Friday, June 28, 2013

#MyRoadToRiches: Track your Expenses!

Ola! I'm always extra giddy when it's Friday. Giddy enough to wear a colorful maxi skirt and braid my hair to the side. Maybe it's because I met my blogger friends last night after a long long while (Hi, Tara, Jheng, Shen, Phoebe and Martha!). Or maybe because I was pleasantly surprised to see that #MyRoadToRiches made it to the list of popular posts. It only means that my campaign to gain financial freedom and my journey to be truly abundant where it matters is affecting quite a number of followers. Second, it also means that my readers, aside from reading about beauty and lifestyle, are also interested about more serious things like finances. I knew you guys are a beautiful and smart bunch! :)

So, today I'll share with you one simple thing that can affect your financial health greatly - TRACK YOUR EXPENSES. The only way you can manage your money really well down to the last centavo is to jot it down in paper, or in our case, in our computers. Otherwise, you'll find yourself thinking where your 13th month bonus go, and never really know the answer. Don't be like me, I learned it the hard way! 

Just to be clear, I'm not a financial expert. I have no background in finance whatsoever. I just happen to be really OC on things including my finances. I like Math when it involves money. :D

Below is a simple template I use to track where my money goes. This is of course, a sanitized version. I removed the actual names of the institutions I pay. But for easier reference, fixed percentage of my income goes to the items highlighted in green (I call it MUSTS buckets), monthly bills are in blue and additional/extra or once-off expenses in purple.  

GREEN (Musts Buckets):
  • Working Allowance - 20% 
  • Investments - 10%
  • Savings - 5%
  • Play - 5%
  • Share - 5% 
BLUE (Monthly Bills):
  • House Rent
  • Credit Cards
  • Big ticket purchase 
  • Phone/DSL 
  • Mobile 
PURPLE (Add-on expenses):
  • This can vary monthly, but this is where things like Driver's License renewal fee, birthday gifts or shopping will fall.
Just to note, I don't necessarily spend my PLAY allocation every month. The funds under this can be rolled over monthly until you get enough for let's say, an out of town trip. It's also best to have separate bank accounts for different funds. In my case, I have:
  • Savings Account
  • Emergency Fund
  • Play/Travel Fund
My goal is to have separate account for my  RETIREMENT fund when I'm more able. For now, my retirement depends on my insurance/investment which is being handled by a financial institution. I suggest you seek professional guidance on what investment is right for you. There are plenty with various risk levels! Mutual Funds, Stocks, Bonds etc. Visit Sun Life Financial Philippines or PRU Life UK for help.

If you want to get a copy of my very humble expense tracker template, just drop me an email at and I'll send it to you soonest. You may customize it according to your needs/goals.

Have a great time tracking your expenses. Believe me, you will value your money better when you know exactly where it goes. Happy weekend, everyone, and thanks for reading this geeky post. :)

From the Nook,

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Of Travel Blues, Gratitude List and OOTD

I just got home from a 5-day midyear break, roaming around the cozy city of Dumaguete (read why this is one of my favorite places HERE ) and the mystic and charming province of Siquijor. It's a bittersweet feeling I have as I type this, half awake, and in the midst of the usual somber that travelers feel each time a journey ends. But hey, I always try to be an advocate of positivity and a warrior of happiness, and so I gave myself a firm shake and focused on the brighter side of things. Hence, an addition to my Gratitude List

First, I'm grateful to have traveled once again, and how it has fulfilled me not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. I'm happy to have kept my promise to return to the city of gentle people, after it successfully wooed me in 2011. It also felt good to be charmed by the beauty of Siquijor, after the many wonderful, mystic and enchanting stories from friends. (Hi, Joyce!)

Second, while I admit to feeling less excited to go back to work after an awesome vacation, I'm ever grateful to have a good job that enables me to travel. After all, we won't appreciate holidays if not for the everyday pedestrian worries - work included.

Third, I'm always happy that after every travel, I come back to a home and not just a house. My mom made us a splendid dinner and my spoiled dog was less snobbish. I guess they all missed me!

