5 Signs You Are a Financially Literate Person

Financial literacy is something FIlipinos are lacking. Despite the advent of technology and Internet wherein information is easier to get, not many Filipinos are familiar with terms like “stock market,” “investment,” or “bonds.”

This is why both the government and private institutions are pushing for financial literacy programs to educate millions of people on how to handle money wisely.

This program is called PiTaKa, a partnership among BSP, OWWA, and BDO Foundation that provides financial literacy program to departing OFWs. In fact, this is mandatory and part of the PDOS program.

Do you really need it? Do you really have to be a financially literate person? The answer is yes, especially if you want to be wise about your money and handling finances. In fact, below are signs that you are financially literate:

Sign No. 1: Budgeting is part of your priorities.

It’s challenging to draw a line between needs and wants, especially when you are miles away from your family. Even if you want to save, you can’t help but give in to their demands just to wash away the guilt.

Still, being a financially literate person means you can identify what you really need from wants and capriciousness. You know what needs to be prioritized and you stick to it.

Sign No. 2: You have an Emergency Fund AND separate savings account.

One of the most common mistakes committed by OFWs is not saving enough during the rainy days. As a result, you end up borrowing money from friends, co-workers, and even loan sharks just to cover for those unforeseen expenses.

Being financially literate means you know the difference between Emergency Fund and Savings Account. You know that Emergency Fund will be used only, well, during emergencies. The amount should be able to sustain you and your family for at least three months in case something happens.

Then, there’s savings account, wherein you deposit and get money for you and your family’s needs. This should also be prioritized but unlike the Emergency Fund, you can get money from here when the situation calls for it.

Sign No. 3: You invest your money wisely.

Savings account is not enough if you want to live comfortably despite not working overseas. You know how to invest money and where to invest it.

The good news is you can start investing your money even for as low as P10,000. Explore your options and choose the investment option most suitable for you. Don’t forget to diversify your investment.

Sign No. 4: You can handle debts responsibly.

It’s okay to have debts. Sometimes, you need to get one especially on certain purchases like house or car. The challenge now is how do you handle these debts.

A financially literate person knows how to handle debts responsibly and wisely. You should be able to manage payments regularly and avoid missing payments. This way, debts won’t negatively affect your credit score.

This goes back to your budgeting skills wherein you allot a certain portion of your salary for debt repayment.

Sign No. 5: You set not just short but also long-term goals.

You cannot work overseas forever. At one point, you have to go back to the Philippines and look for means that will sustain you and your family.

That being said, a financially literate person has already set both short and long term goals that you plan to achieve. This serves as your guide to encourage you to work harder and save more.

Which among these signs do you possess? Don’t worry. It’s not too late to have a change of heart and action.

A Guide on How to Apply for a Seaman’s Book

Are you planning to work on a cruise ship? Even if you have the necessary qualifications and completed the trainings required, you still need to have this one important document: Seaman’s Identification Record Book or popularly known as Seaman’s Book.

Also known as SIRB, the Seaman’s Book is a major requirement that allows you to work on shipping vessels. It will also serve as your Visa or passport when onboard a vessel or ship.

The question now is this: how can you get a Seaman’s Book?

Eligibility Requirements

Below are qualified to apply for Seaman’s Book as set forth by Maritime Industry Authority or MARINA:

  • Filipino citizen
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Cadet, who must be at least 16 years of age, applying for issuance of SIRB for shipboard apprenticeship
  • Must be engaged in any capacity onboard a Philippine-registered ship 35 GT and above OR intends to be engaged in foreign-flagged ship.

If the ship is engaged in domestic shipping operations, then Seaman’s Book is NOT required and are exempted from applying.

SIRB is also OPTIONAL for personnel onboard ships not engaged in commercial activity.

