Stock-picking - The Semi-Easy Way Out

I like direct stock investment. It's exciting, it gives you a sense of control (well, only a little bit), the sense that you are making money is enhanced (compared to "just" investing it in an equity fund) - and again, it's exciting.

Philippine Stock Brokers (Or Lack Thereof)

I guess that one of the biggest hurdle to investing is how to actually start investing.

Want to save money? Don't bulk buy!

Want to save money? Don't bulk buy!  You can save money by buying in bulk - if you do it right. But most of the time, households are better off just managing their cash flows.
Ok, you got me. That isn't really accurate. You can save money by buying in bulk - if you do it right. But most of the time, households are better off just managing their cash flows.

First off, yes you do get a lower price (per unit, that is) by buying in bulk. But it's not that straight-forward.

And good personal finance decisions often can be analogous to what a responsible company would do in similar situations. Taking stock of your personal net worth is pretty much a company's balance sheet. And assessing your cashflow is like a company's income statement.

And since companies buy in large quantities, it makes sense that we should do so if we can, right?

Actually, no.

Forex and commodities as alternative investments

The past few years, more Filipinos became aware of stock investing. And from what I read, there's more Filipinos investing now than in the past.

But there's actually a lot of investments available out there aside from stocks and real estate. And today, we have Bwayan Jordison to tell us about some of the alternative investments out there.
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On Building Good Habits

Do you believe that life is a series of decisions?

I know that sounds a little too philosophical for a small, random blog. But it's easy to believe so, isn't it?

Everyday we make a lot of  small and big decisions. What shirt to wear, which route to work to take, what to eat... and most relevant to this blog, even what/when/how we spend our money.

If you really think about all the decisions you have to make during the day, you might be exhausted just from cataloging them. But the really interesting thing is that when you make those decisions, you aren't thinking at all.

To be more specific, the actions you decide to take are based on habits and not conscious decisions at all. Studies show that around 40% of the things we do, we do simply because we got used to doing them.

Habits are powerful. We could be living half our lives on autopilot. Worse, we could be doing so without really deciding that the "flight plan" is really what we want.

4 Stock Perils And What You Can Do To Keep Yourself Safe

4 Stock Perils And What You Can Do To Keep Yourself Safe.  Stock investing is profitable - and risky.   What if my bank closes own, will I lose my UITF too? What about Mutual Funds? Can mutual fund companies go out of business? What happens then? Can my stock broker go out of business? What happens then? What if the company I invested in gets suspended or de-listed by PSE?   While investing in stocks is inherently risky, at least it isn't a total leap of faith. There is some measure of protection, we just need to be aware of them.
Stock investing is profitable - and risky. I've written before how you can reduce your investment risk.

But some risks are beyond your control. Fortunately, you aren't totally unprotected and don't have to just accept them.

Medical Insurance For Senior Citizens - Blue Cross Premier vs Kaiser Senior Care

I posted about Health Insurance for Senior Citizens last time because it's a topic that's been on the minds of people that I know. And weirdly enough, it's not a widely discussed topic despite generations of Filipinos shouldering the care for their parents' well-being.

The probable reason for that is there's hardly any choices. And what's available is prohibitively expensive. I actually browsed several insurance sites but didn't get any info about medical insurance for senior citizens. And I also previously read that Blue Cross was really the only one offering medical insurance to senior citizens.

But a good thing about that post is that it attracted someone that mentioned yet another alternative - Kaiser Senior Care. So I decided to write a post and try to compare the two.

3 Biases That Affect How You Handle Money

A while back I mentioned 7 behaviors that silently affected how we handle money.

Today I'd like to share and add three more to that list - Priming, Halo Effect, and Hindsight Bias. These were actually explained really well in Daniel Kahneman's book Thinking Fast and Slow.

But instead of me writing about it, here's a concise 4:35 animation from youtube channel FightMediocrity to explain it.

