Why the BDO Rewards Card is Better Than the SM Advantage Card

I learned about the BDO rewards card from another blogger a few years ago and I got really interested. The problem is, I didn’t have a BDO account at that time. I used to have one but it was a payroll account and I left it to close when I resigned.

Over a year later, I opened a new BDO account and totally forgot about the reward card. Which is why receiving a card in the mail after two years came as a surprise. I immediately enrolled it online so I could check my points at any time.



What do you get from the BDO rewards card? It is exactly the same as your SM advantage card, plus more. All SM department stores and groceries, including participating stores, accept it. The only difference is you get to earn more points since your BDO online payments are counted! Even auto loans and home loans earn you points.

How could one qualify for a BDO rewards card? You should have an existing BDO bank account, of course. Your branch will send you the reward card for free when you reach a month-to-date average daily balance of Php50,000.
I have been using my points several times in the past, mostly when buying medicine at Watson’s. Last Sunday, I stopped at a SaveMore branch after working out at a nearby gym. I only needed milk, a bag of brown rice, bread, and some canned goods which I estimated at around Php500 in total. I was so hesitant to use my credit card but I didn’t have enough cash. When the lady at the counter swiped my BDO rewards card, it reminded me to use my points. I asked her to check my balance and I did have 377 points available. My total is Php521 so I only paid Php144! Wonderful!

These are one of the small things that I use to take for granted. I hated it when SM sales ladies ask for an advantage card every time I’m at the counter; I hated it more when they offer me one. But when I got my BDO rewards card, I would actively hand it to them the moment I check out.


Again, in addition to the points that you can earn from shopping, you can earn points from your BDO online bills payment too! Which reminds me to go back to using my BDO account when paying my bills online, instead of my credit card. I get rewarded from the former more; that is 5 points for a minimum of Php1000 bills payment. Not bad!

Are you also using BDO rewards card?

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?


5 Realities About Owning a Credit Card

I came across an article from Security Bank which upon reading, has inspired me to respond. The title is “5 Wrong Notions About Credit Cards You Shouldn’t Believe” and you can read it in full here. I can’t help but comment on almost everything that was said, and I decided to post my thoughts here. I call it the “5 Realities About Owning a Credit Card”.

All screenshots from Security Bank.

1. You Will Overspend

This is not always true. My credit limit from my fist credit card was more than twice my monthly salary. And then lately, I have a co-worker who was given a credit limit of Php200K. It was also her first credit card, and she’s only been working for over a year. That would be very tempting for any credit card holder, first timer or not. Who would decline such credit limit? She didn’t. But the good thing is she’s very good at budgeting (she later on became my insurance advisor), and I’m glad that Security Bank mentioned budgeting:

The truth is, it is very difficult to not overspend when you have a credit card. I should know based on experience. Not only that you should be very good at budgeting and sticking to your budget, but you should be very cautious to never use the card “in case of emergency”. I would say, you must have enough money in your savings account before applying for a credit card. If your credit limit is Php100K, you should have Php100K in the bank, and not because you have a high paying job.

2. You Will Be in Debt


This is a tough one, and is synonymous to overspending. Spending wisely is often not in the vocabulary of a credit card holder. How could one spend wisely anyway when you get offers and discounts from different establishments almost every week? I will stick to my advise of saving money first. Don’t get a credit card if you don’t have at least Php50K in your bank account.

3. You Can Damage Your Credit Card Score

I am “quoting” both paragraphs under this item because they talked about those perks and promos. These are evils that will tempt you to use your credit card and accumulate debt. Budgeting is once again mentioned, and I’d say having an enormous self-discipline should always come around the topic of budgeting.

My credit score has been damaged big time (although, we do not really have have credit scores in actual numbers here in the Philippines). This was confirmed when my home loan was rejected by all banks that I applied to. Thankfully, I was able to fix this through a bank clearance for my credit card.

4. Your Monthly Bill Payments Are Reported to Credit Bureaus

In relation to number three above, I know that I have already been blacklisted by credit bureaus. I am working at rebuilding my credit score by promptly paying my monthly amortization for my bank loan, and got a second chance at owning a credit card with Security Bank’s secured credit card.

Yes, you will get reported to credit bureaus when you fail to settle your credit card debt. And what are the consequences? Apart from being harassed by debt collectors, you will never be approved of any form of bank loans anymore.

On the other hand, I agree that this should not scare you from getting a credit card, but rather push you to use your card correctly.

5. Your Credit Utilization is 0%

I don’t know what this means, honestly. What I’m sure of is you can use your card up to the maximum limit.

In general, owning a credit card is nightmare to those who are not good at managing their finances, and a joy to those who are using it right. While there are lots of credit card holders who are buried in debt, there are also many who are enjoying its benefits and that is because they have the discipline to spend within their means.

I definitely do not encourage you to get a credit card if you could barely save money every payday. Save first, and before you know it, some banks will be offering you credit cards without you needing to apply. My friend whose initial credit limit is Php200K that I mentioned above is a perfect example. Because she’s been actively saving money after landing her first job, a certain bank contacted her and sent her the card.

So if you are thinking about applying for a credit card, my advice is – save now and get a credit card later. Aim to save at least Php50K to Php100K.

Do you think you are ready to get a credit card? Start by clicking on this referral link:  https://www.securitybank.com/m?10124001601

I wish you all the best!

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?




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?

Money Saving Challenge Report: Week 2

I am back in Manila from a three-day tour in Sagada (plus two days in Baguio). Sagada is a whole different topic deserving of its own dedicated blog post, but if I summarize the experience in one sentence – Sagada is so much better pre-That Thing Called Tadhana era. I have been there in 2011 so I could enumerate several before and after differences. I will talk about the new Sagada in my next post.


Moving on, something dawned to me during the trip – I couldn’t stop thinking about how I could save when travelling. This has never happened to me before, and it feels strange.

See? When I travel, I don’t wanna skimp on anything. I actually booked our tour three weeks prior and barely over a week before I started planning my weekly money saving tips (for myself). So during the trip, I was mentally computing how much I would have saved if I didn’t resort to my comfort-over-everything philosophy. I spent a whopping Php20k for this trip (for three), while a friend is having a 6-day tour in Japan (yes, Japaannn) for only Php21k all in!

I was drafting this post while sitting on a couch in a small mall café in Baguio, and at that moment, I regretted ordering the hot mocha in front of me. Not only that it is ordinary and pricey, but really, what was I thinking? I am now starting to question my poor life choices involving money. And whenever I catch myself unaware of what I am spending for, I will make sure it is documented. This series is gonna be long.

On to my money saving plans, I didn’t get to put everything into practice as I was away for the most of the week. Nonetheless, I am proud to say that I managed to avoid Grab and Uber for two days in a row when I got back. I didn’t get rid of the coffee though, but I still am eating breakfast and dinner at home which is good. Overall, I think I am improving. I shall be back on track next week.

Cheers!