Your dream house within your reach

(Featured image is from bria.com.ph)

I just recently talked myself into buying a house. As they say, a real estate is a wise investment for the future. So my partner and I decided to purchase our starter home while our children are young and we still have the capacity to pay. 

Admittedly, house hunting is not my thing. I am a couch potato when it comes to house tripping. Luckily, I have found out that a childhood friend of mine is now a real estate broker and she has convinced me to check out several properties near our present house. She is very helpful and patient in walking me through the process of acquiring a new house.

Acquiring a starter house is one of the key milestones of adulting. Whether you are still single or have a family already, buying a house is an important part of your bucket list. For one, it is a testament of your hard work. Secondly, you don’t want to live with your relatives or rent our all your life right?

But before you bolt out the door to go house hunting, let me share to you some helpful tips in acquiring your dream house.

Know what you want. With the boom of real estate business today, there are so many properties that are up for grabs in the market. It is important that you already envisioned what your future house be like before you engage in property hunt. Decide whether you want to live in a condominium within the hustle and bustle of the city life or in a subdivision within a suburban area where environment is more laid back and relax. 

Consider your family’s comfort. When buying a house, you need to think about the comfort of every family members who will live in it. It should be accessible if not near institutions like schools, hospitals, supermarkets, etc. The roads going to your homes are en route public transports just in case your car breaks down and you need ti commute. There are amenities within the community which can cater to the interest and needs of all ages. 

Be honest with your budget. Now this is one of the tricky part. Buying a real estate property is an investment. And investment involves a large amount of money. So it would be wise to check your budget first before you commit yourself to buying a house. For one, you need to pay for a reservation fee to ensure that the unit can be reserve for you. The average reservation fee is around Php 10,000 and this is non-refundable just in case you decided to back out from the deal.

Second, you need to pay a down payment which is 20% of the amount of the total contract price within 30 days of your reservation date. You can opt to pay it outright if you have the money readily available or you may choose to pay it installment for a certain number of months agreed with the developer. Usually, the maximum number of months that you can pay the down payment as installment is 24 months. 

The reservation is easy. As long as you have the amount required on hand, you can pay it. However, paying the down payment especially if you opt for an installment scheme can be a potential problem if you are unsure on where to get the budget. 

Know your options. That leaves us to the remaining 80% of the contract price then. Before you commit to any house contract, ask your broker of your options to pay the bigger chunk of the deal. Since most of us are not rich to pay hundred thousands or even millions worth of money, house buyers prefers to pay monthly amortization until the 80% is fully paid. This is always in  a form of a loan which you can usually avail thru (1) government institutions (PAGIBIG Fund in the Philippines);  (2) bank financing; (3) in- house financing. The first two options are usually offered by most of the big named developers while the third one is not always available. 

If you are employed, you religiously pay for your contributions and has no default government loand, the PAGIBIG Fund is your top option. Since this is a government institution, they can offer you with a longer payment terms (max of 35 years) with a low monthly amortization. 

You can also opt to avail a housing loan in the bank especially if you have a good credit standing and a maintained a good bank records. Albeit, the loan term is shorter than the PAGIBIG (average of 15 years) but the property appraisal is almoat always higher. 

Pre- Selling vs RFO. One thing important when you are buying a house is when can you actually occupy it after inking with the contract. Pre-selling units in a way cheaper in down payment and monthly amortization since the unit is still for construction. This is for those people who are not in immediate need to transfer abode. Usually, a pre-selling unit can be occupied within the full payment of the downpayment, i.e. two years and upon the start of your payment of the equity. 

While RFO (ready for occupancy) units can be occupied once you settle the agreed down payment, you may expect that the amount of money you will shell out will be higher than pre-selling units. 

There are other things to consider on your house purchase such as utility provisions, improvement restrictions (i.e. putting up a fence) and others which you may need to clarify to your developer prior to contract sign off. This can be discussed by the help of your real estate agent. 

