Buntis Diary: Week 31

Week 31
Check out our new table!
Current Weight: 162.75 lbs

I lost weight for the first time in many weeks

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Comments I usually get now

Ako ang nahihirapan para sayo. 

Di ka na yata dapat pumapasok? 

Parang hirap na hirap ka?

And the most irritating: Mabigat?

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I have been waking up in the middle of the night. That is not unusual. I am used to waking up to pee. What is unusual is that I can’t go back to sleep. Since there is nothing to do, I get my phone and browse. Before I know it, I have been up for 1-1.5 hours. And then I get sleepy again. Surprisingly, I don’t feel sluggish when I wake up in the morning. Maybe this is my body’s way of preparing me for the twins’ night time feeding.

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My favorite moment of the day is when Aki and I are sitting in the recliner, talking about school and work. I hope we never lose this can-talk-about-anything-and-every-thing-under-the-sun closeness. 

Aki had a rough day the other day. He thinks he was bullied by an older kid in the school bus. His frenemy, Samuel sided with the older kid. I personally think it was not bullying but Aki was really affected. Here is an excerpt of our cute discussion.

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Oh my sciatic nerve! I get this sharp shooting pains in my lower back. Every little move makes me say Aw! Aw! Aw! 

One of the things I want to do before going on maternity leave is to meet my different sets of friends. Today, Friday, I am missing a get together with my HR friends bec of this sciatic nerve. Next week, I will miss my college dorm friends semi reunion in UP bec of our OB check up. 
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Our conversation topic of the week is purchasing a new vehicle. To say that we are financially unprepared for this twin pregnancy is not totally true but it is also not 100% false. We have our financial targets for every year. We have been saving up for another child and for our retirement. Mega thanks to our financial adviser, Efren Cruz. But 2 kids at the same time?! These little big blessings are unexpected and unplanned for since we do not have twins in both our families. We were not foreseeing getting a 2nd vehicle in the next couple of years. Here we are now, and it looks like we need to get one ASAP. We love our 20 year old van. It is spacious and comfortable. Unfortunately until lately, it’s become unreliable. 
When Franco gives me updates on his car search, the prices that he mentions get me nervous. 
For now, since I know nothing about cars and I am not interested anyway, all I can do is pray about it. I pray that we make the right decision. I pray that we will always be safe. Two things that these twin pregnancy have been teaching us:

1.) God always provides.

2.) God’s plan is bigger and better than ours. I will try not to think and worry about this big financial move too much and let God’s plan unfold on its own. 
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These bunny babies are so sweet and responsive. When I place my palm on my tummy, I can expect that one of them will move and answer with a high five, flying kick or a little nudge. I don’t know how they know it is me. They always respond to me but when I ask someone else to touch my belly and feel their movements, suddenly they stop squirming. 

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One more item off my to-do list: Organize the bigger clothes. So last week, we fixed the 0-3 clothes. This week, I sorted all the 3-18 month clothes that we have. When Aki was little, he outgrew a lot of this clothes even before he could wear them. I have learned from experience that the sizes indicated in tags of baby clothes are not reliable. Some of our 3 month onesies are bigger than our 6-9 month ones. Here is what I did. First I grouped the clothes per category: boy onesies, girl onesies, pambahay onesies, dresses, polo, shirts, shorts, pants, frog suits. Then per category I arranged them based on size after physically comparing each item. Once clothes are organized smallest to biggest, I clipped them. 


When all categories had been tackled, we placed them in my plastic baul.


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Happiest Father’s Day to the man who cuts my toenails because I can’t reach them! Thank you for always looking after us. We love you so so so! 


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I.Must.Stop.Eating.Wiggles

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The struggle to move is real. Thanks to the added weight, my sciatic nerve plus my puffy and painful legs. The most comfortable position for me is lying down in recliner chair. To give up this comfortable position, I must have a very very important reason. 

Every night I have an internal debate with myself. 

I need to pee. Do I do it now or hold it for a few more minutes?
I am so cold but is it cold enough for me to get up? 
I want a sandwich but I also just want to lie down forever. 
PS, if you are pregnant, I highly recommend getting a recliner. Got ours from Mandaue Foam. 

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Look what I downloaded for the twinsipops! An app of different white noises. The book that I am reading, Happiest Baby on the Block recommends shushing to calm fussy babies. 


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My friend Faye dropped by and gave me organic and plump mangoes and bananas! Thanks, Faye! 

Protect Your Family Said the Pope

Hello hello hello!

