Mommy Lace: Mommy Blogger|Philippines
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Money4Life Challenge: 4 Month Progress

Money4Life Challenge is a program created by Sun Life Financial that I signed up for. It spans for 6 months and includes 6 sessions with financial expert Aya Laraya. If you are interested, please ask Sun Life about their financial education programs.

Exactly 4 months ago, I set out a goal to save and invest for a trip to Australia. This was followed by tracking my expenses, creating a budget, looking for additional income, and enlisting the help of a financial advisor.

At first glance, the financial exercises I did are not new or never heard of. In fact, it is something we see and hear on Facebook, blogs, and TV shows. But the question is, ginagawa ba natin o bakit hindi natin ginagawa? These were the same questions that financial expert Aya Laraya would ask fellow participants of the challenge.

First session palang, I already decided for myself that I am either in or out. It is not a joke to travel from Cavite to BGC every Saturday, I told myself if I will not take it seriously and not practice what I learn then I will just be wasting my time and my P94 fare to and from BGC.

Money4Life Checklist

These are the things that I have started and continued doing since the challenge began 4 months ago:

  1. Set a clear goal
  2. Track my expenses
  3. Create a budget
  4. Always talk to my financial advisor
  5. Look for additional income

You can check the links above for a detailed blog post for each.

Something’s got to give

 

Investing is foregoing (sacrifice) something good for now, to gain something better in the future. All of these financial tips are just theory if I will not share with you the reality. Please know it is never easy to share anything related about money, money is very personal, but I also have a dream to inspire and empower ordinary women like myself. In the last 4 months, nobody was more surprised than I was. Kaya ko pala at pwede pala.

Here are the things I have learned to forego to achieve my goal:

  1. Unused and sentimental stuff – to jumpstart the first month of my journey, I started selling unused items around the house. Some belong to me like my favorite dresses but I never really wear anymore and some are sentimental items like my son’s stroller, baby clothes, etc.

    Up to now and whenever my room, especially my closet starts to look cluttered, I continue to pull out stuff to sell. Life happens and we will always outgrow some belongings that we no longer need but others who are in their unique stage in life might benefit from.
  1. Space- if time is money, I say – so is space! I gave up space for leasing opportunities i.e. bed space. It is something that I would not consider before (read: privacy) but I have courageously tried and now I am convinced that I made the right decision.In fact, I wish I have leased out space sooner. This is one of the new things that this challenge has pushed me to make, especially when we discussed about when a property becomes a real investment or an expense.
  1. Social media – before the challenge, I would spend hours scrolling down endless Facebook posts from my Facebook friends, some I don’t even remember meeting in person. I am also guilty of spending several minutes composing the perfect caption for my Instagram feed. Now I still enjoy social media but use most of my time for work and my family.
  1. Hobby 1: Gym – I use to spend 3 hours in the gym, three to four times a week. I value my health and are into body building, lifting weights, gaining muscle, etc. I did not really want to give up my gains BUT decided to cut training time to 2 hours. This means lifting heavier but with fewer sets. It is hard adjustment (I now lift 40lbs) but I am able to finish an hour earlier so I have more time for my online jobs.
  1. Hobby 2: Blog activitiesMasaya maging blogger, maraming events, activities at iba pa. I wish I can afford to enjoy being a full-time blogger but my budget says otherwise. When I began this challenge, I decided that I have to say “pass” to many blog related activities and focus on my online work for now.

  1. Hobby 3: Teleserye – aside from online work, I have committed to teaching my son the same lessons I learn from this challenge. Instead of watching teleserye, I continue to study and work for my online writing jobs PLUS finish the book Junior Ipon with my son. It’s a financial literacy text and workbook for kids. Money management is still not taught in schools so I am doing something about it. Like I said, time is the greatest asset to have and if my son will learn how to handle finances early, then it would be to his best advantage.