Health Insurance for Senior Citizens

Health Insurance for Senior Citizens  Health Insurance is available for those 66 years old and above, so let's discuss the mechanics - and the price.
"The only choice for senior citizen's."

If you've tried looking for health insurance for your parents, or anyone older than 65 for that matter, then you've probably come to the same conclusion. The only medical insurance currently available is Blue Cross' Premier plan.

But technically speaking, that isn't true. Another more basic (and affordable) insurance is still available - PhilHealth.

Of course, in practice, PhilHealth is usually not enough. And so, if you're looking for medical insurance for senior citizen's you're pretty much stuck with Blue Cross Premier.

However, that's almost beside the point. Insurance is available, so it's more practical to discuss the mechanics - and the price.

How Actively or Passively Should I Manage My Equity Fund?

How Actively or Passively Should I Manage My Equity Fund?  This is something I struggle with myself. And I think every new investor in an equity fund also struggles with this too at some point.  Should you actively manage your equity fund? It's a profitable strategy; but it really depends on your execution.
This is something I struggle with myself. And I think every new investor in an equity fund also struggles with this too at some point.

And someone asked me about this in the comment section. And I've read this in forums too. What if I sell my UITF/MF when it reaches a high and then buy back when it falls to a low? Is this a good strategy?

Yes, that's a profitable strategy; but it really depends on your execution.

There is no healthy budget without constant vigilance

It's been said that genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. And when it comes to personal finance, it's roughly the same.

Keeping our finances healthy requires constant discipline. And today, we have guest blogger Daniel to talk more about that effort.
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Debt is all around us. It can swallow whole companies, state budgets, and human dreams. Yet, without it, many great individual and collective achievements would be impossible. Don’t let all the pressure and difficulties coming from the financial system get the better of you.  The longer you wait, the fewer options you have at your disposal. Meet the challenges head-on, even if you are in over your head.

Investing in UITF and Mutual Funds: 5 Things You Need to Know

I've written about UITFs and Mutual funds before. But when it comes to investing, I don't think you can ever be too informed. And today we have guest blogger Zarj from Security Bank to tell us the essential things about UITFs and MFs.
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If you are looking for medium to long term investments, you might encounter Mutual Funds and Unit Investment Trust Funds (UITF) in your research. Both are collective investment schemes offered to investors.

Investment companies typically create a collective scheme from money pooled together from their investors and invest the fund in order to achieve a specific investment objective. Although MFs and UITFs have similarities, they have significant differences as well that may help you decide which one would be a better option for you.

Below is a list of things you need to know about MFs and UITFs.

Car Loans - What You Need To know

Car Loans - What You Need To know  The questions and decision points when taking out a car loan.
Thinking of buying a car? Or know someone who is? Then this article is for you.

My article on car loan rates is one of the most popular articles on this blog. And consequently I got asked a lot of questions about car loans in general. So I thought it would be useful to post everything I know and learned here.

So here's some of the usual questions and decision points I encountered.

How To Get a TIN - and why you should

How To Get a TIN in the Philippines- and why you should.  There’s a variety of investment options to choose from, but you almost always need to have a TIN (Tax Identification Number).
When it comes to investing, the earlier you start the better. And you can never really be too early. Well, almost never.

Savings vs Investments

When I was starting to invest, I had the urge to go ahead and take the plunge instead of building an emergency fund first. And even after I had an emergency fund, I wanted to go ahead and put all my money on stocks and equity funds.

I would later learn it's a somewhat natural reaction, as other beginner investors I knew and some readers who've contacted me either did the same or wanted to do the same.

But  eventually I found out first hand that it's better to save also and not just invest. And to talk more about saving vs investing, we have guest blogger Hui Min.

Do It Yourself Saving Tips: Fix a Leaking faucet and/or pipe

Do It Yourself Saving Tips: Fix a Leaking faucet and/or pipe
If you live in a condo, there's a good chance these two things are true: A handyman charges around Php500 (without parts) for whatever he's going to fix under that sink AND those pipes were less-than-great in the first place.

