My financial journey

I have always been a simple person. “White shirt and jeans with minimal accessories” is my favorite outfit. I don’t easily get fascinated with material things. I don’t have problem delaying gratification. I buy expensive things because I have to, for business’ sake, not to pacify myself or impress another.

This must be the reason why my husband asked me recently, “Why do you want to be a multi-millionaire?” He just blurted it out while we were discussing Strategic Plan for my health and wellness business. My initial answer was, “I want to have financial freedom.” And he asked again, “Why?” (My husband can be annoying sometimes lol). It took me a while to answer. I am a thinker, I probed deeper. My initial answer would have been, “I wanted to travel anytime I want, business class plus five star hotel and bring everyone along. I want to fund a bigger office to hire more people and provide them the best compensation one could imagine. I want to ensure good future for my kids. I don’t want to worry about growing old.” This time it was me asking myself, “Why?” (Can you imagine the impatience building up on my husband as he waits for my reply? Good thing he has his phone with him and decided to be online while waiting) I let the question die.

But deep inside, the question lingered for days until I realized that my husband asked me a wrong question.

“Being a multi-millionaire is not my objective, but creating something BIG is.”

To Be Continued…

Growing old

Time is passing by so quickly don’t you think?

I am starting to get scared whenever I look at our kids, they’ve grown so fast. Especially Marcus. I am just glad he doesn’t go out too often (compared to teens his age), but he’s starting to ask permission already. He has someone who he constantly talks to on the phone. Don’t worry I’m ok (kaya pa), just as long as he spends for his celphone load and he sleeps on time.  I don’t have problem with his grades anyway. Zach and Lia, though I can still tell them what to do, are no longer babies as well. Zach even tells me, “Ok, you don’t need to shout” whenever he talks a lot and do not listen to what I say.

One night Gary asked me, out of nowhere, if I really don’t want to have another child. Maybe, he misses a baby in the house. Or like me, he’s starting to feel scared because we can no longer deny the fact that our kids are big already. Btw, my answer to Gary is still no to having another child, I cannot go through the same process anymore. Also, I wanted to have more time with him. To take care of all his needs (his love language is service) that I cannot possibly provide now because I have 3 kids to attend to. I am planning to start having vacation for the two of us starting next year, or maybe sooner, who knows?

I also plan to make more vacations as a family. It doesn’t have to be out of the country all the time, but if only we can afford it we’ll do it. We can go to Baguio, Tagaytay or even in Nuvali where we can use the club house already. I want to create situations wherein my kids don’t have the choice but to spend time with their siblings and their (old, emo and senti) parents. lol

Like 2 weeks ago, we spent our long-weekend in Baguio. Btw, we usually stay at Azalea Residences Hotel because we love how spacious their rooms are and how convenient their location is. We just ate and slept the whole time. This time we tried 2 of the best restaurants in Baguio, Cafe by the Ruins and Forest House, aside from Hill Station which has always been part of our every Baguio trip.

 

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Here you can see the kids’ bed (where Marcus is currently lying down). Gary is watching TV (he prefers to stand when he’s tired of sitting down). Zach, Lia and I are on the dining table. I am having a bottle of beer, Zach is reading the Hotel’s Bible (kulang na lang basahan ako ng verse at i-pray over hehe) and Lia is playing puzzle. On our back is the kitchen where you can find the ref, stove, microwave, sink and cabinets of utensils. On Zach’s right is the bathroom and another room for Gary and myself (though Lia still prefers to sleep with us) which has another TV and bigger closet.

 

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Picture of our babies-no-more while buying vegetables and Baguio sweets at Strawberry Farm.

I hope we can make many more memories like this.

Why enrol your kids to different schools?

I always get this question. And every time, there is a lag between the question and my answer. I struggle for words to explain that I look for school that would meet each of my child’s needs and not the other way around. I’ve learned my lesson already and I don’t want to make the same mistake twice.

My eldest son Marcus was diagnosed with mild ADHD. He doesn’t have learning disability, actually his IQ is above average and he is as normal as any normal child can be, except for one, he needs more attention. He would always get a bad remark for his behavior because of that. His psychologist recommended that I enrol him in a school with small class size (15 students or below) so that he can get the right attention that he needs. BUT because I didn’t want Marcus to feel that he has special needs, I still enrolled him in a traditional school. I tried to talk to the guidance councilor and adviser to make sure that his needs are addressed. They made promises that they were not able to keep. When these traditional schools gave up on Marcus, namely Don Bosco Makati and San Agustin, I was forced to look for another school. Blessing in disguise, Australian International School was referred to me.  Since Day 1, they did not disappoint me. Now, Marcus is always on the top 5 (among 15 kids with different nationalities), he has proven his leadership skills, getting (almost) straight As, varsity player in basketball and learning to play the piano and bass with minimum supervision. Opportunities that for sure won’t be presented to him from schools he came from.

