Saturday, August 5, 2017

Clever ways to spend the money you earned in moonlighting (Last of 2 Parts)

To continue...

Second unsolicited advice would be, spend your money wisely. You did not earn your money sleeping. In fact, you had to lose a lot of sleep and grow heavy eyebags beneath your eyes to earn those bucks. 

It is only right to be clever and wise in spending the money you earned in moonlighting.

Your hard-earned money should at least be distributed into five categories: 

(1) Tithes. God will give you back according to what you gave and even more. As written in the Bible, in Malachi 3:10, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessings that there will not be room enough to store it. 

(2) Parents. Give back to your parents (even if they do not ask for it), as a way of thanking them for everything they went through during your medical education. They were with you during your journey in medical school - they too were stressed when you were stressed with your duties at the hospital, and they cried and laughed with you through it all. The value of utang na loob (debt of gratitude) is deeply ingrained in the Filipino culture, and it would not hurt us if we give back to those who supported us all the way.  

(3) Savings. Save whenever you can and when you can. Every peso counts. There will come a time when you will be tired of moonlighting and you will eventually decide to go up the next level which is residency training. Learn a lesson from the ant who works hard to save for the rainy days. Residency is most of the time not sunny (in terms of the pocket) and so you should prepare for those days.  

(4) Investments. Investing your money will always be a good idea. They say, the best time to invest was yesterday - but you were not yet earning then - so the next best time to invest is today - I mean now, that you have your own money. There are quite a lot of investment tools that are available at present - mutual funds, UITFs, traditional and variable life insurances, and there's the stock market too. I availed of a traditional life insurance during my moonlighting stint. I consider that as my achievement, as well as a remembrance of my career in moonlighting. The gadgets I bought during those days had been outdated, some have even grown useless, but my insurance still lingers  - in a way because I am still paying for it until now because it is up for 30 years payment - most importantly, it continues to be an assurance that I am protected and my family won't be left hanging if ever something unexpected happens to me. 

(5) Things and Travel. Buy the things that you need and some of the things that you want. Travel to places that you have always wished to explore. Go out on an adventure. Unwind. The millenials have a word for this - YOLO, which means You Only Live once - which is quite true. You deserve a reward once in a while for all your efforts. Getting that latest phone model would probably inspire you to work harder. As for me, I bought myself a DSLR camera and a laptop when I was moonlighting. The former, a want, because photography is one of my hobbies, and the latter, a need, because when I bought the laptop, I already decided to go back to residency the following year. Reward yourself after a day's work like pigging out with friends in your favorite restaurant, watching a movie, or visiting a recreational theme park in your area. 

If you decide to choose the moonlighting path, I have no objection to that. Whatever makes you happy. "Kung saan ka masaya," as they say in Filipino.

Follow your heart. Just make sure that you have your career plans in check all the time and you know where you are headed to.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Comforting words from Liz Gilbert, and more...

Elizabeth Gilbert, the famous author of the bestseller,  Eat, Pray, Love,  wrote something beautiful on her Facebook Page. 

I am sharing her post right here, because it is too precious not to be shared, specially that I know it will make a difference in your life, the way it did in mine. 

Wherever we are in our lives right now, whether we are smiling with the sun, or weeping under gray clouds, Liz's words will give us an idea, where to run to when we feel we are treading a downhill course, when we feel that the climb is too steep for us that taking just one small step feels like carrying iron balls tied to our feet through chains, and how to heal ourselves, when we are deeply wounded. 

 "Go to the Water"
by Elizabeth Gilbert

Years ago, when I was going through a really hard time, a friend of mine who was a naturalist gave me some beautiful advice about how to best take care of myself.

He told me, "When an animal in the wild is injured, it has only two strategies for how to heal itself: It can rest or it can go to the water. Right now, try to do as much of both as possible."


And then go to the water.

Drink the water. Submerge yourself in the water. Touch the water. Look at the water.

Then go back to sleep.

Repeat as necessary, until healing occurs.

Sometimes, I forget these two magical principals, how to rest, and how to go to the water.

Then I get overwhelmed by life's challenges, and I trick myself into believing that I need a much more complicated cure than your average wounded animal. And sometimes I do need a more complicated cure, I guess.

But not usually.

Usually sleep and water will do the trick.

It always reminds me of that Isak Dinesen quote: "The cure for everything is salt water: tears,sweat, or the sea."

This morning - after a good night's sleep - I went to the water. Here is a photo I took this morning of my feet dipping into my old friend, the Atlantic Ocean. She has never let me down yet, and she didn't let me down this morning either.