Documentary Requirements

If you are a new applicant, then you need to submit the photocopies or scanned copies of the following:

  • PSA-issued Birth Certificate OR DFA-issued passport
  • NBI Clearance – purpose must be for “VISA SEAMAN”
  • Valid Basic Training. If you took Basic Seaman Training or BST, then make sure to include BT-Upgrading and BT-Refresher, whichever is applicable.
  • Documentary stamp

If you are a cadet applying for shipboard apprenticeship, then you need to submit photocopies or scanned copies of the following:

  • PSA-issued Birth Certificate
  • Transcript of Records from MARINA-accredited Maritime Higher Education Institution
  • NBI Clearance – indicate that the purpose must be for “VISA SEAMAN”
  • Valid Basic Training. If you took Basic Seaman Training or BST, then make sure to include BT-Upgrading and BT-Refresher, whichever is applicable
  • Documentary stamp

If you are planning to renew your Seaman’s Book, then photocopy or scanned copies of the following requirements must be submitted:

  • Expired or expiring Seaman’s Book
  • NBI Clearance – indicate that the purpose is for “VISA SEAMAN”
  • Valid Basic Training. If you took Basic Seaman Training or BST, then make sure to include BT-Upgrading and BT-Refresher, whichever is applicable
  • MARINA computerized photograph, which is strictly availed inside MARINA Office
  • Documentary stamp

If you are a licensed officer, then bring photocopies or scanned copies of the requirements mentioned above as well as the following:

  • Certificate of Proficiency
  • Certificate of Endorsement
  • Uniform for picture taking

Take note that for female, married applicants, if you want to change your name and carry that of your husband’s, presenting a Marriage Certificate is required.

Also, MARINA will only get photocopies of these requirements, but it is recommended that you bring the original documents for verification.

In case you’re wondering how much doc stamps is. it’s around P20. Don’t worry. This is not a form of “kickback” and will be remitted directly to the BIR.

Setting an Appointment through MARINA MISMO System

Now that you know the documents you need to prepare, it’s time to find out how to get your Seaman’s Book.

Decades ago, getting SIRB means lining up in the office and waiting for your turn. That’s not how it works anymore with the help of MARINA Online Application. In fact, you can set up an appointment or schedule when you can process your Seaman’s Book.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to MARINA MISMO website or click this link.
  2. If you already have an existing account, then click Sign In. Otherwise, click Sign Up to create an account.
  3. When signing up, fill out the required information and accept the terms and conditions. Make sure to verify your email address to complete the registration process. 

At this point, you can now make an appointment. Before you do that, you need to do the following steps:

  1. Sign in to the MARINA MISMO homepage. Don’t forget to tick the CAPTCHA box to confirm that you are a real person.
  2. Fill out the required information and then upload a valid profile picture.
  3. Check the page to see if all the information is correct. Make necessary changes and then click Save Changes located on the upper left side of the screen.
  4. Choose Select Transaction.
  5. Click the SIRB tab.
  6. Choose your preferred processing time: Regular or Expedite.
  7. Select your preferred MARINA branch.
  8. Tick the box for the kind of transaction you will make: New, Re-issuance or Lost/Damaged
  9. Tick the box on the bottom saying “I hereby declare that my profile and service records is updated.” Then, click Proceed.
  10. You will be redirected again to the Application Information window. It will show application details as well as the requirements you need to accomplish.
  11. Upload the scanned copies of the documents listen on the screen. Take note that the file size must be 1MB or less. Once you’re done uploading the documents, click Submit.

Your profile and uploaded documents will be checked and verified by an online evaluator from MARINA. This usually takes 24 hours or longer, depending on the volume of applications received by the agency.

If approved, then you will be contacted, informing you that your application is approved and you’re ready to schedule an appointment.

In case you are rejected, log in to your account, choose Application tab, and click View Details. You will see the status of your documents and give you a feedback as to why your application was not approved.

How to Schedule an Appointment through MISMO System

  1. Log in to the MISMO System, click the Application Tab.
  2. Choose For Appointment button.
  3. The Slot Locator tab will open.
  4. Choose the MARINA branch that is nearest your place. Choose your preferred time as well.
  5. Once you’re done choosing your schedule, click Proceed. It should display a window saying, “Appointment Set Successfully!”

After setting an appointment, you need to pay for the fees in relation to your application. Here’s how to pay the fees:

  1. After successfully setting an appointment, you will be redirected to the Payment page. Take time to read the guidelines on how to pay for your application.
  2. Click Proceed and then click Confirm.
  3. You will receive a text message from MARINA, which also includes a payment reference number. Make sure to take note of it because this will be used when you make a payment.
  4. Pay the corresponding fee in MARINA partner payment centers. Take note that the payment reference number only has 24-hour validity, which means you need to pay within 24 hours. Otherwise, you have to re-do your application process.

