My newest book, Money Manifesto

Deputy BSP Governor Diwa Guinigundo, international celebrity Christian Bautista, rock star Mark Escueta, best-selling Author Dennis Sy, stock market advocate Marvin Germo, economist Dr. Alvin Ang and others have all agreed that Money Manifesto is a book worth reading.

What is this book all about? It’s a personal finance book that discusses a wide array of topics: Money management, Investing, Economics plus more… but, this book is more than just about the finance topics — it talks about my experiences and the experiences of others too. When my editor was working on my book, she said that this book seems to be more personal and has more heart.

Money Manifesto is a 300-page book that took me many years to write and like my other books, this one is intended to go beyond sharing information, this book is meant to encourage and to inspire the reader.

This book will be available in November 2014.

Money Manifesto book promo



Singapore Events: AFP & Winning Strategies

Here’s some great news for our dear OFW’s based in Singapore!

The first  Associate Financial Planner (AFP) certification program will make it’s way to Singapore shore this November 2014. This program is for the OFW’s who are serious about financial planning and would like to be certified by the country’s most respected and recognized financial planning institute, the Registered Financial Planner (RFP) Philippines.

Course Outline

– Rudiments of Personal Finance

– Behavioral Finance

– Introduction to Investments

– Introduction to Insurance

– Time Value of Money

– Introduction to Stock Market investing

*The program is limited to only a few slots and are at a first come, first served basis.


We will also be running the Winning Strategies for investing with Jess Uy and Marvin Germo.





We do what we have to do


yes-we-canIt’s been a long time since I last wrote a blog – my talks, seminars and publishing my 3rd book (Money Manifesto) has made it challenging for me to update my website. But, I love blogging and there have been people asking me to blog more often and when there is an opportune to do so, I will take – like now.

As I write this blog, I am sipping peppermint tea (cutting down on my coffee addiction), in a mall in Dubai, UAE. In a few hours, I will be speaking to our dear OFWs in Dubai and teach them about the value of estate planning. Tonight’s talk is my 7th of 11 talks in a 14 day sojourn in 3 cities in the middle east: Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Despite nursing a throat problem since last week, I am so energize to continue with my mission to enable Pinoys everywhere to achieve their goals and dreams. I must admit, however, that I find it difficult to be away from my wife and kids this long… I am just consoled that in a few days, I will be reunited with them and that the work I do has an impact to others, one way or another.

We do what we have to do. That’s my take whenever I am put in a place out of my comfort zone and experience some inconveniences. Counting my blessings helps me get through the things I do but at the end of the day, we just need to do what we have to do… just like the many OFWs I have been interacted with since last week. The capacity of the Pinoy to endure difficulties is truly incredible and they do so without becoming cynical or even bitter. When I talk to our Pinoys everywhere, whether they are in Dubai, Doha, Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul or Paris and start talking about the difficulties they endure on a daily basis, they will all answer me that they just do what they have to do.

The same attitude of just doing it is something we teach everyone with when it comes to personal finance. Work hard, budget well, get out of debt and investing for the future is not really an elusive goal if we just do what we have to do. We work well despite our circumstances and we do not let the hardships of life prevent of us from living our life. We can use that same resilience in the way we handle our lives with the way we handle our money.  We need to look at proper spending and saving as something we just have to do despite our difficult situation and we can do so if we are reminded that when we do what we have to do, we don’t have to do what we don’t like to do in the future like worrying.

I am truly blessed and inspired by the many Pinoys I meet all over the world and I will continue to teach as many of them as I can, despite the odds; and I am sure they will become more and more enabled despite their situation. We just need to do what we have to do.




Asean Integration: Impact & Opportunities

As the nations are getting ready for the ASEAN Integration to begin in 2015, many are still unaware of the impact and opportunities the the integration will bring.

What is the integration about? How will this impact the economy and our lives? What are the opportunities will the integration bring?

Respected economist Dr. Alvin P. Ang, PhD and I will be teaming up for a timely seminar called  “ASEAN Integration: Impact and Opportunities for the Filipino Investor” on October 18, 2014 at the Astoria Plaza Hotel in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

For inquiries, please email


Qatar events in October 2014

I will be back to Doha, Qatar again this October for a series of finance events.  I will be joined by my friend and colleague MARVIN GERMO for this series.