(That said, when the ocean is not available, a long hot bath will work. Or a cold shower. Or standing naked under the garden sprinkler, which has been known to change the energy of a day as well! As a final resort: Just drink 8 ounces of the stuff...whatever it takes. Get thee to the water, people.)

Just rest, and go to the water.

It's all gonna be alright.

That's what the water always tells me, anyhow.
And I believe in the water.


ONWARD, and be good to you,

On the other hand, I believe we should also go to the water when we are at our happiest. Personally, the beach for me represents a treasure trove of memories. There, in the beach, I was at my happiest, and in those moments, I was surrounded by family and friends, people I love and who love me back at the same time, no matter what. 

Mama took this photo while I was testing the cold waters of Miami Beach in Florida.

A realization dawns on me that "water" will always have a role in both our happiest and saddest moments. 

We shed tears when we are sad, yet we drink and try to drown ourselves in our merriment when we celebrate. Well-wishers applaud a newly married couple who drinks wine together during a wedding reception. In a gathering or celebration, there will always be someone who would lead and want to make a toast.

The situation may be different for others who cry and drink at the same time during moments of despair. 

We go out of our way, brave distances, in order to bask in scenic beaches.  While others visit the beach to reminisce memories of a lost love, or to simply forget the cruelty of the world,  and yes, to heal. 

We are even forced to drink bitter concoctions or syrups or suspension, to achieve cure and freedom from illness. 

Athletes and athlete-wannabes sweat hours of training, not minding the sacrifices they have to make, and the indescribable discipline they have to maintain and adhere to. Yet, when they sweat in the very day of the race, their sweat couldn't be more sweet. It is in fact the sweetest of all especially when they reach the finish line. 

Water, therefore, is not only essential in maintaining life. It plays an intrumental role in every aspect of it. 

Get thee, therefore, to the water. 

Frolicking at Patong Beach in Phuket.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Reflections 101

Have you ever led someone by the hand and guided him or her to enter through the gates that guard the boundaries that define the person that you really are?

It seemed then that you were under a mystic spell that made you reveal yourself so easily to that person, not worrying a bit about the reality of rejection, and most of all, not worrying about  the reality - and the risk it accompanies - that opening yourself to him or her is actually exposing your vulnerability - the softest part  of you where he or she can easily stab with a dagger anytime he or she decides  to,  and be sure that hitting that spot will instantly drain all the life that is left in you.

As for me, I did.  I’ve been there.

And it hurt a lot.  It hurt too much that I could not even begin to figuratively describe the pain of betrayal. 

I have picked up the pieces from the experience though. 

I have learned not really to regret but instead, to be cautious the next time I decide to open up to someone.  Moreso, I have learned to really choose the right person to open myself to and reveal the feelings I have deep within.  That is the harder part, though.  The act of opening up to someone is like giving that someone a present, a gift.  That present is a part of yourself, a vulnerable part of you that that someone could break.  It could also be like handing that person a gun, and allowing him or her to aim it at your heart, but trusting that person that he will never pull the trigger. I think Spongebob said that. 

When one opens up, it is like giving up a part of yourself to someone.  That is why choosing the person to reveal yourself to is actually the hardest part because, it is easy to give up something, but it is not easy to find the person worth giving it up for.  

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Things to consider when travelling with senior citizens

When we were young, my mother took my sister and I to a tour in some of the tourist spots here in the Philippines. She even would multi-task as mother and office worker when she took us to her out-of-town business trips.

I could not really say those instances awakened in me the love for traveling, however it sparked a desire in me and in my sister to give back to her by bringing her also to places she had never been.

Now in her senior years, my mother had visited a few countries other than the Philippines, and she also visited new tourist destinations in our country, as well. During our trips with her, I have realized that traveling with a senior citizen is something out of the ordinary - an adventure on its own, aside from the destination itself. 

Striking a pose at the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car and Village in Hongkong. 

Unlike us young adults and millenials, senior citizens may not be as agile as before and mood swings might also be a challenge for some. That thought was a light bulb moment for me and so I decided to come up with this article.

1. Comfort should be king. This should be first and foremost in travelling with our folks. Comfort should be on top of the list when planning for trips, from accomodation to travel time, and mode of transportation to take. In the planning process, they should be asked whether it would be comfortable for them to take a 4 to 5-hour bus ride to a certain destination, like travelling from Puerto Princesa in Palawan to El Nido for instance, or would it be fine with them when going to a certain destination entails transfers from plane to bus to boat, such as in Boracay.