In general, owning a property is achievable if you look for the preferences that will suit your needs and your budgets. So know all your options before buying. Don’ t get tired of site tripping. Visit as many locations as possible. And you will surely find your dream house soon. 

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How to make budgeting less stressful and more fun

IMAGE SOURCE: PIXABAY

Are you the type of person who sucks at budgeting? Well, most of us do. They say we are at the age where consumerism is a trend and the advent of technology (i.e., the internet) makes it easier for us to buy stuff even if we don’t really need it. But if this becomes a habit, it will really take a toll on you financially. 

Making a budget is admittedly one of the most difficult thing to do. In fact, it is dreadful for some to address financial issues that may arise relative to your budget. But, with a little practice and a little trick up on your sleeve, you can make budgeting less complicated and a bit fun. 

Set a goal. Whether you are simply saving up for a future investment or a dream vacation or just simply wanting to buy new things, having something to look forward to makes it easier for you to let go of some unwanted expenses. 

Think of something that you want to have and write it down. Know how much you need to get to your goal so you would initially know how much you need to set aside and for how long.

Make a list. List down all your usual expenses and break it down to two categories: (1) needs (food, rent, utilities, transportation, debt payments,etc) and (2) wants (entertainment, new clothes, gadgets, etc.). Review how much you spend on each category and compare it with how much you are earning. If your expenses are much lower than what you earned, that means you will only need little adjustments on your goal. However, if your expenses is way more than your income, then you need to re-assess.

 Carve out. Let’s face it. Deciding to cut on your expenses is a difficult thing. But to be realistic in achieving your goals, you need to learn how to spend less on some things. Cutting your lifestyle spending (i.e, buying trends, gadgets, dining out, etc.) and re-routing it to your savings will make a great impact in your budget. 

Celebrate your milestone. Create a savings milestone and celebrate this little success by treating yourself. Aside from the goal you have set, this little tokens will give you the motivation to stick to your budget. This will also prevent the thought that you are depriving yourself. 

Keep the faith. Just like any other things, you may encounter set backs in sticking to your budget. Never give up. When you have set back, just reset and go back to your track. 

It takes a lot of discipline for you to stick to your budget. But keep on going.  Once you completed your goal, enjoy the fruit of the hardship and then start again. 

A cup of tea

Well, it’s a chilly mid-week morning today. As I sit into my cubicle with my hot cup of Moroccan tea while browsing the net, I noticed that I haven’t visited my blog for EONS of years (hehe)! So, where have I been eh? No, definitely not visiting the Queen. 

Seriously, I was just busy on several projects that I neglected to write (sorry…). However, my hiatus has given me opportunities and more experiences that I will share here (promise). For starters, I have started two personal projects that have taken a lot of my time and effort for the last few months. 

Be Fit

Admittedly, I had neglected my health for several years that resulted to health complications and obesity. I started this year with a goal to lose at least 20 lbs this year. So I drag myself to the gym, started working out and choosing healthier food options. And I am so happy that I already achieved my goal in just 6 months! 

From 200 lbs in 2016 to a 180 lbs by June 2017 😉

 Be Ready for Rainy Days

I realized that I am not young anymore and that I need to be more disciplined with my finances if I want to retire in peace when I am in my senior years. That is why I have set up my financial goals this year and push myself very hard to save and invest. And that means learning to curb my spending and be more financially literate. So my first step is build my emergency fund by opening a savings account and take on the 52- week challenge. So far, I stick to my savings plan and now I am reviewing several policies for other investments such as VULs and mutual funds. ✌

Less spending, more savings 👌

In between these two things, I still have my 9am to 6pm regular jobs and family to take care of so my hands are really full. Nevertheless, I am back. 😉

It’s a Planner Thing (& You Wouldn’t Understand)

I’ve recently discovered the art of kawaii planning and I was hooked since the first time that I tried it. Now my IG feed is full of pictures of my planners (yes, I am using multiple planners! 😊) with my personalized and fully decorated monthly and weekly spreads. 


