Are Ilocanos Really Kuripot?

This is one of the many regional stereotypes in the Philippines which I could personally identify with being an Ilocano myself. The funny thing is, I didn’t know that the rest of the country is stereotyping us as “kuripot” until I got in to college.

I don’t know the story or history behind this, but I could only assume that most of our ancestors are just being thrifty. Kuripot means stingy in English, but I find being thrifty more appropriate.



See? Ilocanos are not the richest ethnic group in the Philippines, and most of our forefathers probably started as farmers and fishermen. They had to make ends meet, and was not exposed to anything extravagant which could have tempted them to spend a lot or even gave them the idea to splurge.

My grandfather was a farmer, fisherman, and a hunter. He hunted to literally put food on the table, not some hobby or just for fun thing. He grew up during World War II, and never set foot to school. He was illiterate; I remember him turning the pages of a classic Filipino comics and was interpreting the drawings as he couldn’t read the texts. When I started high school in the mid-90’s, he was surprised when he learned that I was getting a weekly allowance of a hundred pesos. He thought that was way too big. His knowledge of the value of (Philippine) currency was 20 years too late.

Clearly my grandfather didn’t know money. If he was alive today and I bring him to Jollibee, he would get overwhelmed at the price of the cheapest value meal. He would probably never want me to pay 50 pesos for a meal when the supply of rice and native chicken back in his farm is overflowing.

Why am I saying this? It’s my personal theory of where this stereotype came from. Our ancestors were not very rich and educated. They are practical, they’d rather fish, or plant and harvest their camote than buy them at the market.

I honestly feel offended when someone calls me kuripot. If I was, I would have already saved a lot of money. I wouldn’t have had credit card troubles. And I wouldn’t be blogging about finances today.

But yes, I’ve learned my lesson and I thought it’s time for me to live up to this stereotype! I should be kuripot from now on. I already started not taking Uber or Grab when going to work. After seven years of relying on food deliveries, I already stopped using fast-food delivery apps. I am now learning how to cook, and limiting my fast-food intake to only once a day. I am buying my own coffee maker so I won’t be making that daily trip to some coffee shop anymore. Today and moving forward, being kuripot is life!

So, are Ilocanos’ really kuripot? Hell yeah, we should be!


4 Budgeting Tips That First Time Workers Should Know

Fresh out of college and you just landed your first ever job – congratulations and welcome to the real world! You must be thinking about what to do with your first sweldo now, and let’s be honest, most of you would probably spend them on:

  • Celebration! Treat your co-workers, your friends and family. Before you know it, your first sweldo is gone!
  • Get that item you’ve always wanted to buy, or anything that you’d like to remember your first sweldo years from now.
  • Bills. Especially if you are renting, you’ll be sharing on rent, water and electric bills.

This is how we normally budget our first salary. We do not really think about saving yet, and that may be alright. However, if this has been going on for a few months, it’s time to re-think about how we are budgeting our money. Months could turn to years, and that is when living from paycheck to paycheck happens – if you never put your plans of saving money in to practice.

Ten years ago, I got my second job here in Manila and I still didn’t know how to save. My supervisor, who was just about 2-3 years older than me was traveling around South East Asia and I remember asking, how could she do that? She must be receiving a really high pay! Those were the days when seat sales or Peso fares are not a thing yet, so traveling was a lot more expensive.

She actually sat me down and gave me a few tips about saving. She was the one who first told me about the right formula (literally) on how to save. Here are some of the basics on how to budget your salary that even old timers like me need to know.

1. Pay yourself first.

Upon receiving your salary, put away a certain amount for your savings. The formula is always salary minus savings, and spend only what is left after savings.
Stick to this rule! The earlier you put this to practice, the better. Make it a habit. Immediately save a certain amount as soon as you receive your pay, then forget about it. Whatever is left is the only money you have until the next payday.

2. How much should you save?

Ideally, 20% of you income should go to your savings.

If you have been working for a while and still having a hard time to save, go small. Maybe 10%? This is considered too low for many, but for the rest of us who are not savers, starting small does the trick. Again, you need to make saving money a habit, and if you’ve been used to spending all your money, starting big is not going to work. Chances are, you would go broke a week before payday and you would end up “stealing” from your savings account. Try to start small until you can make saving a habit, then add more as you progress.


3. Now, do you feel that you are not earning enough to be able to save?

A higher salary is not a guarantee either. When you earn more, you will tend to upgrade on everything. When I started working, I thought my salary is just enough for my budget on spending. There’s not enough left for saving, and that is because I was not following the formula. I thought I’d be able to save when I get a better-paying job. And so I thought.

