SSS Online Account: How to Register?

1. Go to the SSS official website at https://www.sss.gov.ph. It is recommended that you use the latest version of Internet Explorer (IE) as some features may not work in other browsers.

2. From the login page, look for and click on the “Click Here” button below the “Not yet registered in My.SSS?” callout.
3.
You will be asked to select one information from among those that you provided when you registered to SSS. Make sure to choose the information that you remember, such as the mobile number that you used when you registered.

4. On the next page, fill out the form with your personal information.
5. At the bottom of the form, enter the information that you selected from the previous page, if you selected Mobile Number, you will get this field:

Likewise, the fields for the other options look like these:

Savings Account Number / Citibank Cash Card / UBP Quick Card / UMID – ATM Saving Account
UMID CARD
Employer ID Number / Household Employer ID Number
Payment Reference Number / SBR No. / Payment Receipt Transaction Number

(NOTE: as mentioned above, you will only need to select one. I used mobile number for this example as that is the easiest to remember.)

6. Lastly, enter the auto-generated code in the box, check the Terms of Service acceptance, and click Submit.
You will get this message after clicking “Submit”:If you will not receive the email in 30 minutes, it may take up to 24 hours. In the email, you will be provided a link to activate your account. Make sure to use the recommended version or the latest version of IE to open the link. Upon activation, you will be asked to assign a password for your account.

After logging in, it may take sometime for your SSS details to be displayed under the E-Services tab. All information sometimes appear as “null” at first. Don’t worry, they will auto-populate after a few minutes.

The online account is very useful for online transactions (of course). From there, you can view your SSS profile, employment and contribution history, details of your existing loan if there are any, or even to actually apply for a loan. You can find the instructions on how to apply for an SSS loan online in this article:

How to Apply for an SSS Loan Online


How I Plan to Save Money Starting This Week

Yes, not today but this week! I know how hard it is to save money even if we actually have an idea on how to do it. Have you been saving and ended up spending it shortly after? I am exactly that. So I’ll go easy on myself and not pretend that I could do it right now. 

When I started this blog, I knew I will be needing to divulge information which I don’t normally share. I made the decision to carry on and talk about stuff that often involves little details about my personal finances. And since I am now on this topic of financial struggles, I thought I should blog about my plans to recover and free myself from the burdens of living from paycheck to paycheck.

Save now, coffee later!

I mentioned this to my friend while we were in a café yesterday. We laughed at the irony of talking about saving money while drinking expensive coffee. We both know that we are not savers and we are aware why; it’s right before our eyes. And so I said I should go take that painful steps in saving money, and document it in my blog. This is my introduction, and here are my plans.

1. Lessen my Uber and Grab trips.

“I am willing to pay for comfort”, that is my motto. But since I could barely afford that now, I thought I should start going back to the basics in terms of my commute to work. One trycicle ride, plus one jeepney ride.
Uber/Grab: Php100
Trycicle and Jeepney: Php17+8 = Php25
Savings: Php75

2. Brew my own coffee.

I’m not a Starbucks fan but I do drink coffee everyday. I buy them from either McDonald’s or Country Style which are both way cheaper compared to Starbucks. We have free coffee at the office but I don’t like it. I also just stopped drinking 3-in-1 coffees as they’re too sugary. Last month, my former boss gave me a bag of coffee all the way from Costa Rica, I am taking that as a sign that I should brew my own. I will need to buy a coffeemaker though.
McDonald’s Coffee: Php42
Country Style: Php50
My own brew: Free for now
Savings: I’ll put this at Php50

3. No Food Deliveries.

I love the convenience of having my food delivered to my place. There are three McDonald’s branches near me, each about 5-10 minute walk away. But I still prefer having my order delivered instead of going to any of these stores!

Savings on delivery fee: Php40

4. Speaking of food,

I spend a good Php2500-3000 a week on food! Worst, it is almost 100% fastfood. This will be very difficult but I think it’s time to learn my way around the kitchen.
Savings: I’ll aim for Php500 a week.

It is not gonna be easy so I am giving myself a chance to do this at least ONCE a week. My total savings for one week would be Php665. That is Php2,600 a month. Not bad! Successful or not, I will be posting an update next week. I wish myself the best of luck!

