Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Five Years of Tracking My Net Worth

Andy Warhol's Dollar Sign (1981)

Just like that, and we're already halfway through 2019.  

I was listing down my expenses and realized that I've been tracking down my finances for five years now. 2015 was a milestone year for the following reasons: 
  1.  I started working two jobs. That means double the salary, which had to go somewhere. 
  2.  I finally opened a brokerage account after months of studying. 
  3.  I slowly transferred the cash (that's been sitting around in savings--I know!) into equities. 
As you can see, I haven't exactly been the most consistent person. There were gaps in the data, like certain periods where for some reason I did not fill in all the variables for certain data points. 

Story of my (stocks) life. 

But because I wanted to have some sort of accomplishment for the first half of the year, I played around with making charts in Google Sheets. I'm still a newbie on that point so even if I wanted to see how cash migrated to equities plus all the other components of one's net worth, I have to be satisfied with what I came up with so far. 

The blue bars show how my net worth was inching up to seven digits. In 2015, I had most of my holdings in cash and opened my COL account around July. I had a bit of a windfall because I found out that where I worked at the time (CoRK) got my pay rate wrong, and so they owed me money that amounted to 6 digits. They gave it in one go, which meant there was also a huge tax cut. But still, I was determined to invest that money so that I had something to show for it. 

Another bit of a throwback: I remember that period in July-August when the prices of stocks suddenly fell because of fears that Greece would default. I saw that sharp drop down but didn't buy anything because, well, I was a newbie. Still a lot of things of learn. 

My net worth peaked in the First Quarter of 2018--which coincidentally was when my stocks holdings were also at their highest. I remember being so happy that I qualified for the next tier at the brokerage--until I didn't because stock prices dropped. (This was also when my medical expenses started to balloon--probably more connections there I should explore.) My biggest regret is not cashing in enough on those equities, which have since gone down to half its former value. But I'm not really that worried. I have accepted that the price of stocks go up and down. My time horizon is long. Almost 50% of my net worth is in equities. But for the most part, as long as I don't panic and sell everything, I'm hoping that those values will still go up. 

I still feel like I'm an Under Accumulator of Wealth. There are many things I can still do to improve my net worth. I'm going to be more diligent, I should go back to updating the sheets I made specifically for expenses. That way, I can see where my money is going (Grab rides, sadly) and make more cool handy charts. 

How is your 2019 so far? 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

What We Can Learn About Workplace Safety from Eddie Garcia's Death

Image from 
Eddie Garcia passed away last June 20, two weeks after suffering a preventable workplace accident that injured his cervical spine. He then fell into a coma and never woke up. His family decided not to resuscitate him. He was 90 years old. 

Initial reports had him "collapsing" on set while shooting an action scene for a forthcoming GMA teleserye in Tondo. Later there was a statement allegedly from his family that said he suffered from a heart attack. 

Then video shot by bystanders revealed that he appeared to trip on cable wire, tried to rebalance himself and fell. His family and doctors corroborated this statement: there was no heart attack. He tripped on some cable wire and fell. 

The people on set seemed unprepared for something like this happening. There was no medical crew on standby. It took some time to bring him to the nearest hospital because they had to call a cab. (Where were the service vans?) The people who helped carry Eddie Garcia were most likely sincere in wanting to help, but being untrained in how to handle neck fracture victims, probably made his condition worse. 

GMA promised to review the video. They asked for prayers for Manoy Eddie. Then they've been eeriely quiet since. 

It's been two weeks and the actor with a 70 year career, who was in the pink of health and would have probably continued working for a few more years, is now gone. By all accounts, he's a very nice guy. Always professional, arrived early on set before anyone else, sharp memory. 

I suppose it's at this point that I should mention that I worked with him sometime back. He would have comments and suggestions for possible trajectories for the character he's playing, but never demanded anything. The last call was still with the creative pool. In his projects, he never forgot to thank everyone--even creatives, who are not usually on set. We did set visits, and I regret that I don't have a picture with him though. 

People are mourning. A common refrain heard over and over again is that no one is to blame for this "accident." Judy Ann Santos, who never got to work with Manoy Eddie, expressed regret at this preventable workplace accident. Here's what she posted in her Instagram account: 

"sana sa nangyaring to, maging bukas ang isip ng mga networks sa tamang pag aalaga, pagbigay ng sapat na kaalaman sa lahat ng taga production artista man o hindi, pagdating sa mga ganitong sitwasyon..maaring naiwasan sana .." 

The Inquirer asks why there was no medical crew on standby. GMA replied: “It has been the Network’s practice to have medical personnel and ambulance crew on standby whenever the production is executing big action scenes during taping." But there was none that day. Should we assume that it was *not* a big scene that therefore required an ambulance? 

