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. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Tipster's Road to Financial Freedom: Simple Ways to Save Money (1st of 3 Parts)

          I am not exactly a miser but I believe there are many ways to save money that most of us often overlook. 

          Looking back now, I wish I had saved all the money that passed through my hands as fast as the speed of light. However, that is all in the past now and there is no use fretting about it at all. What's important is I have taken the lessons of the past with me.

          A lot of people say, how much you earn does not matter at all. What matters is how much you are willing to set aside - which I believe is true. It may sound impossible, but actually, it is indeed very possible to live below your means so that you can set aside a certain amount of your income.

          Now talking about living below your means - lifestyle, that is, - I gladly share to you just a few tips that may help you make the most of your hardly earned peso. These may just be small stuff, probably just making you save a few centavos, but I tell you, every peso counts.

1. Avoid the coffee at the deli. Overpriced coffee is indeed flavorful on the tongue but most of the time it stings your wallet or your pocket. Just do the math yourself if you indulge in one cup of overpriced coffee every week. Let's say a cup of your favorite coffee at the deli costs Php 150.00. Thats just the minimum price of coffee in those shops right? Make that four cups in a month, that's a whooping Php. 600.00 - probably enough to cover the meals of a struggling family of four in the city in a one week period. Imagine the savings you gain if you cut that habit of ordering that venti ice mocha frappe, non-fat milk, no whip cream.

     However at this point, you might want to argue with me and say, "Hey, I deserve to have this cup of coffee from Starbucks after a day's work!" Well, I won't object to that either. If you cannot totally cut on your overpriced coffee, at least minimize it or consider it as a treat or reward for yourself when you decide to have one.

     As for me, I order one at Starbucks - my favorite hot mocha, grande - once in two to three months. I am not kidding. I admit, I have a favorite flavor from each coffee shop - White chocolate mocha, ice-blended from Bo's Coffee; Hot (as me) Cafe Americano from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. I also have tasted all the coffee jelly variants from all coffee shops and for me the best of them all comes from Krispy Kreme. But still, I rarely get those coffee twice in a month.  The rest of the days, I rely on my all-time favorite 3-in-1 Nescafe coffee, the classic flavor. When I am at the office, I feast on the unlimited coffee.  

2. Use your debit card in your purchases. Unless I want to maintain my Average Daily Balance (ADB) from my savings account so that my account would earn me a higher interest at the end of the month, I usually use my BDO debit card in my purchases, specially at the grocer's. The primary reason why I use my debit card is it actually gives me a lot of savings. First, it saves me from the hassle of looking for coins that the cashier usually asks for to make her life easier when it comes to giving you your loose change. Second, it allows me to pay exactly to the last centavo, nothing more, nothing less. That point something in the amount due actually makes one's life harder, and it can make you poorer too. Take for example, your total bill is Php. 1032.82 and you hand the cashier a total of Php. 1050.00 in paper bills. You can't expect her to give you an exact change of Php 17.18. It is probable that she would only give you Php. 17.00. I know that 18 centavos would not make you dirt poor, but you are only making the owner of the grocery richer! That 18 centavos is still important. Nobody would even hand you that (not even your parents), unless you do labor or service in return. 

     So make it a habit to go cashless. Really, it saves you a lot of hassle and money.


3. Avoid buying bottled water. Bottled water costs at least Php. 10.00. You could save a lot if you just bring water at home using your tumbler. Be sure to use BPA-Free containers.


4.. Use public transportation. Ride the jeepney, why not? I used to ride the taxi each time I go to the airport (I would shell out a maximum of Php 220.00 as I travel from the heart of Cebu City to Mactan Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City. Recently however, SM Prime Holdings have this MyBus buses going around Cebu City, with their stations in SM malls. 

     You have to purchase a card so that you can ride on the buses. The card costs Php. 200 pesos, and that is already consumable. Their routes include: SM City Cebu to the Airport, Airport to SM City Cebu, SM City Cebu to SM Seaside. They also have routes to Talisay and Minglanilla from SM Seaside. The ride from one point to another only costs Php. 25.00.

     Last month, I was patting myself on the bank for saving a lot on my transportation expenses. I hopped into a taxi going to SM City and paid the driver Php. 86.00. I then hopped into MyBus going to the airport, paying only Php. 25.00. That is a lot of savings, right?! Lucky for me, I got my MyBus card from my colleague who gave it to me for free. 


