Sunday, November 30, 2014

On Friends and Saying NO

A young OFW, who works in Dubai, e-mailed me asking questions about personal finance, moving and how to be frugal when you are surrounded with friends who love to hang out in the mall. I already answered her e-mail and also asked her if I can 'steal' one of her questions and make it into a blog post (which she said 'yes').

The friends, the mall, and saying, "I can't go this time, girls."

"Girl, tara na sa mall. Sale ngayon. Sayang naman."

"Girl, it's so boring here ( sa apartment, etc.), let's go to the mall. Magpapalamig lang." 

"Lakad lakad tayo sa mall. Window shopping lang. Tara na."

Ahhhh, homesick OFW needs a circle of friends as a support group. As they say, "misery loves company", but what if that 'company' you are yearning for makes you broke, is it worth it?

I mentioned in a Random Things About Me post that I used to be extrovert. Not the bar hopping-smoke-and-booze kind of extrovert but, you know, that kind where you aren't afraid to make friends or talk to people who aren't inside your circle of friends. I am afraid to admit that I'm now a full-blown introvert. Case in point, when the LBC guys picked up my two balikbayan boxes yesterday, one of the guys tried to engage me in small talks coz he was bisaya too. I was being friendly but inside, I was panicking. He even remarked: "oh, nag pa-panic ka." What. The. Heck. After they left, I walked to the library and just think, "Am I really a certified introvert that talking to people I don't personally know makes me anxious and panicky? I never had this kind of attitude before when I was back home! Dang."

Being an introvert, I found, helped me to get to know myself and, above all, it is easy to reinforce frugality in my life because I am mostly alone. "I don't need to hang out in the mall. I'd rather read because I want to. Library is my happy place." But do you need to be introvert just to save money? Do you need to give your social group up -your barkadas- in the name of putting extra money in your pocket?

I do have group of friends here. In the group, 2 are bisayas, including me, and most are Ilocanos. Having friends who speak your language in a foreign country is a must, if you want to keep your sanity intact. But why and how did I drifted away from them?

The "WHY": I was never absent when there was a party and all few years ago. I kind of like being in a group, eating Filipino food, endless talks about Philippines and homesickness. I was really blessed to have friends who support each other, but one thing I don't like was the gossip.

As I became super close to them, I noticed that we gossip more often. We'd form into circle and talked about this friend and that friend. As enjoyable as talking about other people is, I come to realize that that is not me. I don't like talking to people behind their back. Thoughts about: "when I am not here, are they talking behind my back too?" floated in my mind. I got sick of it and decided to try to curb listening to gossips. I started with "still hanging out with them but when gossip starts, I put on my earphone and listen to some podcasts/musics or just going out of the room to play with our friend's kid just to avoid listening to gossips". And then, the urged to be extremely frugal kicks in and I decided to experiment with frugal living. Most of my friends, I found, aren't really frugal. They love to watch movie, go to the mall and eat out.

The "HOW": These were the very words I said to them: "You guys, hindi muna ako makaka hang out often ha? Nag ti-tipid kasi ako,eh. I am saving for a house and lot at tapos para maka uwi na din." End of story.

My reasons were valid: to save money, though I never said to them about the gossip issues.

Hanging out with my friends was expensive: the fare, the food contribution, the movies, mall and all that. Luckily for me, they didn't give me a hard time when I told them that I won't be hanging out with them like before. I figured that either tell them or keep hanging out with them and go broke. I chose to tell them and it turns out to be one of the best decisions I've made. Library became my place to be. I became focused with personal finance and investing by reading tons of books about it. My time were spent sharpening my knowledge about anything finance.

Being alone most of the time really strengthen my "saying NO" muscle. In a culture of 'OFW ka, that means mayaman ka' mentality, by merely saying that "I can't go hang out with you guys more often" is a strength enough, I know. I don't care if they think I am broke, I know the truth. For when I 'm finally home, in a country where showing off is a norm among OFWs, learning how and knowing when to say NO for me is easy. I learned from experience and this has become my advantage. Thanks for that "I can't hang out with you guys more often because I am saving money" I once told my friends.

Going introvert may not work for everybody, and if going introvert is not your thing, but you still want to save money, here's hoping that you'd find a frugal-minded group of friends. If you can't find any, make yourself your friend. That's what I did. I hope it works for you.