That’s it. Don’t forget to bring the original copies of the documents you submitted for verification. Once verified, your Seaman’s Book will be released.

Returning Land-based OFW? Here’s What You Need To Know

One of the most common concerns among returning OFWs is what to do once they get back.

Where should you get your OEC? What are the procedures you need to do so you can go back to your country of deployment legally and without any issue? Can you still go back to your work abroad even if you don’t have a previous record with the POEA?

Last March 14, 2019, the POEA issued Memorandum Circular No. 02, Series of 2019 to address these concerns.

If you are any of the following, then make sure you read this:

  • Returning and documented OFW;
  • Workers with no existing deployment record with the POEA or POLO;
  • Workers who transferred or entered into a new employment contract from one employer to another.

Setting an Appointment Through BM Online System

This is important. In fact, all of the workers mentioned above must set an appointment through the BM Online System. You can choose your preferred date and time in any POEA or POLO Offices to get your OEC. OEC will serve as your Exit Pass as well as exemption to airport fees and travel tax.

In case you are returning to the same employer and jobsite, you may avail of the OEC exemption, which you can acquire through the BM Online System.

Check out this post on how to use the BM Online System and acquire OEC exemption.

For Returning, Documented OFWs Vacationing for the First Time and Returning to Same Employer and Jobsite:

  1. At least six months passport validity from the date of intended departure.
  2. Valid visa and/or work permit.
  3. Employment contract.
  4. Any other proof of existing employment that the worker will return to the same employer and jobsite. This includes but not limited to company ID, recent payslip, and Certificate of Employment.

Take note that for domestic workers, overseas performing artists, masseurs, construction workers, cleaners, and other workers who have not returned to their employers within six months from arrival in the Philippines, the employment contract must be verified / authenticated by the POLO, Embassy, or Consulate.

For Workers with Existing POEA Record and Returning to the Same Employer But Different Country or Jobsite

  1. At least six months passport validity from the date of intended departure.
  2. Valid visa and/or work permit
  3. Original copy of valid employment contract. Said contract must be verified / authenticated by the POLO, Embassy, or Consulate.
  4. Any other proof of existing employment that the worker will return to the same employer and jobsite. This includes but not limited to company ID, recent payslip, and Certificate of Employment
  5. Letter from the employer attesting to the transfer of jobsite of the worker.

For Workers Not Yet Registered with the POEA or Change of Employer But Same Jobsite

  1. At least six months passport validity from the date of intended departure.
  2. Valid visa and/or work permit
  3. Original copy of valid employment contract and verified by POLO OR authenticated by the Embassy or Consulate.
  4. Any other proof of existing employment that the worker will return to the same employer and jobsite. This includes but not limited to company ID, recent payslip, and Certificate of Employment
  5. Worker’s sworn statement explaining how s/he was hired by the employer.

It is imperative that you take note of these requirements, whichever is applicable to your status as OFW. This way, you can pass through the Immigration easily and reduce your risk of being offloaded.

Money Lessons Every Parent Must Teach to Kids – Now

They say parents are the child’s first teacher. That’s true. In fact, what you show to your children now could have a huge impact on them as they get older. This includes how you handle money and finances at home.

The truth is teaching money lessons to kids can be tricky, especially when you are miles away from home. Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Read this post and let this help you teach money concepts to your kids – and hopefully, you’ll adapt these too:

Money Lesson No. 1: Get to know the Philippine money a little bit better.

You can’t teach addition and subtraction immediately. Before you teach them about how to handle money, you need to educate them about what Philippine money is.

Introduce the peso denomination, including the people and places in front and at the back of the money. If you could tell stories and a bit of history about the Philippine money, then indulge your little ones with that. They could easily appreciate money because they know and understand the stories behind it.

You could use real money or play money when introducing this concept.

Money Lesson No. 2: Play money games.

