When Should you Upgrade your Computer?

At the office, our IT department has decided that our laptops can only be mandatorily replaced after six years. While this can be disputed whenever there’s a valid reason or justification, we were surprised at their confidence towards the lifespan and performance of laptops these days. I guess they are being reasonable in a way – I realized that I only owned two laptops in the past nine years, and both are still working fine.

My MacBook Pro is turning three this summer; it feels like I just got it last year. It is still performing like it did when I first used it. I was reading an online forum today where the “Average Life Span of a MacBook Pro” is a topic and someone candidly replied “As long as you want it to!“. Amusing.

My 2008 Dell laptop, and 2015 Macbook Pro.

It’s true, I think a MacBook can survive for many years, and that makes me a very satisfied customer. While there are moments when all those Apple restrictions give me headaches, a MacBook’s longevity is undeniably one of its best selling point.

Not to be left out, however, I have to mention that my nine-year old Windows computer is still alive too! It’s a Dell Inspiron 1420. It did crash after over a year where I unfortunately lost all my files, and the battery stopped working after less than three years. For a span of five years, I had to reinstall its OS twice, using two different installers until I decided to eventually go back to its original OS. It has been running fine since the last OS reload. I still use it for minimal computing needs as it starts humming after an hour of continuous use.

I think, laptops can be upgraded anytime within 3-6 years. It really depends on the usage though. If it is being heavily used, the chances of it getting slower over time is definitely higher.

After purchasing my MacBook in 2015, I am happy that I never had to upgrade, nor do I need a new one yet. In fact, I’ve never checked on new laptops ever since, not until now that my nephew needs one for school. I was asked to look for a good laptop, and I honestly am not sure which one to get for a limited budget. Looks like online is the way to go? What would you recommend?

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A Coffee Addict’s Way to Save Money on Coffee!

Aside from finding ways to saving on food and transportation, another thing that I needed to address is my coffee addiction.

While I am not really a Starbucks fan, I use to get coffee from them at least once a week. When I moved to my new place, there’s a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf beside our lobby, and a fancy Starbucks branch across the street. I would spend my Saturday and Sunday afternoons in any of these coffee shops for about five months. I am so glad I made a decision to take saving money seriously before things get out of hand.

My love affair with cafés is another thing. There’s something about these cozy places that I find irresistible, and I use to not mind spending money just to be there. Well, it has everything that attracts my soul – the warm ambiance, unique and artsy interiors, nice looking people, and of course the smell of freshly brewed coffee. But again, it comes with a price.

Back home in the province, this is where I sip my coffee every morning. If only I have a similar view of my own here in Manila:
How do you save money on coffee if you are a coffee addict? I’ve tried my best in the past three months, and I am making a slow but consistent progress.

I don’t buy coffee for more than P50.

Yes, fifty pesos is the highest I would go when buying coffee outside. So far, I have two sources:

McDonald’s – P45 for a large cup, with FREE one-time refill.
Country Style – P50 for a small cup (they don’t have size variants), also with FREE one-time refill

I’ve been a drinking coffee from McDonald’s since 2013. I tried Country Style’s coffee three years ago, and I’ve been their loyal customer since then. Not only that their coffee is cheap, they don’t cater to the usual young, loud customers, and I love that.

I am now brewing my own coffee at home.

Putting these mugs that my sister gave me four years ago to good use.

I had to start by buying a coffee maker which is actually not that expensive. You can get one for just P600 here in the Philippines; I bought mine for P799. As much as possible, I bring my coffee at work (that would be my second cup for the day). Buying the fifty-peso coffee that I mentioned above is just an alternative. I think, brewing your own is the best and most effective way to save money on coffee.

When comes to coffee beans, I buy local.

I never really paid attentions to coffee beans before as I thought I could just pick one from coffee shops or grocery stores. But when I was in Sagada last November, I fell in love with their coffee that I had to ask the server where they’re getting it. I learned that it’s an Arabica coffee from Atok, Benguet. I wasn’t able to get one from Baguio, so I searched for stores that sell them here in Manila. They’re a lot cheaper, and I say local farmer friendly. Here’s a sample price list that a Quezon City-based seller sent me:

No to 3-in-1 coffee.

