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“Why Is It So Hard for Me to Save?”

why is it so hard for me to save

You have a job and a steady income, yet you find yourself staring at the bottom of the barrel, seemingly broke and crawling to pay day every 2 weeks. You ask yourself, “What am I doing wrong? Why is it so hard for me to save?” Every financial decision you make is based from your perspective on money, and sometimes that perspective can be naive or incomplete.

At times you may wonder how (and why) other people are capable of such discipline and restraint. You can be too. All it takes is a fresh take on money and how to handle it properly. See if the following phrases reflect the way you currently handle your money. If they do, then maybe it’s time to shake things up a little.

“I prioritize now over later”

Short term vs long term–this is the financial dilemma we all face sooner or later. When it comes to planning a budget, a huge chunk of your cash flow probably goes into your current–more short term–needs instead of long-term savings/investments. After all, units in an investment fund are less tangible than, let’s say, a new pair of shoes or a handbag. This can result to a cycle of impulsive spending that can haunt you paycheck to paycheck.

How to turn it around: Set up a routine to facilitate saving. For every paycheck, set aside a fixed proportion or amount for your savings account (a good way to start is a 70-30 spending to saving ratio). Yes, that means that you shouldn’t deprive yourself; overspending is bad but underspending can also be dangerous. Remember, there’s nothing scarier than a strong itch to spend and a fresh credit card.

Pro tip: We recommend automating your savings by scheduling a recurring fund transfer from your main account to your savings account.

“My expenses become relative to what I earn”

Getting an increase in salary means that you have more purchasing power than before. When this happens, you suddenly have enough cash to buy the things you want. Then it becomes worse: the more you earn, the more you spend, and the cycle continues.

How to turn it around: A bump in salary usually warrants an adjustment in your budget. If possible, allot your additional cash flow to meaningful expenses. These could be purchases that will pay off in the long run, additional units of investment, or advance payment for your bills. You should keep your spending-saving proportion the same as before the salary bump, or better yet, allot more to long-term financial instruments.

“I always use up my bonuses”

Whenever we get a financial windfall, we somehow find ways to use it up before it has even warmed up to our bank accounts. Whether it’s a bonus, a seasonal boost in profit to your business, or petty cash from a generous relative, extra cash could always go towards something more meaningful. Building an emergency fund, opening a time deposit account, or even investing in a UITF–these are just some of the most practical alternatives.

Read more: What Should I Do with My Bonus?

How to turn it around: Setting your whole bonus aside might be too painful, especially if you’ve been anticipating it in order to buy something. To keep your sanity, make sure to direct at least half of it to practical use then use the remainder to satisfy your spending urges.

“I forget how it feels like to be broke”

Let’s face it, whenever we get our salary, we feel like kings and queens. While that thinking isn’t necessarily bad, the attitude of going for broke every single paycheck is a sign of unhealthy financial attitude. The rush might feel good at first but the incoming onslaught of regret (and unpaid bills) should be enough of an incentive to stop this cycle.

How to turn it around: Aside from the aforementioned tips on portioning your salary, you should set clear, attainable savings goals. These goals could be short, medium, or long term. It’s also a good idea to set up timed reminders before or on the day of your pay. At worst, it helps you reevaluate the worthiness of your spend and at best, it could help you save up for bigger–more long term–goals.

“I easily give in to (peer) pressure”

Aside from the ever-present feeling of getting the latest and greatest, you might have a penchant for giving in to the wants of your lavish acquaintances. Owe it to the sense of community and belongingness, not saying no will eventually drain the life out of your wallet.

Read more: 4 Tips in Hanging Out with Expensive Friends

How to turn it around: When you’re faced with overwhelming peer pressure, ask yourself over and over “Can I really afford this?” or “Can I use this money better?” As with all purchases, think of the costs and benefits and factor in your overarching budget. If the quality and use of the product/service more than compensates its cost, then go for it.

The bottom line: Don’t look at saving as if it’s an insurmountable task; saving can be easy as long as you have the right mentality. The challenge lies in finding the balance between spending and saving. Just remember that no matter how big or small the amount is, the important thing is that you took the initiative to save, and that you are keeping with it until you reach your goal.

Credit Card vs Debit Card vs Prepaid Card: Which Should You Use?

when to use credit debit prepaid card

Electronic payment cards have redefined the way we spend. Aside from faster transactions made with just a swipe, the rewards and exclusive deals we get from them are now staples in any cashless transaction. Add that to the advent of online shopping, electronic payments are becoming the norm, if not the most practical way to spend.