Of course, if you just moved in, you should call the PMO and ask for that handyman. Because it's still probably under warranty and/or it's under their responsibility (like the pipes from the unit upstairs that leaks and is slowly but surely rotting your ceiling).

However, you'll also find that some enterprising field-master will industriously offer to clean that p-trap of yours while recounting some vague horror story about the same pipe of some other unit owner you've never heard of before. And then charge you 300 for something you can do yourself in 5 minutes or less without any tools whatsoever. Except for rubber gloves, because you know... ick...

How to avail of your SSS benefits

How to avail of your SSS benefits
A while back I posted about why you need SSS if you want to improve your financial future. I still don't think it's a great investment by itself. But being an SSS member does let you have access to bank products.

In addition, SSS benefits are still useful, even if not nearly enough to rely on. But while I mentioned before what benefits are available, I left off how you can avail of them.

And I thought that info might be useful, since there's a lot of bureaucracy involved. At the very least you'll need your SSS ID, pay your contributions, and go to the nearest SSS branch. However, depending on the benefit, there are numerous forms and documents to submit.

Kuwentong Barbero

A while back I recounted some modest yet inspiring (at least to me) tales of entrepreneurship.

And while they were basically snapshots of an ongoing story, sometimes I'm lucky enough to see how it progresses. Like with my barber.

Should You Invest In A Memorial Plan?

Someone asked me about this via email, and I thought it was a good idea to share it here as well. There are a lot of financial products out there to choose from and memorial plans are one of those things you need to at least think about.

But the kicker is: If you thought it was hard to talk to someone about life insurance, just imagine how awkward the conversation is when it's a lot more focused on caskets and burial services.

And essentially that's what memorial plans are: they're a very focused sort of life insurance. It's not that you (or your heirs, rather) get money. You just don't have to pay for any deathcare (yep, apparently that's a word) expenses.

Memorial plans are a good product to buy, but it comes with caveats that deserve some really thorough thinking and planing. Let's start with the pros:

Free Personal & Family Financial Planning Course

Don't worry, I'm not selling anything. I'm not hyping a seminar either.


This personal & family financial planning course is one of the free courses you can take in Coursera.

I first learned about it when Rox mentioned it in her blog. So being the quick-acting guy that I am, I promptly installed it on my phone two years later - and then waited a few months before searching for a course.

Despite myself, I eventually did enroll in this course. It's not the Fundamentals of Financial Planning that Rox enrolled in, but it's actually pretty good too.

5 Survival Tips for Paying Tuition Fees in the Philippines

5 Survival Tips for Paying Tuition Fees in the Philippines
The school year is about to start again. Even if we totally ignore the date, we would know because school supplies are already newsworthy topics.

However, the biggest concern during this time aren't notebooks and ball-pens but tuition fees. And today we have guest blogger Kyle to share some tips on how to survive this annual challenge.

My PSE Visit

My PSE Visit.  There are some things you just have to experience in person.
I prefer an online solution most of the time. There aren't any lines, you don't have to deal with people that seem like they'd really rather not do their job right, and there's no "overhead" cost like fares, merienda, (or worse pang-merienda... you know...).

And for us ordinary joes investing in the stock market, online is the way to go. There's just too many advantages. Plus, it's not like we could easily get a traditional broker without a lot of capital to start with.

But there are some things you just have to experience in person. It's like going to a concert; it's the same song but the experience is much different.

Which brings me to my PSE visit.

Millennials and Money: What Millennials Really Think About Money

Millennials and Money: What Millennials Really Think About Money
Millennials are able to master certain money strategies that older generations failed to learn, primarily because many of them had to face the challenges of a struggling economy and a difficult job market.  They are much more willing to exercise frugal techniques that can help in reducing their expenses, welcome life experiences over material things and even consider saving early for their retirement years.