It’s not enough that you teach your kids about denomination and who are the heroes imprinted on the money. Kids are kids and after a few minutes, they might forget about what you told them.

Therefore, make learning more exciting. You could try guessing game or sorting games. During your vacation back home, try pretend play by transforming your room into a grocery store or restaurant and money will be used to pay for the items bought.

The bottom line is the more you make learning fun and exciting, the more they will remember it.

Money Lesson No. 3: Explain how money is earned.

Being OFW is tough. Aside from the sacrifices you have to make by leaving your family to work abroad, you will also be partly responsible for the needs – and wants – of your extended family. Because of this, your children might think that earning money is easy.

Change that mentality by explaining to your kids how money is earned, which is by doing valuable work. Tell them that no one will hand you millions of pesos simply by sitting and waiting. In fact, make your kids understand that the reason why they are experiencing what they have is because of the hard work you need to do overseas.

Don’t sugarcoat and explain to your kids what the reality is. Let them know the reasons why at times, you can’t give what they are requesting. They will appreciate and value money more because they know the hard work that comes with every centavo.

Tip: Give your child age-appropriate jobs and pay them. For instance, let your child look after the sari-sari store and give him a salary at the end of his shift. This not only teaches the value of hard work but also instill work ethic and discipline at a young age.

Money Lesson No. 4: Teach about the importance of saving.

This is a must. Saving should not just be your sole responsibility, rather a family effort. Now that your kids know what money is and how it is earned, the next thing you need to teach is how to save the money earned.

A piggy bank or saving jar is a good idea but if you want to keep track of how much money is saved, then consider opening a bank account under their names. Give them access to that account but be firm that this is for future use and not for the things they want that won’t last.

Check out this post for a list of savings account you could open for your kids.

Teaching money to your children and instilling good money values will take time. Start now and you will reap the rewards later.

5 Tips on How to Sell Items Online

Who doesn’t want additional income? This is why it’s not surprising if you decide to take on that third side job or that “raket” offered by a fellow OFW. After all, every peso counts.

Still, you want something more sustainable. This is why you decided to put up your own business for additional income. One of the easiest businesses you could do is buy-and-sell of items. You buy items from the country where you’re working and sell these in the Philippines.

What is the most convenient way to sell your products? Online.

Here are tips on how you could effectively sell your products in the World Wide Web:

Tip No. 1: Choose ONE selling platform.

There are tons of options available that you could use to sell your items online. You can sell it on selling sites like OLX, Lazada, or Ebay.ph.

Facebook Marketplace and Instagram are also good options when it comes to selling platforms. Filipinos are often glued on their phones and check social media regularly, which means there is a higher possibility that your products will be seen.

You can also try shopping apps such as Shopee or Carousel since these apps are slowly getting tons of followers.

Still, don’t get overwhelmed. If you plan to sell online, then you need to focus on one selling platform first. If you choose Facebook, then sell on Facebook first and explore other options later on. This way, you can easily manage your online store and conveniently check messages for inquiries. Updating your inventory is also easier because you are only focused on just one platform.

Therefore, choose a platform that is easier for you to navigate. Focus on that first and once you’ve established your followers, move on to the next.

Tip No. 2: Take good pictures.

This is a must. If you want to seal the deal, then you need to make sure that you captivate your customer with just one look. One of the best ways to do this is by taking good pictures.

A good camera helps, but getting the perfect lighting is the key in making your pictures stand out. Take different angles so potential sellers will see and appreciate more the products that you are selling.

Tip No. 3: Don’t skimp on your product description.

A picture is worth thousand words but this doesn’t mean you’ll rely on it all the time. When you post your item, make sure you describe it as clearly as possible.

Include but not limited to:

  • Price, which is preferably a reasonable one
  • Color
  • Size / Weight
  • Features of the product
  • Material
  • Condition of the item

Describing your product as thoroughly as possible reduces chatting that may not lead to sales. Once the customer sees what you are offering with all relevant information written there, she has to decide whether or not to grab the deal by contacting you.

Tip No. 4: Gimmicks help.

It’s not enough that you sell an item from abroad. You need to offer something to Filipinos to entice them to buy what you posted online.

