Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My Current Budgeting Style: Detailed Budget Revealed!

I have been using Daily Money Log when I was abroad ( see post here.) Though it was tedious, it has served me well, like I swear!. But now, I am not using that style anymore. I'm using "Envelope Method":

Accordion-type envelope bought at Target for $1

Here are my categories with corresponding budget (close up pictures below):

  • Food and Expenses : Php 2,000 ( PHP 500 each week)
  • Stark and Pepper: Php 800 
  • MECO ( Electricity): Php 700
  • MCWD (Water)  :   Php 200
  • PLDT :   Php 1,299
  • Cellphone :   Php 299
  • Homeowner's Association Fee: Php 250
  • Fun : Php 500
  • Personal (Hygiene,etc.): Php 500

Note: There are weeks that I only get to spend less than Php 500 for my Food and Expenses, what I do is whatever is the change for that week, I put it in my "Fun" category so I get to have "FUN" ( watch movie, buy book, etc. things like that.)

How about you, what budgeting style are you using?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

COL FUND SOURCE: Investing Mutual Fund Online Using Your COL Account

So, since I don't have much to do these days, I have been visiting my COL regularly just to see how the market is doing, not because I want to be an expert but because I am just bored these days.

One day, I noticed a "Mutual Fund" tab added ( see picture below, I encircled the it) and I thought, maybe it is just there all along and I didn't notice it. Of course I clicked on it just to see what it is. Apparently, you can now invest in any mutual fund ( I see two of my mutual funds I invested in) online using your COL account. I really thought this feature is old until I received an email earlier ( see second picture below.)

So, there you go... No need to go the bank to deposit money to 'that' mutual fund account, no need to scan the receipt ... no need to... ahhh! I remember those times that I have to mail every freakin' application forms to every single mutual fund I was interested in, now no more! This is great news to OFWs!

COL App and now this? Now I'm impressed. COL is making investing easier for us!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

If It's Not Their Money then it Doesn't Hurt: On Workers and Materials

Last Saturday, before the construction foreman left, he told me that we don't have finishing sand anymore. I told him, " Tilokon lang nato na, Kuya. Daghan pa man sa akong tan-aw." ( I see we still have a lot. Let's just scrape what we can.) He gave me "that" look and reasoned that "wala na talaga" which irks me.

So, to prove that we still have a lot, I roll up my sleeves and get my ass scraping for sand yesterday and this morning and look what I scraped:

Ang dami kaya! I must have scraped 20 cement bags full of sand! So many left still, so I'll scrape again tomorrow morning after our ( with Stark and Pepper ) early morning walk.

Most of the time, if it's not their money they are spending, hindi sila nasasaktan kay hingi lang ng hingi kahit meron pang ma ii-scrape.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wet Market Sunday

I'm still good with oatmeal though I might be out of it by the end of the week.

I bought scallion coz my scallion in a water were eaten by Stark and Pepper, so I need to grow new ones.

Here's what I got today:

  • Banana: Php 38

  • Veggies: Php 44

  • Bangus: Php 50 ( Php 100 per kilo)

  • Eggs: Php 27 ( Php 4.50 each)

  • Kakanin + Choco Lanay: Php 25

Find Starky's Snout!

  • Corn Grits (For Stark and Pepper) : Php 32

  • Bones ( For Stark and Pepper): Php 20

  • Sawdust ( For Stark and Pepper) : Php 61 ( Php 30 per kilo- Php 10 increased)

  • Kim's Sukang Hang (made in Cebu, so yay!): Php 52.45 ( 375 ml) My goodness, I thought this was just Php 25! I'll check next week.
  • Blend 45 Coffee 100g: Php 65.35
  • San Marino Chili Corned Tuna: Php 29.50 (have you noticed that this guy has been present in my Wet Market Sunday posts since the day I tasted it few weeks back?)
  • Kopiko Cafe Blanca: Php 57.70
  • Baker's Best Bread: Php 44.50 (Php 22.25 each)
  • Eight O'Clock Powdered Juice: Php 16.70 (Php 8.35 each)
  • Bear Brand Adult Plus: Php 81.85
  • Jersey Condensed Milk 390 ml: Php 25.75 ( I mentioned in my last Wet Market Sunday post that I have this Mung Bean Ice Cream recipe that I found online ( reason why I have mung beans in the house was also stated in that post.) It was yummy by the way so I decided to make more since I still have mung beans left.)
  • Ram Green Peas 100g: Php 8.25
  • Steel Wool: Php 8.95