Work is really God’s blessing, kailangang alagaan at mahalin natin. Nobody knows when work opportunities will disappear, strike while the iron is hot kumbaga. I also believe that God is watching us and how we are managing the opportunities He gives us (including how we raise our kids!). That said, something’s got to give in order for us to fulfill our duties and at the same time, progress towards our dreams.

In short and uulitin ko, time is money. You cannot take back time nor buy it. Another thing I learned in this challenge so far is the real value of time. We can waste time dreaming, thinking of what ifs, and being afraid to try or start using time to make our dreams come true by praying, trying, and doing – most of the time dapat!

My 4 Month Progress

With all the things I learned and applied from this challenge, I was able to save and invest P10,000 every month, sometimes more than the amount, for 4 months. If you do the math, I have now set aside more or less P40,000 it may be small to many but for a mother like me – this is already a huge amount.

The plan was to save enough to travel to Australia with my son, there are two more months left in the challenge and by then, I hope to have P60,000+. It may not be enough to buy two round trip tickets (we also need our visas to be approved) but at the end of the day, I would still have funds that if I don’t use for travel – I can use for my son’s tuition fee or remain invested in Index Funds.

Index Fund Performance

Oo nga pala, I do not put the P10,000 every month in a coin bank or in a bank account. My SunLife Financial adviser recommended that I start and invest in the Index Fund. I began last June and regardless of whether the market is up or down, I still invest every month. By investing in the index fund, it is probable that my money will earn more compared to putting it in a bank.

Note that it is important that you understand the risk and not just the returns of investing. For one, the Philippine Stock Market recently dropped and other people have started to panic or create panic. Sabi nga ni Mr. Aya Laraya, aral muna bago invest.

I admit I was also troubled by the decline and felt a level of uncertainty, however I believe in my heart (and based on reading credible sources) that our economy will only get better in time. In our most recent session, I was very happy that our mentor discussed the issue and shared his own views. Including the analysis that historically, the market is down in the months of August and September (Ghost month) and start to pick up again by November-December (Christmas).

It made me feel more confident to continue working hard so I can continue to invest.

Stay tuned for the last two months of my #Money4Life Challenge, I thank God for the grace of attending all the sessions so far!

I look forward to the next sessions and hope to share a positive result of my #Money4Life challenge soon.

Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor

If you watch primetime television, it is no longer unusual to see TV commercials of insurance companies. Most asking you to get in touch with their financial advisors, planners, consultants, or agents. While this is good for financial awareness, the above titles, especially “financial advisor” is a catch-all term in the Philippines.

Personal finance expert, Aya Laraya recently reminded investors that there are currently no standards yet and emphasized the importance of evaluating a financial advisor before giving them your hard earned money.

Don’t be afraid to ask the following to your prospect financial advisor:

1. Are you a licensed financial advisor? – not all financial advisors, consultants, or agents are licensed. Although different insurance companies have different ways of training their agents, it is not necessary that they are all licensed and registered financial planners.

Note that unlicensed agents can still sell investment products legally, but choosing a licensed advisor means he/she has passed qualifying processes making it easy for any investor (big or small) to vet or assess their financial planning skills.

You should also know that each type of financial product will require a different license. If your financial advisor is licensed to sell life insurance, it does not mean he is also licensed to sell mutual funds. Asking this first question about having a license may make you feel uncomfortable and become embarrassed to ask BUT it will save you a lot of time from evaluating your financial planner.

2. How long have you been in the trade and who are your clients? – These are good questions to ask and having short term experience is not always a sign of incompetence. At the back of these questions, it is also good to explore the reasons why your financial advisor chose their profession. Note that some advisors have other jobs and are selling financial products as a sideline. There is nothing wrong with this but it may affect their availability and accessibility.

Don’t be shy about the current clients of your advisor either. Names don’t have to be divulged but, the nature, demographics, and characteristics of current clients will help if you fit the personality and competence of your financial planner.

3. How are you compensated or what is your commission structure? – Have you ever encountered an agent who is trying to sell you all sorts of financial products? Many of us have and this is why it’s important to learn how your prospect financial advisor gets his commission. Others will get this by the number of products they sell, percentage of investment, etc.