Associate Financial Planner (AFP) Program – for OFW’s who are serious in financial planning and would like to be certified by the country’s largest and most recognized financial planning certification program, the Registered Financial Planner Institute (RFPP).

AFP Doha


There will be a series of finance talks as well — from stock market training, estate planning, retirement planning and financial stewardship.


Please direct all your inquiries to or to


The story of a finance advocate in Qatar

In 2013, a group of dedicated finance advocates took an extensive financial planning program and a comprehensive examination that allowed them to be certified as Associate Financial Planners. Here’s a post by one of the distinctive graduates of the program. She is not only a dedicated advisor, she is also a dedicated advocate who has helped a lot of OFWs in Qatar become financial enabled.  I am proud to share the story of my good friend Ellen Labastida!

Ellen photo


AFP Graduate Personal Story
“It’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep”

I have come to grasp the reality of old adage “It’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep” six years ago, during the 2008 global financial crisis that hit the big financial institutions, banks, governments, stock markets around the world and of course our family.

At the start of 2006, a 300 sqm. lot compound with two modest houses in it was offered to us for half a million, so we grab the opportunity. A year later, we bought another lot offered to us. Back then, I and my husband were in Dubai, working hard for the money and spending hard too. We acquired those properties through a bank loan in Dubai that my husband has taken for a repayment scheme of five years. He had several credit cards too because it is easy to receive one (I don’t have any as he has too many for our use). For credit cards in Dubai, the bank agents will chase you and apply for you without difficulty, all you need to do is say yes to the agent, comply few documents and voilà: you suddenly need a bigger card organizer for your wallet.

My husband has a good paying job as an engineer and he moved from one company to the other as opportunities to get higher salary were ample. Then financial crisis of 2008 came, the time when our spending hit high. The real estate and construction industry took the beating; there were massive suspension of projects and layoffs. It was October, a month after we took the car loan, my husband and 90% of his entire colleague engineers in the same department all got termination letters in one day. They were ordered immediately to hand over IDs, laptops, security pass, company phones and sign the redundancy letters and asked to leave. The end of service benefit was fair enough to sustain the family expenses for three months, this without considering the loans and credit cards of course!

The certainty of loss began to sink and I started to feel dreaded fear. Unemployment in the construction industry was so high that my husband’s competitors for some of the job interviews were used to be his seniors in the work place. I used to contribute 40% from our combined income and was confronted with the problem where would we get the remaining 60% in order to pay our debt obligations, remittance back home and our expenses. The agony has taken its toll on our relationship, so stressful that it took me countless sleepless nights crying. Yet I have to be strong for my husband as he was counting on me to understand the full scope of our situation. If it was difficult for me, it was more difficult for him as a man and as the main bread winner. No job opportunity, emergency fund exhausted, two huge loans, several credit cards and a family to feed.

He found a job that would separate us physically. He was assigned in Doha, Qatar as mainly no projects running in Dubai. We have to deal with the physical separation and for the next two years, my budget list every month was consisting mainly of paying off the debts. Every payroll means going to banks to deposit our hard earned money ironically into our savings account but only to be taken away immediately. We have agreed to drastically cut our individual food trips to the restaurants, box office cinemas, gadgets, jewelries and no more sale purchases except for food and basic groceries. These were two agonizing years of pure payments.

Being alone, I started reading financial e-books. I was inspired by financial author Dave Ramsey’s advice on getting out of debt – snowballing. We took the strategy and knocked off smaller balances first and every time I removed a bank name from my excel list, I always feel a bit closer to freedom!

After two years of paying debts off, my husband could now afford to travel few times in a year to visit me in Dubai, the same period we attended financial literacy seminar through our friend. The trainings indeed made a profound impact on our lives and finances. We learned the 70-10-20 prosperity formula in managing our income and how to establish the solid financial foundation. We learned the X curve concept of responsibilities as against savings, the rule of 72(compounding interest) and investing. We have faithfully structured our finances and built solid emergency fund at last. For the next four years, we were able to increase and diversify our savings and investments. We have our plans written on paper and keep ourselves in the associate of really positive, inspiring and investment savvy people. Finally, I was able to join him in Doha with our kids!

We embrace the advocacy and share our experience with OFWs through the Overseas Filipino Investors and Entrepreneurs Movement- an OFW association accredited by the Philippine Embassy in Doha, Qatar.