Related topic:
7 Reasons Why Saving Money is Hard for Most Pinoys

I spent five years in my second job, and experienced salary increases every year. But it never felt enough. Why? Because I kept on upgrading my lifestyle too. That’s how some of us have been conditioned to think. Let’s put an end to this mentality!

4. Are you renting?

Make sure that only 20% to 30% of your salary is going to your rent. If your rent is more than 30% of your salary, look for a cheaper place. There are also lots of ways to save when you are renting, and I discussed them in this post:

How to Save Money While Renting

If you are not renting, it means that the amount you are saving should not be less than 30% of your salary. Try 40%!Again, start early. Save while you are young. Always pay yourself first. A healthy bank account could mean a lot of things later on – being able to afford insurance and investments at an early age, bigger chances of getting approved of your home or auto loans, and even your credit card applications.

Banks will be offering you stuff such as a reward cards and other promos. Above all, the sense of security knowing that you have money to use in case of emergency is priceless!

I wish I’d known all these before I graduated. I wish there was a mandatory finance or budgeting classes to enroll in. Are they now teaching these in schools?

7 Things you Need to Know Before Getting your First Credit Card




Have you been wanting to get a credit card? Have you tried applying for one but got rejected? Here are some credit card facts that may help you decide or gauge if whether or not you are ready to own one.

These are all based on experiences and not a professional advice. I am sharing them because I myself did not know these when I got my first credit card ten years ago.

I would have maintained a very clean credit record if I did. At that time, I have just started working and I didn’t know anyone (who owns a card) whom I could ask for advice. So here we go.

1. Credit card is like a loan.

A bank will lend you the money, and you will need to pay them back. Which means that ideally, you should not be using the card in buying stuff that you can not afford to buy in cash. Credit cards are helpful, and in fact could help you save money in many ways if you know how to use them smart.

2. Credit cards will not make you rich.

Instead, it could lead you to spending way beyond your means and accumulate debt. On the other hand, a credit card can become a useful tool when you know how to use it wisely as mentioned above. Items that you can buy via installment plans at zero interest is a common example; you won’t need to shell out a huge amount at once but rather pay it in months. You can also take advantage of various promos, get discounts, earn points, and the like.

3. Never look at the required “minimum payment”. Instead, check your total amount due and pay that amount in full.

The minimum payment is calculated at ONLY 1% to 3% of your total outstanding charges. Paying only the minimum is like adding up interests to your debt. Most people who ran away from their credit cards and got “black listed” have started from doing this practice. Again, always look at the TOTAL amount due and pay that full amount on time.

4. Late monthly payments are reported to credit bureaus.

Which is why you need to know that owning a credit card requires you to be very disciplined and responsible. Going back to number one, if you cannot buy an item in cash, avoid buying it with a credit card.

5. What happens if you stop paying altogether?

You can never run away from your credit card debt. Aside from not being able to qualify for another credit card, you may not get approved of any form of bank loans in the future. Your record will be sold to credit card debt collectors who will in turn harass you in forcing you to pay. These collectors are unprofessional, rude, and ruthless, you don’t want to deal with them.

6. If you are new to the work force, aim to save money first before getting a credit card.

I recommend having at least Php50,000 in your bank account, or more than thrice your monthly salary. Why, you ask? Because the credit limit that banks will give you will be based on your income and is often more than twice your monthly salary. Just in case you get to max your card out (spending up to the maximum limit), you have at least a fund available to pay your balance. This way, you won’t be relying on your salary to pay your debt. This could make you live from paycheck to paycheck, and you don’t want that to happen to you.

7. It is not scary to own a credit card.

It is only scary if you don’t know how to spend wisely. If you splurge on things you could hardly afford and if you have debts or loans, do not get a credit card. If you have no savings, do not get a credit card. However, if you know that you are responsible and you can control your spending, there is no reason for you to be scared. Again, if you are smart and wise, you can make your credit card work for your advantage.

Are you ready and responsible enough to own a credit card? You can try applying for one from Security Bank. Start by clicking on this referral link: https://www.securitybank.com/m?10124001601.

I wish you the best of luck! Let us know if you get approved. Most importantly, remember these advices when you start using your card.


 

Have you Tried Saving your 50 Pesos?