Not only that they are too sugary, but what’s with all those powder? They fill up almost 1/4 of my cup! I have to be honest though, we use to love them especially in the province. I see them a lot at the office too. It’s cheap and instant which we all like, but I also decided to stop buying and drinking them. It is more of a health issue for me, but actually, you won’t really need them if you are brewing.




Creating my own coffee corner at home!

I am planning to have my condo unit renovated this year, and I want a café interior as a theme! I’d like to find out if that would further keep me away from cafés, I hope it will. I have lots of ideas on my mind and I can’t wait to make them happen. With this, I can imagine my social life going from zero to negative zero.

Don’t drink coffee at all?

I don’t think I could do this, ever. There were others who were able to do it, but I do not think this is an option for me at the moment. That would be too much of a challenge. Could you actually get rid of coffee?

I don’t know where my coffee addiction came from exactly, but drinking coffee is nothing but normal in our household for as long as I could remember. When I moved to the city for high school, learning that kids there don’t drink coffee came as a culture shock to me. I was amused that I was the only one in our class who drinks coffee.

I eventually stopped drinking coffee during my mid-teenage years until I graduated from college. Years later after landing my current job, it suddenly became a daily routine for me to go to a coffee shop. The addiction came with the feeling of no guilt at all for spending P100 or so for coffee everyday. Not until I created this blog, went through a financial crisis, and made saving money a priority that I realized P100 a day actually totals to P36,500 a year! That’s enough to keep me motivated and continue with what I’ve started.

Are you addicted to coffee too?

Is it Cheaper to Replace or Repair a Broken Appliance?

Lazada PhilippinesI bought an American Home coffee maker as a pasalubong for my parents last Christmas. Yes, it was more of a pasalubong than a Christmas gift. I wanted us to use it right away so I also brought home with me the ground coffee that my former boss sent me all the way from Costa Rica.

We used the coffee maker for a good five days, and it was working fine. I got back here in Manila before new year, and I was surprised to receive a text from my mom telling me that the coffee maker has suddenly stopped working. I called them and made sure that they are operating it correctly. My background in tech support was put to good use while asking them questions.

tightly plugged in to the wall outlet? – yes
power light on? – yes
does it make any boiling sound? – no
is it getting warm? – no
coffee dripping on the glass carafe? – no
is there water on the water tank? – yes
are you sure the power light is on? – yes
any damages on the unit? – none

Well, it looks like the coffee maker is not really working. By the end of January, I was back home and checked it myself. It is indeed broken and I was ready to bring it to the American Home Appliance repair center here in Manila.

I understand the rules about warranty, and I am confident that the one-year warranty for my purchase will be honored. There is no physical damage on the item, but in case they won’t honor the warranty, I made the decision of not paying anything for repair.

When is it cheaper to simply buy a new one instead of spending for repairs?

First, most electronics are always better when they’re brand new. Any repairs done to to the product often lead to more repairs. Before you know it, the total cost of getting it fixed is already almost the same as its original price when you bought it.

Second, this coffee maker is only P799. If it gets repaired for anything more than one peso, I’d rather buy a new one from a competing brand which I’m sure will last longer. I bought an Imarflex coffee maker for personal use this January, and I’m not seeing any sign that it will also malfunction anytime soon.

So when making a decision to whether or not get your broken appliance repaired, evaluate the costs. If it gets fixed, is there an assurance that it will take long before it starts malfunctioning again? Compare the repair cost versus the price of a new one, is there a huge difference?

The major rule is: if the repair will cost more than 50% of the price of replacing the appliance, you should get a new one.

How to Save Money on Your Phone Plan Subscription


Can you save money on your phone bill without totally cutting your plan subscription? I was asking my self the same question while reviewing my payment history with Globe. I can’t believe I’ve been paying P3,000-P4,000 for my phone plan in the past eleven months:

A quick throwback to almost a year ago when I decided to extend my 30-month phone plan subscription with Globe. I was originally subscribed to Plan999, and I upgraded to Plan1799 with an iPhone7 Plus handset (for P800 a month). That turns my total monthly bill to P2,599 for 24 months. Where does the additional P1,500 coming from? Excess usage!