Better Savings Accounts

Better Savings Accounts  Pretty much any type of investment out there can (and probably will) compare their returns with what you'll get from a bank.  But it usually goes unsaid that the primary "return of investment" you get with a bank account isn't the interest.
Once you start learning about investing, it's almost a sure bet that you've been indoctrinated with how useless savings accounts are.

Heck, every stock investing talk I've attended practically starts with highlighting the inconsequential interest you get when placing your money in a savings account.

And in fact, pretty much any type of investment out there can (and probably will) compare their returns with what you'll get from a bank.

However, it usually goes unsaid that the primary "return of investment" you get with a bank account isn't the interest.

What Causes Economic Bubbles?

Do you remember a while back, when news was circulating that the Philippine economy might be in a bubble? It made a lot of waves because the US real estate bubble and the resulting financial crisis was relatively still fresh in everyone's mind.

Nothing that bad has happened so far, so maybe all is well after all. But have you wondered what causes economic bubbles?

On Expense Planning

On Expense Planning   Spenders have another slight advantage over their thriftier counterparts: they can be less likely to end up having to spend a ton in a short burst to replace stuff.
If you read a lot of personal finance blogs, you've probably come across the thinking that while frugality is an asset, spenders have one big advantage.

They're more aware of the prices and can tell if something is real bargain and why something is as pricey as it is and isn't likely to be any cheaper.

As an infrequent spender, that's intuitively true for me. I rarely spend and the next time I buy an item I find that prices and choices have changed significantly.

Which leads me to a different thought: Spenders have another slight advantage over their thriftier counterparts: they can be less likely to end up having to spend a ton in a short burst to replace stuff.

Why do I say that?

Random Entrep Tales

Rags to riches stories are always very popular. But personally, I like the freelancer/own-business stories just as well.

In fact one of the reasons why I thought about possibly pursuing a taxi business is because of stories from drivers who owned their own taxi.

5 Things you Must Teach your Child about Money

For a lot of parents, teaching their kids good money habits is probably something they at least think about. I know I'm worrying about it. And today we have guest blogger Kyle Kam with some tips on how to do it.

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Every parent should realize the importance of teaching kids about money while they are young. By doing so, parents can help their offspring establish good financial habits they can find useful later in life. This could be quite a challenge, but knowing the benefits it could bring in the future is very much worth the effort, plus the fact that parents can also learn and be more responsible in the process.

So I've Got A VUL, What Now?

So I've Got A VUL, What Now?  Once you get one, VUL, typically charge very high fees or penalties before you can "get out". That's why I am personally biased against VULs. But if you already have one, the best option is to stick with it.  The choices are a little limited, but at least you're already insured and have an investment.
One of the most read posts of this blog is the one about my personal opinion why people should not get a VUL.

Which feels really great. I wrote that specifically to make a dent against the constant barrage of VUL salestalk. There's practically an army out there pushing VULs. Which is not bad, people need insurance and investments. It's just that most of the time, in my opinion, it's recommended and sold not because of the client's best interest but because it gives higher commissions than the other insurance products.

The relatively minor downside, is that I might be alarming or maybe even panicking some people who already bought a VUL. I've already gotten several comments, emails, and facebook messages regarding it.

So in this post, I'd like to share what you can do it you already have a VUL.

On College Scholarships

For some reason I tend to follow U.S. political news almost as much as our own politics (which isn't saying much; I'm almost never up to date).

One thing I find interesting is that there's always a big fuss about student loans. Over here, the fuss is usually about tuition fee hikes (high; every year) and scholarship usually means dole-outs from politicians.

So I was really surprised to learn that CHED has a Study Now Pay Later program. And since the two most common investing goals are retirement and college education, I thought it would be a good idea to write about scholarships.

7 Different Ways To Buy Your Own Home

7 Different Ways To Buy Your Own Home
Just like most people, having my own home is one of my life goals.

And usually, when we say that, we think of it as buying a house. That's the dream, at least. But when you start planning for it, you realize it can take many forms.