This reminds me of my latest trip to Boracay with my mother. It was ages since I last went to that paradise and while I was on the plane, I was trying to recount where to go next and what ride to take once we land on Caticlan Airport.

Good thing the flight attendants were selling these tickets for bus and boat transfers to the island. I admit it was quite pricey (Php 800.00 for a ticket per way per person), but I could not be more thankful and relieved that I bought tickets for us. Travelling was a breeze and we did not need to line up. The guide just told us where to go next and which van to hop into. I could line up for hours to save some bucks but I could not allow my mother to stand for long hours because she has problems with her knees on prolonged standing and in walking long distances. 

Comfort could come at an exorbitant price but that is nothing if that comfort is for our folks, right?

Obligatory inflight photo with Mama taken when we were on our way to Boracay.

2. Safety is a close second.  Once you enter your hotel room,  take time to survey the place and warn your folks whether, for instance,  they need to watch their steps in getting inside the comfort room, or whether they need to keep their head low when passing through the door that leads to the balcony.  Safety considerations may also include avoiding places that may have issues with insurgencies or security,  and the like. You might want to schedule your travel to those places some other time. Nobody would want to be caught in a crossfire, you know. 

3. Make use of privileges of senior citizens. These privileges include being prioritized to board first on the plane, or having seats specially designated for them, or being allowed to skip a que, or simply having the comfort of being transported on a wheelchair by airport personnel. 

4. Make sure to pack and bring their maintenance medications, blood pressure apparatus, and glucometers. Going on a vacation does not mean that they also have to take a break from taking their medications and from monitoring their blood pressure and blood sugar levels. 

5. As much as possible,  meals should be on time. Always bear in mind that our folks do not have iron stomachs like ours which could endure ultra-delayed meals. Sometimes some folks might be too shy to say that they are hungry so sometimes the best indicator is they become quiet, or worse, they become grumpy. Spare yourself from their "wrath," and avoid reaching that point where the signs are flashing in neon lights right in front of your face.

6. Simply lounging at the beachfront is happiness.  For these bunch who are in the prime time of their lives, travel may not necessarily equate to adrenaline-pumping experiences. They are quite past that. Join them as they simply enjoy watching the sunset, or watching the waves as they kiss the beach over and over again.

Mama and Me simply sitting on the powdery white sand beach of Boracay

7. They might not be able to do a lot of walking. Most trips usually entail walking. Ask your folks in a nice way if they want to bring along a portable wheelchair.  I say that with emphasis on nicely because they might be in denial that they are not as agile as before and you might strike a sensitive chord when you ask them that. An alternative would be to buy them those pricey slippers called FitFlops or Crocs. My mother's rheumatologist actually advised her to have those for her osteoarthritic knees. 

8.Ask them what places they want to visit. Lastly, ask them what places they want to visit. In that way, you will be making their dreams come true, all expense paid by you of course. Now you might want to start working and saving for that like, right now (?) 😀 Good luck! 

Going wacky with Mama at the Upside Down House in Phuket. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Only in the Philippines: The Skylab

               You would probably think the Skylab is a laboratory built high up in the air - the sky.

               But it isn't.

               I do not even know how it earned its name on this side of the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao.  In the Visayas, it is more known as the habal-habal.

               It is actually motorcycle with appendages in the form of wood, added or attached to its sides, for the purpose of accomodating more passengers. The Skylab or the habal-habal, could accomodate as much as 10-12 persons, sometimes even 15, including the driver. That is a very far cry from the average of three persons that the motorcycle is designed to accomodate. Overloading would be such a poor term to describe it, but we all have to face the truth that the skylab is a product of the Filipino's ingenuity. That's the part I love most.

               The skylab has been such a useful means of transportation for quite a long time now - in my rough estimate, in the past 10-15 years - for most Filipinos specially those who are living in the outskirts of major business areas. To put it simply, it is the most accessible and affordable means of transportation for those who are living in the remote areas, especially in the mountains, where no buses dare brave to go, because of the indescribably rough roads and the distance. Where the buses can't go, the skylab takes you there.

               Friends, meet the skylab.

Side view.

Front view. Notice the kicker, the invitation to ride -- "Dali na! Sakay na! (Come on over, ride on!")

And finally....

Yes, that is me on the sklylab, with Manong, the ultimate photobomber. 