Therefore, be creative. Think of “gimmicks” so that people will know you. If you just started, an introductory price good for x number of days is a good way to start. Offer discount or freebies for first 10 customers. Free shipping is another option, which many people will take advantage of.

Buy 1, Take 1 deal is also enticing for potential customers so if you could accommodate that, then good.

The point is be creative. You want people to get to know you and buy your product, so take this seriously.

Tip No. 5: Make it a habit to check the product.

This is another must. The last thing you need is customers contacting you and complaining about damaged items. This could ruin your reputation, which is something you need to avoid.

Before shipping the product, check it first. Reputation is everything when it comes to the world of online selling.

Brand-New or Second-Hand Car: Which One Should You Buy?

Last 2018, the government imposed a higher tax on automobiles upon the passage of TRAIN Law. This means if you plan to buy a brand-new 1.3 Toyota Vios, there is an increase for another two percent excise tax; thus making your purchase more expensive.

Luxury and hybrid cars are generally cheaper, but for ordinary citizens, will you drive a Toyota Land Cruiser that is worth at least P4 million?

In other words, buying a car today is more expensive than purchasing it two years ago.

Apparently, having your own car is one of the things you want to buy as product of your hard work overseas. With the increase in car prices, is it better to go for previously-owned or stick to brand-new – and worry about payment later?

Yes to Brand-New Car

Generally, it is more expensive.

Are you willing to shell out at least P700,000 for a brand-new car? It may not seem a lot for some but for many Filipinos, this is a big amount.

Brand-new cars are generally more expensive compared to going for previously-owned vehicles. Good thing lenders relaxed their requirements and make it easier for potential car owners like you to have their own car.

You need a car – fast.

Brand-new cars have readily available units. All you need to do is to visit the showroom, talk to a sales representative, complete the documents and cash. and you can get your car right away.

If you plan on getting a car loan, then don’t worry as well. Car loans or in-house financing are now faster in approving – or rejecting – auto loans. In fact, some could give you an answer within the day and update you about the status of your application.

Take note that once you made up your mind, there is no turning back. Otherwise, you will be forfeiting the P5,000 reservation fee you paid.

There’s no need to worry about repairs and maintenance.

This is the beauty of buying a brand-new car. The presumption is you are getting a car in good running condition since it is new.

That being said, you don’t have to worry about repairs and maintenance since you are the first owner. You can use it without worrying about breaking down anytime soon and you save yourself a trip to the mechanic to have your car checked.

You don’t have to worry about resale value.

Ideally, cars will stay with you for as long as possible. If you’re looking for a car that will last you and your family a lifetime, then brand-new car is your best bet.

Take note that cars depreciate over time. If what you’re after is reliability and a car that will bring you from point A to B for as long as possible, then buy a brand-new car instead. 

Don’t forget to ask for freebies.

One of the perks of buying a brand new vehicle is the freebies car companies could give you. Some offer free car tint, mats, or a discount on your insurance policy. Make sure you ask your sales rep regarding this to add more value to your money.

Go for Second-Hand Car

Getting a car loan may not be easy.

Some lenders allow car financing but they are specific in year models. If the car is more than five years old, then applying for an auto loan could be challenging.

This means if you plan to get a pre-owned car, you need to prepare your pocket as well. Or, you could also ask the seller if in-house financing is applicable, although we caution you on this one.

You don’t mind if the car is not the latest model.

If your main concern is to bring you to a designated place and back to your home, then getting a second-hand car is not a bad choice at all. Just make sure you maintain the car properly so it won’t give you a headache even if it’s an old vehicle. 

Add cost of repairs and maintenance in your budget.

This is something you should seriously consider. Yes, you did not spend millions on a car but you need to spend few more thousands to ensure that the car is up and running.

Buying a pre-owned car means you might be required to replace car parts, which includes but not limited to:

  • Car tires plus spare tire
  • Battery
  • Brake pad
  • Shocks

You also need to check that all the car locks and windows are working for safety. You may get a car insurance for your car and the good news is the premium is generally cheaper compared to insuring brand-new vehicles.

Whether or not you buy a brand-new or pre-owned vehicle, the choice is yours. What matters most is that it is within your budget and the car is exactly what your family needs.