tells you how much of a stock to buy. But how do you know if that stock was worth pursuing in the first place? That's where the risk/reward ratio comes in.

Life is like a jigsaw puzzle


Life is like a jigsaw puzzle.

The good news is you get to decide what the picture looks like. Sure, you're dealt a specific set of circumstances at the start, but change is constant.

The bad news is the picture gets put together anyway, even if you don't do anything. You can go through your whole life just going with the flow. But you may end up not liking the outcome.


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On Expenses, Passion and Savings

On Expenses, Passion and Savings  In the end what matters most is that you are able afford the life you really want.  Sometimes that involves a lot of sacrifices, especially when it comes to expensive future goals - house, tuition, etc.  But it's not a bad idea to indulge your passions as long as your goals aren't jeopardized. Who knows, they might be expenses now but income streams in the future.
If you've read a lot of personal finance articles or attended seminars on the same, you've probably become aware of a few similarities.

For one, starbucks is a popular target. Inevitably, a quick summation of designer coffee expenses is bandied around.

After that, the "list" usually includes gadgets, shoes, clothes, and high-end (or high-priced) food.

There's probably a good reason for that. Keeping finances in check is the first step towards financial independence. You can't invest without money and how can you have money if you don't save, right?

But life is usually more complex than what we are able to verbalize. And the same is true in this case.

8 Traits of Successful People

We all want to be successful, right? But what does it really take?

CMAP and You

Last time, I wrote about the CiC and the possible new role our credit information and history will play in our finances.

However, as a source of credit information, it's not unique nor even the first in the Philippines.

For about 80 years now banks, credit cards and other lenders could get credit information from CMAP - Credit Management Association of the Philippines, Inc.

So what's CMAP?

The Credit Information Corporation and You

The Credit Information Corporation and You:  here's a Q-and-A style run down of what we can expect.
Last time, we tackled the establishment of the Credit Information Corporation, and what having an individual credit rating means for ordinary folks like us.

So now that it's here, here's a Q-and-A style run down of what we can expect.

Credit Ratings and You

Credit Ratings and You.   There's no credit rating here in the Philippines - until now that is.  The Credit Information Corporation (CiC) was created in 2008 by virtue of Republic Act. No. 9510, otherwise known as the Credit Information System Act (CISA).  It is a government-owned and controlled corporation that is envisioned to be the leading provider of independent, reliable and accurate credit information in the Philippines.  So what the heck does that mean?
If you're reading personal finance blogs and/or searching for finance/money related articles on the net, then you've probably seen ads or spam for it.

Get a free credit report. Know your credit rating - or fix it, raise it, or whatever.

It's mostly a U.S. thing (or some other foreign country like the U.K.). There's no such thing here in the Philippines - until now that is.

Protect Yourself From Pretexting and Internet Fraud

Protect Yourself From Pretexting and Internet Fraud. These days, thieves after your money are more likely to resort to pretexting (calling with a make believe story to get your info), phishing, pharming, email spoofing, and various other cans than to use the plain, old stick'em-up routine. how do you protect yourself?
My wife recently got a call from her bank. She was really busy and not much of the conversation registered with her.

Except for the fact that the caller was from her bank and was verifying if the email for her online banking account was still valid.

She said yes, the call ended, and a few minutes later she was very worried. Had something happened to her account? She had the vague sense it was because someone tried to access her account (though you can't really do that with just an email address)...

The Dream of an Integrated ASEAN Economy

Have you read about the impending ASEAN integration? You probably have, and maybe you've wondered what it means to us. Today we have Bwayan Jordison, a guest blogger explaining exactly that.
In 2015, a planned major change in the ASEAN region will finally be implemented, that if successful, can have lasting effects on our economy, our livelihoods and even our society. I am, of course, talking about the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) which is tentatively scheduled to happen in 2015.

What exactly does this “economic integration” mean?

Time Value of Money

Time is money. It's an old saying and easily understood.

However, the time value of money is something that takes a bit more explaining - including formulas and whatnot.

But here's a simple and short (3:36) video from TED-edthat explains it.

Pag-ibig Housing Loan

Pag-ibig Housing Loan.   Stuff you need to know about Pag-IBIG (HDMF) housing loan that isn't mentioned on their site and instead tackled in the loan counseling session.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, there's a few important things that are left unsaid on the Pag-IBIG official site. It's instead discussed in the loan counseling session that you're required to attend first. (note: I've read elsewhere that it isn't required anymore. I would still attend though, because of the info shared there that might not be on their site.)