This isn't just for veteran actors or big stars. On the project we worked on, there were several senior actors in the cast, including his Ang Probinsyano co-star Susan Roces. The usual protocol is for these senior actors to have an earlier cut off time. Midnight and even earlier, they're gone. You shoot their scenes first. On the other hand, I can't quite remember if it's required to have an ambulance on standby. But we got through that show with no untoward accidents. In hindsight, we were lucky. 

But the point is to be ready for emergencies. 

Another possible safety protocol would be to not let the senior actors do anything physically straining. People pointed out that Eddie Garcia was in Ang Probinsyano for quite some time, and most of his scenes had him acting his scenes while sitting down in a room. Safe. 

The Director's Guild of the Philippines issued a statementGarcia’s death “is a sad and urgent reminder to the film and television industries that safety protocols at work and on set are of paramount importance.” 

At his wake, actor Rez Cortez called for better working conditions for film workers. Cortez mentioned that Garcia's advocacy was to have a safe place of work. Cortez further says: Sana magkaroon na ng ng safety officers sa set, mayroong mga medical team, may ambulance, may insurance, at among others, sana maregulate na ang working conditions ng mga taga-pelikula at telebisyon.”

Yeah, imagine if we do
Cultural worker and activist Katrina Stuart-Santiago, on the news that EVA Air attendants hold a strike that halted thousands of flights in Taiwan, asks us to imagine what could happen if "EVERYONE who worked for television went on strike and demanded accountability for the death of #EddieGarcia, and pushed for better, safer workplaces for ALL TV workers? #Imagine!"

These are standard for other industries. But the entertainment and news media still has a long way to go. This is specially true for television workers, where production staff work for 24 hours straight. You pull out from the station at 4AM and if you're lucky, shoot is done before or by morning. If you're really unlucky, you will still be on set in the afternoon, shooting material that will be aired later that night. 

If this could happen to a stalwart of the Philippine entertainment industry, what more the little people: the lighting crew, the guys who make your coffee--or even the crew whose task it was to lay down the electrical wires needed on set? Surely, those who did those tasks on that Tondo set feel guilty. They could have been more careful, but they aren't to blame. It's a systemic malaise of an industry that asks so much from its workers but could not and would not do much to ensure their safety or even recognize their status as real employees. 

This is one of the reasons why I decided to shift careers. I wasn't that young anymore to be doing meetings that lasted over 12 hours and sometimes continued until 1AM, then have something deliverable the next day. It was becoming difficult to go on location and be on the set for more than 24 hours. That year, several people died. I thought it was a sign. It was time to go. 

As for Manong Eddie, one way of looking at this is that at age 90, he lived a full life and enjoyed a career and passed away doing something he clearly loved. It's not ideal, this passing. So long, sir, and thanks for all the memories. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

Financial Wellness 101

Take the red pill or the blue pill. I got handed the red pill. 

Last week I attended this Financial Wellness seminar at work. I heard about it through e-mail and signed up for it. There were a few questions like whether you invest and in what instruments; if you subscribe to a time deposit, UITF, stocks, mutual funds, etc. A few days before the appointed date I got a notification telling us which room to go to. 

On the day itself, it turns out that two banks were presenting their investment options. These were BPI and BDO. Then the room you were assigned to corresponded to the session with a particular bank. In short, they already chose for you. I got sent to the orientation hosted by BPI. 

The "101" in the title should have clued me in as to the sort of content it would have. It was mostly an introduction to how to handle your finances, like prioritising savings over expenses (aka "Pay yourself first") and knowing your risk profile in order to know which investment instruments fit your timeline and capability. 

What's surprising was that I didn't know the place I work in has an investment arm. But even more interesting were the results of the survey we were asked to fill out during the sign up. There were ~70+ respondents. About half already had investments, the other half did not invest. For the investors, the most popular form was insurance. Next was a tie between UITFs/mutual funds and land. Then time deposits, their own business and stocks. 

For the non-investors, the top concern given for not investing is the lack of understanding of what investments are all about. Next, there's a tie between investment being "too expensive" and "too risky." Twenty-five percent said they don't have time. And a good chunk also said they are "afraid of new things." 

Roughly 1% of the PH population invests in stock.
A nice improvement, but we've got a long ways to go. 

The seminar took care of the knowledge gap in investing. A cursory look at the participants and I noticed that (a) they were mostly the office bound employees, (b) a sizeable tito and tita aged contingent but also (c) there were young people, which was heartening. After all, there was this report that the rate of Filipinos putting their money in stocks has gone up with over a million accounts with brokerages, with the bulk of the rise made up of retail investors at 97% and 21% of those are in the 18-29 age bracket. 