                Thank you for dropping by! 'til next time.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Last and Final Serving: The Road to Financial Freedom - Simple Ways to Save Money (Last of 3 Parts)

It took quite a while before I was able to serve you this last helping.  Finally, here it is, your last serving of tips that will lead to the road to financial freedom. 

11. Walk when you can. It's good for your heart and your pocket, too. 

12. Make the most out of freebies. Sometimes,  there is such a thing as free lunch. Make the most of it but take caution not to become a freeloader. 

13. Set up automatic transfers. These day, banks offer automatic transfer services that facilitate transfer of money from and between your accounts. Some banks offer this service wherein they automatically deduct, say Php. 500.00 from your payroll account,  so that you have already saved even before you got hold of your salary. Sometimes, or maybe I should say, most of the time, it takes a lot of effort and emotions for us to set aside a small amount of our earnings for our savings. If you automate your transfers, you are spared of this effort and unnecessary stress and at the same time you have saved already for rainy days. 

14. Be faithful in sending your car to the shop for maintenance and oil change. A long life for your car would mean a lot of savings for you since you would not be pressured to buy a new one if your car is still in good running condition. 

15. Sleep on it. I practice whenever I feel like I want to buy something expensive. Before I make the big purchase, I test myself and sleep on it.  After one or more nights have passed and I still have the same desire for that expensive item, that's the time I go ahead and buy the item.

16. Learn to cook. I call this surival cooking. When someone asks me if I know how to cook, I would answer,  "Yes, survival cooking!" Fried dishes would be on top of the list. Aside from that, you can surf on YouTube for other dishes that you might want to cook. Once you have mastered cooking a dish, try cooking for more than one mealtime so you can pack some for your meal at the office.

17.  Eat out less and when you eat out bring home the leftovers. The least amount you could shell off when you eat out would be around Php. 400. You can already buy a lot of stuff from the grocery with that amount. Strive to eat out less. Reserve eating out for dates with your loved one, or for special occasions. You may also decide to eat out only once or twice a month like every pay day, but still alloting a certain amount or budget for that. Don't be ashamed to bring home the left overs. Food left untouched are disposed by restaurants straight to the trash. 

18. Examine your bill at the restaurant first before you get your cash or card to pay for it. I don't know why but I was ashamed to do this before. Eventually I have learned to overcome that embarrassment specially when I knew that examining your bill once the waiter hands it to you actually saves you some bucks. Try it. 

19. Compare plane fares from different airlines before finally booking your ticket and book early too. These are the times when being an early bird have its rewards. Being diligent in comparing plane fares also gives you a lot of savings too.  

20. Unplug your appliances. I am out of my apartment most of the time. When I started to unplug my appliances when I am not in my place, I noticed a considerable decrease in my monthly electric bill. Unplugging my appliances is part of my checklist of things to do before going out of my apartment. This rule however does not apply to the refrigerator. 

21. Floss. Don't just do this because it's part of personal hygiene but also because you love your teeth so much that you can't afford to lose them to caries. You would be shocked to find that dentures actually cost a fortune. So go ahead and make your day,  floss it, like you mean it! 

22. Visit your dentist every six months. Recent studies have proven that poor oral hygiene leads to heart disease. Imagine having dentures and having to maintain taking daily medications when you get old. Isn't it such a repulsive or disappointing scenario? A scenario that you could actually stop from coming true by showing up at your dentist's clinic every six months for dental cleaning or prophylaxis. Of course, emphasizing the importance of brushing your teeth is an understatement. 

23. Prepare your grocery list before going to the grocer's. Making your list before you go to the grocery would save you a lot of time trying to remember what else you need to buy. Since we are all about saving money, try your best to stick to the items on your list, but still be kind to yourself. Maybe you can treat yourself to one bar of yoir favorite chocolate - just one item of indulgence, like maybe one pint od ice cream. If you are the strict type to stick on your budget, then maybe you can just bring just the exact amount of money you have alloted for your grocery items. 

24. Don't do the grocery when you are hungry. You would tend to pick up a lot of items that are not on your list. 

25. Sleep with the lights off. Doing this will take a big chunk off your monthly electricity bill. Aside from that, it helps you give back to the environment. 

             Now that we are still far from our twilight years, we all have this tendency to think that we deserve to enjoy life using our hard earned money. YOLO - You Only Live Once - that is, according to the millenials. There's also this thing called FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out. 

            I don't also mean that you have to deprive yourself of the good things in life just so you could save. I suggest that we all strive to strike a balance between saving and spending. 

