Hello (Other) Earthlings

So the day we played around with the iPad is the same day some scientists discovered seven earth-like planets somewhere in the vast space. If there are no collections agents in those planets, I’d like to fly there. Now.

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Mood: 6/10 Honks! (Brace, brace, brace…)

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Monthly Savings Achieved

Tonight I finished listing and computing our monthly expenses since it is already the last week of February. I’m not expecting further expenses as we have already bought our groceries and baby stuffs which usually share the largest slice of our expenses pie.

I have made a conscious effort to save since the early part of last year. The initial news about our company on April 2, 2008 and the other bad news—including the admission of the then US president Bush about the recession taking place—made it more compelling to be thrifty enough. It’s also a good thing that the number of training our company has arranged contributed to my knowledge on how to be in control of our finances. Although it may still not be half-perfect at this time, at least our drive and urge to save is already there. We just have to start somewhere, somehow.

While there are five more days to go before this month ends, I already feel accomplished in terms of our budgeting. After I transferred our expenses to the financial worksheet, I compared our current expenses with last month’s. I then marked red those that have increased and those that decreased in green. So far the greens significantly dominate the reds.

What went well then?

Dilute, dilute, dilute. I apply this tip to all our cleaning agents for years already. The cleansers we use at home like the toilet liquid solutions and car shampoos are basically concentrated enough to be used in its pure form. Even the manufacturer’s recommended ratio is still strong for the intended tasks that it is a no-brainer that a saving can be achieved if diluted it with more water.

Be brand-conscious. When I heard Mr. Bengco (Colayco foundation) talk about it during his recent seminar at our company, I couldn’t agree more since I’ve been doing it already. What I’m not aware though is by how much is actually saved when you know what you are buying. His example: the bath soap. In his presentation he showed one brand that cost a mere Php9 (USD0.2). The next foils showed several other brands that cost twice and even more than the price just because it promises extra germ killing action, catchy fragrance, and everything there is TV ads will do just to entice consumers like us. Right now, I try to settle for the ones in the mid-price range.

Buy two brands. This may sound confusing especially just after the previous tip but believe me this is what I’m doing. For almost a year already, I had two different deodorants (Disclaimer: not for the squeamish). I used one that has “superior” action every time I go to work or leave home. Then I use one with the “least superior” action if I know that I’ll be static at home and will be spending time as a couch potato and will just be home alone with the baby – at least he doesn’t know how to complain yet if the deodorant protection fails. Ewww, daddy!

Drive like your grandma. I mentioned this on my Being a Gas Miser post and I cannot stress it more than enough that driving habit does directly affect fuel consumption. This is where I often fail but I keep on reminding myself to get back on track. Until now, I’m still at least within the 13-15 kilometer per liter expected range of our car. Now I’m wondering if I’ll be able to save gas if I stop blaring (if this doesn’t save gas, just at least my sanity) my horns every time I meet a jeepney with only one headlight on.  I’ve heard that the reason why jeepney drivers do it is because one headlight saves gas than having two. Hmmm, sounds like an idea…Nah!

A Honda is a Honda. Well, at least that’s what I’m always telling myself whenever I’m on my Honda 100 cc motorcycle instead of our Honda City. That’s because when it comes to saving gas the motorcycle wins, hands down. No contest. But when it comes to saving lives…errr, wrong discus- sion. Hahaha. Seriously speaking, I recommend this tip for those ready and responsible enough to drive a motorcycle. And if you’re not yet in that mind set, it’s still worth taking a ride in that one-eyed jeepney – I bet, your wife will be even happy about it.

Go slow with the fast foods. So far, this is the biggest savings we had for this month. It was cut by more than 50 percent and it’s a welcome development. One thing that helped us do it is by avoiding the malls. There’s something about the scent of the malls that attracts each individual (or even group) to go and line up in front of the fast food counters. It may be due to poor air circulation or a deliberate ploy to set the minds of the mall goers to go hungry and crave for pizza, burger or doughnuts (and coffee) in an instant. But if you can’t avoid it, and just like what I’m doing, try going there with a full stomach—eat at home. It works for me, in fact I now eat Whoppers and half cup of sundae and large Coke. Ti abi.

Last but not the least, the No rot rule. This is still in the works after I told my wife that we should avoid foods inside the refrigerator from spoiling. Believe it or not, I used to admire people whose ref is so full of foods that most of the times, some of it will rot and end up as trash. Back then, I see it as abundance. Now, it’s nothing but waste – both food and money. So far, I’ve been successful but that’s after I’ve monitored and eaten the leftovers and had my weight build up as a consequence. Ti abi. I think it’s just about time to apply then the “No rot, No fat rule”. That I guess is win-win.