My second child, Zach, goes to San Agustin. He fits the traditional school discipline. I honestly would want to pull him out from that school because the number of students there per class is so big already (almost 50), not to mention how they treated my eldest son. But so far Zach is doing well. He has good grades, speaks well and is confident of himself. I don’t want to stop his momentum by transferring him to another school. Maybe in highschool. So what I do now is I enrol him to other activities such as kumon and swimming. I also tell him to read books about important things not usually taught in school, like financial education.

My only daughter goes to Assumption College. She was enroled in a progressive school last year. There was great improvement in her in terms of social skills and independence but I transferred her this year because in terms of acads, they’re not much of a hurry. That scares me because I don’t want Lia to be left behind. Also I want her to get values and religious education. In Assumption, there are 16 students in her class (compared to 20+ in CSA for Kindergarten). I am still observing Lia’s progress, but so far so good. I will also enrol her to special class on top of Kumon.

There. I believe that I am in the best position to identify what my children’s needs are in terms of learning and development. I don’t want to force my kids in an environment which cannot provide my children’s best interest. So help me God.

There are options

I grew up believing that I need to finish school (with flying colors) to be employed by a company that could offer me a lucrative job. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that ONLY if it was presented to me together with other options. The scary part of my growing up years (I realized) is that it NEVER occurred to me that I can come up with my own business and be an employer years (even decades) before retirement age. I had a lot of misconceptions with regards to owning a business. I used to think that all you need is money to be able to start one. So you picture yourself getting your retirement fund and finally making your dream of being your own employer come true. Surprisingly, money is actually the least of your worries. Are you with me?

Let’s go back to the picture. So you consulted friends, relatives and successful business owners on what kind of business to invest on (missing the idea of even asking how did they actually became successful). You are eyeing the product/service, not the business system itself. If you’re lucky and the business is a hit (for now), you reached ROI in no time. Unfortunately, lack of entrepreneurial experience slowly dragged your business down. You then found yourself closing the business and saying goodbye to the last money you have.

What to do?

1. Know yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Are you a visionary who loves to exploit new possibilities and has the passion for creating better future or an implementer who efficiently completes current work, solves immediate problem and into details? This is important so that you will know who to partner with or what type of people to hire eventually.

2. Have an investment fund where you can put money on a regular basis. If there is a need to make a loan, go for it. Just as long as financial feasibility has been established addressing cash flow and ROI.

3. Educate yourself through school, seminars, training and/or books.

4. Experience it. Don’t wait for retirement age, please! Don’t be scared to fail. And fail as many times as you can. Failing is worth all the money you lost. When you are losing during your salad days, you have all the time and energy to recuperate and try again (this time as a better business owner). My suggestion just to make the ball rolling? Join those networking businesses. Why? Because they offer FREE seminars and training on how to market and sell, you meet seasoned entrepreneurs and of course the hands-on training of trying to do it yourself.

5. Be humble enough to admit that you need more than yourself to succeed.

Now that I have 3 growing children, I try to educate them financially as much as I can. I tell them that life is not all about winning, what’s important is being a better person after every failure.

More so, I am opening their eyes to a lot of BETTER options.

Traditional Hilot

Di daw pwede yung masahista mo.” Gary woke me up last Sunday with this. And then followed by, “Mag TheSpa ka na kasi.

For weeks I’ve been complaining about my very painful (upper) back and I know I badly need a massage that would release all the nodules (lamig) inside my body. I’ve been planning to go to TheSpa again and try their Volcanic Rock massage. It costs 2100 each in suite/villa (private room with private facilities), and 1500 for executive. Nagcompute na nman ang lola nyo. For a thousand, my trusted home massage therapist can provide massage service for two plus tip. So I texted my therapist and made a schedule. Unfortunately, she cancelled it on the day that I was expecting her.

So Gary and I went to The Spa Fort instead. We arrived around 12pm, and learned that they open at 1pm so we had our brunch first. The Volcanic Rock Massage was not available so we ended up getting the Traditional Hilot.