I’ve encountered several posts about this on Facebook. People are saving all 50 peso bills that they get as change. Sounds clever, so I thought I should also give it a try. I actually tried this last year but I ended up spending them on taxi fares, small purchases at a convenience store, and the like.

When I moved in to my place six months ago, I started this 50-peso saving challenge again.

The rules are simple

Save all 50 peso bills that land on your hand. So if you go to a store with 500 pesos, bought an item worth 100, and the sale clerk handed you eight 50 peso bills as change, you will have to save them all! Don’t ask the clerk to change them to 20’s or 100’s. No cheating!

Personally, I would put them in a small jar and placed it on the table where I normally leave my keys. That gives me the signal to check my wallet for any 50 peso bill upon entering or before leaving the house. I planned to never count the bills until this month (December).

How many 50 peso bills did I collect for six months? I counted exactly 45. Which means I got to save Php2,250. Not bad! I would say it was quite effective and I will surely continue doing this challenge again starting this January.

Any small money-saving tips you want to share?


Why it works

If small expenses are the ones we need to be very careful of because THEY ADD UP, small savings will also add up! Just like small expenses (that add up), saving fifty peso bills is also easy  in the pocket. The best part is, you won’t notice putting away small amount from your expenses, and actually adding more to your savings.

I am aiming to save at least P10,000 worth of fifty peso bills by December. That should give me more than enough cash to put inside several tiny envelopes for my inaanaks. That means crossing out a huge amount from my Holiday budget list as early as now. Awesome!

13th Month Pay

Where did your 13th month pay go? Mine is gone, in 24hours. But unlike in previous years when I used my 13th month pay to satisfy my short term wants, I am glad that over 60% of it this time was spent wisely.

 

– 33% went to my Sun Life Fund/Insurance
– 30% for my home loan amortization
– the remaining 37% was used to pay off my other debts

You could tell I got a bit inspired that I even put it in a chart. I may not have used the money for something that I could “enjoy” now like most people normally do, but I went extra practical this time. Clearing off my debts is first in the agenda, followed by my insurance and my loan amortization payment. My money basically left my hands in 24hours.

So no new gadgets this Holiday season, and no splurging of any kind. It feels boring but good at the same time. I guess I’m on my way to achieving financial maturity in a way, I really hope I am!

How about you, where did your 13th month pay go?


Money Saving Challenge Report: Week 3

This update is quite late, but how was my third money-saving week? I would say it went pretty well.

First, I took jeepney rides to work for the entire week! That’s a huge accomplishment. I am taking advantage of the good weather when it’s not as hot as Summer; I could still tolerate the heat. I doubt if I could do this in April and May, but who knows?

Additionally, my Grab reward points will expire this December so I have been using them to get me 50pesos off on my rides going home. In total, I got to save over Php600 on transportation last week and that is awesome!

Fast-food intake stays at once a day. We had a free meal at the office (as a prize for winning an office event) last Friday so that’s minus a hundred off my budget for food. Wonderful!

Coffee, unfortunately remains a weakness, but at least it’s not Starbucks? I still go to McDonald’s or Country Style for my daily coffee cravings. Which reminds me, I think I should post about my love of Country Style next time.

But first, tomorrow is 13th month pay day. Another challenge. Wish me luck!


How to Save on Accomodation on your Next Travel

Last week, I talked about how I felt on my over spending during my travel. I learned my lessons and I’d be more careful next time. Planning ahead definitely helps because last-minute arrangements often leave you with limited, expensive options.

However, if there’s one thing that I realized I was right about, that would be on my choices of accomodation.

While I acknowledge that there may have been other ways to save on accomodation, I felt that I actually made a practical choice afterall. See, I had to meet my sister and her husband in Baguio the day before we took the five-hour trip to Sagada. Our scheduled departure is 5:00 AM so we needed a place to stay for a night. I immediately searched Airbnb for listings.

Why Airbnb? It is a practical choice for groups of 3 or more. I would say, this is the modern version of the traditional transient house offerings which was a big thing in touristy cities like Baguio. I had less than a week to prepare at that time and hotel booking rates are already going up. Airbnb offers cheaper options; where more than 2 guests are allowed without the burden of paying for extra beds. I chose French Nest because of its location, and somewhat positive reviews:

The place is just right for its location and price.

Now, we also needed to spend the night in Baguio (again) three days after our Sagada trip so I had to book another place. I went for a hotel this time for three reasons:

1. We will be dead tired after all the trekking and caving that we did in Sagada, plus the long trip back to Baguio, so a hotel felt a lot more comfortable and convenient.