My partner somehow stumbled upon my new hobby (thanks to the messy stickers and washis), scratched his head and asked me if I still really use my planner for the purpose of planning. Well of course I do and my planning gets even better each day. Not sure how to react, I told him that “hey, it’s a planner thing you wouldn’t understand”.

For some of you who has no clue on what I am talking about, planner decorating or kawaii journaling is a way of creatively putting in entries to your planners or journals rather than the usual black and white scheme (which admittedly gets so boring more often). It is in a way a personal work of art with mixtures of different media,paper and pen. And you may ask, what do we gain from it? Let me give you my reasons why I am so obsessed with it now.

It gives my planner its own personality


Decorating my planner not only beautifies every plain pages but also gives it  a personality of its own. Oftentimes, it is a reflection of my own thoughts and emotions. Thus, it is no longer just a Happy Planner or Erin Condren, it has become me. 

It makes remembering things easy and pleasing to the eyes


I am a visual person and I easily remember things by what they look. Thus, when I decorate my planner it is easier for me to remember things  and events by having a visual reference. Plus, when the going gets tough and I have a very bad or toxic day, I have something beautiful to look forward to to lift my mood. 😉

It makes me goal-setting a breeze


I use my planner not only for daily schedules but to set short- term and long term goals. Thus, decorating it with my favorite things create an on the go vision board for me. Planner decorating makes me stick to my goal even more than when it was just the plain black and white it used to be. 

It unleashes my inner Van Gogh


I must admit that I am a frustrated artist.I love arts but because of my busy corporate schedule, I haven’t got the chance to fully explore my artistic side. Planner decorating gives me the license to be creative and to use every pages as a canvass that I can carry with me wherever I go. 

I gain new friends

Planner community is growing fast.And because of social media, planner junkies can easily exchange ideas, share their works and encourage each other. Joining the community opens me to a more diverse perspective and gain new friends who share the same passion. Isn’t that the biggest plus? 😙
I can still think a thousand reasons but it would take a lifetime to enumerate them all. I am grateful that I discovered this hobby. And I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. 

Happy Kalat! 😉

Five Useful Hacks for the Busybees

Are you the type of person who easily gets overwhelmed by the tasks that you need to tackle? Or do you always forget the things that you need to do so you end up not doing your top priority? Maybe you lost track of time and you have to hurry to get into your appointments so you feel less prepared. 

If your busy schedule is already driving you nuts, here are some tips for you, busy bees, to save you from insanity because of tight schedules and gigantic task.

Plan Ahead

Nothing beats good planning everytime you have so much things in your hand. Set a side a time to sit down and write down all the things that you need to do for the whole week. Determine how much time you need for each task and decide for the best day to do them. Start from your top priorities to things that can wait. The best thing to keep track of your task is jotting them down in a planner. You will be surprised that after you’ve written down your plans, they are less daunting to tackle anymore. 😊

Put together a capsule wardrobe

(Image: http://www.decoist.com)

Half of the time, the reason why we are late for an appointment is that we cannot decide what are we going to wear. And this is true when you are faced with a closetful of clothes. The best thing to do is put together a capsule wardrobe in one part of your closet. This is a collection of a no brainer, classic and versatile pieces of clothing and accessories that you can throw on when you are running late. 

Keep your things in strategic place

(Image: http://www.thatgirlcathy.me)

Assign an area in your house or even your room to place the things that you almost always need to bring with you when you leave the house. This can be near your door or on your bedside table, wherever it is handy for you to grab and go if you are in a hurry. 

Invest in a bag organizer

Changing your bag when you are trying to keep up with your busy schedule may freak you out especially if you cannot find all the things that you need to bring with you. Buying a good size bag organizer that will fit most of your bags is definitely worth the investment. You can easily put everything you need to bring in all its compartments- wallets, keys, makeup kits and other essentials- and have your things easily transferred to another bag in no time if you need to change your purse.