Superficially that means a choice of House, Condo, or Townhouse (or Duplex). I say superficially, because although you would have your own preference of those choices,what you will really need to prepare for is the way you would acquire it.

That's weird

I've previously blogged about rebate credit cards. And you may know that I've got a Landmark Anson's card from RCBC.

And if you've ever used a credit card, you would know that the bank name on the credit card slip isn't always the same as the issuer of your credit card. It depends on which terminal they swiped your card.

So I was buying groceries a few weeks ago and the cashier asked me if it was ok to swipe it at a different terminal since the RCBC one was offline. I said sure. I mean, it made no difference and I though it was weird that they even asked. I thought maybe it was some sort of customer care SOP.

5 Practical Saving Tips for the Day of Hearts

One memorable advice I heard from a co-worker years ago: Don't court a girl during the last months of the year. In fact, wait until the first few months of next year is over.

You vs Warren Buffet

I came across this infographic and while I don't think its productive to measure up your finances against a billionaire, some of the investment advice at the bottom is insightful or at least useful.

(warning: It's a huge file. It may take some time to load. ...or cost you a lot of money if you're on a mobile without an unlimited data plan.)

On Taxis and Apps

On Taxis and Apps
I blog about saving money, but to be honest, I've ridden my fair share of taxi cabs over the years.

So I know that places like Muntinlupa (near town center and near south station/festival mall) have a horrid taxi line where they just contract the price upfront - at least twice as much as you would normally pay compared to a meter.

Taxi lines in places like Makati are relatively more agreeable. Unless you're headed outside of Makati, in which case they often ask you for a fixed amount in addition to a meter.

One particular day, I agreed to a driver asking an additional Php50.

On HMOs

Health care is really important.

You've probably read it, but I think few really appreciate it. If you're prone to sickness you probably do. If you're like me, where most things pass after a week, sometimes even without medication (or at least that used to happen when I was younger) you probably don't.

If you're a parent though, you'll probably be so thankful that you'll not only appreciate it but also spread the word.

How Can You Passively Invest In The Stock Market?

My new year's resolution is to simplify - cut down on things I have to do so I can free up time for things that increase my knowledge or earnings.

For stock investors, that normally means investing in pooled funds (like UITFs and MFs) rather than directly investing in or trading stocks.

That's not the only way though. And for people like me, who either like direct stock investments or somehow find it more profitable, there's a way to do so without having it take up too much of your time.

So if you're a full time employee (or a busy freelancer) but want to invest in stocks directly, how do you do it?

Would You Take This Bet?

It's actually not about gambling.

I've posted about Loss Aversion before, but this 7:19 video explains it much better.

If you aren't investing or have just started to, this helps explains what you're probably feeling. Heck, I've been investing for yeas and I feel it still.

Opening a U.S. Dollar Account

Opening a U.S. Dollar Account.  A lot of Filipinos have a need for a US Dollar account. Unfortunately for me, most bank require $500 to open an account. Fortunately for me, Philtrust Bank needs only $100 to open and maintain a dollar account. But they also have pretty strict requirements in order to open an account.
A lot of Filipinos have a need for a US Dollar account. Some are for OFW remittances. Better yet, some are for OFWs to store their savings. These days though, a lot are for freelancers so they can deposit their client's payment.

Some, like me, are because they occasionally get US Dollar checks as payment for answering a survey. It's one of the better paying sites (that I know of) so I thought I'd better open a dollar account.

Realistic Resolutions for the New Year

If you're like me, you've probably made a few shoot-for-the-moon new year's resolutions over the years.

But I've found out that small changes can get big results over time, and that they have a much better chance of sticking instead of fading away as the year goes by.

And today, we've got Bwayan Jordison to share his thoughts on this.

Declutter and Simplify

I haven't posted for a while. Because just like last year, the holidays have been so hectic. Not the least of which was finally being able to do some "spring cleaning" around the house.

Despite the limited space in our unit, it's amazing the amount of stuff that just piles up over time.