I haven't attended myself, so I relied on two coworkers who have attended and loaned from Pag-IBIG. (I'll post an update once I am able to attend the seminar/orientation)

Pag-IBIG's benefits

Benefits of Pag-IBIG (HDMF): calamity loan, multi-purpose loan, housing loan, and withdrawing your contributed funds (including employer contributions and dividends earned).
I've been digging up on Pag-IBIG (HDMF) trying to find out more about it's housing loan. But along the way I stumbled across a few cool facts.

Did you know that Pag-IBIG actually stood for Pagtutulungan sa Kinabukasan: Ikaw, Bangko, Indusria, at Gobyerno?

And did you know that you could withdraw everything you've contributed to the fund? Including the part your employer contributed (if any)? And also including all dividends earned?

Is Laziness Genetic?

Have you ever wondered why some people seem always on the go or seem determined to keep themselves knee-deep in things to do? While others seem quite the opposite?

In this 2:38 minute video, it turns out that there might be a couch-potato gene.

Cash In A Flash - Money Trap or Good Deal?

You've probably come across the multitude of fliers being handed out.

Is it a money trap or a good deal?

HMO Benefits And Their Importance To The Employee

HMO Benefits And Their Importance To The Employee.  While a lot can be said about being in business for yourself - either via freelancing or owning your own business - being a regular employee does have certain advantages.  And the foremost advantage is being covered by health insurance.
While a lot can be said about being in business for yourself - either via freelancing or owning your own business - being a regular employee does have certain advantages.

And the foremost advantage is being covered by health insurance.

Having health insurance is so important that it's almost impossible to overstate it's benefits.

For one, the ability of illness to wipeout your finances and get you into debt is so great that it's almost peerless.

Second, illness not only costs money, but can prevent you from earning more. That's true even for regular employees.

Even though being ill should not be taken against you during performance appraisals (which can determine your salary increase), it doesn't do you any favors when being compared with peers who have produced more simply because they were still there when you were out sick.

But the benefits of health insurance doesn't stop at simply having it. Here's a look at the three most important benefits of HMO to employees.

How To Do A Fun Staycation

How To Do A Fun Staycation. Staying home during holidays and long weekends has been more popular than it used to be. But it doesn't have to be boring. And really, does it have to be your house?
Staycations are in vogue; I remember a time when people thought it was boring that I spent my summers or holidays at home.

Nowadays, because of traffic, high prices and the generally more hectic pace of life, staying at home is a lot more attractive.

But it doesn't have to be boring. And really, does it have to be your house?

5 Behaviours That Help You Save Money

There aren't always discounts or promos to be had. And we can't always time our spending around them either.

But on any given day, we can do our best to save money. Here are five behaviors that can help us do just that.

My Twin Towers Appraoch To Stock Market Investing

My Twin Towers Appraoch To Stock Market Investing. Investments can take any form that suits our needs. We just need to be mindful and take the right precautions.
A couple of years back, I read Fitz's post/quiz on how to tell if you were an investor or a trader.

It was a great article. You can make money either way - as long as it suited your strengths. Sure, I advocate long-term, "safe" investing; it would be irresponsible of me not to. But plenty of people make money by actively trading.

The next day or so, Burn wrote a post inspired by that quiz. After reading his 3-guard combo stock investing strategy, I thought to myself "That's a great strategy!"

I tried implementing a similar strategy. And that's when I realized investing involves creating a strategy that fits your personality and situation.

And so I'm sharing my own investing strategy. (True to form, it took me one year to react when it took someone else just one day to do the same.)

My Own Trash to Cash experience(s)

My Own Trash to Cash experience(s).   It seems like one of those small "tweaks" you can do and earn extra cash. But is it worth it?  It's probably best to think about it as a rebate for helping the environment.
A couple of years ago, I read Fitz' trash to cash post. I got excited. It seemed like one of those small "tweaks" you can do and earn extra cash.

And when I later read Benedict's post on the same, I figured I should really try and do it.

So of course the logical next step for me was to twiddle my thumbs and let time pass by unproductively. After a sufficient time (i.e. long enough to be considered "irresponsible") elapsed with absolutely zero progress, I was finally ready to start.

9 Debt Payment Techniques

9 Debt Payment Techniques
Paying off debt, at it's core, is pretty simple. Just fork over money equal to the debt, right?