Knowing this factor will help you assess if the advisor is selling to you a product that fits your financial goals or one that only fits his personal quota. Ouch.

Remember that commissions are not a bad thing, in fact we really have to pay financial advisors to recognize their knowledge, skills, and to afford continuous education related to the financial industry. One thing I learned is to choose an advisor who will also invest in your future meaning, one that will want you to succeed financially so that both of you can achieve your goals.

4. How accessible are you? – If you’re new to investing on financial products, you probably don’t think you will need to call, text, or email your financial advisor regularly. The truth is, you will and you should. The reason for this is that as life happens – so will the changes in your financial goals.

Sometimes, you will read news or discover a new product on social media and want a quick comment from someone qualified, then you will get in touch with your financial advisor. This is just one of the reasons why you should choose a financial advisor who is accessible and fits the type of communication that you want.

Personally, I don’t like getting phone calls and are more comfortable with email, text, or private message on Facebook. This is how I get in touch with my current advisor and we work very well in this setup.

5. What can you do for your clients in the event of emergency or death? – While some people don’t like to talk about this, it is actually very important especially if you are invested in financial products. Technically speaking, death activates benefits of products like life insurance, endowment, etc. You may know about this very well but in case something happens to you, are your children or spouse equipped with knowledge to claim these benefits on your behalf?

To make things convenient, ask your financial advisor if your family can contact him in case of death or emergency. Ask if he is able and willing to help your family in case this situation happens.

Finding the best financial advisor for you is much like entering a relationship, although not a romantic one – it is important that you find someone whom you can imagine building a long-term relationship with. Personal finance expert and registered financial planner, Aya Laraya highlights four points in choosing your financial advisor:

1. Competence
2. Compatibility
3. Cost
4. Accessibility

Depending on how serious you are with your financial goals, your financial advisor will be a major part of your life. If you haven’t spoken to your existing advisor for a long-time, then chances are it’s about time to evaluate your progress.

Do you have more tips or experience to share about choosing a financial advisor? Please drop them via comments below :)

**This post is part of my #Money4LifeChallenge. I wrote this based on my personal experience, and recently I helped my friend find her own Sun Life Financial Advisor to start her financial journey with.

#LoveSnR: S&R Buy 1 Take 1 Sale on September 30 – October 2

Shopping at S&R is one of my favorite treats, I have been a member for two years now and I can say the P700 membership fee is worth it. I don’t only appreciate the discount but more so the unique choices, relaxed shopping experience, and all their baked treats!

One of my S&R shopping trick is to check their Facebook Page and just recently, they have been hinting on having a Member’s Treat this month. I’ve heard about it from friends but never really experienced it, one thing that resonates loudly is that Member’s Treat is loaded with buy 1 take 1 deals and other huge discounts on all S&R items.

Note S&R has not confirmed it yet but they have announced a SALE period of 3 days, September 30-October 2 from 8AM to 9pm. I am reading other blogs from fellow S&R shoppers to pick up tips and shopping strategies because I will definitely be there 8AM on the dot!

I hope S&R posts on Facebook soon so I can prepare my shopping list and feel like I’m in the show extreme couponing! :)

Using Nasal Spray for Kids & Baby

When your child has flu or coughs and colds, hearing them sniff and suffer from clogged, runny nose can make us moms feel helpless. Especially at night when we fear they are having difficulty in breathing or when our babies cannot sleep because of these symptoms.

You are not alone because I also experienced this with my son, Ashton. It was only when his pediatrician introduced using a nasal spray that solved this problem. Though I wish we were educated about nasal sprays earlier, nasal sprays that are also known as saline solutions help flush out mucus (sipon) to clear the nasal passages. The pediatrician prescribed using nasal sprays up to 4 times daily.