Fruits and Veggies:    Php 82
Fish              :    Php 50
Eggs              :    Php 27
Kakanin           :    Php 25
La Nueva Grocery  :    Php 391



Stark and Pepper:

Corn grits: Php 32
Bone      : Php 20
Sawdust   : Php 61


Note I: My "Personal" was way beyond my Php 500 per week budget, but it's okay since last few weeks' "Personal" grocery was way below my budget. I do need to check next week since I really thought that the Kim's Sukang Hang was only Php 25 and they charged me Php 52. I'll wait and see.

Note II: I have separate budget for Stark and Pepper and for my Personal. I'll post a detailed budget very soon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Homeowners Association Fee: How Much Do I Pay Every Month?

Living in a subdivision, one can expect to pay the monthly HOA fee ( Homeowners Association.) Here, we call it "monthly dues."

In the subdivision that I am in, I am paying Php 250 per month for:

  • 24-hour security guard
  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday trash collection
  • Electricity ( for lamp posts, etc.) I am glad my unit is near the lamp post. I don't have to turn on a light during the night because of the light from that said lamp post.
  • Baranggay Tanod and Roving Guard that goes around the subdivision every two hours during night time.
  • Cleaning people that cleans the whole subdivision every day

When you live in a subdivision, you can also expect that there are rules to follow. Ours include:

  • No sticker in you car, no entry ( you can only get a car sticker if you are updated with your monthly dues.)
  • Toll fee for every delivery ( Php 10 for motorcycles; Php 20 for 4 wheels and Php 30 for 10-wheelers)
  • Php 50 per hour ( Sunday to Thursday) for every hour basketball court usage ( for electricity) with free usage during Friday night to Saturday night.
  • No practice driving. If caught, Php 500 fine

I noticed that those who doesn't regularly pay the monthly dues are the ones who complains a lot. Filipino thing right there, right?

How about you, how much do you pay for you Homeowners Association fee, if you have one? Is your subdivision strict when it comes to rules and such?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My Younger Brother's Sudden Entitlement Issue

I've mentioned here and there that it's only me and my younger brother here, and that he started working and earning his own money few months back. I also mentioned that he only shows up to sleep/days off from work. Of course, being a financial nerd that I am, I lectured him about the importance of saving and investing and all that finance stuff. I wanted him to contribute, he volunteered  that he will regularly send money to my Mama in Albay ( Php 1,000 every month.) I was happy about that. Last month, I required him to buy rice as a form of contribution in our own house (I don't eat rice if he isn't around, so I thought that it'll be a good idea to ask for something he regularly uses/eats.) And so he bought 10 kilos of rice few weeks back ( that'll probably last us 2 months.) For me, it wasn't really a necessity that he should be shouldering the rice, I just want him to contribute- something I could taste once in a while. Besides, I shoulder all the household bills, and he only spends Php 1,200 for his "responsibility"(mama's monthly stipend and the rice) out of his Php 12,000 monthly salary. 

When he started contributing, I noticed him not doing household chores. Like every time I let him do something, he gives me this I-don't-want-to-do-that look. I cut him slack here and there, telling myself that he is young and that attitude will pass, blah blah blah. Look, I get that he is tired from work, but since he is living in this house, he should do household chores, I think. He can't just go home, sleep, play Clash of Clans and leave and expect me to pick up after him. NO FREAKIN' WAY!