7 Non-traditional Investments You Can Start Even If You Don't Have SSS, TIN, or a Birth Certificate (yet)

7 Non-traditional Investments You Can Make Even If You Don't Have  SSS, TIN, or a Birth Certificate (yet): Forex, Networking or MLM, Paid Online Surveys, Blogs, Affiliate Programs, Digital Stores, Web Hosting Resellers.
First, it's very important to note that having an SSS and TIN is... well, very important.

SSS will improve your future, and it's important to pay the proper taxes. And a birth certificate is usually required to get either one.

For most, if not all, employees that is not a problem. Employers often help them acquire these, or at least give them time to do so. The self-employed, freelancers, enterprising students, and the less affluent residing in provinces (or even in the metro) aren't as lucky though.

However, just because you don't have the right documentation right now doesn't mean there's not much else you can do in the meantime.

Emergency preparedness - Floods, Landslides, and Emergency Hotlines

Emergency preparedness - Floods, Landslides, and Emergency Hotlines

The rainy season is here again! ... or almost here, anyway.

While storms and heavy rains might not come for a few weeks or months more (or they might; who knows?), I wanted to share this public service/advisory from the DENR Mines and Geosciences Bureau

When Should I Sell My Stock?

When Should I Sell My Stock?  Probably the hardest part of investing is knowing when to sell. This dilemma is caused by one of two reasons: We bought without a plan, or We had a plan, but didn't have the discipline to follow it.
Probably the hardest part of investing is knowing when to sell.

Think about it: It just went up 3% today, should I sell now because there's probably a correction tomorrow? Then it goes down 2% the next day; should I sell before it goes down further? But the short/medium/long-term trend is still going up, should I sell later? But if the trend is trading in range, should I wait until the break-out? What if it doesn't brake-out and instead breaks down?



This dilemma is caused by one of two reasons:

Can A Time Deposit Beat Inflation?

Can A Time Deposit Beat Inflation? The simple answer is, of course, "no".  But that's just the simple answer. Technically it's true, but you can change that.
The simple answer is, of course, "no".

But that's just the simple answer. Technically it's true, but you can change that.

Supply-side, Demand-side; Still the same coin

Supply-side, demand-side; Still the same coin.  When reviewing our finances, we should be careful not to trap ourselves in the expense side of the equation. Being on the look out for other income opportunities could be healthier for wallets in the long run.
Do you think parents start off at a disadvantage when it comes to financial decisions?

I've been thinking about this question for several days now. It started when I decided to have a few pictures of my baby daughter printed.

Critical Thinking and Meralco

You've probably seen this Meralco advisory before.




But let's examine what it's trying to say:
  1. Electricity rate is going down.
  2. Meralco contracted more power producers to make this happen.
  3. Basically, they are good guys.

But did you know you should be either angry, annoyed or, at the very least, confused by this advisory?

Synergize

Synergize
Ever played magic the gathering? I only ask because some otherwise plebeian cards become very powerful when used with each other. It's colloquially called a "combo".

In basketball, there's a similar thing. Teams perform well and win a lot, even with less talented players - as long as their skills complement each other. Sometimes the reverse is true, talented teams underperform if the star players don't find a way to maximize each other's strengths. This time it's called chemistry.

In business, the same thing also exists.

Can I Invest Before Or While Building My Emergency Fund?

That's a question you've probably asked yourself. And actually I struggled with it myself initially.

Someone asked me this question via email, and I'm sharing my answer here. Partly because it might be helpful to others, but mostly because it doesn't hurt to get different viewpoints and answers on a relatively complex problem.

But first, for better context, here's the question:

The Mindset to Succeed

"Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right."

Today I'd like to share this12-minute video about how important it is to believe in yourself - and believe in each other; and just how much impact it has.

On Losing Weight And Saving Money

There used to be a time when losing weight was "in vogue" as summer approaches. That's not true now, of course. Losing weight is "in vogue" throughout the year.

Average Daily Balance, And Why Your Savings Account Paid Even Less Than Your Already Low Expectation

Average Daily Balance, And Why Your Savings Account Paid Even Less Than Your Already Low Expectation
My second job was at a bank, and that's when I really started saving. During my first year at that job, I was able to save 12,000 in my first year. That amount was higher than my monthly gross pay, so I was pretty happy I was able to save that much.