As always, I used 20 mins of my time inside the steam/sauna. Heaven! Para akong piniprito sa sarili ko’ng mantika, bonggang-bongga ang pawis ko. After the steam, I already felt an improvement on my back. After a quick shower, I was lead to the room where Gary and I will have our massage.

Gary:”Ang haba ng ngiti mo ah! Eto mga gusto mo eh. Dapat pala palagi ka nandito para lagi ka naka-ngiti.

Tse!

Then we talked about having our very own Sauna in our dream house.

The traditional massage started in a couple of minutes. They did our (upper) back first, perfect. They placed oil and hot leaves on top of our back after the massage. Even more perfect!

All in all, it was way worth it. This blog will remind me not to compare the price between a home therapist and TheSpa (with all its perks) anymore.

Seoul 2013 finale

Last day in Seoul we decided to go to Hongdae. I really appreciate the effort of the  boys looking for Hello Kitty Cafe just to make the little girl happy. (Little did they know that they were doing me a favor too. hihi) Lia was about to complain, being tired of walking, when I showed her the hello kitty cafe. I saw how she smiled shyly recognizing the cafe that she used to see on the internet. It was priceless.

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We hurriedly went inside, me and Lia, while the boys stayed outside. After we’ve seen what’s inside the cafe, to our heart’s content, I ordered yoghurt and waffle. The boys don’t want anything so while waiting for us to finish our order, they went around Hongdae.

Few minutes later, they came back with good news, Hongdae is also a shopping area. Before we did our last minute shopping though, I asked them to look for a place to eat. Luckily, there is a place called Chef, literally a few steps away from Hello Kitty Cafe. Chef offers eat all you can grill and salad bar for 10k won. The little octopus was a hit!

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That was our last meal in Seoul. We headed straight to Incheon Airport after a little pasalubong shopping. That was it.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again… I will definitely go back to South Korea.

Seoul 2013 part 4

When we reached the hostel, Gary and Lia were busy with the laptop. I mean, Gary was looking after Lia while she plays Disney Junior online games. I am glad to see Gary looking and feeling better.

To cut the story short, he was ready for our next destination. We decided to, FINALLY, try Korean grilled meat. There’s this one restaurant just walking distance from where we were staying.

Our table is similar to this (picture taken from the internet)… I KNOW! I need to take my own pictures if I really want to be a travel blogger. (Effort lang kasi)

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Unfortunately, the menu doesn’t have English translation so we just pointed our order and have no idea what’s it called. Also, I was surprised when they put several side dishes on our table, around 6 side dishes per person. Punong-puno yung table namin. I was also a bit scared because I thought they misunderstood our order and gave us more than what we asked for. I haven’t tried Korean Restaurant before. But then I realized that they love side dishes as much as we Filipinos can’t eat without condiments (sawsawan).

Verdict, the meat was so tender. I tried all the side dishes which turned out to be edible (even those spicy kimchi), and some even tastes good. Definitely, it was our first satisfying meal in Seoul.

Then we headed to Dongdaemun market, a popular shopping destination and the fashion mecca daw of Korea. That’s where I bought my facial masks (The Faceshop) and some winter clothes for Lia. We also tried street food, sausages to be exact. Worth the try.

Seoul 2013 part 3

Alarm woke me up on the second day. The night before, we agreed to leave around 10am so I have to wake up at 8. When I sat on the bed to turn off the alarm, Gary told me he needs to rest the whole day. He felt worse. I was thinking what to do. It’s actually ok with me if we didn’t go anywhere. Traveling made me realize that it’s not all about tourist spots. My kids and I could just walk along the streets, eat more korean (junk) food and just observe what Koreans do. I was worried about Gary at the same time thinking about Rex and Dexter and their effort of planning for itinerary. Of course they would understand Gary’s situation but I think they also deserve to enjoy the trip.

Gary was pushing me to go with them and that he can take care of himself, he just needs more rest. After assuring me a million times that he’ll be ok, I agreed but told him we’ll be back after one tourist spot to check on him. Also I cannot bring the 3 kids with me, so I have to leave the little girl behind (good thing she slept very late the night before and was still sleeping when I left). Before we left for Seoul Tower, I made sure that Gary and Lia have food to eat in the room. I enjoyed that early morning walk to look for banana, bread and biscuit (as per request).

We left and took a train to Myeong-dong Station (all along worried about Gary’s condition). As soon as we reached the top of the stairs, my kids saw McDonalds… and I obliged because I felt bad for the kids, especially Zach, who haven’t eaten a decent meal since we arrived South Korea. We ate brunch, then waited for bus number 5 at the Bus stop. While waiting, I saw this huge Uniqlo store and was planning to take a good look at it that night (which didn’t happen).