Is it just me or  is every 1 out 5 people that I know getting sick nowadays? That includes me. I have not been able to report to work for 2 days. The very moment that I sneezed, I knew immediately that I caught my officemate’s virus. As soon as I got home, I drank ginger tea and gargled warm water with salt. On the next day, I was semi okay. Wednesday was a different story. Today, Thursday, I decided to rest (yesterday I worked from home).  Thank you God for the gift of healing.

Moving on to another topic, what did you do during the long Papal weekend? Although we live close to Villamor, we chose to stay home. The pope said, “Protect your family.” If  protecting means praying, preparing for the future, nurturing, prioritizing health, and spending quality time with your family, we did just what the pope said.

First thing we did on the first day of the long weekend, was meet our financial advisor, Efren Cruz. Click here to read our past posts about insights that we gained from him. Financially, so many things have happened since we first met Efren in 2012. We paid off our Pag-ibig loan. I got promoted. Franco moved to an insurance company with great benefits. We just want to check if our finances are in order. Continue reading

Insurance for your Kasambahay? Why not!!

No mommy friends get-together is complete without dedicating at least 15 minutes for rants about our kasambahay or our kid’s yayas. Lucky me, I am very happy with Ate Doring who celebrated her 2nd year with us last April. Before she came into our lives, we had 6 helpers in 6 months. Major headache, I tell ya. Ate Doring is not perfect but we love her. And I want to think that she loves us back.

 

Once you have found the perfect/almost perfect/pwede na yaya, the next challenge is keeping her. On top of her convertible vacation leaves and annual salary appraisal,  we keep Ate Doring happily employed by supporting her rakets. She gets additional income by doing chores for my sisters-in-law. She also sells plastic and paper scraps. Whenever we have the chance, we bring home empty plastic bottles for her. And starting this month, we turned over Aki’s Ice Candy business to her.

 

Recently, we discovered an insurance product that we added to Ate’s compensation and benefits package.

kasambahay

Kasambahay is a group yearly renewable term plan from Manulife. You can choose from Plan 285, Plan 410 and Plan 660. For only PHP 660 a year, in the event that something happens to Ate, her  dependents will receive the following:

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The Gift of An Ordinary Morning Tuesdate

Good morning!

For the past 2 days, I have been waking up at around 4AM. I think this is my  body’s way of telling me  to get ready to return to work. Well, Body, stop it. Let me overstay in this bed while I still have the license to do so.

Let me pretend just for today that I don’t have any backlogs. Here is how  my Tuesdate with Aki yesterday went.

Aki woke up late. Eight AM is late by our standards because we are early risers. We wake up on or before 6AM. The two extra hours allowed me to read 50 pages of my Power of Praying Parent book.

As soon as he was up, I told him we are going to have a date. He ate breakfast and  changed into better looking pambahays. We were to do a lot of walking around the neighborhood so I wanted both of us to be very comfortable dressed.

 

Meet my dates – Aki, Bulkhead and Megatron. If you guys remember, these two robots were our surprise birthday gifts last year.  I guess that makes the extra calories from eating 3 happy meals worth it.

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Isn’t this smile much much better than his smile back in February?

 

First order of the day, buy tape from the neighborhood bookstore.

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It is that time of the year again when I have to do my motherly role of covering Aki’s books with plastic wrapper. Funny thing is when I got home I realized that my new tape is too big for my tape dispenser and that my tape dispenser still has a fresh roll. Not only that, I ran out of plastic cover so I need to make another trip  again today.

 

The highlight of the bookstore trip is this picture.

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It was Aki’s first close encounter with a policeman. Thank you, Sir, for posing gamely. When the policeman left, I had a mild headache after Aki asked me to explain  the difference of a policeman from a security guard and a soldier.

I wondered for a second if my son would be afraid. Growing up, I always heard the adults tell kids to behave or else the policemen will get them. We never used such threat with Aki so he was not scared at all. A semi threat/tactic that I often employ when Aki keeps running whenever we are inside a mall is I talk to mall guards and ask if I can leave Aki with them while I  shop. This usually makes Aki come running to me. The guards think I am joking but actually, I am not. That was a serious desperate plea. Hahaha.

 

From the bookstore, we walked a few steps to the nearest lotto booth!

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Never underestimate the power of a praying kid. I tell you, God really listens to Aki’s specific prayers. I am so so amazed. If you include my pregnancy with Emily, 7 out of 7  wishes were answered. We changed the prayer for the next baby from Jesus, give us a baby (which He did) to Jesus, please give us a happy healthy baby when we are ready. And since Aki’s prayers are heard and answered, I asked him to include winning in the lotto. 🙂 Please include us in your prayers too. And if you want to be included in Aki’s prayers, drop me a note.

