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?