Note: Not hanging out with my Filipino friends doesn't mean I cut all my ties with them. We still talk on the phone and we are still definitely friends.


Friday, November 28, 2014

One-Way Ticket to HOME + A New Luggage!!!

 I purchased a ticket yesterday!!! Ahhhhhhhhh! I can now officially sing: "I'm coming home. I'm coming home. Tell the world I'm coming home..."

December tickets are so,so expensive, so I opted for a January flight. Yah, I won't be in 'pinas in time for Christmas but, I'll just put it this way, it's just one more Christmas away from home. Isa nalang!

Total Cost:

The original ticket cost was like $700+. It totalled $890 because of the taxes, surchages and whatever. Check below for the breakdown.


Let me share with you something something about my flight without giving away the actual details of my itinerary:
  • Total travel time all the way to Cebu airport: 54 hours 40 mins. The usual travel time is less than 24 hours. Since I am too cheap to buy direct ticket, this is what I get. Hey, I really don't mind waiting for longer layovers and all that. It's part of an adventure!
  • Will arrive and "hang out" at 3 airports before arriving to Mactan, Cebu aiport.
  • Longest layover: 18 hours, 20 mins (Can you believe that?! I am excited! Sleeping in the airport? Feels like a true backpacker!!!)
  • My only wish is that they'll hand me an actual ticket but hey, it's 2014, e-ticket is the way to go. I need to print out the ticket by tomorrow though, when my local library opens.

My New Luggage:

So, I also bought a luggage yesterday. I got it on sale because it's a part of a Black Friday deals at Macy's, plus I didn't spend anything because I spent the gift card, which my friend gave me as a goodbye gift. Lucky me!

This luggage is actually for My Love, Red. I was debating if I should buy the luggage that is really made for Brompton, but it is so expensive ($320)! I was about to buy one because I thought, "hey, it's for my peace of mind knowing that Red is well-protected." I'm glad that I looked around before really buying the official hard case luggage from Brompton. I actually "Googled" it, a lot of Brompton owners opted for another way to put their bikes while flying internationally. I'll make sure that I'll put enough bubble wrap around Red so he'll be safe and all. Also, the good thing about opting to put Red in a regular hard case luggage is I can also put my stuffs with him: bubble wrap + Clothes = Red is super protected!

Tag Matrix

Cost: $50, originally $280

  • Scratch Resistance
  • Light weight
  • Spinner Wheels (what makes me want it in the first place)
  • Corner Guard Protection
  • Strong Durability
  • 3 years warranty

    Red's temporary home while flying

I also got a Samsonite TSA approved locks
Cost: $4.99 at Ross ( $10 at regular stores) 50 percent off? Happy!


I am ready to fly !!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Packing Numero Dos: Uncovering "COLLECTIONS" I Didn't Know I Have!

Packing box number 2 isn't as bad as yesterday.

I tried to be organized as much as possible: different bins/containers for different stuffs; a bin for clothes to be donated, a bin for trash, a bin for clothes I am keeping, etc. Incorporating this strategy really helped me, I didn't scream, grumble or complain at all! Thank goodness!

A bin full of clothes I don't use, mostly pants. I live in yoga pants and leggings!
Vacuum bag storage? Super helpful!!

Some of my Converse collection below. I started collecting Chucks prior to becoming ultra frugal/minimalist. I haven't added one since two or so years ago. I've got enough to last me a lifetime!

Sorry, it's blurry!

Apparently, I am 'one cent' hoarder,too!

For someone who doesn't really wear jewelry, I also have some jewelry collection  going on! Most were actually given to me, by the way.


You really never know how much you literally have until you move!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Packing Nightmare!!!!

OH. MY. GOSH! What the pack?!

I started putting my stuffs in an LBC box to be sent to the Philippines and it's giving me so much stress! I am so overwhelmed!

I literally screamed, like 10 times! I grumbled and complained, beat myself for grumbling and complaining only to do it all over again. Seriously, I can't believed I accumulated sooo much! I even threw away another huge trash bag full of stuffs I don't use, but there's still too much!Ahhhhhhhh!

Not too cluttered in the picture,right? Believe me, it is!