Next, bank!

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I am pleased to report that Aki earned almost PhP 1500 in his ice candy store last month. Mega special thanks to our VP for operations and marketing, Ate Doring for getting resellers and for befriending our neighbors. Continue reading

Aki’s Summer Project: The Ice Candy Store

Ola!

Yes, I may have lost my blogging mojo but I am logged on to WordPress now because Aki’s summer project is just so cute not to share.

 

So tell me is this sooooo cute or is this so cuuuuuute?

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Honestly, if you assign a peso value to the effort in buying the ingredients, the creativity to come up with new flavors, the labor that we put it in to make these babies , and not to mention, the electricity and freezer space, the measly 20 bucks that we earn on a good day is not worth all the hassle. But, seeing Aki beaming with pride every time he makes a sale, is beyond priceless.

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Aside from the value of hardwork, we also hope that through this project, Aki will master addition and subtraction.

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Wealth Management Series: Mutual Funds

Good morning!

I think my blogging mojo is back. For the past days, I have been regularly waking up at 4:30AM feeling refreshed. The downside is by 8:30PM, even before I finish reading a book to Aki, I am already half asleep. Good luck to me later because I have meetings until 11PM.

Anyhoo, today  I will tackle the backlog that has been sitting on my head since May last year. We started our Wealth Management Project January 2013. Read more about it here. We prioritized sealing the deals for our insurance and emergency funds. One of the cardinal rules of investing is making sure you are secured before you make investments. And by saying secured, I mean you should have enough money in the bank for emergencies and that you have insurance for your family in case something happens to you. Knock on wood.

First let me make it clear that I am no expert. I am just sharing what I know which might be wrong, incomplete or not applicable. Remember, this post was supposed to be published 15 months ago. I would be happy to answer any questions but please take everything with a grain of salt. Read personal finance books and talk to the experts before signing up for a product.

One of the many questions that I asked Efren Cruz, our financial advisor, is what is the best investment tool for us. I was really hoping that he’d suggest mutual funds because that is one product that I am already familiar with. To my relief, we both agree that mutual funds is the way to go.

So what are mutual funds? The idea is that you give your hard earned money to the experts, the fund managers and let them do what they do best, invest. Mutual fund companies decide where it would be best to invest, when to pull out, when to buy etc. My mutual fund agent released an advisory a couple of months ago after the sudden dip in PSEX. They said they had been getting inquiries and complaints as to why our fund was not performing as well as the competition. She advised that they were expecting the pull out of American investors. They waited for the stock market prices to go down so that they can buy stocks at a cheaper price. Information on foreign investor behaviour and trends is something I and probably a lot of other people, don’t have access too. And to be honest, I’d rather pay experts to take on the headaches and the heartaches. I’d rather spend my free time licking mixing bowls with Aki or giving my husband a scalp massage than research about money.

There are other ways to invest in the stock market. The old school way is if you have a lot of money, you can get a broker who will trade for you. Nowadays, you don’t need be filthy rich to invest directly. Some people I know invest thru COL Financial. They are subscribed in Bo Sanchez’ Truly Rich club. They pay a small fee, 500 bucks I think, monthly for expert advice on what to buy and when to buy. Lynn of SmockExchange blogged about it here.

You can also invest in by getting a VUL insurances. These are insurance products that comes with investment components. According to Efren, this is the most expensive option because of the admin fees. He is probably right. I asked one of our MF agents for a comparison of the performance of their VUL and their stand alone mutual fund. At that time, the VUL was at 12% while the mutual fund was performing much better at 19% year to date. VUL’s I think would be an ideal product for those who are not used to regularly saving a portion of their income. With VUL’s, because you don’t want to forfeit the earlier investments made, you will be encouraged to pay the monthly/quarterly/annual fee on time.
There are also UITF’s which is similar to mutual funds but instead of dealing with mutual fund companies, you coordinate with banks. What I like about UITF’s is the convenience. Just go to your preferred bank, tell them that you want to invest in UITF, fill out the form and then come back after several days for the UITF certificate. What I don’t like about it is that there is no agent who gives updates, provides after-sale service and sends greetings on Mother’s day. Ok, the last one is not important but my point is since the money I invested is not picked from a tree, it was something I really worked hard for, I want to be regularly updated on its performance. Funny, when I was filling out the form, the customer service rep of the bank leaned forward and in a semi whispery voice, as if she’s telling me a secret,”Mam I will teach you a trick. …………Buy low and sell high”. I just smiled and thanked her but in mind I was saying, “Naman!!! Hija, my high school economics teacher taught me that back in 1998!.”