Edit your makeup kit

Looking your best is one thing that you need to maintain even on a very hectic day. But lugging too much makeup can be so distracting as well. Keeping your makeup kit to a minimum is the best way to address your beauty needs without goig overboard. Use products that are multi-functional and can take your look from day to night so you can pare down the number of palettes and tubes in your kit. If you want to throw in some extras, you can keep a small stash in your office drawer or car compartment, just in case you need a little more. 😉

Learning a few tricks to lessen your prep time will definitely improve how you look into your busy schedules. Once you master these tricks, tackling your daily tasks will never be stressful again. 

The dog that gave me another shot at life

I grew up loving dogs. Our family had 4 mixed breeds and they were a loving bunch. But when I went to college, my interaction with dogs became less since I was too busy studying. And after several more years, our dogs that I grew up with passed away one by one. Up until then, I seem to lose interest with dogs but I do pat one in the head whenever I find a pup that will not bite.

Two years ago, my partner has convinced me to buy a dog from a K-9 service company that was closing down. Having almost always alone in the house at that time (my partner’s work assignments at that time were out of the metro) I agreed to get a dog. When we came to the kennel to pick up a dog, I immediately took a liking at the matured, big labrador dog that the keeper brought out from the cage. So we brought Tetay home with us at that day. 

The robust dame is a retired bomb explosive sniffing dog and her demeanor is calm and submissive. This has been one of the factors why we get along well. But there were episodes that she got bored and chewed everything in the house. 😣 

Day by day, we grew up to like each other. We took walks together when my partner is not around. She would be up all night making sure that no one would force their way inside house. We would even eat together. But more than anything else, Tetay has saved me from my lowest point in my life.

I had so much pressures at that time- work, relationships, family. I had so much in my plate that day by day, I started to go down the dumps. I initially thought that the blues were temporary. However, my anxiety attacks grew worst especially when I was home alone. I would not sleep until the wee hours of the morning and by the time I got to shut down my eyes,nightmares would woke me up shaking and crying. 

Through these trying times, Tetay would come inside the room, put her head in my shoulders and tried to comfort me. She would never leave my side until the anxiety attacks were over, until I got back to sleep. Maybe she sensed something was wrong at that time because she refused to leave my side. She was always there for me. She has become my comfort. 

Those episodes have longed passed. And the more I think of it today, the more I appreciate the value of friendship that I developed with my dog. She treated me as her own family, not only a bestfriend. And as she starts to grow old, I cannot and will not give up on her until the end because she did not give up on me when I was about to give up on myself. 

How to avoid being trapped in a never ending meeting

Have you experienced being left in a middle of a maze and you cannot find your exit even if you’ve been searching for it for hours? Makes you want to cry, right? It is the same feeling that you can get every time you attend a meeting that seems to be a labyrinth of discussion. It is tiring, frustrating and seems to be wasting your precious time. So how can we avoid this? Here are some tips:

Have an agenda and stick to your topic

Meeting would be useless if you do not have a topic to discuss. In this case, planning your agenda or subject that you want to tackle during the meeting is important. However, planning alone would be useless if you will not stick to it during the meeting. Do not allow yourself or anyone else during the meeting to divert from the topic of the discussion to avoid long meetings. If someone raises an issue during the meeting that is not part of your agenda, take note of it in the minutes and inform the person that his concern will be discussed in another forum.

Make a topic outline to disseminate to attendees

 Create an outline for your agenda and determine how much time do you need to discuss each subject. It is ideal to breakdown your topic to not more than five subtopics to avoid clutterinv discussion. Send the outline to all participants so the can prepare ahead of time. 

Limit the number of attendees to key personnel only

When you meet to discuss something, it means that you need to decide on some concerns. So  make sure that you invite only those key personnel that can give decisions on issues that will be laid in the table. Limiting the number of participants to those that can decide is one way of ensuring that you can wrap up your meeting successfully.

Don’t forget the minutes

Taking notes on the discussion is essential so you have a documentation of what have been discussed and agreed to during the discussion. Take down all the essential points as well as the actions to be taken and the agreed timeline to resolve some issues. It is important to have these in your minutes so you can have something to refer to once you make follow ups. Make sure that you send it  out to all participants  immediately after the meeting.