Note to Self, and to You

One thing I keep hearing these days:

“Uy, tumaba ka.”

And I’m always like, “Seriously? You really have to blurt that out?” Of course, I can only say that to myself because there’s a thing called manners.

It pisses me off that some people just can’t stop pointing out someone’s weight gain.

I mean, unless I’m morbidly obese with health risks here and there, what’s the big deal?

I have always gained and lost weight that I stopped losing sleep over it.

But it really irritates me that only way to start a conversation some people know is by commenting on weight.

Which got me thinking —

If I sparked a conversation with these people by stating how dumb they’ve become, or how insensitive they are, would they engage in a conversation?

I don’t think so.

If you’re reading this, I hope a realization dawns on you —

that when your parent/teacher taught you not to say anything if you’re not gonna say something nice,

they were right.

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Budget Template, version 2

I had my partner try the first template I made and he found it a bit confusing and difficult, so..

Ta-dah!

Budget template version 2!

This version looks much simpler and more compact, hence you can see everything in one glance. The total in each column should reflect your monthly income. On the other hand, the total in each row shows how much you spent/saved for each category for the whole year.

Feel free to download and use it as your own. If you know anyone who might find it useful, feel free to share the link.

Cheers!

– S –

Officially 27

I faced loss many times over the course of 12 months —

friends,

money,

chances,

the will to live.

I was lost. I didn’t know what to do with my life. I exist, but I ceased to live.

And like any other life stories, my turning point came.. in form of someone.

You.

You came like a knight in battered war suit, tired from fighting battles for everyone, except your own. You took refuge in a dead princess’ stories of grandeur and passion, all lost in memories..

but you brought them back to me.

I woke up from deep slumber and saw life the way I should —

enticing,

fulfilling,

ever-changing.

You raised the bar high, as you went out of your way, and made me feel like a queen.

With you,

I am never second-best,

never doubted myself,

never taken for granted.

You showed me how it feels like to be truly accepted and loved no matter what. You embraced my nuances and sawpo past my fears and insecurities.

You keep me safe and guided in everything I do. You add so much value to my life that I want to spend my days with you by my side.

Aside from my family’s never-ending love and support, your presence in my life is the greatest gift I ever had this year.

I am officially 27, and deeply in love with you.

Keeping a budget

As the year closes, I’m pretty sure most people are making promises to themselves once again. Like how they’re really gonna work harder to lose weight, save more and so on. Well..

Same here. HAHAHA. I promised myself to have my finances in order.. month after month.

Back in September, I finally paid off my debts and started keeping a budget. Three months later, I still pay my bills on time, invest regularly and most importantly, I’m debt-free.

Keeping a budget feels rewarding, and if you stick to it every month, it can be addicting.

In case you’re planning to create a budget, you can download my budget templateΒ here. I prefer to have mine on Google Sheets as it’s easier to manage, and I can access it wherever I am.

It’s best to keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all template when it comes to budgeting. Your budget should always be aligned with your priorities, be it long-term or short-term. By doing so, you become more committed to keeping your budget.

If you’re downloading my template, and you’re wondering why it looks that way or how you can use it, let me help you out.

My budget has 4 categories: payables, savings, investment, and miscellaneous.

  • Payables are the (non-negotiable) products and services I pay for on a monthly basis to survive like rent, water and electricity bills, etc.
  • Savings can be divided into two: emergency fund and savings goal. Emergency fund is used in case I lose my job or get sick. Savings goal, on the other hand, is used for big and small purchases which I already planned months in advance. For example, I can buy a smartphone worth Php 10,000 by saving Php 2,000 every payday. After 5 paydays or 2.5 months, I’ll be able to afford a new smartphone without breaking the bank.
  • Investment includes stock market, mutual funds, side businesses. I invest heavily on real estate, leveraging on my father’s expertise in construction which saves me thousands in labor and materials.
  • Miscellaneous includes living expenses and debt reduction plan. Family expenses refer to the financial support I give to my parents. Work expenses include spending for team-related activities, etc. Personal expenses are what I spend to keep myself happy. If I have debts, I prioritize paying it off by regularly setting aside money to reduce the balance owing. [ Note: if you’re already deep in debt, it would be best to find another source of income and live a frugal life until you’re debt-free. ]

I hope you find my template useful. If it works for you or if you have questions, please let me know. I’d be happy to answer through the comment section. Feel free to share away! πŸ™‚

Opposites attract, but do they last?: Thoughts on couples with different personalities, Part 1

Opposites attract, as they always say. But being in a relationship with someone whose personality differs from yours requires more than just mere attraction.