To solidify our cause, we studied and acquired financial planning accreditation through RFP’s Associate Financial Planner Program brought for the first time outside the Philippines. We were amongst the historical international first batch. The AFP course made me understand more that we cannot change our financial challenges in the past but because of it, we were able to determine that behavioral change is the key solution to many of OFWs financial problems.

We learned that there are also three basic things we should consider essential for financial planning – 1. Money 2. Self-discipline 3. Right information. It would be pointless if you will not balance these three. You may have the money, but lacking self-discipline will lead you nowhere but struggling. You may have both the money and self-discipline but no right information may lead you to either scammers or become a flat liner fiscally.

We learned the hard lessons and we believe God always have his miracle hand in our life as He taught us to become in control with our finances. We were humbled and God was only our anchor during those difficult times. Whenever we need something, it is beyond my understanding how we were able to sustain it, only I know He answered our prayers. In those two years, He taught us the value of patience; discipline and become responsible stewards of His blessings. To this day, we speak of our past and share it so others may learn.

While a lot of people six years ago were pointing their blaming finger to the Lehman Brothers for the situation, we held ourselves accountable. You may wish Lehman Brothers have sisters perhaps to suggest a different history but that part of world history has put me and my husband into the right perspective. Our ultimate message for OFWs in debt – no matter how unsure you will be in keeping your head above water, there’s always a way out and running away from debt is not one of them. Start with a behavioral strategy, stick with it and develop the habit.

Indeed it is not about how much you earn, it is how much you keep and where you keep it.

Be part of the next AFP-certified Filipinos in the Middle East:

Two-day certification course

Doha, Qatar: Oct. 3-4, 2014. for inquiries:
Dubai, UAE: Oct. 10-11, 2014. for inquiries:


Ellen B. Labastida
Certified Associate Financial Planner – RFP Institute
Certified Financial Educator – Heartland institute of Financial Education, Colorado, USA
OFIE-M advocate, trainer
Pinoywise International trainer


South Korea financial literacy event


Catch me for a financial literacy event in Seoul, South Korea this September 7, 2014!

For inquiries, please contact Marlon Albao at



Catch me in Tokyo, Japan!

If you are an OFW based in Tokyo, Japan and you want to be financially empowered, join my event there on August 23 or 24, 2014 and be free!

This is a personal-finance seminar that will surely a life-changing one so don’t miss the opportunity to be part of this event.

For inquiries and to register, send an e-mail to



UITF, stock market, wealth formula and more!

Here are 5 questions that I got regarding personal finance. I kept the answers short and practical.


1) Monica wants to know what are UITFs?

UITF stands for Unit Investment Trust Funds, it is a kind of investment that is being offered by the trust departments of big banks. UITFs are pooled funds, where investors put money in a fund and there is a fund manager that will invest for them according to the objectives of the fund. Depending on where it is invested, UITFs can be conservative, moderate or high-risk investments. UITFs are good investments for long-term objectives such as retirement or the college education of young children. Though they are not guaranteed investments, they have proved themselves to be a good way to grow your money in the long-run. Remember that UITFs are long term investments so if you plan to use your money in the short term, do not put them in UITFs.

2) Should I invest my money in business or in the stock market, Christine wonders.

Comparing a business and stocks is difficult, like comparing apples and oranges. While both are investments and both are risky ones at that, they operate and function differently. Owning a business means you are operating it yourself and you are on top of the company. You have a direct involvement on how the company operates. The benefit of having your business is that you own all the profits and the gains of the business. The downside is that should the business fail, you will bear all the losses and you may not have the competence and experience to make a business succeed. Stocks are fractional ownership of businesses, big ones at that. Buying stocks lets you have a part of a successfully big company or several companies and you stand to earn dividends or capital gain of your shares when you trade them in the stock market. Downside of stocks vs. business is your gain, an issue of scale. You stand to get a much better return for your money when your business succeeds as against stocks.

3) Patrick wants to know what the risks are in investing your money.