Only one guy was willing to admit that he invests in stocks. When asked which stocks he held in his port, he quipped that he already sold his BPI. The investment advisor acknowledged it was the lowest in six years, so it might be a good bargain atm. The guy then said that he also has Jollibee. This then led to the vagaries of stock investing: that it might be affected by issues like Chicken Sad and Endo for Jollibee. But it's still all good if you hold on to your stocks in the long term. 

What he said. 

Which brings us to the key takeaways from the seminar: 
  1. Know your HERO, or Horizon, Experience, Risk Tolerance and Objective. 
  2. Timing does not work but with the current market condition, now is the right time to invest. 
  3. Diversification is important. 
All in all, it's a good introduction to the investing life.  I would have wanted to know more about the various funds offered by the bank, although that's something that could be researched online. They were mostly offering their UITFs. Other options like SaveUp or PERA were off the table. In the end, I got some snacks and freebies by answering their pop quiz and spinning a roulette for some giveaways. All in an afternoon's unpaid non-work. 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Investing in Yourself

Mel Bochner's "Right On!" from Basel 2015

This year, I was looking to learn new skills. It's not totally off track and I'm not exactly a total newbie. I want to think that this is a logical tangent or branch I can explore. So it’s not like I’m starting from scratch. 

I heard about this program that takes place annually overseas. It was something that I would have gladly spent for, because it meant exposure and networking in this (newish) path. I applied for and got into a training seminar last March-April. Instead of having to buy tickets and being a mere spectator, the training program allowed for all access, and came with in-depth, really extensive training from the best in the field. I got lucky in a way. 

Now the downside to investing in oneself is, of course, one has to spend for it. It’s not just an investment of time —two weeks in this case. It was good timing that I was able to take off from my day job. But since it was relatively late notice, I wasn’t able to apply for funding and had to spend for airfare, accommodations, daily expenses. I’m supposed to have some kind of subsidy for accommodations but I have yet to hear about a refund. But all in all, even if I don’t get the subsidy, I still feel that it was worth it. Especially since we don’t have that kind of training here. 

When I got home, and hoping to apply these new skills, I invested in a key piece of equipment I could use. 

What this foray into new skills cost me: way less than $1k. Some people spend this much for a holiday abroad. 

What it gives me: two weeks of training and a new network of experts. It will afford me new directions career-wise. This is important to me. Since the industry I’m in is saturated, fluctuating, and I wanted to have some other skill that would differentiate me from others. 

It’s still early days, and there’s still a lot to learn. But already, I got some people interested and partnered with. So I’m hopeful about this. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

February Update: Emergency Fund Edition

Emergency Pig is from the Economic Times of India. 

Despite my new year's resolution of posting more consistently, I haven't really written any updates for February and it's the last day! 

So here I am sliding into your feed on the last day of the month. I'm tempted to just post bullets of what happened to me since my last post. I might as well call this update the Emergency Fund Edition because I've had unexpected spendings of all sorts. 
  1. I have managed to log my expenses for 2 straight months. Last January, I had to fund my mother's travel expenses. Although her friend shouldered most of it (ticket, hotel), I still had to shell out for spending money and other expenses. Add other day to day and regular expenses, this resulted in me using up to 95% of the month's pay overall. 
  2. This month, regular expenses tallied up to 65% of my net pay. There's still some pending expenses coming up (like airfare and accommodations) for a professional opportunity that came up. The upcoming training's accommodations will be reimbursed up to a certain amount, so I really looked for places that fit the bill. At the moment, I'm hoping that some upcoming seat sales will allow me to buy tickets that won't break the bank. 
  3. Earlier this month, I tried to update my laptop's operating system but something happened and it won't boot properly anymore. I tried to troubleshoot it on my own, but with a deadline and tons of work stuff coming up, I really had to have it fixed. There were places recommended but they were closed for the duration of the holidays--it was Chinese New Year--so I had to go to Greenhills. While the guys who fixed my laptop were okay, I still can't help but feel that I would have gotten the job done for lower if it wasn't an emergency and if the other places were open. Well, tough luck. The repair cost me ~13% of the month's expenses. 
  4. Last week, I got bitten by a small animal and had to go to the emergency room to get anti-rabies and anti-tetanus shots. It's a good thing I have a health card. The shots were covered by the HMO. From the ER, I was instructed to go to the Company Billing Window, filled out some forms, waited around to have it approved. Once approved, they sent me to the Pharmacy where I got the meds. I didn't see the exact figure but it was a sliver shy of 3k pesos. Earlier this week, I had to return for the next set of shots. Same process, but this time instead of the ER, I had to go through the regular window. It took some time, but not that long. All in all it was a smooth process. Charge was still less than 3k. But still, I would have preferred not to have to go through it. 
  5. I have qualified for substituted filing this year since I really only have one  main source of income now. It's really much simpler to just sign the papers and hand them over to the finance people and have them process it. That's one less errand that's taken care of. 
  6. There's still some raket/freelancing money that I can round up. I'm sure the cheques have gone stale, so I will need to request them to reissue it. And it involves going to three different places to collect them. But it sure gives me comfort that there are still some hustle money floating around that can fund the next adventures. 
So I've had three things come up that were unscheduled: ER trip and shots, computer repair, travel expenses. They all cost serious money. It's not so bad. Things happen, and I am looking forward to the trip next month. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

2019 Financial Goals

Image from  InspireCast. 