Nasal sprays are usually only made with sea water. My son always has colds so I have tried different brands like Sterimar and Salinase recently and because of the changing weather both my son and I suffered from flu. Both of us had clogged nose, running nose one day then dry nose on the next. We got one of the newest nasal sprays in the Philippines, it is called Humer.


Humer comes in different types and sizes – for adults & big kids, and for babies. This nasal spray helps to ease cold symptoms including allergic rhinitis and also recommended for daily nasal hygiene. I appreciate the unique and ergonomic style of the nozzle which makes it easier to spray the insides of the nose especially when administering the nasal spray on children.

The spray bottle is also hygienic in that it does not allow any of its contents to re-enter the canister. The actual spray button is also steady and easy to press & release. I first tried Humer Nasal Spray for myself. I suffered from dry nose – the feeling of having a dry patch inside the nose due to flu which contributes to having a lack of appetite. As soon as I used Humer, I felt my nose clear up and I was also surprised how it assisted in thinning & flushing out mucus. After using Humer, I immediately felt the need to sneeze and it was an instant relief.

WATCH: Humer teach moms & kids about Nasal Hygiene

Because of its hygienic design, I did not hesitate to let my son share the same product – of course, after cleaning the nozzle. It had the same result on my 6 year old, it cleared out his nose fast which made it easier for him to breathe and reduce sniffing. This also meant less irritability and tantrums because of not feeling well, hooray!

Now both me and my son, we always keep Humer close whenever we feel nasal discomfort or feel like we inhaled pollution, dust, etc. I recommend fellow moms to do the same and benefit from the advantages of nasal hygiene. For me, I am really wowed by how it helped me in our flu & cold symptoms. Using nasal spray is very easy but will make a significant improvement on you and your family’s well-being.

Humer is available in all Mercury Drug stores, for more information I go to their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HumerPH/

Stay healthy Mommy & Baby!

If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.
ASC Ref. No: U074N080516H

Baby Company opens new store in SM Megamall

My family and I recently spent a weekend at SM Megamall. As you know, it’s one of the biggest malls in the country with Mega A, B, C, and D. When I was in high school there were only two buildings in this SM supermall. Now that I am a mom, I like bringing my son here from time to time and share throwback stories.

At the 2nd level of SM Megamall (building A), we found the newest Baby Company store. Unlike most of its stores, this Baby Company is a stand alone shop that is away from the Department Store. Baby Company was also celebrating their 25th year anniversary and had promos in store.


High-tech sterilizer, now moms don’t need to boil baby bottles with EcoMom Sterilizer. Available at Baby Company.

Moms will enjoy shopping and exploring isles of endless choices for their soon to be born, newborn, and toddlers. I thought wow, it’s so exciting to be pregnant these days with all the new brands and technologies for moms and their babies. Just look at this app-based automatic rocker:

One of the most enjoyable thing to shop for is baby clothes, when my son was still a baby – I wished for more affordable, quality, and imported-looking onesies. Why imported-looking? Because they last longer, the fabric is cotton, comfortable yet durable, and the designs are really baby appropriate. Now you can find such onesies here at Baby Company.


Breastfeeding pumps, accessories at Baby Company in SM Megamall


Breastmilk storage bags

Everything that mothers need are here, especially breastfeeding accessories. Perhaps these are the most important of all, nourishing our babies with our own breastmilk to keep them healthy and strong against sickness. Baby Company was also my go-to place for things like breastmilk bags, breast pump accessories, breast pads, etc.

If you are coming with a toddler, they can enjoy trying different educational toys.

Mommy Lace tip: Get the most of your Baby Company shopping experience by getting a Mom Card. This will get you exclusive discounts from partner brands. All you need is one valid ID, and P100 proof of payment to any Baby Company stores. List of exclusive Mom Card offers can be found at http://www.facebook.com/babycompanyph


Kids plates and utensils for toddlers

Being a new mom is exciting but is not easy. Shopping for one, can get stressful especially with lining up etc. but at this particular Baby Company store, mothers can shop peacefully and in comfort. Everything you will need and think of (including preferred brands) are already here to save you time, money, and energy.