5. Open a bank account a few days before the last day of the month. I did that when I opened my savings account. In a matter of days from opening your account, you will already be earning interest from it. Talking about making your money work for you. :-)

(To Be Continued).

Monday, March 14, 2016

'Tis the season of celebration - again!

          I would like to send my warmest congratulations to the successful examinees who nailed the PSBIM 2016! You made it guys!

Here is the link to the complete list of successful examinees, the newly minted
Diplomates in Internal Medicine.

Photo credits: Katrina Paz U. Campomanes

Only in the Philippines: Britania, The Beautiful

          I have only been to Britania Islands in San Agustin, Surigao del Sur, last January, but still, until today, I am drunkenly spellbound by the beauty of the place.

I am not sure what to call or aptly describe this type of intoxication but you can call it a long-lasting high, and definitely it is something that I would not want to recover from.

Going to Britania has actually been an overstaying entry on my bucket list of places to visit, so when my colleague brought up the idea of going there, I said, “I’m in!” faster than I can say my own name.

We reached Britania after about an hour on the road from Tandag City, the provincial capital. We dined and stayed overnight at La Entrada Resort and Restaurant, and went island hopping the following day.

On arrival at La Entrada Resort and Restaurant. Smiling for the camera while waiting for dinner to be served.

 Definitely I am not a morning person but I successfully dragged myself out of my bed to say hello to The Britania Sunrise. 

All set for island hopping. 

We took the island hopping package of nearby McArthur’s Place, just a stone’s throw away from La Entrada. At McArthur’s Place, we paid Php. 1,500.00 for a four-hour island hopping trip to four of the 24 islands and islets of Britania, scattered on Lianga Bay. (La Entrada offered us the same price for island hopping but only good for three hours.) The randomness on which each island and islet was situated in relation to each other, not to mention their uhmm sizes, or land area, is already a sight to behold in itself. They were like flowers randomly showered by a flower girl on a carpet-laden wedding aisle. 

Too beautiful not to be photographed. A selfie with the islands and islets. 

At McArthur’s Place. 

           We visited four of the 24 islands and islets in Britania, namely, the Naked Island, Hagonoy Island, Hirog-Hirog Island, and Boslon Island.  

           First stop is Hagonoy Island. It was a simple yet a beautiful island. I wanna say, it is virginal, forgive the pun, but one can really tell that it is untouched and unspoiled by the complexity of modernization – and I love it that way. Truly, beauty in simplicity. I did not expect  to find vendors in the island, but yes, there were vendors indeed! If there is one tip I can give you if ever you decide to visit Britania, bring some money when you go island hopping. The vendors were selling souvenir items and most of all, boiled sea shells and it was my first time to eat those. The “saang” is slow cooked initially with sea water, according to “Manang” so that the animal living in it would not hide deep inside the shell, or else, you would not be able to eat it at all. After pulling out the meat from the shell, we soaked it in native white vinegar and oh my, they were delicious!

 Hagonoy Island. Beauty in simplicity. (Photo courtesy of Shiela U. Campomanes)

The “saang” and me. (Photo courtesy of Shiela U. Campomanes)

More “saang” please. My fellow doctors and I enjoying the saang with native vinegar. (Photo courtesy of Shiela U. Campomanes)

After filling ourselves up at Hagonoy Island, our next stop was the Naked Island. If Hagonoy Island was virginal, well this one is uhm, naked, yes – definitely 100% pure and heavenly patch of fine white sand you can enjoy. 

 Taking a walk on the Naked Island. Hagonoy Island on the background
(Photo credit Ivy Matildo-De Jose)

Going wacky on the Naked Island. (Photo courtesy of Shiela U. Campomanes)

     I had to take a picture of our sunny-natured boatman. The guy in the middle of the photo below. He is the story behind our wacky photo on Naked Island. We asked him to take our group picture, and when he did, we were on the verge of dispersing when he said, “Wait! Kanang wacky! (Let me take your wacky photo!) Mabuti pa si Manong, may wacky pang nalalaman.  Talo kami, ah 

Our boatman, smiling for the camera while pulling the ropes of the boat.
(Photo courtesy of Shiela U. Campomanes)

Our boatman, displaying his expertise.

           Next stop is the Buslon Island. Most merchant’s are here probably because this is the common pit-stop of all tourists to take a dip in the pristine waters of Britania, before they hop on to the next stop which is the Hirog-Hirog Island. 