I'll post more of my #DumagueteandSiquijorChronicles soon, but let me share with you with a simple OOTD photo. It's my take on being fashionable yet comfortable enough to travel, locally at least. :) 

Top: Old Navy 
Denims: Penshoppe 
Bag: Payless (gift)
Sunglasses: Kenneth Cole Reaction
Necklace: Freedom Manila
Bracelets: Gift from Guam and an old DIY piece
Slippers: Old Navy (gift)

Let's nail the rest of the week, shall we? :)

Tired, tanned and back in the nook,

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: Nourish your skin with tomatoes!

I got acquainted with organic beauty products about four years ago. I'm naturally inclined to go for the more natural and organic choices since I also advocate environmental causes and animal-free testing. I'm far from being 100% organic, and I don't think I will be anytime soon due to availability, affordability and variance. Organic food, cosmetics, health and beauty products are harder and more costly to produce, hence, producers find it more difficult to be competitive in their prices. But in the following years, I became witness to how organic products in the Philippines improve dramatically in variety of offering, retailing and even with their prices. Some of my favorites are Ilog Maria, Venus & Mars Naturals, Milea All Organics and Echo Store

But when it comes to affordability and availability, Human Heart Nature always comes to mind. I've tried a handful of their products, from shampoo and conditioners to facial wash, toners and moisturizers, down to lip balms and hair styling creams. Their customer promise of being pro-Philippines, pro-poor and pro-environment has always appealed to my personal beliefs. The products I've tried performs okay, but the ones that really worked miracles are the HHN Tomato Facial Wash and Toner. I've used them a few years back and it solved the tightness and roughness of my skin, especially on the sides of my nose. I can't remember when and why I stopped using them. I probably became attracted to new products or effective marketing campaigns. Yup, sounds like me. ;-)

From what I remember, the HHN Tomato Facial Wash and Toner came in brown,  flatter, dark plastic bottles. I recently rediscovered it in its new packaging. I immediately grabbed one from the Rustan's Supermarket alley to road test an old love. Is it better? Is it the same? Scroll down to see. :)

  • Still very affordable at Php 99.00 for the 100 ml bottle
  • Aside from ordering online or through registered dealers, some HHN products are also being sold in retail outlets like Rustan's supermarket. So convenient!
  • Smells yummy! I'm not sure why, but it smells of bubble gum and is not tomato-ey at all.
  • No sting and no redness which are usually brought by alcohol based toners. This is 100% alcohol free.
  • All organic, no harmful chemicals, no animal testing, no threat to the environment. In short, it's the kinder choice.
  • Like the old version, it still makes my skin oh-so-soft and well-moisturized. It helps a lot with the stubborn white heads on my nose. :) I can't vouch for it now, but it also has anti-aging properties. Better to be sure than sorry. As with anything, especially aging, prevention is always better and cheaper than cure. 
  • No breakouts

  • It makes my skin super duper oily than it already is. Maybe it's the highly moisturizing and nourishing formula, but as far as I can remember, this didn't happen with the old version. At first I thought it was just because of the humidity, but I use it also before bedtime. Despite the AC, I still have unacceptable oily face in the morning. 
  • The cap broke the first time I opened it. I hope it doesn't happen all the time?

So is it better? I still prefer the old formula. But this product really works in toning and nourishing the face and it feels so nice on the skin. I think it's really more suited for normal and sensitive skin, so perhaps I should get the HHN Elemi and Orange aka Balancing Toner next time since it's suited for oily or combination skin (ay yay!) I will keep you posted! 

But if you have dry, tired and sensitive skin, I'm that certain you will benefit from the HHN Tomato toner. It's inexpensive, organic, readily available, pro-poor and cruelty-free. There's nothing to loose so try it soon. :) Go. Now! :) 

To know more and order Human Heart Nature,visit

As I say in corporate emails, hope this helps! :)

From the Nook,

*This is NOT a sponsored post

Friday, June 14, 2013

Review: Revlon Custom Eyes Waterpoof Mascara

I've been using the Revlon Custom Eyes Mascara for almost a month now and it's high time to share what me thinks. I trust Maybelline when it comes to affordable mascaras that really work. But from time to time, it's good to road test what's out there in the market. The makeup industry is healthy that way. :) 