I tend to be introverted most of the time. I make few friends, spend little time with people, find it easier to express myself through writing and enjoy doing things on my own. I like to socialize too, but I can only do so for an hour or two, lest I’d be seeking a way out or worse, throwing tantrums.

My partner, on the other hand, is an ambivert. He knows how to deal with people, although he needs time for himself, too.

[ Conflict resolution ]

When we were just starting out, our biggest issue is resolving conflicts. We used to argue about petty things, which would escalate to huge fights, mainly because we deal with problems differently.

When I’m angry, I shut up and contemplate on the situation. I take time in pinpointing why I feel angry in the first place, and if my reason to be angry is valid from both parties’ point of view. As much as possible, I’d like to refrain from saying something I’d regret after making up.

Whereas my partner, being the more logical one, used to insist that we talk things out right away. Which didn’t sit well with me, as I wanted to cool down first before discussing the issue.

It took few months until we reached an agreement.

I have to tell my partner outright if I don’t want to talk at the moment and then, he will give me space. I have to let him know that I’m not ignoring him because I’m mad at him. Rather, I need time to sort my thoughts and evaluate my emotions. This takes off the guilt from my partner. After all, I am responsible for my own emotions.

It was tough for both of us since we couldn’t change who we are, but I guess, we care for each other so much, we were willing to compromise from the start. I was — and still am — impressed with how my partner tolerated the awkward silence after every argument and patiently waited for me to open up. He managed to find ways to distract himself and cool down at the same time.

So far, we’re getting better at it.

A quick gratitude post

I woke up, with my last dream still vivid on my mind.

Everything started catching fire, and I was panicking, dreading the worst. But my mom came and very calmly told me what I had to do. The fire was put out in a minute or two.

I was dreaming, but the fear and panic felt too real. Then I realized why my mom was there.

She has always been the sound voice in my head. She always knows what to do. In every crisis during my turbulent years, she’s my 9-11. Sure, we don’t talk as often as what one would expect, but I can always count on my mother whenever I need her.

I used to think I could survive on my own and my parents need not worry about me, but the more I stayed away from home, the more reckless my decisions became.

I am just grateful for my parents. For the million chances they gave. For believing I am more than my mistakes, and my mistakes are part of my own learning process.

They never judged, for they know who I really am and what I’m capable of. I’m a survivor, but I wouldn’t be without their support.

To my parents, I will never get tired of saying this — thank you. I owe you my life when I was born into our family, when you raised me, and even after I left the nest to live on my own. You are still and always will be the best people I’ve ever known.

How to achieve financial goals as a couple

1. Find someone whose values on money and wealth align with yours.

It lessens the drama, hence you can focus on more important things like increasing your net worth and working on your relationship.

I like to spend my money on things that appreciate value over time, like real estate. My partner makes it possible for me to invest on pieces of land that can be turned into apartment units by allowing me to pay only what I can afford. He doesn’t demand that we split our expenses evenly because he understands how much investing means to me and my parents.

As a couple, we don’t like to spend on things that we don’t need. We both like staying indoors, doing passive activities and enjoying each other’s company. We splurge sometimes, but not at the expense of our payables. When shopping, we often ask each other if our purchase is urgent or not. If we can delay it, we don’t buy it.

This might seem irrelevant to some when choosing partners, but to these skeptics, what I guarantee is this: you’re more likely to achieve your goals if you find someone who shares your values.

2. Be transparent about your earnings, debts, expenses and financial goals.

Take this with a grain of salt, though. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s definitely working for us. Since we both know where our salary goes, we never fight over money.

Before moving in with my partner, we discussed about how we were going to divide the expenses. I created a monthly budget until the end of 2018 and shared it with him so he’d have an idea how I’d spend my income in the coming months.

We tell each other immediately if we have unexpected expenses, and we plan ahead if we’re going to buy something expensive so as not to put too much pressure on our budget. If necessary, we adjust our daily spending to allocate the excess to those expenses.