Gifts of the sea. Sea urchin and sea grapes for sale on Buslon island.
(Photo by Shiela U. Campomanes)

           After four hours which seemed like breeze, our tour of the Britania Islands was concluded. I felt I could not get enough of the islands and its waters. As we drove back to the city, I had one thing in mind – I am definitely coming back to Britania. That’s for sure. 

           How to get to Britania Islands: Britania Islands is in the town of San Agustin in Surigao del Sur. San Agustin is around a 6-hour bus ride away from either Davao City or Surigao City, and a 3-hour bus ride from Butuan City. One can also go there by taking a 1-hour plane ride from Cebu City to Tandag City via Cebu Pacific. Cebu Pacific flies to Tandag City three times weekly. From Tandag City, you can take a 1-hour bus ride to San Agustin, the home of Britania Islands.

           When you plan to visit and have questions, you can always ask me anyway. My email is Enjoy!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Last Mile on Your Road to Becoming a Diplomate in Internal Medicine

 Now for the last serving of tips on becoming a Diplomate in Internal Medicine.

3. Understand the distribution of the exam questions.  Whether we like it or not, we can't deny the presence of the Big Four. Whether we love to study the Big Four, we have no choice but to do so. I am referring to the four major specialties, namely, Cardiology, Pulmonology, Infectious Diseases, and Gastroenterology. Make sure you allot ample time to these specialties because they comprise a big chunk of the coverage of topics in the exam. I think that goes without mentioning that it's the Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine that is our "bible" for the diplomate exam. You should digest the book over and over again, from its front cover to its back cover.

4. Go back and stick to the strategies that have worked for you in the past. Review your notes. I presume you have accumulated a substantial amount of notes during your residency. Answering questions is also a  very good strategy for the PSBIM. The more you answer questions, specially the multiple choice type of questions, the more you get used to it, and it would be such a breeze for you once you sit in for the real thing on the exam day itself. You get used to the exam type, you have your own way around the questions. It is a different type of mental exercise, answering questions or multiple choice questions, as compared to plain reading of the textbook. When you answer questions, it is another way of knowing if you really got the gist of the material. Although still, I have to say this - just keep on reading your book. When  you feel like you can't go on, rest for a few minutes if you may, but after that keep on reading. No matter how little you might read, it could mean a big thing, the tipping point towards making, or (I hope not) breaking the exam. So just read on. It will do a lot of good for you than bad.

5. Lastly, I know you don't need to be reminded of these basic stuff but I think they might be worth mentioning. Book in advance for your hotel stay on the day of the exam. I booked for my hotel two months before the exam and I laud myself for booking in advance because the hotel got fully booked really fast. I checked in at the hotel five days before the exam and did my final phase of intensive studying there, inside my hotel room, only ordering food from their restaurant. Sometimes, I would order from nearby fast food chains.

     Survey the exam venue. We did that the day before the exam to familiarize ourselves with the place. On the day of the exam itself, go to the exam venue early, at least an hour before the exam would be preferable.

     Be determined to get a good night's sleep before the exam. Sleep early if you can. I know that could possibly be hard to achieve considering all the anxiety you have with regards to the exam, but be determined to sleep well and comfortably the night before the exam.

      Have a good and sumptuous early breakfast prior to the exam. Buy yourself some snacks the day before the exam, something that would make you happy while you munch on it, no matter how the exam goes. That would give you more good vibes during the exam.

      Lastly and most importantly, pray. Our efforts would be nothing without the guidance of God, the Ultimate Physician.

      As this series comes to a close, I wish you well for your coming diplomate exam, dear doctor. Taking the exam is the only way to go. I was once where you are now and there are a lot more who walked this path, and made it. Without a doubt, you will make it too, with persistence, faith, diligence, focus,  and wisdom.

      In advance, I extend my congratulations to you.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Only in the Philippines: Breathtaking Palawan

When I stepped into the paradise called Palawan, I was not able help myself but be awed by God's amazing creation. Pristine waters, beautiful rock formations... my jaws almost dropped.

Appreciating God's creation is a way of thanking Him.

Looking forward to visiting more places like these. Looking forward to seeing a little bit more of Paradise.

                                                  Photo by Shing Camps.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Caption This III

Happy new year, everyone!

My first entry for 2016 is a photo I have taken during the last quarter of 2015. I am sure that at one point or another in our lives, we have all felt the same way as this cat, in this big world of ours.

A famous person once said though, that there should be a balance between fearing the future and believing in the best. 

A blessed and prosperous 2016 to all of us.

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