Patay! Hoarders buried alive
Scripted one-o-one

After 6 hours:


Ahhhhhhh, Thank you, Lord! I am done with one box! Another box to be put together tomorrow!

Another step closer to the Philippines!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

For Good Update: What Happened on the Last Week of Work

Yo, I am officially a tambay! Hahaha! My friend now call me "the bum", pwede "the bomb" na lang? Haha!

Sorry for the lack of blog posts, I am sure you guys understand. I am going through a phase, plus I was super busy! Thanks for all those who e-mailed me/ commented on my posts, extending their support and well-wishes. You know who you guys are. It really warmed up my heart! I swear! Thanks again!

My last post was me being a cry-baby, I was still a cry-baby for the rest of the week, but I armed myself with "Google" information on how not to cry- by pinching the skin in between your pointy finger and your thumb so hard. This trick really did work for me. I didn't end up teary-eyed all the time when I was talking to my boss and such. It's embarrassing to be crying, as if I am not happy to be going home for good. It was my plan after all.

Last Monday, my boss gave me a Pandora necklace:

Isn't it pretty? I never owned a Pandora stuff! She knows I love the color pink! I normally don't wear any jewelry while I'm at work, but I have been wearing this necklace for the rest of the workweek. It is really pretty in person. She actually gave me a Tiffany heart necklace on my birthday few years ago,too!

My body clock is messed up lately- sleeping and waking up different times than the usual. I guess my sleep pattern knows that it will change very soon coz I'm moving to another country pretty soon.

Talking about going home for good really soon, I am still looking for a cheap ticket. My gosh, one way ticket costs $1,400! I saw a $600 ticket, but I needed to fly the next day. I read somewhere that one of the tricks to score cheap airfare is to be flexible to fly anytime because sometimes someone abruptly cancels his or her flight, so the airline needed to fill the seat up right away. That's why I needed to pack and be ready to fly anytime. Any other tips on this scoring cheaper airfare, guys?

Speaking of packing, I have been packing like crazy and throwing away all my stuffs that I think I wont be using back home- like winter clothes. I even throw away my dumbbells. I figured that I'll just buy  weights back home.

The picture below shows how many bags I threw away. I added 2 more garbage bags after I took this picture:

Last night, my boss gave a farewell party for me. We had Chinese food and a yummy Chocolate something cake (I forgot what it is, but it was yummy). It has "Thank You, ---y" written on it. I forgot to take pictures, I was trying to be "in the moment" and all that. My boss raised the glass and gave a toast twice! Telling me nice things she likes about me, wishing me good luck, on how she sees me succeed on whatever I want to do with my life. It was an 'awwww' moment, she was teary-eyed and I let go of my tears,too. I gave her a heartfelt Thank You card. I wrote how she "made a positive impact on my life", etc. She cried when she read the card. I really felt that she values me. I wonder if she is like this every time someone quits?

And oh, why does everyone mentions and wishes that "I'll be able to find someone special"? I am not that old, am I?


Monday, November 17, 2014

For Good Update: An Emotional Weekend

My last post was all about me finding out that my employer has already found a replacement. This post is all about how I spent my weekend after finding out that I am really going home for good soon.


After crying on and off the night before, I dragged myself to my usual morning run, but just ended up running 2.50 Miles than the usual 7 Miles. My heart was heavy. I was still crying on and off! I didn't even listen to my usual favorite podcasts. I just think, and thinking was all I did. Gosh, I will surely miss my mga alaga! I was so sad, my appetite was even affected! I was darn hungry, but I don't feel like eating. I fried some yummy tilapia and I forced myself to eat.

Saturday Afternoon:

I spent my Saturday afternoon walking. Just walking till I developed blisters on my left foot (remember, I blogged about my new shoes? Still breaking it in). I must have walked for 4 hours, internalizing everything, enjoying the balmy weather, uttering how I should take all the sights in so it'll register into my memory bank. I also looked for goodbye gifts for my employer. What can I give to someone who has everything?


Sunday was much better than Saturday. I get teary-eyed here and there but not as much as the other day. I ran for 6 Miles, not the usual 7 Miles because my blisters started to hurt.

I already accepted the fact that I will be leaving very soon, that I won't be a part of my alagas' lives. They will always be a part of me. They taught me a lesson I will never forget. My boss also taught me a lesson that no matter how far you've come in life, you can't treat people shit just because they are lower than you. As what Sirius Black said, "If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treat his inferiors, not his equals."