Ashton and I enjoyed shopping for his own supplies like baby bath, baby lotions, and he even found a stylish bag he likes to use for school.

If you’re in SM Megamall area, check out Baby Company at Building A. Happy shopping mommy and baby!

Lunch Date Experience at 22 Prime, Discovery Suites

Can you believe we are now at the second half of the year? If you are a parent like me, I am sure that hearing this brings a sense of panic and stress. Thoughts of not recovering from school fees and yet Christmas is fast approaching gives me quiet a chill. So before the “ber” months start and before us parents panic even more, I thought it was a good time to sit ourselves down a quiet and relaxed space where we can enjoy an extraordinarily good lunch.


Dating and food is one of our secrets to staying happy together!

This is at 22 Prime inside Discovery Suites, Ortigas. We discovered this restaurant a few years ago, it was where my husband surprised me with a Mother’s Day dinner and we’ve never forgotten the place ever since. The place is a hidden gem in the metro, atop 22 floors offering a bird’s eye view of the Ortigas center.

We came for lunch especially because they offer specials and more affordable fare at this time of day. Plus, there are fewer guests although 22 Prime does have generous table arrangements that offer a romantic kind of privacy. It’s so private we can have silly moments like in the photo above :D

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Our lunch started with the familiar bread basket, which is complimentary. Of all the spreads, my favorite is the herbed butter. I can come here just for this bread basket! Mainit-init pa, perfect start to our simple lunch date.

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Then, we shared the Prime Salad just to add some greens to our diet. The thing on the middle of the salad is actually deep-fried poached egg.

I can’t imagine how it is possible but when you slice it open, the creamy egg yolk flows out and joins the rest of the salad dressing. If you want to impress your date, this is one of those things you should order!

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My husband ordered his favorite Lobster Bisque, it’s so creamy and tasty. Memories of the Discovery Shores Boracay and all the seafood we ate there came to mind. We may not be able to return yet but at least we can enjoy this soup! By the way, I saw on their FB page that the resort is offering a special off-season family package. A 3-day, 2-night package starts at PHP 27,000 versus Php 33,500 peak season rate.

Right now I am always craving for the taste of truffle oil and I am not being pa-sosy, masarap siya talaga. The flavor is unique that’s why it is one of the most expensive oils in the world. That said, even if I know how to cook – I don’t have access to this oil but some restaurants do like 22 Prime. Usually, I order truffle oil pasta but here at 22 Prime they have Black Truffle Risotto.

Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish cooked in a broth to a creamy consistency. 22 Prime’s version is super sarap, sulit talaga because I really enjoyed the truffle flavor.

My husband ordered the Surf & Turf which came with spinach on a skillet, twice baked potato. I enjoyed a few slices of steak too which was a very good match to my Black Truffle Risotto. This is what I always enjoy when dining with my spouse, I get to taste more than what I ordered because we share our food :D

The service at 22 Prime remains excellent and that’s why we always come back. My husband and I are getting older and one of our pet peeves is bad service. During our date at 22 Prime, we never had to asked for what we need i.e. utensils, water, or when it’s time for dessert. Shout out also to the other server, her name is “Hanie” of honey and like her name, was very pleasant in serving us during our lunch.

For a sweet, simple ending we tried the New Zealand Macadamia Supreme ice cream. Perhaps one of the best and freshest ice cream we have ever tasted. This ending was just right for all the dishes we ate. I think we did very well in ordering off the 22 Prime menu, that or everything they have is all delicious.

Thanks for reading about our lunch experience at 22 Prime. Note the price of this restaurant does not go far from other restaurants in the metro but here, you can have a fine dining experience that is worth your time and money.

Mommy Lace tip: Visit their Facebook page for lunch and dinner specials, promos, and other events. 22 Prime is located at the 22nd floor of Discovery Suites in Ortigas. It is just across the Podium mall.