I can say with confidence that this practice made our lives waaay easier.

3. Invest in your relationship as much as you do in business.

Investing in your relationship doesn’t mean taking your partner to high-end restaurants and buying brand name gifts on a regular basis. Rather, invest on quality time together.

No relationship thrives without effort from both sides. And just like business, it requires consistency if you want it for the long haul.

After all, your partner is called such for a reason.

Last words

Your pathetic existence still irks the f*ck out of me, but like what my partner said, it’s useless to be right when I’m dealing with idiots like you.

So I’ll let you karma take its course. After all, you still owe me.

You owe me money.

You owed me your job when you were supposed to be terminated months before you actually got fired.

I defended your name from people who you said were trying to bring you down.

I see you now for what you are.

An incompetent person, trying to dupe good people into doing you favors for your personal gain.

You lie and cheat your way to get what you want.

You fucking scammer.

A quick post on investing, part 1

Disclaimer: I am in no way an expert on financial matters, but I wanna share what I have learned so far.

I started investing on real estate 5 years ago, when my parents and I decided to build 2 apartment units on a piece of land that my father bought more than 20 years ago. I consider myself lucky because we already own a lot to build units on.

Our vision was to have another steady source of income to aid us in our expenses in the future.

Tip #1: Ask your parents (or close relatives) if they have pieces of land (with clean titles) that you can invest on. Tell them your plan – what you’d like to build, how you’re gonna pay for the lot and construction, when you’d like the ownership to be transferred, etc. Present them with Plan A, B and C, and make sure that all details are clear. Negotiate and compromise to have a win-win situation for both parties. Remember that family still comes first.

At that time, I had just began working office-based (I worked home-based for 2 years), hence I couldn’t apply for any housing loan as that requires at least 36 months worth of contributions. Our game plan was to scrimp on daily expenses and use a portion of my and my father’s salary (plus use some of my younger brother’s scholarship money) to fund our first family project.

It wasn’t difficult at first because I was living with my parents and they did everything for me, including managing my salary, doing my laundry, preparing my food at home and at work and driving me to work. I didn’t have any vices (I still don’t have any) and I wasn’t in a relationship so there wasn’t anything I particularly spent money on a regular basis.

Also, aside from funding the project, I was paying for my father’s motorcycle, which was used for running errands, especially the location of the would-be apartments is one hour away from our house.

After a year, I decided to move out because I missed living on my own (I lived away from my family from 2007 until 2011). 2013 was tricky, as I had to pay for the motorcycle, fund the apartments, pay my own rent and buy my own food.

Tip #2: The best time to invest is when you’re single and living with your parents. You can save on money and effort plus you can focus on your job, giving you a higher chance of getting promoted faster.

On top of that, I got into a relationship and lived with my then-boyfriend to share living expenses. I still couldn’t make ends meet so I worked 3 to 4 part-time jobs to be able to catch up.

Tip #3: Having a full-time job is not enough if you want to invest, support your family, and live on your own, all at the same time. Find another source of income – sell things, offer services, and rent out equipment, etc.

I worked from 6am until 10pm (or 11pm) on weekdays and worked half-days on weekends. I lost a lot of sleep and too much hair, but 2 years after we started the project, we had the first unit rented out. Months later, we had the 2nd unit rented, as well.

Tip #4: Investing is a commitment. You can’t skip a month’s contribution to reward yourself and say you’ll just pay double next month when your pays goes up, because more often than not, you’ll get unexpected expenses that ruin your budget. Pay your dues on time, and stop depending on your next pay to cover for your impulse buys. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a reward for working hard, but if you do so at the expense of your investment, delay it. My rule of thumb is: if I can’t buy it in cash, then I won’t buy it.

(To be continued.)

4 things I wanna tell this bastard

1.Β Stop spreading lies about me. We both know the truth. You’re a pathological liar — seek professional help. You lie your way out every time you get confronted for your misdeeds.

What, you’re an unmarried father of one? You can only visit your son because you’re not on good terms with the mother of your child? Your child lives in another city and you’re just staying with your father’s new family? You hate the family of your child’s mother that you can’t bear to live with them?