Hey, it's my last week of work. It will be an emotional week for me as I say goodbye to all the people who touched my life. They might forget about me, but they will always be a part of me.

Friday, November 14, 2014

"For Good" Update

If you have been following my journey to "pinas for good", you all know my original target date, which was September 2014. Come September of this year, it did not push though (all is written here, if you want to know more about it).

Today, my employer wanted to "talk" to me, I was so scared, the usual 'what did I do?' and 'did I do something wrong' feeling. 

You know what the "talk" was all about? She said she found a replacement!!!!!!! Isn't it amazing?! This is it! This is really it!

After learning about it, I was shocked, still is, by the way. I keep telling myself that, 'why would I feel so shock about it? Isn't it my plan?' Well, I'm wondering about it myself, so don't ask me! Ha! Weird!

In all honesty, I cried and I don't know why. I cried not because I am so sad that I'm really going home, I don't know, It's a mix emotions, I should say.

Another phase in my life ready to open in a few weeks. Excited and, at the same time, scared. It's understandable, I guess. I am stepping into the unknown, way out of my comfort zone. My life will change. Another chapter in my life will unfold!

See you very soon, Philippines.

My boss ended up buying me some Chinese food. Right now, I still can't believe it. I am still in shock. Dang this feeling! Weird, mix of feelings. I can't explain it! 

Look at what quote I got inside the fortune cookie:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Defining Financial Freedom: What MY Financial Freedom is Like

Some dream of having a huge house and a millions of peso worth of investment portfolio before declaring: "I am financially free!", not that there is inherently wrong with wanting a big house or having some badass investment portfolio, it's just that I don't define financial freedom that way. 

For me, financial freedom is living in a tiny house in the province. (I have been obsessed with the tiny house movement that has been going on around the world. Google "tiny house movement" or search it on You Tube and you will be amaze!) For me, financial freedom means having enough for my needs and a little wiggle room for relationship-building so I can improve, build and strengthen my relationship with people who matters most in my life. Simple enough, right?

I am use to simple living. I craved for it. I would gladly trade a city life over a quiet life in the province.

Financial freedom means owning my time so I could: 

  • Be able to read books whenever I want

  • Be able to run everyday without having the need to rush because I got to go to my 9-5 job

  • Be able to do work that matters to me and having to care less about salary. To hell if they pay me peanuts, just as long as I am happy with it and it brings growth to myself and to others, all is good.

  • Be able to climb mountains by the next day because nothing is holding me back

  • Be able to change plans just like *that*

  • Be able to move on from one job to another if I don't feel like my present job doesn't excite me anymore or it doesn't bring growth in me, and not having to worry about ruining my finances

  • Be able to live simply, shunning overconsumption  and  excess so I could be able to find something that makes my life worth living coz, as of now, I haven't really found one. Woe is me, right? 

How about you? What "Financial Freedom" looks like to you? Go ahead, define it. There is power in written words.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I Still Carry Some Residual Guilt Over My Grandfather's Passing

3 years ago or so, my maternal grandfather died. And to this very day, I still have a hint of guilt feelings. Is his death my doing?

The Story:

I still remember those times when we travel from Pagadian to Cebu every  summer vacation. My grandparents were really happy to see us because we were their favorites, as what other people said. I remember my Lolo would buy my 100 points paper from school, 5 pesos each. During school year, I would dutifully collect and work hard for 100 points, coz I know that I will be getting money from my grandparents during our yearly summer vacation to Cebu.

When my grandmother died and their livelihood changed, I saw my Lolo struggled. Since landing a job abroad, I promised him that I will help him out.

I followed through my promise, I have been giving money to my mom to be given to my grandfather for his everyday meals and such. I found out later that my aunt has been using the money, and I was pissed beyond belief! That's supposed to be for my Lolo, not for her! I cut off the support as a sign that I wasn't happy, that I am not tolerating their behavior. I felt like I was deceived, betrayed even.

Months after, every time my mom goes to their old home just to check up on my grandfather, he would tell her to tell me to help him. I said yes and, according to my mom, he was happy. I imagined him with his usual smile of his, I was happy too that he was happy. 