2. We need the free breakfast the next morning (which most hotels offer).

3. The hotel that I liked still has vacancy! And still within the price range that I find convincing.

This time, I used my Agoda account and stayed right at the center of Baguio City:

This was my second time at the City Center Hotel in Baguio.

Now, should you book from Airbnb on your next travel? Or should you stick to a hotel? I’d say it really depends on your preferences. Here are my tips.

Choose Airbnb when:
1. You are travelling in a group of three or more. The larger the group, the more reason that you book an apartment or an entire house via Airbnb.

2. When you need a place to stay for more than two days, this is certainly a cheaper option. You will be able to save on food because most hosts allow their guests to cook (and they actually provide pans and other kitchen utensils).

Book a hotel when:
1. When you are picky like me. When you have certain expectations such as complete toiletries, free breakfast, and the usual hotel offerings.

2. If you are travelling alone! You do not need an entire apartment or house for yourself. A small hotel room will do.

Out of all the hotel booking sites or apps out there, I find Agoda to be the most user-friendly. I have been their customer since 2013.

Aren’t we glad that all these very convenient ways to book our accommodations these days exist? We do not need to buy local papers anymore just to see the ads, and only to find out that the ones we liked are already fully booked when we call. With all these apps, we can get all the information that we need in just a few clicks.

Do you have other tips to save on accommodation when travelling?




Affiliate Marketing for Newbies

When I started this blog, I know I could monetize my content using Google Adsense, paid posts, and other forms of advertising. However, I didn’t know anything about affiliate marketing. Upon reading other blogs and learning about what affiliate marketing is, I got interested and wanted to know more.

I am writing this as a newbie myself. Join me in exploring and discovering the ins and outs of affiliate marketing.

What is an affiliate marketing anyway? From what I understood, and putting it into layman’s terms, it is a form of advertising where you (as the affiliate) gets a commission for every purchase made through your advertisement (in the form of banners or links that you post). For bloggers, you can post the link within your articles or put up a banner in your side bars. This is not direct selling. There are many ways to sell or advertise without being pushy, most bloggers don’t even sound like they are selling something in their blog.

Who could sign up for affiliate marketing program? Any content creators like us, bloggers. But as a blogger, you will need to have high-quality content that could make your blog convincing enough for your readers to trust. People will buy when they hear believable reviews from credible sources. You want to be that blogger who is speaks and breaths credibility and honesty.

How and where do you start? Sign up to available affiliate marketing programs online. From my research, the big names such as Amazon in North America, and Lazada and Zalora in Asia, are topping the lists. I am sure there are a lot more and I will have to explore those too.

Now, you do not need to sign up to all of them. Find the best ones that fit your blog category. Zalora, for example, is a clothing store and is most appropriate for Fashion and Lifestyle blogs. Hence, I crossed it out of my list.



What else do you need? A disclosure policy. I am drafting mine and will publish it as soon as I get approved by the programs that I signed up for. You will need to disclose that some of your posts contain paid links, or may be sponsored. All legit affiliate programs require a disclosure. More importantly, it not only shows transparency, but adds more credibility to you and your blog. Update: I just published my disclosure policy.

Today, I signed up to one affiliate marketing program that caters to mostly Philippine audience. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I would qualify. I will be sharing my experience as soon as I receive a feedback. Wish me luck!

Update: I got approved by Amazon and Lazada. However, despite their wide array of products, I am having a hard time looking for an item that could blend with the overall content of my blog. But I am still hopeful, nonetheless. I’ll give them a shot.

I am not sure how far this would take my blogging but I am really excited. And I will make sure to document and share my experiences.

Are you also trying your hand at affiliate marketing? Where did you sign up for so far?

Saving Money While Living in a Condo

If you just moved in to your newly acquired condominium unit, it would take time for you to get used to paying your monthly amortization, condo dues, and utility bills. You will be making big adjustments on your budget and the amount you are able to save every payday may get affected.

How can you still save money now that you have a condo lifestyle to sustain? In my case, everything started as a trial and error. Six months into living in a condo, I found ways (and continuing to make ways) to save money. I wouldn’t want to end up failing to pay the bills or get broke.

First, you will need to downgrade on a lot of things.

Cut your cable subscription, and get one of those TV digital box instead. If you could totally get rid of television like what I did four years ago, that is so much better. I would say, you should only pick one between cable TV or data these days. It was an easy choice for me, I couldn’t survive a day without data. Goodbye television!