And the lies kept going, until they didn’t make sense anymore. You sold drama to gain sympathy.

2.Β You owe me 20k. You owe me more than that, but I only asked for 20k to be returned. In case you forgot, I helped you out in your most desperate times.

3. Last time I texted you was 2 months ago and I was just asking for my money. You cussed at me, saying you’re not gonna pay back a single cent. Until now, you still owe me 20k.

4. I believe in karma. I pity anyone who puts their faith on you because you just don’t know how to value trust. To anyone who still believes you, I wish them good luck.

P.S. I held my peace, but you came back, telling people I keep texting you. Wow, too much self-confidence for someone incompetent.

Now, let me go back to ignoring your existence. πŸ˜‘

Random thoughts about you

Just like any other Sunday night, I’m left to pass the time alone as you work through a 9-hour shift.

And just like any other Sunday night, I feel more and more anxious without you here.

It’s now past 1am, and I just had another bad dream. I can’t talk to you at the moment since it’s not your lunch break yet, so here I am, pouring my thoughts on my blog to lessen the feeling of uneasiness.

You help me get through every nightmare so I remember nothing about it by the time I wake up. You hold me closer and reassure me that it’s just a dream. You keep me calm and hush my cries. You pull myself together so I can survive another sleep.

I need you.

There are many instances which got me thinking how I’d survive without you. You became indispensable that I can’t imagine life without you by my side.

I used to sleep my days away but now, my reality is waaay better with you in it. You are every girl’s dream, and so much more. You are everything I thought I’d never have, but ended up getting anyway.

I love you.

Just another letter from one grateful partner.

M,

Thank you for this week.. and every week you have to put up with my hormone-driven mood swings. I know I’m being too much at times, but thank you for the extended patience and much-needed understanding.

I love you.

I know I seem cold most of the time and I tend not to pay attention when I’m engrossed with what I’m doing, but know this:

You are the best thing that happened to me. You are the miracle I prayed hard for. You are everything I thought I’d never have, but you came my way and made everything better.

Thank you, M.

To the girl before me

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“Thank you for letting him go, that’s the one mistake I will never commit. I realized something you didn’tβ€” it’s that he deserves hands that will never relinquish its grip on him, hands that will hold him faithfully and undoubtedly. He didn’tΒ deserve someone who couldn’tΒ love what he was and what he was not, someone who couldn’tΒ cherish his entirety.

I know you’re a past that’s been peeking at his present. You don’t have to act and pretend that nothing has changed. That his voice is still yours, like his smile and his family still belongs to you. When you lost him, you lost the multiverse that he is. When you lost him, you lost a lot. You lost his soft heart, his deserving hands, his morning voice, his undeniably heart-melting efforts, and his charming genes. You will be nostalgic of the kids you will never get to have with him. And I assure you, I will be gentle with all of the things that you lost. I was put on this exact universe to hold him infinitely. I love him in a capacious ballroom floor. In scrupulous care. In tenuous walls. In an endless earth rotation. I love him in ways you failed to. I love him without any intent of quitting.

Every single cell in a human body dies and is replaced with new cells all the time. Like being reborn again and again. The man who loves me isn’t the same man who used to be there for you. There is no longer a part of him that you have touched. He is no longer the same man you knew. You are only a memory too distant to be remembered. Like one of the stories your playmate told you when you were in kindergartenβ€” slowly slipping out of your memory lane. Like the color of lunchbox you had in fourth gradeβ€” faded and unremembered.”

— Shi Collantes, The Present

Just another letter of gratitude.

I used to fear sleep — how the subconscious mind takes over and all hell breaks loose.

I hate losing control over my reality, so I kept myself awake as much as I could.

Then I met you.

You were there every time I broke down — you took me in your arms and made me calm.

You killed all the monsters in my head, and hushed every unwanted thought I had.

You are my knight, not in shining armor, but in weathered battle suit, because you keep fighting my every war.

And you win them for me, every single time.

A letter of gratitude

For correcting me when I make mistakes,
For understanding my need (as an introvert) for time and space,
Thank you.

For taking care of me when I am ill and weak,
For cheering me up whenever I lose my will,
Thank you.

For standing with me when I am wronged,
For putting aside our differences to make this work,
Thank you.