But, before receiving the money, he suddenly died.

I cried so bad when I learned about his death the very next day. I blamed myself for it, maybe because I haven't given money to him and he got depressed that's why he died? For days, I was inconsolable. I cried and kept it to myself.  The memories of my Lolo haunted me till I ended up dreaming about him. In that dream, I saw him on his bed, very old and can't hardly get up to greet me, but he gathered up his strength just to sit up to give me a cupcake. After I woke up, I cried so bad I didn't end up going to work.

In the hopes that I'll get rid of the guilt-feeling I was having, I shouldered his burial expenses. Php 30+ later, I still felt guilty.

This is one of the many roles of being an OFW: we carry the feeling of guilt whenever something bad happen to our family member, especially when we know that they think that we are capable of helping because we are working abroad. Having accepted that we can't carry all the financial burden of our family, we still can't help but feel guilty, that somehow their death is our doing. 

"Will this end?", an OFW might ask. For this I'll reply, "I don't know..." 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Hole in My Shoes

Now you see a sock:

Now you don't: 

And look at the poor sole:

Well, if you read my post here, I actually bought a new running shoes few months ago. The color was bold, yes, because I bought it spring of this year and I really thought I won't be needing neutral rubber shoes anymore because by autumn of this year, I would be going home for good- as planned. So I thought, heck, might as well buy a shoes that is bright and bold because who needs neutral color shoes when it's summer all year long in the Philippines anyway!

As the weather got colder and the leaves started to change to give way to winter, I saw myself needing some neutral color shoes. I'm really glad I kept my old shoes a little bit longer because I ended up using it again. Yep, for two or so months, I have been using the living crap out of it (if you compare the sole of the shoe above with the sole in the pictures here, you'd noticed I dug a little hole already!)

I know, I don't recommend herd mentality, but boy, when season changed and people started trading their colorful, fun summer clothing to some neutral ones, and you put me in a neutral-wearing crowd, I'd stand out like a cystic pimple! 

With a heavy heart, I bit the bullet and buy new neutral shoes earlier. If only I knew back then that I will be spending another autumn/winter, I would've gotten a neutral shoes few months ago instead of what I got. Oh well!

Here it is, Skechers Running with FLEXSOLE. I got it at Macy's for $39.98, originally $59.98-as seen on the tag:

But honestly, it feels good that I really "used it up and wear it out" my old, blue shoes! This time, I'm really throwing them away. I swear!

Buh-bye my old friend, you have served me well. Thanks for taking me places and braving through miles of running!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Case of an Envious Mother: My Mom and a Flat Screen TV Story

As embarrassing as it is, I must admit that my mother has some kind of an envious nature. Case in point, when she saw her neighbor's new 50 inch flat screen TV, she wants one too! She begged me for it like you wouldn't believe! Of course, I said NO! I told her my sacrifices(the usual litany in detail of all that I have been doing just to save a penny), and how she should be thankful that in the subdivision we're in, only 2 houses were fully paid- one is ours and the other one is owned by an American. She kept on bugging me, and I kept on saying no.
One morning, while she was cleaning our front yard, she noticed two guys carrying her neighbor's flat screen TV. She thought they were robbers, so she asked the guys what the heck they are doing, turns out my mom's neighbor's TV got repossessed. That day, my mother got what I mean. She never said a word to me about wanting a flat screen TV ever again!

Fellow OFWs, we should say the "N" word often. We can't be a genie that grants our family's  each and every request! When you say YES all the time , you are giving them impression that life abroad is a paradise, that it's raining money here. Don't give in to their guilt-trip. Just say NO and you will get use to it, I swear! Take it from me, I said NO to them many times and I am used to all their "kuripot" label they're throwing at me.  

By saying "NO" often, believe that we are teaching our family back home a lesson, that you are breaking the cycle of financial dependency in your family.

I know, when you say NO, you will think that they will think that, "Ay, nag aabroad pero wala naman palang pera." So what if they'll think that you are a failure because you cant seem to provide? I'd rather they think I am a failure than trying to impress them that life abroad is great and all, coz I know that it's not.

By saying NO most of the time to my family's wants and whims, I know that I'm beginning to end the cycle of financial dependency that has plague my family ever since I can remember. It ends with me.