               One of the mantras I live by in saving money stems out from a statement said by a very good friend more than a decade ago.  I admire the skills this friend of mine has when it comes to managing her money. 

             We were just starting to earn money as doctors then. We used to receive our salaries in cold cash. One pay day she asked me if I count the bills that the cashier gives me during payroll time. She said she does that every time - count her money, that is - before going out of the business office. 

          I told her I don't do that. I just claim my envelope and I don't bother to count my money because I am embarassed to do that. However, she emphasized to me that I should take time to check if the salary written in my payslip matches the number of bills inside the envelope which bears my name. She assured me that the cashier would definitely understand and would not mind at all. Besides, she said in our dialect, "Wala bya ni nato gikatulgan atong kwarta." (We worked hard for the money and we did not earn it by just sleeping.)

          I consider that as one of the turning points in my financial life. She could not be more right. 

          We worked hard to earn what we are earning today. Saving money is a way of valuing all the sleepless nights we spent in college (and in medical school), and all the physical and mental and emotional exhaustion we had to go through to finally arrive to where we are today. That goes for everyone, not only for doctors - because whatever you are doing now for a living, I know you started somewhere down below. We all did. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Tipster's Second Serving: The Road to Financial Freedom - Simple Ways to Save Money

For your second serving towards the road to financial freedom.

6. Withdraw from your own bank. Surcharge fee for withdrawing from other banks' ATMs could reach to around Php. 7-15.00. Remember, every peso counts. Just think of the health benefits you give to your heart each time you decide to walk that two blocks where your bank's ATM is located. Probably there's a view to enjoy too, on the way there. Thinks of ways to make the task lighter. Your heart - and your wallet (or even your eyes) - would give you a pat on the back for that.

7. Try not to withdraw from your bank account at all. Now this may sound confusing but what I really mean to say is that, if you still have enough money to last you for the day, or for the week, try not touching your money in the bank. This has something to do with Average Daily Balance (ADB) which the bank computes at the end of the month. This is at least for savings accounts. The bigger your ADB, the bigger your monthly interest. 

         Others prefer a different strategy. They set aside cash enough for a week or maybe a month, so that their money in the bank goes untouched for quite some time - until they use up their stash, that is. If you prefer this strategy, just make sure you have a safe and protected place to store or hide your cash.

8. Deposit your coins in your bank account. Sounds like we're getting more serious about bank accounts here. Anyway, Are you one of those people who keep a piggy bank at home with all your loose change in it? Some would even choose just to save 5-peso-coins or 10-peso-coins. I used to do that - with an emphasis on the past tense.

         I used to challenge myself to fill my piggy bank - a 2-liter empty bottle of mineral water - to the brim, with 5-peso and 10-peso coins. It would take me a lot of months to do that and what an exhilaration those milestones would be for me that time. Recently, although I still use the same piggy bank, it is not anymore my goal to fill it to the brim like before. As soon as I feel that I have a lot of coins - maybe filling a quarter of the bottle - I immediately deposit it in my bank account, so that my money could earn for me, no matter how small. I could only shake my head thinking about the number of months I have allowed my coins to "sleep" in the piggy bank. Again, lesson learned. Let us all allow our coins to "sleep" in the bank this time, safe in our savings accounts, and earning for us. 

9. Bring packed meals to work. I do this each time I have the chance to cook. Sometimes,  I just cook rice and then I just buy viand at the canteen.  Packed meals are a great way to save.

10. Buy clothes at the thrift shop.  I started to be a frequent customer of thrift shops when I was a medical resident-in-training when I have to skimp a lot on my budget. Until now that I have graduated from training, I still find time to go to my favorite thrift shop. In fact, I have left my contact number in one shop because they send messages to their customers each time they have new stocks or new arrivals. That's quite a strategy right there to maintain their customers' loyalty. 

          I realized that being able to have an eye for good clothes or items in the thrift shop is a skill that one develops in time. I was not really good in choosing stuffs before but in time, I have developed my skill. Actually, if you just look closer and strive to be patient in scanning through the items they are selling, you can see that items in the thrift shop are actually made of good quality. If you are lucky enough, you might even get branded items at a very good bargain price. My family and friends are amazed when I tell them that which stuff I bought from the thrift shop. Aside from buying cheap quality clothing, the way you carry yourself counts a lot too. 

To be continued. 

Clever ways to spend the money you earned in moonlighting (Last of 2 Parts)

To continue... Second unsolicited advice would be, spend your money wisely. You did not earn your money sleeping. In fact, you had to l...