Here in the Philippines, there are three main types of cards to choose from—credit, debit, and prepaid. Knowing which one’s the best for your needs and your lifestyle is key to getting the most out them. Here’s a simple breakdown:

Debit cards are the most straightforward of the three. Using a debit card to pay for a transaction simply deducts the money directly from your account after your purchase. On the other hand, credit cards essentially let you borrow money up to a certain amount (your credit limit) from the card issuer to complete your purchase. Credit cards also has the added benefit of installment payments, that is, spreading payments to months or even years, not to mention the bevy of deals and discounts to partner merchants. Lastly, prepaid cards are not linked to any bank account and need to be reloaded once the balance is used up.

Read more: The 5 Easiest Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

Here’s a more detailed look:

WHEN TO USE CREDIT, DEBIT, OR PREPAID
FEATURES CREDIT CARD DEBIT CARD PREPAID CARD
LIMIT Depends on your credit limit Depends on the amount you have in your savings account Reloadable
PAYMENT Allows you to ‘borrow’ money to be paid back at the end of the card’s billing cycle Pulls the cash instantly from your savings/checking account Deducts corresponding amount of prepaid credits from your prepaid balance/load
FEES AND PENALTIES Interest charged for unpaid balance and penalties for late payments No interest fees but might have overdraft fees No interest fees
WITHDRAWALS VIA ATM Can withdraw a portion of credit limit (charged with fee) Can withdraw from savings/checking account Most prepaid card cannot be used in an ATM
MAINTAINING BALANCE No maintaining balance Requires maintaining balance No maintaining balance
WHEN SHOULD YOU USE THEM?
SITUATION CREDIT DEBIT PREPAID
YOU’RE MAKING A SMALL PURCHASE FROM AN INDEPENDENT BUSINESS
YOU’RE SHOPPING ONLINE FROM MAJOR RETAILERS
YOU’RE BOOKING FLIGHTS, HOTELS, AND OTHER ACCOMMODATIONS
YOU WANT A RECORD OF YOUR PURCHASES
YOU’RE NOT DISCIPLINED IN PAYING BILLS ON TIME
YOU PLAN TO PAY IN INSTALLMENTS
YOU WANT TO LIMIT YOUR SPENDING
YOU WANT TO BUILD YOUR CREDIT SCORE FOR FUTURE BANK TRANSACTIONS
YOU WANT THE SECURITY OF GETTING YOUR MONEY BACK IF THE CARD IS LOST
YOU WANT REWARDS AND REBATES

Keep in mind that each card has its advantages and disadvantages. Regardless of which card you choose, make sure to review its terms and conditions. After all, you might be missing out on exlusive promos and rewards.

360 Fitness: Putting the Fun Back into Exercise

360 fitness club start your fitness journey now

We all have goals we want to achieve in our lifetime. Probably one of the most elusive goal of all is to have a healthy lifestyle and a body worth showing off on your trips to the beach. But more than having muscles and six-pack abs, being fit also has its health benefits. Put it this way, it does feel good to look good, but it feels even better when you know that you’re taking care of yourself.

Read more: How to Recover from a Bad Working Day

“How do I start my journey to fitness?” We might have the answer for you. 360 Fitness Club, a revolutionary fitness institution that pioneered commercial circuit training, does away with the rigidness of traditional gyms and workout machines and makes exercising fun and efficient. Still not sure if it’s the right workout regimen for you? We’re here to answer that question and more.

There’s a program for everyone

Whether you’re a newbie or a gym junkie, looking to lose some fat, or aiming for that toned body, 360 Fitness has programs developed for different fitness goals and backgrounds. Here’s a list of their programs:

360 CIRCUIT TRAINING – Perhaps the most well-known program from 360 Fitness, circuit training is a pre-designed workout that uses your whole body, combining cardiovascular and strength exercises throughout a whole rotation – hence the title “circuit”. This circular setup aims to promote camaraderie and a sense of community within the club members, so you’re assured of a fun, interactive session every time.

360 SIGNATURE CLASSES – These are programs aimed to help increase your metabolic rate to help maximize calories you can burn even at rest, build strength, power, and develop lean muscle mass. The classes come in different formats for different fitness levels, so you’ll surely find one suited for you.

