Frugal Honey

My Financial Journey

Go Getz It!

My first job was logistically ideal. It was so near my house that I only had to take a tricycle to the highway and then walk to our office. When I passed the bar exams, I had to attend hearings and the like and so I would borrow my mom’s car every now and then as needed.
I don’t know if she got tired of me borrowing her car, or got fed up with my sister and I squabbling over who would use the car (FYI my sister worked in a pre-school near our house and she could have easily commuted there too, but for some reason, she refused to commute!), or perhaps she saw how my salary went mostly to important stuff like shoes and clothes, but one day, out of the blue, my parents decided to buy me a car.

Just like that, I suddenly had my own car. 
But the story doesn’t end there, because my parents only shouldered the downpayment while I was expected to cough up the monthly amortization. So there I was, barely making Php19,000/mo. before taxes, and had to pay Php10,000 monthly for the next 3 years. Eh?
And before you could say goodbye impulse shopping at Alabang Town Center, I had to suddenly become fiscally responsible for my first ever dependent, Toyang the Hyundai Getz starter car. I racked my brains to think of how I could come up with extra income to fund my little gas guzzler, and wouldn’t you know it, a few weeks later, a friend came to me with a legal emergency that needed mending ASAP. Of course I charged her the “presyong kaibigan rates” of our law firm, but even with that, I had more than enough to cover the amortization for the next few months.
When the case was finally settled amicably (you’re welcome!), I was happy for my friend but honestly dreaded the loss of commission from her account. And then with almost comically perfect timing, I got tapped for a writing job, also with my law firm, which I gamely sunk my teeth into. I made my last car payment around this time last year, which made me sentimental enough to write this post.
While it might seem as if the extra income were gifts handed down by the Universe, they weren’t. To be honest, I’ve always had job offers in one way or another that could have easily augmented my income, but because I was happy where I was and with the little I was earning (simple girls don’t need much), I didn’t think it was worth the stress to take on a sideline. But having Toyang to feed and look after, made me put on my racket girl outfit and forced me to make things happen.
And that’s how life rolls. You’re forced out of your comfort zone kicking and screaming and then you get creative because you have to, discovering facets in your personality that you never even knew existed (Aba, masipag pala ako?!). There’s nothing quite like the thought of having your car repossessed that can move anyone to action:p 
So while it would be easy to trade up and buy something prettier, I will always look at Toyang the Getz with fondness because she helped to mould me into the fabulous woman I am today. Without Toyang the Getz, I would probably still be spending hours in front of the TV, frying my brain with too much CSI, NCIS and The Food Network. But as it is, I now have to work, work, work, and I must admit, that’s the way I have come to like it.

Sharing is Caring

Ever since I discovered the joy of investing, I’ve been encouraging friends and family members alike to do the same. I get the same feeling I usually get when I stumble upon a good deal and just can’t wait to share the information with everybody. Because really, what’s the point in keeping mum when everyone can benefit from such a fab deal?

In the office, my boss’ daughter also subscribes to Bo Sanchez’ Strategic Averaging Method (SAM) technique with stock investment, but she funds her COL account with over the counter deposits and hasn’t bought stocks for the past 3 months simply because it’s such a hassle to go to the bank and line up. So I introduced her to the wonderful world of online banking and now she has no more excuse to miss her monthly schedule. 
A good friend is also starting with SAM and I’m acting as his personal CSR, assisting him in setting up his account and answering his questions on stock investing and navigating the COL website.
But my labor of love is with my cousin, Grace. During our Dumaguete mini-break, I convinced her to at least start investing with mutual funds if she’s still iffy with stock investing. I volunteered to send her the downloaded forms, bug her every month for her investment (we’re doing the peso cost averaging method), deposit her investment and send her a monthly summary of how her funds are doing. And on her end, she has to fill out and send the forms to FAMI, and send me her monthly deposit.

My motive for doing this is to keep her away from opportunistic people who prey on her good nature. Really, my family members have been hoodwinked so many times because they don’t care to do the research with the numerous “investment opportunities” presented to them (I’m talking about you Mom!) and mostly because they’re just too trusting. I’m probably the only one in my family who thinks that a person is a potential criminal until he/she proves otherwise.
The way I see it, if I empower my cousin with the knowledge that she’s actually earning from her investments, she won’t easily fall for the sweet promises of swindlers and their ilk. Shady people like that prey on a person’s insecurity that he/she is not doing enough to ensure his/her future and would then present a slam-bang presentation that will purport to solve all of his/her financial woes in as little as a few months. So if you’re secure with the knowledge that you’re actually doing something, then you can easily dismiss those gypsters.
Or at least that’s my take on the situation. Anyway, this is already an incredibly rambling post and my only point is, I don’t want to keep this knowledge to myself.

