Reading is Cool

A few days ago, Howie shared a site called
Let me set the record straight… I am NOT emotionally prepared for the little giant to be considered “hot”. =)

That being said, I love the fact that his face lights up and he literally dances whenever I mention that we’ll be going to Borders, Prologue, or Kinokuniya. In his book, reading is cool.

Planning ahead? Try using a Financial Calendar

I’m sure that we’ve all be in similar situations — plotted out our budget for the next 6-12 months —  only to wonder why it isn’t working.  Well, in my case,  I realized early on that I had forgotten to account for seasonality — big ticket expenses such as yearly insurance premiums and quarterly tuition payments.    I adjusted our budget excel sheet accordingly so we can now heave a sigh of relief ala Joseph during the time of famine.   =)

For those who would like to do the same and take a calendar-based approach to organizing personal finances,  there is a fantastic website called PocketSmith which can help you get started.  If you want to repay your debt faster,  see your savings grow, and track your expenditures against forecasts,  then PocketSmith will do the job for you.   pocketsmithUsers simply input their scheduled salary payouts,  bill payments, etc and have each of these categories repeat weekly,  fortnightly or monthly which is made relatively painless through integration with Google Calendar, iCal (for Apple users) and Outlook.  PocketSmith then calculates all incoming and outgoing transactions to generate a six or twelve month forecast.

What I particularly like about this online tool is that you can pick any given date and receive a predicted bank balance for that day.   If you see yourself being “in the red” right after Christmas,  you can adjust your scheduled ‘financial events’ and immediately see the changes reflected in the projected cashflow.    There are even dynamic, animated graphs which will give you an illustrated breakdown of your coming year’s finances.  It certainly helped us in finding ways to help us achieve our financial goals.

The basic version of PocketSmith is free, and subscribers can sign up for more premium versions at USD 5 and USD 12 per month.

Calling All Bloggers: Sign up for a FREE Personal and Practical Finance by Randell Tiongson, RFP

Blogging and Personal Finance.  These are subjects which don’t normally go hand-in-hand. =)

RT Seminar


Randell Tiongson, Director of the Registered Financial Planners Institute of the Philippines will conduct a free seminar for bloggers on personal and practical finance. Randell will be talking about the various financial instruments that you can invest on so that you can break out of the “rat race”.
All you have to do is to sign-up by either leaving a comment on Carlo Ople’s blog or by e-mailing The event will be on June 27, 2PM-5PM at the Victory Center, Promenade, Greenhills, San Juan.
Slots are limited so sign-up now.

Btw,  if you would like to take your blog to the next level,  you may want to consider enrolling in  Anton Diaz’ webinars.  Go to for more details. 


Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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What is School For?

A month ago,  Seth Godin posted a very interesting question:  What is School For? 

Here is his starter list:

  1. Become an informed citizen
  2. Be able to read for pleasure
  3. Be trained in the rudimentary skills necessary for employment
  4. Do well on standardized tests
  5. Homogenize society, at least a bit
  6. Pasteurize out the dangerous ideas
  7. Give kids something to do while parents work
  8. Teach future citizens how to conform
  9. Teach future consumers how to desire
  10.  Build a social fabric
  11. Create leaders who help us compete on a world stage
  12. Generate future scientists who will advance medicine and technology
  13. Learn for the sake of learning
  14. Help people become interesting and productive
  15. Defang the proletariat
  16. Establish a floor below which a typical person is unlikely to fall
  17. Find and celebrate prodigies, geniuses and the gifted
  18. Make sure kids learn to exercise, eat right and avoid common health problems
  19. Teach future citizens to obey authority
  20. Teach future employees to do the same
  21. Increase appreciation for art and culture
  22. Teach creativity and problem solving
  23. Minimize public spelling mistakes
  24. Increase emotional intelligence
  25. Decrease crime by teaching civics and ethics
  26. Increase understanding of a life well lived
  27. Make sure the sports teams have enough players

It is by no means exhaustive but provides starting points for very interesting conversations amongst parents and educators,  particularly when searching for that “perfect” primary or secondary school.   I personally would hate to place my son in a school whose principles were heavily skewed towards #4-8, at the expense of #2 & 22. 

Related post: Are Schools Educating Our Children Out of Their Creativity?


Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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Get With the (10,000 Step) Program

Kung Hei Fat Choy!!


One of my many goals which I’m working on starting this January is be fit and trim… in the most frugal way possible.    


I recently learned of 10,000 Steps Program.  Studies have shown that a person who walks 10,000 steps a day will burn between 2,000 and 3,500 extra calories per week, resulting in a vastly better health profile and longer lifespan.  Two recent studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association have confirmed that this lifestyle approach can be as effective as a traditional exercise program.


It should be noted that 10,000 steps is the recommended daily step goal for a healthy adult.  If your goal is to lose weight, start slow and gradually work yourself up to walking 12,000 to 15,000 steps a day. Walking is a great way to lose weight—and keep it off.   