What is the Excess Usage for?

Basically, the Plan1799 includes unlimited call to Globe and TM numbers, unlimited text to all networks, and a 10GB worth of data. I only call Globe and TM numbers, so I know right away that these charges are from my excessive data usage. We are all aware about the data capping that Globe and Smart are imposing. Well, because I do not allow myself to be limited by this data cap, I made the decision to pay the price. How much? P1,500 it is.

So if your plan offers a 10GB data for a month, every KB of data in excess to that is automatically worth P1,500. You’ll be paying for the excess charge anyway, so why not go unli with it? Here’s how my recent data excess charge was computed:

P1,339.29+%VAT equals P1,500 excess usage.

I understand that data is expensive so I feel that the excess charge is reasonable for a 55.6GB volume. This is the reason why I do not want to get cable as I could watch everything online. I am still hesitant to make that move to DSL or Fibr as I am more mobile as I thought; I can’t be without data when I step out of the house.

Now, how can we save on our phone plans???

Ask first if you really need the plan. Maybe consider cutting it after the contract expires, and go for prepaid. Nonetheless, if you feel that you are better off with a plan, decide on which plan is the best for you. Globe and Smart are quite flexible with their offerings, so determine which inclusions you would really want to spend on:

Data

If you have DSL at home, you definitely won’t need a high volume of data. Unless you travel all the time or you cannot live without streaming videos wherever you are, maybe it’s time to get a lower data plan. I would say 3GB is recommended for a month of regular mobile surfing:

Call and Text

Are you actually calling and texting all the time? If yes, the unli-text and call is perfect for you. Otherwise, get rid of it and look for a plan that includes a consumable option. Make sure to stick within that limit to avoid extra charges.

Other Inclusions!

Do you actually want all those inclusions? Perhaps your data allowance is already enough to cover everything, so check your bill for any unused inclusions. Ask your service provider to remove them if there are any.

Free Subscription that Auto-renews

Your plan may include free subscriptions to Spotify, Netflix, etc. They are free for a certain period, normally around 3-6 months and will auto-renew after that. If you do not want to keep the paid subscription for the succeeding months, contact your network and unsubscribe before it starts appearing on your bill.

Paper Bills

Do you really need the paper bill? Banks and other networks accept soft copies and print outs of your bill as a proof of billing. I don’t know which other purpose would you be needing the paper bill for. With Globe, that is P50 a month and they actually encourage their users to go paperless. Subscribe to paperless billing and save that 50 pesos (P600 per year)!

Source: Globe FAQs

Lastly, get a cheaper handset.

I want to keep my number so I am extending my plan with this as the major reason. I realized, I may not be wanting an iPhone again in the near future. I will also be going back to my old Plan999 after my current subscription expires, and will downgrade to a cheaper phone, most probably an Android. The expensive, new phones this year will surely get cheaper next year!
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I get a lot of calls from Globe offering me additional lines, and I am always firm at declining them. Which reminds me – do not get an additional line! Unless you need them for business purposes, you do not want to pay for more than one phone bill a month.

How are you saving on your phone bills? Have you experienced switching from postpaid back to prepaid?

Money Saving Challenge Report: Month 1




I am happy that I started this challenge for myself. It feels great to have gotten that drive to do it, and having a blog to document my progress makes it even more exciting. I admit that I am not a saver, so being able to come up with ideas on how to save, and having the discipline to follow them is in itself already an achievement.

My first month of trying to religiously follow my own rules has not been very easy, I admit to cheating a few times. Here’s a summary of how my first month of saving money went.

1. Not booking Grab or Uber when going to work.

I’m just glad to have been able to make a jeepney ride for my commute to work a daily routine. Indeed, anything that you regularly do for 21 days straight can become a habit. Well, I’ve been taking a jeepney for almost two months now so my plan actually worked. I am saving not less than Php100 a day, and that’s great.