Yesterday, I asked him to collect the sand and put it in front of the house since the Home Owner's Association asked me to clear it all out coz they are going to put up playground soon. Aba, dinabugan ba naman ako! My blood started to rise and told him: "So, you just make this house some kind of a rest house? You are living in this house, not renting so I expect you to do household chores! Heck, I don't even let you wash the dishes and now you are giving me that shit?!" Of course, it was all in bisaya. He continued to talk back and told him: " Fine, if you don't like household chores in this house, then you are free to leave. Let's see if you can make it out there. I can survive without your rice contribution, you know? And if you don't stop talking back, pick up all your things and leave. NOW!" He shut up, went out and started shoveling the sand.

I meant to put his entitlement drama to ashes and I hope I did.

Am I being too harsh on my younger brother?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Water Bill Report: May to June 2015 ( GIVE ME MY FEW CENTS!)

For last month's water bill report, click here.

My water bill went down by Php 29, so I'm happy about that. I am expecting much, much lower water bill after the house construction.

Total: Php 229.38

I paid through a collecting center so they have service charge of Php 3.00. I use to pay in PrimeAsia Pawnshop (inside Unitop to be exact) but I stopped paying there coz they don't give change. This month, I paid in RD Pawnshop ( across Jollibee Lapu Lapu Public Market) but just the same, they don't give change. I should lecture them about Exact Change Act. Hmmmm.

I know, I'm iffy about few cents, that I should cut them slack... but man, not giving the exact change, even if it is just few cents, is  I think some kind of corruption. I rant more about it here. Maybe I should make a separate post and expose those stores who doesn't give exact change. hahaha! Wait a minute... that's a good idea! hahaha!

Parkmall: Cebu's Pet-Friendly Mall ( Malling with Stark and Pepper)

STARK: "Mommy, can I buy donuts?"

STARK (thinking): "Hmmmm, which one should I choose?"

STARK (ordering) : " Miss, can I have 2 Bavarian munchkins please"

Pepper and Stark waiting for their French Fries order:

Mommy feeding Starky some fries:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Wet Market Sunday

The electricity went out for about 5 hours here in Mactan area (5 AM to 11 AM), that's why the photos I took are kind of dark.

  • Mangoes: Php 80 ( 2 kilos)

  • Banana: Php 20 ( Php 30 per kilo)

  • Eggs: Php 27 ( half a dozen)

  • Veggies: Php 55

  • Kakanin: Php 20 (5 pcs for Php 20)
  • Choco Lanay (melted chocolate) Php 5 per slice. (Have you heard of this? I just learned about this months ago when I heard a lot of people in the bakeshop buying "choco lanay." I got curious and bought myself one and it is so yummy, esp if you pair it with coffee!)

  • Sawdust for Stark and Pepper: Php 20
  • Ground Pork : Php 47
  • Bones for Stark and Pepper: Php 20

  • Corn grits for Stark and Pepper: Php 32 ( 1 Kilo)

  • Baker's Best Bread: Php 22.25
  • San Marino Chili Corned Tuna: Php 29.50
  • Doreen Condensed Milk: Php 26.25 ( I have this mungo beans which I bought months ago when my mother was still with me and I haven't really touch it, so I decided to make sweet mungo bean recipe which I found online before it goes bad. So I hope this certain recipe will turn out good.)
  • Plastic bag for Stark and Pepper's poop: Php 12.75
  • Eight O'clock Litro Pack: Php 8.35
  • Dazz Dishwashing Bar: Php 6.30
  • Kopiko Cafe Blanca: Php 57.70 ( When I went to the cash register to check my grocery out, the guard quipped in bisaya, but I'll translate it in tagalog: "Ang daming bumibili ng Cafe Blanca noh? Kahit ako, nakaka ubos ng 3 packs! Masarap kasing higupin kasi si Marian Rivera ang endorser." What the f?! I have to role my eyes and searched my memory bank who the heck Marian Rivera is. LOL! Gosh, I'm not really into local celebrity and I don't own tv so yah... Is that bad or what?)
  • Surf Bar: Php 17.70



Fruits ( Mangoes and Banana) : Php 100
Veggies                      : Php 55
Eggs                         : Php 27
Kakanin                      : Php 25
Ground Pork:                 : Php 47
La Nueva Grocery             : Php 180.80

Total: Php 434

For Stark and Pepper:

Sawdust             : Php 20
Bones               : Php 20
Corn grits          : Php 32


Total: Php 72

I have different budget for my Personal grocery and for Stark and Pepper. I'll talk about my detailed budget one of these days.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Half A Year in 'Pinas: How's My Life So Far...