Not gonna lie: 2018 was an annus horribilis for me. 

Recognized that things were bad and spent early 2018 asking for help, and the rest of the year trying to get better. Partly explains why I’ve been AWOL from blogging for the latter quarter of 2018. It’s been a very busy couple of months at work. I went away for a vacation in mid- to late- December. New work schedule started. Everyone’s complaining that they haven’t even finished work from the last term and yet here we are. 

On money matters: I usually list my expenses down. I even made a Google Sheets Template dedicated to this. When I opened it to tally how much I have spent for 2018, that’s when I realized that I have stopped updating the sheet in August. August! Yikes! That actually coincides with when I upped my medication. (Still haven’t posted about this. It’s an ordeal but I’m getting better. But also, health care is expensive and my meds are ~200 a pop per day. No joke). I think I got disheartened with the amount and subconsciously stopped updating my list. 

My investment portfolio briefly touched 7 digits. Then I didn't sell anything and it got wiped out by nearly 40%. Remember kids: Never leave money on the table. That's a hard lesson learned. But also: don't panic. The stock market is bound to go back up, you just have to be really patient. 

I'm still going to be on medication for ~5-6 more months. It takes a whole chunk of change that should be going on a retirement or investment account, but if smaller savings means that I'll get better, I'll take it. 

I don’t really want to do resolutions this year, mostly because I sucked at it. My goal this year mostly the same as last year’s: save for retirement and get a clear picture of expenses/where my money goes. 

I did not invest in PERA last year, despite my January 2018 resolution. Most of what would have been my savings went to doctor fees and meds. Would love to remedy this soon, what with PERA investing via BDO is now apparently easier as an online banking option. 

Started updating my excel list of expenses as well. Will probably try to tally 1H2018 and approximate for the latter half given my half-assed list. 

The only new addition is probably this: be consistent. Not just with the money stuff but with all other kinds of behavior. I was talking with a friend who said she read somewhere that forming new habits take 21 to 28 days. It’s now January 20 and I have so far listed my day to day expenses. I know where I’m at—expenses are bigger than pay, boo! But that is due to a parent going on a trip and I had to fund the expenses. But I do plan to discuss it and ease up on other spending categories. Plus, it’s not all lost as I have some still uncashed paychecks coming my way. 

Perhaps an additional finance goal: Get busy with a side hustle opportunity that came my way last year. I haven’t maximized it yet and will hopefully get to do that this year. 

When you think about it, it wasn't really all *that* bad. Sure there were times I felt I was at an an all time low. But I spent most of 2018 trying to climb out of it. There were some successes: My strategy was to keep pitching things out into the universe. I managed to do a few things. Applied for and did not get in some other things. That's still a bummer but there will be other opportunities out there. 

That’s it. Hopefully will be more consistent with the blog posting this year. How was your financial 2018? 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Part Time Suweldo

May sweldo na! 

It's been a busy couple of months. Today we return to the daily grind with three bits of news: 

  1. Metro Manila workers get a Php25 pay hike.  The Department of Labor secretary said that the hike will take effect "15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation." The amount is ~3.48% of the Metro Manila minimum wage. That percentage is usually the same amount of annual increases we get in the Part Time Hourly Wage. I'm just not sure that we will get an additional increase as mandated by this bit of news. I guess we will see in two weeks time. 
  2. May suweldo na today!* We will get our 4th paycheck of the term. I checked with the bank app and there is an amount credited to the payroll account. Suweldo now is ~the same amount I used to get pre-TRAIN. It seems like the deductions made for voluntarily signing up with the HMO, the whole amount of which used to be deducted within the first term, has been spread maybe through out the year? Maybe some people felt the burden of paying for healthcare in one term as too heavy and requested it to be parceled out more evenly.
  3. Load for next term. I'm actually surprised that Part Timers will still be getting more or less a consisted full load for the coming term despite the prediction that the K-12 effect will result in lesser teaching load. Although not all schools are like this and I still don't want to count on this being consistent. Heard the news from Sir W that in CoRK, they're expecting only one subject load or maybe none at all. So this full load is still a blessing in the sky, I guess. 
*This is a message that's always greeted with a thumbs up or smileys in the Part Time Group Chat. You can feel the anxiety when people start to ask when payday is coming. But usually I get an alert that some money is coming in because it seems people are always on alert for this.