On a side note, I am totally boycotting Uber until they fix their system. My bad experience with them happened when I started considering cheaper alternatives for my commute. Ironically, it was very timely because now, Uber is no longer an option.

For my safety, I still book a ride from Grab when going home after work, often between 1 and 3 in the morning.

2. Less and less fast-food.

Fast-food is my weakness. It was my main source of “nourishment” for the past 15 years or so, and that makes it very difficult to remove from my system. Needless to say, cutting down my fast-food intake from 2-3 times a day to 2-3 times a week was a great improvement.

Which means, I have to learn to prepare my own food. I can’t cook, so cheap canned goods are my savior. Thankfully, I am not your typical Filipino who can’t survive a day without eating rice. I can live with burgers and fries for a week, but I am substituting that with bread and healthier sandwiches that I buy from a bakery near my place. Soon, I plan to prepare my own sandwich and bring it to work along with my coffee. Speaking of which:

3. I am now brewing my own coffee!

I just bought a coffee maker, and ordered an Atok Arabica ground coffee with that. Moreover, the coffeemaker was purchased using a P1000 Sodexo gift certificate that I got from joining a blog contest in November. Wonderful!

I am a supporter of local produce so I am going for the Arabica coffee from Benguet. I learned about it when I was in Sagada last November. Coincidentally, I saw some Instagram posts about the Beguet coffee, and the hard works that local farmers put into harvesting and processing the beans. That inspired me to patronize their product even more.

Now, along with these money saving habits, I just started saving my 50 peso bills again. Let’s see how much I would save at the end of the year. I’m also thinking about doing my groceries by bulk. I mean because I am your typical lazy guy, I don’t go from aisle to aisle inside the grocery. I buy what I need one at a time, and I don’t mind if that means a daily trip to the grocery store downstairs where I live. How are you saving on groceries?

I realized, I might be able to save if I buy a one week worth of groceries at a time. This is also to make sure that I won’t end up ordering food online when I run out of food supplies. I work until 1 or 2 in the morning so other than the 7/11 in our building, my only option when I’m hungry are 24-hour fast-food deliveries! I would want to avoid that as much as I could.

Lastly, I am taking advantage of the cold January weather and decided to unplug my AC. The electric fan is more than enough. This started in December and my electric bill went from approximately P1600 to P350! Awesome!

What are the Advantages of a Prepaid Credit Card?

Prepaid cards are good alternatives to credit cards.

I use to work as a customer service representative, and we would sometimes advise a customer to use a prepaid credit card for payments, in lieu of a credit card. I didn’t really know what a prepaid credit card is back then as Philippine banks are not yet offering them.


A few years later, I found myself lining up in BPI to apply for a prepaid credit card. It was useful and I had it for six years. I did not renew it this year because I got another one from UnionBank, plus a secured credit card from Security Bank.

What are the advantages of a prepaid credit card?

– If you are into online shopping, but do not want to use a credit card, a prepaid credit card could be of help.

– Your credit limit is dependent on how much you want to “load” into the card so you have full control of your spending. Say you want to book a hotel at Php2500, you may only reload that amount, process your booking, and you’re done.

– No monthly bills. Since this is prepaid, you will not receive bills at the end of the month!

– No maintaining balance required. And for some banks like UnionBank, your prepaid account can also function as a savings account.

– Reloading is easy. Most banks allow you to reload via online transfer or thru an ATM.

Are there any disadvantages? Personally, the annual fee which cannot be waived is quite a turn off. Other credit card perks, such as installments, are of course not possible with a prepaid card. Also, you cannot withdraw your money (or your load) via ATM.

What are the differences of a prepaid credit card and a debit card? I could only think of one – unlike a prepaid credit card or regular credit card, you cannot use a debit card for online payments (not counting bills payment).

Making online payments are unavoidable these days, and if you do not have a credit card or if you want to play it safe, prepaid cards are the way to go. I think most banks offer them now, but I noticed that only BPI and UnionBank are actively promoting their prepaid cards.

Are you a prepaid credit card user too?

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.

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?

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?

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?


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!