Exactly six months ago (January 13),I boarded Silk Air Asia from Singapore Changi Airport and arrived in Mactan International Airport around 1PM ( so around 1PM is officially my six months here after almost five years of being an OFW. Gosh, I have been reading all my January posts and it brings back so many memories! Like how nervous I was and all that mixed emotions I was feeling six months ago.)

It seems like lifetime ago, I'm telling you but gosh... six months lang pa la!

So many things happen in my personal life ( death of Ganni, family drama, house construction, Stark and Pepper... I'm sure I posted everything in this site) that's why six months feels like forever to me.

How's life treating me so far?

FrugalExpat's e-mail came in just in the right time. She has "Balikbayan Questions". Here it is:


Hello Maria, 

Kamusta na?

I have been following your blog since you are back in Philippines. How is it? How are you settling down?

Sensya na if I am 'usyusera' ha. I am asking because I finally decided to go back home in 2019. Still few years away, but I have quite a long list of financial goals to achieve. :-)

I have been away from pinas since 2002 and I guess the average vacation I have is 2-3 weeks. 

I am a bit afraid to settle down because I know it will be a big adjustment for me.  I noticed that when I went home last June. 

When I came back here from Pinas, I felt that I was back at home. This has been my home for more than a decade. 

So I would like to know how is it settling down in Pinas after being an OFW? I want to prepare myself. ( Emphasis added)

I have another question. I am buying also a town house in GenSan. I have never lived in a townhouse ever. 

How is it? Dli ba kapoy na you have a very close neighbor? Just asking and want to know your opinion. ( Emphasis added)

I am still in the reservation fee sa townhosue so I can still let it go if it is not really so pleasant to stay. 



Life here is great but challenging. 

The traffic is horrendous, especially in the old brige (UC's fault!), that's why staying home is ideal, and you can get anything within Mactan area so no need to cross the bridge. I'm glad the proposed third bridge is already approved,though it will be completed in 2018 pa, and my place would greatly benefit from the third bridge construction. So yah.

Life here is great but sometimes boring.

From working like a carabao abroad to being just at home taking it easy and getting lazy, it is so hard sometimes. My blood is craving for going out and getting busy, but I'm stuck at home managing the house construction and minding Stark and Pepper, after all they are just puppies.

Spending wise, I am being careful not to overspend. My house construction budget isn't depleted yet, so that's good. Daily expenses is under control, so that's good as well. If I keep my expenses this low, I could survive three to four years without touching any of my paper investments. But, for the sake of my sanity, I need to get busy with business or I could get work, ideally after house construction, para whatever I could get with my future salary/profit, it would go to my expenses so I won't get to touch my three to four years living expenses/emergency fund. Hey, my monthly budget is only Php 6,500- 7,000 ( yep, that low) so if I could get a job that I like within Mactan area and with salary range within my expenses, I'm good.

First few months here were really kind of hard for me. Summer heat and humidty was brutal but I'm glad it cool down nowadays with the rain and all.

Up until now, I get pissy with saleslady who doesn't give me exact change. Sometimes, I forget about it and wont go back to that certain store. That's why I love shopping at La Nueva Mactan coz they give exact change even few cents more. ( I know, I am promoting La Nueva but I am in love with that store. They carry mostly local stuffs, give exact change, much cheaper than other stores to name a few things I love about that store.)

What it's like to be living in a townhouse?