Some info that you might be interested to know about mutual funds
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Philippine Stocks Rose to A New All-time High For the 3rd Straight Day

Philippine Stocks Rose to A New All-time High For the 3rd Straight Day

Philippine Stocks Rose to A New All-time High For the 3rd Straight Day

Philippine Stocks Rose to A New All-time High For the 3rd Straight Day

Philippine Stocks Rose to A New All-time High For the 3rd Straight Day!!!

I AM SO HAPPY!!

 

 

On Emergency Funds

As I mentioned in one of my previous wealth management posts, our financial planner, Efren Cruz, clarified that the emergency fund should be worth the cost of expenses for at least 3 months. This was a major eye opener because all this time I thought the emergency fund should be basic salary times six. We are big on savings so the difference of the expenses and salary is quite significant.

What is an emergency fund?  As the name implies, it is the fund that you set aside for emergencies such as loss of a job, illness or any unexpected major expense. One of the cardinal rules of investing, I read, is to have an emergency fund first before actually investing.
One of the questions I asked Efren is that “is there a way to maximize the returns of our emergency fund?”.  Would it be wise to invest it in low risk instruments?  Efren said that the EF should be placed in a monthly time deposit so that it still earns somehow but we can pull it out anytime. We also placed several weeks worth of EF in a savings bank account that has an ATM since emergencies may take place during non-banking hours.

And so, we recomputed our emergency fund, consolidated it and parked it our trusted government-run bank (let’s use TGRB, ok?). Why government-run? Someone told me that government banks are more stable than commercial banks since they run on the citizen’s taxes. Not sure if this info is true but it does make sense.

Some learnings from our experience in opening an account for our emergency fund

– Banks require two official government ID’s. Company ID’s are not considered official.
– A friendly customer-service-oriented branch manager makes the banking experience a lot better. In general, I don’t like banks.  The offices are boring and services have a lot of opportunities for improvements.  We love the branch manager and staff in TGRB, though. I only brought one government ID. Because the branch manager knows us, she allowed me to open the joint account and submit my ID on another day. I also like that she calls every roll-over date to confirm if we will retain our monthly time deposit.
– There is such a thing as aggregate interest. Franco’s parents also have savings with TGRB. The branch manager, gave us a better interest rate based on the sum of our emergency fund and hubby’s families savings.
– Don’t forget your old signature. Hahaha. Franco had an account with TGRB even before we got married. We closed that account and opened a joint one. The process got longer than necessary because hubby forgot his signature 10 years ago!
– One of the things that bother me nowadays is estate tax. When we die, our beneficiaries may not get the full amount of the investments that we will leave behind. The government will take out estate tax. Grrrr! Being a product of a state university, I am thankful to taxpayers for financing my education. However, now that I am working and see my payslip, I can’t help but wish that one third of my salary does not go to income tax. Imagine, how much more comfortable our lives would be if we get that our salaries in full? Sorry for disgressing. I asked our branch manager if there are ways to avoid paying tax estate or at least reduce it. She bit her lip and told me there are ways but she can’t tell me. Hahahaha! Can someone please tell me?
– PDIC insures deposits only up to 500K per depositor. That means if I have 300K in time deposit and 450K in regular savings, should the bank declare bankruptcy, I will only get a maximum of 500K.

Here is a very informative post on emergency funds.

What I Learned from Our Insurance Shopping Experience

One of the most stressful projects that we did this year was to shop for life insurances. The day after Franco semi-failed the medical exam for his insurance application, an officemate, who was Franco’s batchmate in college, passed away in her sleep. We were all shocked. It was so sudden. She even went to work the night before. Her youngest was only 10 months old. I cried for days because of sadness for her and her family and because I was worried sick for my husband. Not just Franco’s health, I also lost sleep analyzing the costs. First we asked for insurance proposals for X amount. After realizing that the cost would badly hurt our regular savings, we decided to ask for new proposals for Y amount which is equal to X minus the value of our group life insurance from work. Then, I asked for different payment schemes. From 10 year pay periods, I thought of considering the 30 year pay proposals. After Franco’s medical exam, I reconsidered the variable unit linked proposals. Since we are going to spend a considerable chunk of our annual budget to insurances, might as well pay for insurance that comes with investments. In the end, we decided to go with traditional whole life 10 year pay insurance.