At the end of the year though, my interest was around 12 pesos (and I think that was before the tax kicked in - and, to boot, those were in the "old days" before the BSP started emulating the US Federal reserve in cutting down interest rates to all-time lows.)

Obviously I was bummed.

Is it ok to invest in stocks while still learning?

Is it ok to invest in stocks while still learning?  When it comes to UITFs and Mutual Funds, there are some basic info you need to understand first, but for the most part it's possible to invest right away.  When investing in equity funds, it's good to be able to understand what the prospectus is saying, the numbers it's quoting and how to judge if it's a good fund for you. But that's relatively simple.  After that, it's just a matter of investing regularly. But to answer the question more directly: It 's ok to invest in equity funds while still learning as long as you understand a few key points:      Understand that your investment will wildly change in value     The best fund last year likely won't be the best fund this year     Consider cost-averaging; it's a good strategy for any beginner investor     Last, but most important: you really need a goal for your investment(s).
That's the question one reader asked me via the comment section. I've already provided an answer, but I thought this was actually a pretty "universal" question and wanted to give it a more thorough answer via it's own post.

But first, here's the question:

"...But as a beginner, do you think it will be wise to invest in UITF like the BDO equity fund while learning? I can see from your comment above that it is wiser to learn first before investing into stocks. You mean UITF or the one you personally invest? Can you share some tips please... Thank you :)"
- Janine

Now for my answer: 

Why Trade Currency?

Why Trade Currency? A few reasons and a dash of caution before jumping into foreign exchange trading.
One of the limitations of blogging about personal finance without becoming an expert first, is that there are a few topics I probably shouldn't touch. Like Forex.

It's a perfectly legitimate investment vehicle, and people do invest in them. However, since I don't trade currencies myself and it's a high-risk investment, it's reckless for me to recommend it.

Luckily, today we have a guest blogger who can tell us about the advantages of currency trading.
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12 Inexpensive Hobbies And Pastimes

12 Inexpensive Hobbies And Pastimes  There a whole lot of things and stuff out there to entice you to spend money. And so when you find yourself with spare time and looking for something to do, there's a great chance you'll end up spending money.  In this case, idle time is your wallet's bane.  It's not a bad idea to have inexpensive, "default" activities to fall back on.
"Idle hands are the devil's workshop." Or so an old saying goes.

While the correlation between "evil" and idleness maybe debatable, it's not far-fetched that when we've got absolutely nothing to do, we might end up being up to no good.

And that's actually very relevant in personal finance.

There's a whole lot of stuff out there designed specifically to entice you to spend money. And so when you find yourself with spare time and looking for something to do, there's a great chance you'll end up spending money.

In this case, idle time is your wallet's bane.

It's not a bad idea to have inexpensive, "default" activities to fall back on:

Why Should A Child's Fist Birthday Party Be Grand?

Why Should A Child's Fist Birthday Party Be Grand?  It doesn't help that older generations have done it that way and that the grandparents are usually the number one spoilers. That usually translates to us spending as much as we possibly can.   We're essentially mixing importance with money.
Kids have birthday parties, that's just how it is. And it makes sense.

It makes more sense than say... me celebrating my birthday party. I've had lots of it already, so it's nothing new. Plus I'm footing the bill... so, you know: "It's ok. It's not a big deal. Let's just stay in." :D

What puzzles me is the grand 1st birthday celebration. I can understand the 7th, which is usually a little more modest (compared to the first, anyway). But the first birthday... It's especially bewildering to me.

8 Overspending Traps You May Not Be Aware Of

8 Overspending Traps You May Not Be Aware Of.  Sales, Free gifts or items, bundled products, Stickers announcing potential savings, Uniform price schemes, Buy now pay later schemes, lack of preparation.
For businesses to thrive, customers have to spend. However we, the customers, actually want to save.

And indeed there are a lot of ways to do so. However, businesses have been quite adept at making us think we are saving money, when we aren't.

How? Here are 8 ways:

The Progres Of My New Year's Plan for 2014

The Progres Of My New Year's Plan for 2014
For 2014, I need to do just three things: save money, plan for a taxi business, and actually start the business.

After again being hampered by procrastination, I've finally gotten of my butt and did some serious thinking about that taxi business.

And here's what I came up with. (file link after the break.)

It's not a business plan (though I have a draft of that too), and it only has a basic ROI (plus a little risk planning).  What it is though, is a basic projection of what the finances would look like.