Safe-wise, I love living in a townhouse. Because of the close proximity with neighbors, it's easy to just shout if ever something happens to you and the neighbors could hear it ( especially with our recent family drama, safety is the top of my priority.) I love our neighborhood coz we have SWAT officers here, lawyers, Airforce, Navy, etc. living among us. Plus, where I live, the homeowner's association officers are super active (they actually just launch a coop, but that's another blogpost) and they are really big on keeping the neighborhood clean and safe.

What I also love about my place is I live right across the basketball court and the playground and soon to rise clubhouse, so I get to see the crowd and, for someone who is mostly alone in the house, that is a plus.

Pray that you won't have a next door neighbor who is insecure and who complains a lot, like the neighbor I have. She is known to complain, from the sound of the dribbling ball ( and the homeowner officer point it to her:  "why did you choose a unit that is across the basketball court in the first place?) I learned how to deal with her by not being overly friendly with her- just hi and hello and that's it. She has some kind of reputation around here so if she complains about anything that involves me and my unit, I just dust it off coz that is just the way she is.

Townhouse is fine starter home if you ask me. If I were to choose another unit, I'd choose this place all over again. I kind of love this place and the neighborhood, plus... the view from my rooftop... BEST.. PLACE.. EVER..


Wet Market Saturday

I had my wet market run yesterday around noon time because the guys were picking up the lumbers and I don't want to leave the house while they were around just for security reasons. It was my first time going to the wet market around lunch time and it was a bad, bad idea. First, the meat shop where I get my sawdust wasn't open ( their Saturday schedule starts at 2PM) and no more cassava suman left plus my suki where I usually get my veggies has class till 1PM. So yah...

The best times to go to a wet market in Mactan area based on my observations are early in the morning and around 5PM on weekends. Though there will be little left on kakanin choices if you go during 5PM.

What I bought yesterday:

  • Fruits: Php 35
Mangoes- Php 15
Banana- Php 20

  • Veggies: Php 57

  • Eggs: Php 24 ( Php 4 each)

  • Ground Pork: Php 28.50

  • Chorizo: Php 20

  • Kakanin: Masi Php 20

  • Corn Grits for Stark and Pepper: Php 31 ( 1 kilo)

  • Sawdust for Stark and Pepper: Php 38.70 (1.2 kilo)

In the other meat shop were I usually get my sawdust, they sell their sawdust for only Php 20 per kilo. So it was a bummer that they were close! At least I know their schedule.

  • Baker's Best Bread: Php 44.50 ( Php 22.25 each)
  • Kopiko Cafe Blanca: Php 57.70
  • Winner Beef Loaf: Php 13.00
  • San Marino Chili Corned Tuna: Php 29.50 ( A friend recommended this to me. Don't know if it's good.)
  • Lucky Me Pancit Canton: Php 17.40 ( Php 8. 70 each)
  • Brown Sugar 1/2 kilo: Php 19.90
  • Eight O'clock Litro Pack: Php 8.35
  • Bear Brand Adult Plus: Php 81.85


Fruits:   Php 35
Veggies:  Php 57
Eggs:     Php 24
Chorizo:  Php 20
Kakanin:  Php 20
Corn Grits: Php 31
Sawdust: Php 38.70
La Nueva Grocery: Php 300.70


Personal: Php 456.70

Stark and Pepper: Php 69.70 (I got separate budget for them. Will post detailed explanation soon)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

House Construction Update: Stressing Over Used Coco Lumbers

Even Pepper is stressed!

Gaaaaa, I'm really stressed about what to do with my used coco lumbers! Grabeh, ang dami and it's all over the house ( mostly on the rooftop and in front of the house) It looks like though na my house is not yet almost done because the lumbers are everywhere. The front portion of the house is covered with lumbers and I'm oh so stressed about it!
Used Lumbers on the Rooftop

Used Lumbers In front of the house

All in all, for the lumbers alone, I paid Php 54,000! Yep, that much and it's a bummer that we only need lumbers for scaffolding and such and after that, we need to discard it.