We learned from Efren Cruz, our financial adviser, that the best way to compute how much insurance one needs is to imagine the worst and estimate how much time and money one will need to get back on her feet. I think I need  5 years. Franco, since he earns more and he is the more resilient between the two of us, might need just 3 years. From the 20-30 plus proposals that we reviewed and the many agents I met, here is what I learned:

– Depending on the face value of the policy, your health, you and your family’s medical history and your age, you might be required to undergo a medical exam.

– Depending on the result of the medical exam, you might get rated which will effect the premiums and coverage. Or you could be denied. Because Franco is overweight, his annual premium increase by 50%! It was also from the medical exam that we learned that Franco’s blood pressure is considered pre-hypertensive. One of the riders that was important to me, the rider that pays out once the policy holder is diagnosed as having a critical illness like cancer, stroke etc, was not granted at first. I wrote an email to the head of the underwriting department and requested for reconsideration since Franco has no history of hypertension. They granted my request but they doubled the premium for that rider. Overall, the annual premium for Franco’s insurance jumped up by 50% because of his weight and elevated blood pressure.

– Insurance companies have a shared database of the ratings of their policyholders and applicants. If insurance company A denies your application for insurance, insurance company B will most likely find out.

– There is a two-year contestability period. If something happens to the policy holder, the insurance company has the right to investigate the cause of death. If they find out that the policyholder withheld important information or misrepresented facts during the application, the insurance company may opt not to pay.

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Nine Things I Learned from our Financial Adviser

In line with our 2012 Wealth Management New Year’s resolution, we met with a financial planner last January. Yes, I know this post is almost half a year delayed. I wanted to make sure that I have closed all our assignments before I share my learnings.

So who is Efren Cruz? Efren is the national best selling author of “Pwede Na! The Complete Pinoy Guide to Personal Finance” and “Pwede Na! The Complete Pinoy Guide to Retirement and Estate Planning”. He is a contributor for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and MoneySense Magazine. Experience-wise, he is backed with more than 25 years, working for insurance and mutual fund companies as well as for banks. Now, he is the chairman & CEO of the Personal Finance Advisers Philippines Corp.

So why did we meet with a financial adviser? I want to think that Franco and I spend our money wisely but in terms of knowing of how to strategically manage and grow our hard earned cash, we needed help. A lot of people, mostly insurance agents, call themselves financial advisers. However, since they are representing certain products, I wanted to delay meeting them until we have a game plan.

So what happens when you consult an independent financial planner? The first meeting is mostly information gathering for Efren. He wanted to know how are we at managing our finances. It is good that I already prepared a statement of assets and liabilities and a summary of our expenses. These were not required but were very helpful in getting the ball rolling.  Efren wanted to know what our financial goals are. Honestly, we knew what were our goals but how much and when, we only learned during our meeting. Because I prepared a two page list of questions, the first meeting was actually spent doing Q&As. On the second meeting, Efren presented to us a report. The report has 4 key areas: cash management, debt management, risk management and wealth management. If you would like to know the cost of the consultation, I can send the information to you thru a personal message. Please leave a comment or send a message thru the contact page if you would like to know. Let me tell you, it is not as expensive as you think. It is a small amount to pay for information that will help you for a lifetime.

What we learned:
1) Since we are full time employees, it would be wise to let the expert fund managers grow our money. Efren stressed that we do not need the additional and unnecessary stress. Prior that meeting, I was somewhat curious about stocks. Efren made me realize how stressful the stock market is. By getting pooled funds like mutual funds, UITF’s and VUL’s, I am letting the fund managers, the experts,  handle the buying, selling, monitoring, and stress of the stock market for me.

2) It is best to get insurance with pure protection and investments separately. Variable Unit Linked insurance policies offer both insurance and investments but for a higher administrative cost.

3) Not everyone needs and is fit to go into business. Reading Colayco’s Pera Mo, Palaguin Mo, left me feeling pressured to have a business. Work is stressful enough. I don’t have time to comment on my favorite blogs. I wish I have more time with my family. What in the world will I do if my one and only lotto franchise employee goes on AWOL?

4) To know if an investment vehicle is right for you, you have to determine your financial goals first.

5) Emergency fund should be equal to at least 3 months of one’s monthly expenses for employees. This was a major wake up call for us. All this time, we thought the EF should be at least 6 months the monthly salary. Three months is good. More months would be better but one should consider that by over protecting, we are limiting our potential for growth.

6) It is possible to retire at 50 but you have to start planning ASAP. I thought early retirement is an option only for people who are already rich in the first place.
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