Money in Blogging

The dream is to blog all day long, writing about whatever strikes my fancy and then get fame* and riches in return, without sacrificing my voice and my editorial prerogative. But fact is, unless you’re a celebrity, a personality or run a porn site, blogging is not the way to the comfy life. At least that’s what my experience has taught me.

You can only get so much money with Google or Text Link ads, in fact even with three popular sites, we’re lucky to scrape enough ad revenue per month to pay our hosting expenses, and I refuse to do pay-per-posts and their ilk because I don’t know how to seamlessly integrate automatic garage doors and tube heating into my posts without sounding like a moron.

Not counting the monetary value of the swag I have received, I have only made Php6,000.00 in almost six (6) years of blogging because of a sponsored post. In fairness though, I have turned down a number of proposals because they involved skin whitening products or were not in line with my blog’s theme, but even if I accepted those, my grand total would only be in the lower 5 digits. How’s that for a return in investment?

But while my blog per se may not have generated income for me, my blog has put my name out there and is the reason why I now do copywriting for a foreign site and back-end support for an international brand. Of course, my rackets can hardly be categorized as passive income because I still put in the requisite hours in order to meet those obligations.

And I’m not the only one whose blog has opened different avenues for income. There are numerous bloggers out there who now sideline as makeup artists, do brand management or partner with brands as their ambassadors. So really, blogging can be a steady source of income, but if you think you only need to set up a blog and then cut and paste PR kits for the money to start rolling in, then dream on.

Think of your blog as your online portfolio, a showcase of what you’re capable of and what you can deliver. Then when you do get a job offer, be sure to turn in work that you won’t be afraid to claim as your own. If all this sounds too much like a hassle and too much like real work, then better invest in some implants and strike your best come hither pose, because sex always sells on the internet.

*I’m actually fine without the fame part, but the riches is a non-negotiable in my daydream.

Circles

My mother probably earned ten times more than my dad during the peak of her career. She had her own lying-in clinic where she was on call 24/7, while she also made the rounds of the nearby hospitals. My father, on the other hand, worked at the same government agency for the last 30 years, where he climbed his way from being a medical officer to bureau director.

My mom used to say that what she earned fed, clothed, sheltered and put us to school, while my father’s salary was used to buy Yakult. And she said this without bitterness or arrogance because it happened to be the truth. She provided for us financially, while my father gave us not only Yakult but also ice cream, bear hugs and checked up on us while our mother was out for another emergency call.
Marriage is a partnership and it was just by chance that the nature of my mom’s occupation made her the family’s main breadwinner, while my father, although not as flush with cash, was blessed with the time to attend to his children while pursuing a career in government.
I’m not really sure if they planned it that way, or if it just happened and they rode along with it, but that was the way it was. Now I find myself in the same situation, and although some well-meaning friends tell me that it is the husband’s duty to provide for the family because having it the other way around will not only cause him to doubt himself, but will also go against God’s plan, I only need to look at my own parents to know that that is a flat out lie.

Everyday, I am amazed at how similar my husband and father really are. They both do not subscribe to ridiculous macho ideals and are secure enough not to be affected with such an “abnormal” set-up.

We all have roles to play and now aside from looking like my mother, I also ended up picking up where she left off. I tried to deny it, but yes, I am my mother’s daughter through and through. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It might not be the norm, but this is our normal.

Looking Back

I remember when my sister was born, I was with my father when he paid the hospital bill. I remember looking up as my father looked into his wallet and realized that he didn’t have enough money to settle the bill and asked the cashier if she would take some dollar bills instead.
I felt so guilty that time because the day before that, he bought me a pair of rubber shoes for PE class and I thought that he ran out of money because of my new shoes. I thought that because he couldn’t pay the bill, my mom and new sister wouldn’t be able to leave the hospital.
I was six years old when I realized that money wasn’t something to take for granted or fritter away because my parents had to work for it.
It’s funny how such a simple incident shaped my entire mindset about money.

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