And after going through it, here's what I concluded:

The Extreme Savings Tips

A collection of savings tips I bet you've never heard before!

6 Step Plan For How Parents Can Teach Their Children How To Properly Handle Credit Cards

How Parents Can Teach Their Children How To Properly Handle Credit Cards
When I say parents can give credit cards to students, I'm not focusing on students getting credit cards.

I'm focusing on parents taking charge of their children's financial well-being and future. Don't just give it to them, teach them what it is and how to use it properly.

Avoidance is an ineffective response to something that will not be avoided. Waiting, on it's own, will not guarantee a better outcome.

And if our children will eventually end up with credit cards (and they most likely will if the parents have one themselves), then it's much better to be proactive and teach them the right habits.

But how can we do that?

Just giving them a credit card and "winging it" would be fatal (financially speaking). That's no different than just waiting for them to get jobs and get one on their own.

Instead we have to be systematic about it.

Why Students Should Be Taught How To Use Credit Cards By Their Parents

Why Students Should Be Taught How To Use Credit Cards By Their Parents.  If you think about it, credit cards are only traps to the uninitiated. And responsibility is taught; it's not something you just grow into by virtue of the number of birthdays you've had.  For people who've learned to be responsible with their credit cards, these cards are actually a convenience at the very least; and maybe even a savings tool in an optimal setting.  With the lack of personal finance topics in our school's curriculum, how else are our youth going to learn about money matters if parents don't take the initiative?
A while back I featured a guest post about how students can apply for a credit card (along with some tips on handling it).

It was pretty run-of-the-mill, though I thought the concept of students handling credit cards was novel and I excitedly endorsed the idea. (As it turns out, it wasn't all that novel.)

I got a few random likes, but in one facebook group it was lambasted. The idea was apparently backwards and would result in disaster.

I had a long moment of self doubt. But as I thought deeply about it, I reaffirmed my earlier conclusion.

If you're a parent, and you're handling your credit card very well, then it's really a good idea to have your child get a credit card.

Why?

Out from the Abyss – Out of debt and compiling cash

Today we have a guest post about how to get out of debt.

On paper, it's a matter of saving as much as you can and paying off the debt as quickly as you can buy making the largest possible payments you can.

However, we all know that mentally it takes a certain amount of perspective to get through it.

Gale, our guest writer today, will share just how we can get guide ourselves out of debt.
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The Comprehensive Guide To Breaking Bad Habits And Making Good Habits Last For Good

The Comprehensive Guide To Breaking Bad Habits And Making Good Habits Last For Good.  We all have bad habits. Sometimes we call them weaknesses. And the best long-term solution is usually not to avoid them but to get to the root cause and deal with that instead.
Unfortunately, it's going to be another one of those rambling, self-absorbed posts. But if you stick with it, I promise it's actually helpful.

So I've had a spending problem for a few months.

Nothing big. I was still saving for retirement, the emergency fund, college education, yada yada yada. The problem was my personal savings.

After all those other savings, I've got a little left for myself. It's usually for direct stock investment, mini-mergencies, and the like. Ultimately, it's going to be my seed money for a potential business.

The problem started at Christmas. I normally, and on purpose, spend a lot on gifts plus occassional treats - both for myself and others.

I was able to still save half my 13th-month pay, but noticed I was spending what was supposed to be my personal savings. It didn't bother me during the holidays, but then it spilled over into January... then February... and even up to mid-March.

For some reason, my saving habit was backsliding. Anything I didn't pay myself first was getting spent. After years of not having that problem, I was very curious - and more than a little anxious - as to why that was the case.

So I did some research and found some interesting things.

6 After Death Expenses And The Best Ways To Prepare For Them Financially

6 After Death Expenses And The Best Ways To Prepare For Them Financially  Death is inevitable... and actually very costly!   But for most of us, there is no discussion about the topic - let alone any sort of preparation.
Death is inevitable... and actually very costly!

It causes such a big financial hit that it should be one of the most discussed expenses on par with tuition, food, and gasoline.

However, the opposite is true. For most of us, there is no discussion about the topic - let alone any sort of preparation. It's very understandable; our mortality - or that of our loved ones' - just isn't a nice topic.

It's a bit of a shame though, because most of the ways to prepare for this eventuality don't actually conjure images of death. For the most part, it's just more of the same: emergency funds and insurance.