Well Patrick, the biggest risk involved in investing is capital loss. While some investments are guaranteed, the good ones where you can earn more are never guaranteed. Returns are always a function of the risk you take – the higher the risks are, the higher the potential returns. Some investments like stocks and mutual funds are fluctuating – they do not appreciate in a straight line and expect them to be fluctuating constantly. But if you invest over a long period, like over 5 years, the chances of loss of money is minimized as investments fluctuate up over the years. Low risk investments are not necessarily free of risk – the biggest risk for guaranteed or low investments is inflation. Low risk means low return and they are often below inflation rates.

4) John asks who should be in charge of the money, the husband or the wife?

Our Filipino custom dictates that the wife should be in charge of the finances. However, our customs are not always right. Finances are conjugal and how to manage money should likewise be conjugal. I don’t think only one spouse should
be given the sole responsibility on how to be in charge of the money – both should discuss and agree as to what to do with their finances. The operation of the family budget like payment of bills, balancing of the check book and the like can be delegated to the husband or the wife. Which spouse? Well, the one who is more financially disciplined should be the one – whether a husband or a wife.

5) Bianca is wondering if there is a formula to be able to build wealth.

Yes Bianca, there is a formula — a fundamental process that you can follow that will allow you to build your wealth. Let me first say that achieving wealth is a process and there are no short cuts to wealth. In my book No Nonsense Personal Finance, I outlined 5 steps for wealth. First step is to increase cash flow; you can achieve this by earning more money and spending less money. Step 2 is getting out of debt – as debt will prevent you from achieving your goals. Step 3 is building your emergency fund – 3 to 6 months worth of your expenses is a good measure. Step 4 is getting insurance for your protection. Finally, the 5th step is learning to invest for your future.

Got more questions? E-mail me at


When to invest, inflation, VUL and more

Sharing with you 5 basic personal finance questions with 5 simple and straight-forward answers.


Julian sent me a question; he asked when the best time to invest is.

Well Julian, the best time to invest was yesterday and the next best time is today. You see, investing is more about time and less about timing. Time is a big factor in investing so I recommend people to start investing as early as they can. Investing is best when is done for the long term especially if you are investing in properties, the stock market or mutual funds. Start investing early and give your investments enough time to grow. Remember, as far as investing is concerned, time is your greatest asset.

Gerald asks what inflation is and how it will affect us?

Simply put, inflation is a measure being used to track the rising costs of general goods and services. Because of inflation, the purchasing power of our peso will actually deteriorate. Countering inflation is done through an increase in income– as long as the increase in income is equal or higher than inflation, things will be ok. The case for your savings is a different one. If your savings do not appreciate faster than inflation, the real value of your savings will go down in terms of what goods and services it can buy. The solution to this is investing your money where it can grow faster than inflation.

Glenda wants to know what a VUL insurance is and if she needs it.

VUL stands for Variable Universal Life insurance. It is a kind of financial instrument that has both insurance and an investment component. It’s like having insurance and mutual funds in one product. VUL will give you insurance benefits but it will also have a fund that is being invested according to your objectives, risk profile and other preferences. If you need both insurance and investment, you may consider having a VUL – but if your sole objective is purely investing, then this may not be the right instrument for you at this time.

Joey is wondering if investing in real estate is still a good idea.

Many of our parents preferred way of investing was through properties and for a good reason. Experience has proven that the value of properties goes up over many years. Personally, I still think real estate investing is good way to grow your money but the issue here is time. In general, for you to see substantial growth in your investment in property, it will take you many years. There also are other costs involved in real estate like association dues, property taxes and transfer costs which should be added in the cost of your investment. One of the big attractions of property investing is that you can also earn from rental income as well. If you have the resources and you are willing to wait for a long time, consider investing in real estate but always remember to consider other investments too as there is no such thing as the best investment.

Should we have a lot of money before we invest? Jesse asks.

There are investments that do not require large amounts of money. You can actually invest your money in the stock market, mutual funds or UITF for as low as 5 to 10 thousand pesos. Some banks even offer auto-debit arrangements that allow you to invest for as low as 1 thousand a month. However, before you invest, I recommend that you build your emergency funds first. An emergency fund of about 3 to 6 months worth of your expenses will be sufficient. To maximize your investments you need enough time for them to grow and it is not a good idea to pull it out whenever you have a need for it, which is why I recommend having an emergency fund first. Once you have your finances in order, start investing in small amounts to get your feet wet. Happy investing!

Got more questions? Ask and let’s see if I can be of help.