For the past few days, I wore the pedometer I recently bought at JHC and discovered that I walk less than 5,000 days a day, placing me firmly in the “sedentary lifestyle index” bracket.  I suppose the continued advances in technology (and the continued popularity of high heels) makes our lifestyle more sedentary:  it will require a concerted effort to make active choices.


What equipment will you need?

1.     A pedometer.  It does not need to be fancy.  I found a perfectly functioning one at the Japan Home Center for only P88. Tip:   The pedometer should be worn in a location above the hip so that it can detect the leg movement.  I also learned that you can’t just stick it in your pocket but rather,  should firmly clip it to a belt or waistband around your waist in order for it to work properly.

2.     Sturdy shoes.  Preferably with plenty of cushion. If you have any concerns about your joints (ankles, knees or hips) discuss your exercise plans with your doctor.


These shoes were made for walking.. that’s just what we’ll do.

·         Start out by wearing the pedometer each day for two weeks and don’t do anything to change your normal routine.  Log your steps at the end of each day for the entire two-week period. What’s your daily average?

·         Take the highest number of steps you have walked on any given day and use that number of steps as your daily step goal.  Aim for your goal each day for the next two weeks. Let’s assume your first step goal is 2500 steps. That means that for the next two weeks, you are going to try to walk 2500 steps each day. Before bedtime each night, be sure to log in the number of steps you actually took.

·         At the end of that two-week period, review all the steps you took each day and decide if you are ready to add another 500 steps to your goal. Your new step goal is now 3000 steps a day for the next two-week period.

·         Continue in that manner, working up as slowly as you wish, until you finally reach the goal of 10,000 steps a day.

·         Check with your physician if you experience any pain or discomfort that concerns you. Remember, the goal is to keep you active for the rest of your life.  It’s better to be the tortoise than the hare.  =)

·         Be prepared to dedicate yourself to your daily goal each day for a minimum of six months. If you do that, you are much more likely to maintain this goal permanently.

But it’s soooo hard!!!!  Here are a few ideas on where to find those extra steps:

  • Park the car further away from the entrance to shops
  • Walk to get your lunch or go for a walk during your lunch break
  • Get up and do something…  walk to the water station to get more glasses of water…. walk and talk with a colleague instead of emailing.
  • Get your family and officemates involved. I’m reviving an old family tradition and going out for a walk with my son after dinner.  It solves the problem of looking for more steps but also provides a priceless bonding opportunity.

Well there you have it, a frugal way to achieve good health or to lose weight.  Just remember, put your pedometer on when you dress in the morning, and don’t take it off until bedtime. Every step you take counts!


For more information on the 10,000 Step Program go to:



Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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May your coming year…


… be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. 

— Neil Gaiman, 2001.


Thanks Budgette for sharing this quote.  =)



Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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2009 Goal-setting: Keeping promises

My past is littered with broken New Years resolutions.  Let’s see…  I’ve gained additional poundage (not lost them),  dipped into the emergency fund, busted my budget for discretionary expenses and  gained additional poundage procrastinating in front of the boob-tube (there’s a reason why they called it the idiot-box!).  Lists will only work if they are followed and my New Year’s lists have tended to gather dust on the bulletin board.


This time it will be different.  Really. 

Over the past 2 years, I’ve come to realize that the core principles used to run a successful business may also be applied to our personal lives.    If we can set measurable goals (with matching midyear performance appraisals) in the line of work, surely we can do the same for ourselves and our family. 


Ok, so that may be easier said than done.   Thanks to Chris Guillebeau’s remarkable blog, The Art of Non-Conformity, over the next few days, I will create a personal roadmap for 2009.  His self imposed “Annual Review” is a much more grounded alternative to making vague New Year’s resolutions.  What I especially appreciate about Chris Buillebeau’s blog is that he was generous enough to share the excel template he uses to systematically organize and track his categorized goals.    There are provisions for quarterly and full-year reviews + metrics used to track progress.  I love love love the level of detail and flexibility of the template.  

I should note that what can be applied to us personally may also be applied to our families.  After creating your individual roadmaps,  sit down with your spouse or life-partner to piece together the family’s collective goals for the year(s).  Remember:  Collaboration is the key to success of any relationship.  =)


What about the children?  Frannie Daez,  in her book Keep It Together (available exclusively at Fully Booked) wrote that writing goals for her children “gives me a clear picture of what each of them is like at certain stages of their lives, helps me create meaningful goals for them, and helps me determine what it is I need to do in order to help them get there.”   

She lists the following steps she uses to set goals for her children:

1.       Write down the name of your child.

2.       Write down the date and age of your child.

3.       Write down a description of that child.  Start with the positive traits, followed by behaviour that you would like him or her to improve.

4.       Write down what you would like your child to do more.

5.       Write down what you would like your child to stop doing.

6.       List down the things you have to do to help your child reach those goals.


Too much?  It may seem to be tedious process but I agree with Chris that if we take some time to do this right,  you’ll thank yourself later.  Let us all have the best year ever!

Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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