  • Revlon Custom Eyes has adjustable bristles to either lengthen and add drama or lengthen and define your lashes by simply turning the wand . It's the first of its kind that I've tried, and it appealed to the geek inside me. :)
    • Setting 1: Length and Drama 
    • Setting 1 Length and Definition
  • Neat packaging. The wand comes separately from the tube so you can see exactly how the bristles move. 
  • Waterproof version lasts for the whole day at the office, but I noticed fallout and raccoon eyes after a night event. Safe to estimate that it holds no more than 12 hours.
  • It tends to be a little clumpy if not applied and dried carefully
  • Delivered on its promise of lengthening my short, sparse lashes. See above photo. :)
  • Can easily be removed by standard eye makeup remover
  • Widely available at Revlon makeup counters
  • It comes in blackest black, blackened brown and black so more choices for everyone
  • Not too shabby at Php 750.00

I got the best results after applying two layers of the Revlon Custom Eyes mascara. I use setting 1 for the first layer (lengthens) and finish it with setting 2 (define/volumize). If your lashes start to clump, use a lash comb to separate your them for a neat finish.

TIP: Put some loose powder under your eyes so you can easily dust off any fallout, and avoid closing your eyes for a few seconds! Again, throw away your mascaras after maximum of six months to avoid nasty eye infections.

Happy rainy Thursday, loves! :)

From the Nook,

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

NeuroEat: Movie Stars Cafe at MOA

My man and I like to discover new things; places to go, food to eat, even hobbies. Earlier this year, we tried our hand at fishing. More recently, he introduced me to mixed martial arts, and thanks to some friendly connections, we were able to score some seats to watch OneFC live in MOA arena. It was a stressful experience, the good kind though, and I eventually realized that there's really more to MMA than male hormones and perceived violence. MMA is an art that requires dedication, hardwork and more importantly, respect. 

Speaking of new things, we recently dined at the Movie Stars Cafe in MOA. I got some buffet vouchers from Metrodeal for about 30% less. I paid 399 instead of 599 for unlimited food and drinks including local beers. Not bad at all, especially that it's no ordinary restaurant for obvious reasons - they carry the hollywood theme. The place is packed with movie and hollywood memorabilia and larger than life installations from famous movies and unforgettable characters. The crew are dressed in costumes and occasionally burst into a dance number. You can also take photos with your favorite characters who will happily play foolish with you. We went on a Friday and the theme for that night was Footloose. But Ironman, Spiderman, Peter Pan, Bumble Bee and Optimus Prime were also there. I guess that's because they are the most sought after. :)

The Spiderman who dances really well, as in kembot to the max. ;)

The food selection was okay. The first time I lined up, there were liver wrapped in bacons, crablets, sisig, sausages and pasta. There were three kinds of sushi, too. I find it a bit limited but I later found out that they change or add entrees as they go along. After the first hour, I saw fresh servings of kebabs, fish and chips and another kind of pasta. The bar serves iced tea, three kinds of really really sugary juices (skip it!) and soft drinks. Beers came in big mugs, which you can actually order from the roving servers. 

Overall, it was a pleasant experience. The service wasn't bad, the food is just okay, the performance is light and entertaining, and it simply offers a new dining experience. If you're a movie buff, you'll definitely enjoy the place. I spent a good amount of time checking out the movie posters, autographed photos of hollywood stars (not sure of the authenticity though), and movie memorabilia. I particularly like the display of the different head/mask of species, aliens and predator movies. 

Courtesy of Google Images
Courtesy of MetroDeal
Autobots are here!

Will I go back? I might, but more of to watch the other performances rather than for the food. As mentioned, the food tastes like normal bar chows. Fried and buttery. And I'm not a fan of buffets anyway so I'll probably skip it and just choose from the menu. But for the effort, friendly service, happy, childlike ambiance and movie theme, this place can be worth your while. Bring your kids, their eyes will surely widen seeing Spiderman or Ironman in person. :)

For more information, program schedule and more, visit their website at

I suggest you make reservations as they can be packed especially during weekends. Don't forget to bring your camera and a childlike heart, too. :) 

Oh, Happy Independence Day, everyone!