Cheers!!!

Resolved: Plugin & Theme Status is Unavailable Due to Site Customizations

GoDaddy: Plugin and Theme Status is Unavailable Due to Site Customizations

This error came up after I updated a plugin or theme. I couldn’t tell which one because I simply clicked on the “Update All” link when I saw it in my dashboard. My site went offline for over 24hours and I didn’t do anything about it as I thought it is just an issue with GoDaddy or WordPress (which often gets resolved quickly). I could not access my WP dashboard or CPanel. My site is just blank when viewed on mobile, and is displaying an Error 500 when accessed via web but the error is not specific. I looked up for solutions online but all the suggestions directed me to disable plugins which I couldn’t do because my dashboard is inaccessible.

I called GoDaddy but the waiting time was too long. Thankfully, I was able to find the link to their chat support and got someone from the other end after 8 minutes.

The agent checked my account and confimed that a certain plugin is causing the error. I asked him to go ahead and delete it but it turns out they’re not authorized to do that. He instead offered to walk me through the process. Here are the steps:

IMPORTANT: Make sure to backup your files; or contact GoDaddy directly for assistance in performing these steps.

1. Login to your GoDaddy account, go to WordPress > Settings. Look for “phpMyAdmin“, and click on View.

2. Click on “phpMyAdmin URL” and login using the given Username and Password.

3. On the left, look for and click on the very small plus (+) sign beside your username (ex: phdo412345678) to expand the selection, and click on “wp_mbsmpvk2n3_options“.

4. A table will be displayed, go to the Browse tab and look for “Active_plugins“. Go to page 2 if this is not on Page 1. Click on the edit option (pencil icon) beside “Active_plugins“.
5. Clear or delete all the texts inside the box. Make sure that the Save option is selected before clicking on “Go” to save. Clearing this box will NOT delete the plugins, it will only DISABLE them.
6. Try logging in to your account again, or check your webpage if the issue is resolved. (NOTE: Your site may look different because of a disabled plugin.)

7. Enable your plugins again one at a time. Doing so will help you determine which one has caused the problem, while bringing your site’s appearance back to normal (if it changed).

If this does not resolve the issue, contact GoDaddy for assistance. From my experience so far, their technical support agents are helpful, and knowledgeable. You may just need to be patient at their often long waiting time.

Anyway, have you experienced similar error before and got it resolved? Which plugin was causing it? This actually made me hesitant to update my plugins since. 

My Most Rewarding Experience with Sodexo Gift Certificates

A few years ago, a friend from a real estate company invited me to cover the ground breaking ceremony of one of their projects. It was my first time to go to such event so I didn’t really know what to expect. I had a scheduled engagement photoshoot with a client that day so I told my friend I might need to leave early, to which he said it is okay. Because I had it handy, I was able to put my camera to good use. I took several photos which I later on posted on social media including a blog post which I published a few days after.

I get to witness the ceremony, enjoyed listening to the speeches of the company’s top leaders, and dined with other guests. They gave us a token, a pretty hourglass with the company logo on it. We were also handed an envelope containing a DVD where soft copies of their press releases are saved, and a few other documents, which I didn’t check until I got home that day.
To my surprise, the envelope also contained Sodexo GC’s as a giveaway! I couldn’t remember how much the monetary value was but it was enough to buy me four pairs of pants! It was very timely because at that time, I needed to shop for new clothes for my upcoming overseas trip. I was attending a meeting with my colleagues in the United States, and because I didn’t think I will have time to do laundry in the hotel, I thought I should bring a two-week worth of clothes!

And so, while I was aware that Sodexo GC’s have always been and forever will be valid (and the revalidation and replacement of Sodexo GC’s are free of charge once the validity date is reached), I headed to a department store right the next weekend, and shopped using my Sodexo Gift Certificates. I was really glad I said yes to that invitation! It gave me a pretty hectic day but it was all worth it. I remember, the next payday is still over a week away so the Sodexo GC’s which I unexpectedly received, really helped!

Speaking of gift certificates, it is a very convenient gift giving option for the Holidays (which is very fast approaching!). Call me lazy but for someone who dreads long lines and crowded malls, a GC is a practical and perfect alternative! Bet you agree!?