Anyway, good thing we rode a bus than going to the station nearest Seoul Tower because it was a steep climb up.

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We bought tickets to reach the top of Seoul Tower + see Teddy Bear Museum. Nasayang yata yung Teddy Bear Museum ticket namin kasi wala naman sa aming mahilig sa bear…

 

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Wahahah!

To be continued…

Seoul 2013 part 2

Before I proceed, I forgot to mention that we exchanged our US dollars for Won at Incheon airport. They also accept Philippine Pesos. Ang sakit sa bangs ng currency nila, ang purchases namin in thousands of pesos lagi haha! Ask us how much we spent for our dinner, 70,000++… won nga lang :)

So in continuation of part 1, when I woke up the next day (which was already late btw), Gary was complaining of stomach and head ache. I touched his cheeks and confirmed that he has fever. I gave him paracetamol and antacid. He threw-up all the food he ate the night before and took a hot shower. He said he feels much better. Feeling ko di sya natunawan.

So past noon, we headed for our first tourist destination. Our itinerary for the day includes Gyeongbokgung palace, Changdeokgung palace and Myeong-dong night market. We ate our lunch at a restaurant beside Gyeongbokgung palace. I ordered baby back ribs (just to be safe), I ordered soup for my kids because it has noodles. Unfortunately the soup was cold. It even has crushed ice, parang halo-halo lang! We couldn’t find the Korean food that we wanted to eat. Gary ordered soup because he said he can’t eat solid food yet, but ended up with soup that tastes like grass and with rough consistency (if there’s such a thing). Anyway, we enjoyed the scenic views of Gyeongbokgung.  One side you see the city, the other side mountain.

 

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We left Gyeongbokgung palace around 6pm. It took us so long to see the whole place because the area is really huge plus the fact that Gary was not at his best, he needs to sit and rest every now and then.

Obviously, we need to change the itinerary. So instead of going to another palace, we opted to go straight to the night market. But Gary prefers the electronic market because he wants to buy a new laptop, we headed then to Yongsan. We reached the station but we were not sure what we were looking for, a mall with different stores or just a street with stalls. We were not able to do research because it was decided out of the blue. Here’s a photo of Yongsan station/mall that I find interesting. Sorry though for the not-so-clear photo.

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Gary couldn’t walk any further, so we decided to just go back to the hostel. We suggested that Rex and Dexter can still visit other places if they want to, but they opted to go with us.

Back at the hostel, we had few bottles of beer again, this time at our room’s terrace, with me, Rex and Dexter minus Gary. Oh! Btw, we ate Korean Ice Cream first before we had beer. I also bought lots of Korean junk food because I wanted to try them all. Walang basagan ng trip! Gary was lying on the bed the whole time until he was able to fall asleep. So three of us plus Marcus were discussing the next day’s itinerary, with side comments on how vain South Koreans are. For one, face surgery is very common to them. They even have ads posted on the train. Anyway, we agreed that we’re going to leave earlier the next day so that we can maximize the day hoping that Gary will be well…

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John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars

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Days after I’ve finished the book… di pa rin ako maka-get over. I decided to read “For Whom The Bell Tolls” next because I am scared of being bored reading other books after ‘The Fault in Our Stars’… because it is definitely a masterpiece.

Actually, it’s like reading one of those Sweet dreams book, very easy to read. Pang-highschool. BUT, how the love story was revealed was something else. Ang galing ni John Green. He was able to make me laugh, cry and fall in love (as in kinilig ako ng bongga!). The story emphasized the simplicity and complexity of life. The freedom to choose what to feel. The realities of life… that you have no other choice but to accept.

I want to share quotes from the book…

“That’s the thing about pain,” Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. “It demands to be felt”

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

“But it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.”

At eto… kung hindi ka ba talaga kiligin!

“Come over here so I can examine your face with my hands and see deeper into your soul than a sighted person ever could.”

Madami pa… basahin nyo na lang!

And then a thought entered my mind, this book should have a movie. Alas! It was filmed already. Kaso di ko type si Ansel Elgort as Augustus.

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Crush ko pa nman si Augustus sa book. Bakit hindi na lang ito…

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BOOM!

Anyway, I realized… gusto ko ba talaga sya mapanuod. I am afraid that it will break my heart, not because of the story, but because they won’t be able to give justice to the book.

I miss you both Hazel Grace and Augustus…