Thank goodness because people has been buying t left and right and I made Php 12,000 for all of these lumbers. They are hauling it right now, by the way.

Stress level went down by thiisssssssssssssssssss much! Thank goodness!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Electricity Bill Report: May to June 2015

Last month's electricity bill was 1,474.06 (for more information, click here. I also mentioned in that post that I was expecting much lower electricity bill for the next month since it's only me and my brother here and the we don't have television coz my mom brought it to Albay. My expection came true. It went down by more than half!)

AMOUNT:  Php 657.76
ADVANCE PAYMENT (since the bank where I usually pay, I think that is there standard procedure, wants it to be rounded off): Php 89.95

TOTAL AMOUNT PAID for the month of May to June: Php 590

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What I Usually Eat: Easy and Personal Meal Planning for Lazy People Like Me

I've mentioned here and there that I usually eat alone and I only pig-out whenever my brother is around (usually three meals a week or even less.) Since I'm mostly alone and I get lazy preparing elaborate food if it's only me that's going to gobble it down, I've developed kind of meal planning that's easy and take less time to prepare.

When I was abroad, my cheat meal were McDonald's french fries and sundae (click here for more details.) Since I came home, my cheat meal,aka comfort food, changed. Instead of McDonald's french fries and sundae (I could get a lot of veggies and fruits with that price) I am down to pancit canton ( spicy), dried fish and lotsa rice (once a month). OMG! It's unhealthy I know but what's the use of comfort food and cheat meal if it's not full-blown unhealthy, right? 

It is easier and less time consuming for me to shop for food if I know what I usually eat. I'm the type of person who can stick to the same meals over and over again and I'm not choosy so I am super glad for that.

I do the grazing method wherein I eat small food/meal every two hours or so. I don't starve myself and this has been a way for me to watch my weight and, since I don't want to overeat, this has been also a way for me to save money. Thanks oatmeal, banana and mangoes!

Here are the food I usually eat:

  • Mixed Veggies with small meat
By far, this has been my go-to food, easy and healthy, plus I can give this to Stark and Pepper too! This could last me 4 to 5 meals.

  • Ginaling ( Giniling/Ground Meat)

My brother's favorite! I put carrots, green peas and potatoes in it. Nakakarami ang mga ingredients na 'yan, diba?

  • Instant Oatmeal

Ahhh, my favorite and probably the easiest meal/snacks. I usually put honey as a sweetener ( bought at La Nueva for Php 129) and banana. And maaaaan, this meal/snacks makes you full for few hours. I usually have RAM instant oatmeal for Php 100 per kilo ( cheap and local, what more could I ask for?)

  • Tortang Talong with mixed veggies and cucumber salad

Tortang talong has been one of my comfort foods ever since forever. I regularly made this when I was abroad whenever my taste buds were looking for pinoy food that's easy to prepare. Now, I regularly stock eggplants coz it's cheap (Php 50 per kilo.)

For cucumber salad, I put ground pepper and vinegar with it. It's yummy yummy in the tummy if you ask me!

  • Egg Omelette sandwich

I usually mix my egg with carrots, sayote and whole loads of veggies in it. For the sides, I go for cucumber salad. And I can't even make a sandwich without banana ketchup! Sorry, the photo is blurry!

  • Fruits ( banana, mangoes or whatever fruit that is in season and grown locally)
I usually eat the fruits straight up or make it into a fruit shake, whatever I am in the mood for.

Of course, I can't go through the day without coffee! I also have a cupcake whenever my sweet tooth comes calling.

And whenever I really don't have time to prepare for food because I was out or whatnot, I usually open a canned food ( Century Tuna or Beef Loaf) that's why whenever I do my grocery shopping, I have a bit of canned food here and there. It's for my brother too when he arrives home from work and starving ( very rarely). Canned food? Unhealthy, I know but I'm being true here! I know you have canned food in your house, too!

There you have it! Easy to prepare meal/s that fits my budget and my lifestyle.

What about you? What do you usually eat and what diet do you follow?