Buying a Condominium in the Philippines: In-House or Bank Financing?

In one of my previous posts, I talked about my experience in applying for a home loan to several banks in the Philippines. If you are deciding whether to go for in-house instead, here are some fast facts about these two home financing options.

In-House
– Shorter loan duration, normally 5-10 years
– Higher interest rates compared to banks, basically due to the short loan terms
– High approval rate
– Less paperworks and requirements

Bank Financing
– Longer loan terms, between 10-25 years
– Lower interest rates, each bank offers different rates, and may change every 3-5 years
– Approval depends on your capacity to pay, and credit history
– More paperworks and requirements

If you have the money, I would recommend going for in-house financing. You can’t get rid of the paperworks, but it is a lot lesser compared to when you apply for a home loan in a bank. While the terms are shorter, and interest rates are a bit higher, it would still be more practical in the long run.

Related Articles:
All the Costs You Need to Know When Buying a Condo
Buying a Condo Unit: What You Need to Know
Condo Living: Expectation vs Reality

Get a home loan from a bank if your priority is the lower monthly amortization. You may also find a bank that offers home loan promos such as rebates or low interest rates when you apply during a certain period of the year.

I went for bank financing because SMDC is not very keen at accepting in-house financing applications. They were not very enthusiastic about it when I inquired, almost discouraging me not to continue. Nonetheless, the chances of getting approved is high, at least according to the agents that I spoke with.

Are you also looking at these two home buying options? Which one are you more inclined to get?

How to Get a Health Certificate or Health Clearance from your City Hall

Did you know that you could get your pre-employment medical exam from your city hall? That is right, at least for most, if not all cities in Metro Manila.

From my two employments in the past ten years, I did both of my medical exams in a private medical clinic and were paid by the company. However, if you need a medical clearance and your would-be employer directed you to the city hall, you may find these information helpful.

Requirements

Make sure that you bring at least one valid ID (NBI clearance would do), and a cedula from your Barangay. You can get a cedula right at the city hall but often more expensive. In Pasig for example, it would cost you 180 pesos.

Nature of Work

You will be asked to declare the use or purpose of the certificate, and for non-food handlers or food servers, you will only need to comply with the basic procedures:

1. X-Ray – Php120.00
2. Drug Test – Php150.00
3. Photo Capture
for the Health Certificate – Php70.00

Payment

A receipt will be issued to you upon payment. Below is a breakdown of fees (from Pasig) as of October 2017. More or less this would be the same in most Metro Manila cities. 
Results

Health certificate/ID.

Overall, you may spend a good three to four hours inside the city hall for all the procedures. Results are normally released after a day. It could be longer for those whose jobs fall under the food industry. You will be issued with a Health Certificate in the form of an ID card.

Applying for a Home Loan in the Philippines

The biggest questions that I asked myself when I was looking for a condominium are; where should I apply for a home loan? Which bank will approve my home loan application? Which has the fastest home loan approval process? Is it going to be difficult? Or should I opt for in-house financing instead?

I went for bank financing, and at that time I had over four months to get a bank’s approval.
The realities started to sink in when I got my first rejection, it was from PSBank. PSBank was my first bank of choice because my friend who also applied to them a few months earlier got approved. I, on the other hand, never heard from them.

After two weeks, I anxiously submitted my application to China Bank upon the suggestion of my agent. I received a call after a few days for the usual verification process. Over a week later, the lady called me back and dropped the bomb – my loan application was denied because of an unsettled credit card debt with HSBC. I discussed this in this article:

How I Settled My Credit Card Debt

My biggest fear just came back to haunt me again. My agent was now asking me to call HSBC but I refused. I insisted that HSBC will no longer entertain me, and if they do, I might need to go through all the legal stuff which I was not prepared to do. The third rejection is from Metrobank, and next was UCPB. Both banks never get in touched with me; I imagined them literally throwing my application forms in the trash.

Four rejections in a row. That was my life already telling me to pay attention; it has almost gotten me into depression.

So which banks eventually approved my home loan application? And how fast?

First, I am giving a special mention to BPI.