From the Nook,

Monday, June 10, 2013

Weight Loss Chronicles Part Deux

It was our Annual Physical Exam last week, and I, like every other person I know, is scared to see the word  "obesity" in the diagnosis portion. Thankfully, I didn't get the big O remark. But the doctor recommended that I lose half a kilo more based from my Body Mass Index or BMI. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women. Normal BMI should be between 18.5 to 24.9. I got 23.4, which is perfectly normal. Hooray! Though I think it wouldn't hurt to follow the doctor's order and lose half a kilo more, so there's no stopping anytime soon.

But truth be told, I'm lagging behind my commitment of at least two workout sessions a week which normally consists of either one hour yoga plus weights or one hour jogging plus weights. Then I came across this article about blogger and stylist Laureen Uy, where she shares how she makes staying fit more fun. Her golden rule? It's more fun to stay fit with friends. Alas! Maybe that's what I need. I need a workout buddy or buddies, who can lend me some determination and sipag when I get the lazy streak.


“Managing your weight doesn’t need to feel like a drag. I work out with friends because it helps to have people around to motivate you. We also support each other in maintaining a good diet and eating healthy. ”  

- Laureen Uy
Photo from

Thursday Yoga Sesh with my office friends
It is definitely more fun to go the fitness route in the company of peers. An intense workout can be fun and body aches are a lot bearable when you're not the only one going through the same ordeal! ;-) Similarly, eating healthily can be exciting when there are friends around to cheer us on. We can even compare our baon in the office to encourage us to always go for the better, smarter choice. Remember my Eat Less, Eat Right rule?

Laureen also shared some practical tips to stay healthy and fit:

  • Exchange healthy eating suggestions. It is indeed hard to let go of big juicy burgers but not when you have your friends throwing great suggestions on healthy alternatives. A friend just might be the key to new and exciting discoveries: a flavorful salad, a low-fat dessert or a yummy snack loaded with whole grains.

  • Share daily words of encouragement. We are exposed to social media every day, stumbling upon encouraging photo quotes every once in a while. Why not share that quote and tag your friends in Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? The quote saying “Follow your dreams, work hard, practice and persevere. Make sure you eat a variety of foods, get plenty of exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle,” from Sasha Cohen just might be what they need to see.

  • Wear your favorite gym clothes. Going to the gym means working on your body, but looking good inside the gym also motivates individuals to work harder to achieve their fitness goals.  Don’t forget that you can still be stylish on the treadmill or while cycling!

  • Plan fitness activities or out-of-town adventures. Why not fix your schedule together with your friends when you meet up for lunch during weekends? Figuring out days when you will visit the gym, do yoga, or planning your next great out-of-town adventure is more fun when done together. A planned volley ball game at the beach is exciting too!

  • Reward yourself. Celebrate fitness milestones. You don’t have to sweat it out with your friends all the time. Have a shopping indulgence every once in a while! You certainly have to dress up and flaunt that healthy and fit body. Alternatively, if you want relaxation, why not head to the spa or have a trip to a secluded beach? 

  • Start the NESTLÉ FITNESSE 14-Day Program. Sometimes, all we need is a solid support system and people to do it with to get us started with a new activity. Invite your friends to start the 14-day program together. It will certainly get you ready for the planned beach trip this summer.  

Speaking of which, I grew up having cereals for breakfast. But from the good old days of Honey Stars and Koko Krunch, I eventually graduated to getting ones made from whole grain; less sweet and less fancy ones. Plain corn flakes grew on me, and I learned to add fruits, yogurt and even nuts to add texture and flavor to my breakfast. I also replace my dinner with a bowl of Fitnesse on days when I don't have to attend any work or socials. My favorite is the original low fat and high fiber variant of NESTLE Fitnesse but other flavors are available for the more adventurous ones --- Clusters Almond, Clusters Banana-Nut and Honey and Almond. Cereals need not be boring! It may sound weird, but I keep a box on my desk in times when I crave for some crunchy snacks. Yep, sans milk.

So calling my friends and yoga mates in the office, let's resume our Thursday sessions and be fit together, shall we?

From the Nook, 

* If you want to measure your own BMI, CLICK HERE. Please note that BMI is only one of the many gauges of health. It's still best to get a full check-up at least once a year.

* Find out more about the NESTLE Fitnesse 14-Day Program and see if it's suitable for you at