Are you addicted to coffee? Buy a coffee maker and brew your own coffee. Are you a café lover like me? Create a nook in one corner of your space and enjoy your coffee at home. You just need a small table, a chair, and a tiny pot of real or plastic plant. By the window is a perfect spot.

Cook your own food. And if you crave for a fast-food meal on a weekend, walk to the nearest store, absolutely no food deliveries. I think everyone would agree that cooking your own food is one of the sure ways to save money. Try to eat out only during especial occasions.

Turn your AC off.

I went from 16 hours of air-conditioning a day to 8-10 hours. During the rainy season, I was only using a fan for the most part of the week, and I plan to do the same this December and January. Just save the money for air-conditioning in summer when you all have the right reasons to turn the AC on.

Pay your bills on time, all the time.

Avoid late payment charges. For banks, the late payment fees are computed at a daily rate. Along with your electric and water bills, your condo dues should also be paid on time. No one wants to be paying for interests. Ask your building management if you could get a discount or rebate in paying your condo dues in advance. It would be awesome to be able to save a few hundreds that way.

Walk.

Most condominiums are located within close proximity to malls, banks, schools, and almost everything that you need. Walk. Just walk. That is exercising and saving money at the same time. While it doesn’t offer a typical residential area vibe, I personally like walking around my neighborhood on a Saturday or Sunday mornings. I also make sure that I walk when I go out to run errands, from doing my grocery, bringing my dirty clothes to the laundry or running to the bank.



There are many way to save money while still enjoying a condo lifestyle. For me, I do all these things because I am saving money to furnish my place. I decided to not buy any furniture or big appliances until I have enough budget for interior construction. I haven’t really touched anything in my unit since SMDC turned it over to me at basic finish. It’s still a long way to go, and I am giving myself a year more. Hence, all these money saving strategies.

Are you also living in a condo? Did it affect your finances in any way?

How to Save Money While Renting

I was renting for more than half my life. It started in high school when my sisters and I attended school in a town three hours away from home. College was no different, I was moving from one dormitory to another wishing that I could afford an entire place for myself. In 2007, I decided to move here in Manila and rented a small room. I upgraded to a studio unit after three years, and kept it that way for quite some time. It was not until almost ten years later that I realized that I needed to get a place of my own.

A blog post that I wrote 7 years ago.

So, are you able to save while renting? It was very difficult for me back then. For ten years, I was spending almost 40% of my salary on rent alone. That is way too high from the advisable 30% maximum. If your budget for rent is more than 30% of your salary, it is time to consider looking for a cheaper place. That would be the first move that you need to do in order to save money when you are renting.

Second, rent a place that is within a close proximity to where you work. You are renting anyway, so why choose to live far and incur another expense on transportation? For a few years, I was able to save a lot from living very close to our office building. It saved me time, money, and energy.

If your landlord allows you to cook, take advantage of that. If not, look for a cheap place to buy food. It’s not very hard to find one around residential areas in Metro Manila. For years, I was eating fast-food almost three times a day, and I would never ever advise anyone to do the same. Not only that it is unhealthy, but it could tempt you to over spend. If you are a fast-food junkie like me, I understand the ease and comfort that McDo, Jollibee or KFC could offer, but try to ignore that! Start slowly. I was able to do it, you can too.



Fourth, get rid of cable TV. I would understand if you are spending on data, but television is just a thing of the past already. Chances are, you’re sharing cable fees with your landlord and that is not practical. I’m telling you, I couldn’t live without TV back in the day and I was paying cable subscriptions since college. But when my old television stopped working four years ago, I never bothered buying a new one. I haven’t seen any show on television since then and that was one of the best decisions I ever made! Besides, anyone could watch an episode online, anytime, anywhere, and without the commercials.

Lastly, share a room or apartment. This is related to number one. It is something that I couldn’t do when I was renting because I wanted the place all for myself. But if you are serious about saving money, invite someone you could split the rent and bills with. That is 50% of everything. Big savings!

I am writing this article wishing that I followed all these money saving practices when I was still renting. I would have saved a lot if I did. I use to share stories with co-workers who were also renting and we all had the same sentiments – that saving money is impossible if you are paying rent. That is NOT TRUE! I always knew it isn’t but I just didn’t have the determination and discipline. If you are renting, the more that you should prioritize saving money. Some little sacrifices here and there could go a long way.

How long have you been renting? Has saving money been a challenge to you too?