My agent, being so patient urged me to try one more bank. He said he knows someone from the bank who could help. I started to not believe him anymore as that has been his usual line since we started. I completed the paperworks anyway, and he submitted them to BPI.

BPI called me and my brother (who is my co-borrower) after three days. The next week, they came back and advised me to get a Letter of Full Payment from HSBC. This is the bank clearance that I was talking about in this article:

How to Get a Bank Clearance for your Credit Card

That gave me the strength to ask; will my application be approved if I submit a clearance? The answer from the other line was a positive YES! And so days later, I decided to make that call. And the rest is history.

BPI eventually accepted my application but the total approved amount is less than what I needed. It turns out that they did not include my sister as a co-borrower, and me and my brother’s combined salary only qualify for a certain loan amount. To be fair with BPI, they kept my application active for at least a month and was regularly contacting me if I wanted to proceed.

UnionBank to the rescue!

With my permission, my ever persistent agent filled-out the UnionBank application forms himself and submitted them to UnionBank. He has copies of all my supporting documents so he did not even have to meet me at that point.

Their process is quite traditional. On the first week, an agent actually visited me at my apartment and conducted a C.I. and background investigation. Someone also went to our hometown in the far-flung province, and looked for my brother at our Municipal Hall where he works. My sister who is working abroad also had to give her employer’s email address for further checking. Overall, it was lots of work but quite fun. After all that we’ve been through, we readily complied to all their requirements.

On the third week, I finally received the best news I would hear that year.

Overall, UnionBank was quite strict but after having been denied by four banks, I did not feel being subjected to a long process anymore. My home loan was booked after two months, and before 2016 ended, I made my first monthly payment.

You might wonder, why didn’t I try BDO? For some reason, I did not think that BDO will approve my application. It was probably due to the quite strict and long process that I went through when I applied for a checking account with them a year earlier. I maybe wrong though, anyone who have positive experiences with BDO in terms of loans? Or do you have a similar story? Feel free to share by leaving a comment below.

How to Get a Pag-IBIG MID Number?

You will need your Membership Identification Number or MID when making transactions with Pag-IBIG. If you do not have an MID number yet, follow the steps below to obtain one. You can get it in less than 15 minutes.

1. Visit https://www.pagibigfundservices.com/ and click on “Membership Registration”.

2. On the next page, click Continue.

3. Enter your complete name, date of birth, and the code on the box then click Proceed.

4. Fill-out the form completely. The form has eight (8) tabs, you cannot proceed to the next tab without finishing the previous one.

5. Double check all the information that you entered before clicking Submit. Make sure that the mobile number and email address that you used are active.

6. Click “Print MDF” to view Membership Identification Number (MID).

7. Your membership form will open as a PDF file. As of this writing, there is no option to save this file. You may choose to either print it or simply copy your MID number (this is located at the upper right hand corner of the form).

Related posts:
PAG-IBIG Home Loans: What is the Maximum Loan Amount?

The MID number is required when you need to get a Pag-IBIG ID or loyalty card, and when applying for Pag-IBIG salary and home loans.

Why Do You Need a Checking Account?

“Please prepare twelve (months) post-dated checks”. That was the message that I received from the landlord when I was inquiring about the studio apartment that they are renting out. At that time, I didn’t even know what a post-dated check was, which makes me not the tenant they want.

Years later, I was again in need of a checking account in order to pay my downpayment to SMDC. They referred me to BDO, where it felt like my application was treated as a credit card application.

Do we really need checking accounts here in the Philippines?

We couldn’t pay in cash and card all the time. A checking account has the same function as a savings account, plus more. It has no transaction limits. I think, the added security is probably the best privilege it could offer. There is a paper trail to every issued check, while cash or card can be spent by anyone and could be difficult to trace. A check is regarded as the safest form of payment.
I have yet to find out if this is true in the Philippines, but if you are re-building your credit history, a checking account may also help. If you have just paid off a defaulted credit card like me, consider your checking account an asset. Along with my Security Bank secured credit card, and a home loan amortization which I get to pay in full and on time, I have high hopes that I’d be able to get a regular credit card again in the future. Although, I am more than happy with the secured credit card, quite honestly.