During these times when everyone gets so tired of hearing about the recession (and the rest of the similar tags that’s associated with it), the need to save and finding ways to learn more how to do it is already a must. This is also when sharing what we know, no matter how trivial, and learning from what others already knew would help each one of us survive the turbulent ride that the rest of the world experiences.

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Mood: 4/10 Honks!

A Week of Everything But Work

This must be the longest week I ever had. This week felt like it was 24 X 7 plus 1. I don’t exactly know if so many things have happened or it’s just so much time has slipped by.  Either way it’s a shame that both of it have been mostly done in front of the IBM’s flat LCD and inside the cold gray cube.

That’s the problem when there is imbalance between time and tasks. It is during these conditions that nothing productive gets done:

Condition 1: Having less (or the feeling of it) time but with multiple tasks is confusing or alarming.

Condition 2: Having more time but with little or no task on queue at all is just pathetic. If you ask me, I prefer Condition 1.

Since being idle nowadays is as predictable as sunset, this is when having an initiative and a bit of creativeness sets one person one step ahead of the other. It also helps to do at least a short time planning just to preserve self-worth on a daily basis. It’s just what I’ve done so fa, so far.

The good thing is that in spite of lull in workloads, the resources at work remain abundant. It’s both a good a good and a bad thing, like staring at an apple in the Garden of Eden while wondering if God will ever snooze–the temptation to cross the fine line is always there.

For starters, the internet connection is always on (and to mention that it’s way faster than outside) and the printers are functional and readily full of papers. Now if that doesn’t get your mind immediately full of wild ideas, then something is wrong with you. I know that google-heads are green with envy by now.

Times like this good judgment and work ethics come handy. In my case I try to kill time by taking online training. I likewise try to be involved in activities that the company offers.

Skillsoft Books24X7

I have never appreciated the availability of this site more than now. Although I’ve used it years before for my researches and book references when I continued my schooling, since weeks ago I started using it again. This week my usage got more frequent than ever.

My search for MBA tags brought me to results other than books. I find that there are online courses, learning guides and assessments available. What made it even more interesting was that I’ve read and learned about lots of good stuffs with regards to writing. I’m excited to share it soon as this was once my problem when I made my thesis – or I just didn’t have enough time to research then.

Financial readiness seminar

I can’t exactly remember when I attended this one but I was once again among those inside the packed training room. It was estimated that there were at least 300 attendees who listened to the Colayco foundation’s Executive Director, Mr. Bengco. He spoke a lot of things which half I dismissed and half I noted. Part of the things I got so interested about was when he discussed about ways to get rich. It contained only five key items. The crowd’s excitement of knowing what the five ways are immediately died down when most of us realized that the first four isn’t just possible.

Inherit it.

Marry it.

Steal it.

Win it.

Earn it.

A reminder of a bedtime story

There’s a problem  with forgetting very basic bedtime stories–you become a recipient of the moral lesson it teaches. The story of the rabbit and the turtle stung me this time.

It happened during our company’s Smashing Couples badminton match. After I saw the line up where my partner and I were included, I had high hopes that we do have the chance to reach the finals. What inspired me more was when I learned who will be our first match. “We’ve beaten these guys before, we can do it again,” I confidently said to my partner.

The high ego was short-lived. After piling up some points ahead on the first set our opponents consistently capitalized on our unforced errors and soon enough confidence was on their side. The first set reached deuce but the next set was crushing to the rabbits.

I came out of the badminton tournament with the line “and the moral of the story is…” echoing in my mind. Damn turtles. Hahaha. Just kidding.

Congrats Richmond and Arlene.

Everything that flies and crashes

This is another anticipated week for the flying community. Even if I won’t be able to attend the 13th Philippine Hot Air Balloonfest I know that hundreds of people are either already at Clark or just on their way enjoying the SCTEX drive.

Unfortunately, while everyone at Clark enjoys the breathtaking sight of balloons, skydivers, airplane exhibitions, and everything that flies, two places abroad experienced separate plane crashes. One was in Buffalo, New York that claimed 50 lives when a commuter plane went down, initially due to icing, hitting one house. Another plane crash landed at a London airport which thankfully just had minor injuries to its passengers.

It’s a pity that Capt. Sully’s heroic Hudson River landing a couple of weeks ago is negated by two succeeding crashes. It could be disappointing if further investigation on these accidents would point to poor maintenance as the root cause and it could even be more disappointing if it was due to recession. It’s a stretch, but hey, it’s not that unlikely.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!