  • The 360 Body Weight program is a combination of calisthenics, core, and bodyweight exercises ideal for beginners wanting to jump start their fitness journey, and best of all, it only takes 30 minutes!
  • The 360 HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is a fast-paced interval workout that alternates high-intensity exercises with low-intensity exercises in repeating fashion. The variation in activity is proven to be highly-effective in improving cardiovascular function and metabolism. This program is ideal for all fitness levels.
  • The 360 Core is a 30-minute workout focused on your overall core development to help you get that enviable toned midsection. The class is open for all fitness levels.
  • The 360 Kallos is an advanced fitness program developed for athletic-level training. Be ready for calisthenics, gymnastics, core strength, flexibility exercises, and even headstands and planks.

There are other 360 Signature Classes available, so there’s no reason for you to hesitate signing up.

LES MILLS AND OTHER PROGRAMS – True fitness isn’t just all strength training and weightlifting. Holistic fitness means having variety in your workouts, so 360 Fitness developed programs that aim to help you distress, let loose, and have fun.

  • Body Jam is a dance-inspired cardio workout tuned to the latest jams on the radio combined with the hottest dance moves at the time.
  • Body Balance is a low-intensity workout inspired by Yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates. Proper breathing and concentration, as well as flexibility and balance is at the core of this program.
  • Body Combat is a high-intensity, martial arts inspired cardio workout, borrowing moves from Karate, Boxing, Taekwondo, Tai chi, and Muay thai.
  • Power Yoga is a fitness-based approach to yoga, with mental focus, flexibility, and endurance at the center. There are options available for yoga newbies.

Circuit Training only takes 30 minutes

If one of the reasons why you’re not exercising is due to time constraints, circuit training could be the perfect workout option for you. For 30 minutes, you’ll move through different stations that target different parts of your body, each station usually lasting for 30 seconds. This ensures a fast-paced and exciting workout every time.

Find a branch near you and sign up for a fitness pass to get a feel of the program you’d most like to try. Security Bank cardholders get a 25% discount on All Membership Packages, plus a 2-day fitness pass for free. Start your fitness journey with 360 Fitness now!

credit card application

Home Loans 101: Crucial Questions to Ask Your Loan Officer

mortgage broker housing home loan officer questions to ask

Applying for a housing loan can be an emotional roller coaster. Excitement, anxiety, anticipation, and fear of rejection—all these things can be overwhelming and may lead to forgetting the most important questions you need to ask, which is a big no-no.

Know all about the twists and turns of your loan before signing a deal by throwing out these questions:

Qualifications

  • “Am I qualified for a loan?” Be sure to have your loan officer assess your qualifications beforehand. Your cash flow, income from employment, assets and liabilities, and credit history will determine your eligibility for the loan.
  • “What type of loan should I get?” Applying for the right bank loan or government-sponsored housing program based on your qualifications will up your chances of getting an approval.
  • “How does this loan meet my needs?” Be sure that you can afford the loan to get the most out of it, and be sure that the loan you are getting is enough for your purpose. Don’t get a loan that’s not suitable to your budget and needs.

Rates and Payment Terms

  • “How much down payment do I need to make?” Most housing loans require a minimum down payment. Often, bigger down payments mean lower interest rates and better payment terms.
  • “What’s the interest rate of the loan?” Lenders get paid through the interest you pay on the loan on top of the principal loan. Factor this in when you choose which one has the lowest or most reasonable interest rate offering.
  • “Is the interest rate fixed or adjustable?” Clarify if the interest rate is fixed for the entire term of the loan or subject to adjustments periodically based on market trends. To protect yourself from rising interest rates, lock the rate at a designated period. However, this may entail lock fees.
  • “What is the payment term for the loan?” Payment terms refer to the duration and cost of your monthly payments until the loan is fully paid. Longer terms may mean lower monthly payments but higher interest rates.

home loan calculator

Costs and Fees

  • “Can I see a good faith estimate (GFE) for my loan?” A GFE is a document that lists down all terms, including costs and fees that will be charged to you upon closing of the loan. Use it to review the real cost of the loan and compare offers from various lending institutions.
  • “Does my loan come with prepayment penalties?” Prepayment penalties may be applied when you pay off your mortgage loan earlier than the agreed term. It happens when you choose to refinance your loan or when you reduce the principal balance beyond a specific percentage.
  • “Would I need to get a mortgage insurance for my loan?” Bank lenders may require you to take out a hazard insurance on the property as protection in the event of fires or natural calamities. The insurance may or may not be through the lending institution from which you filed the loan.

Mode of Payment

  • “What are my options regarding modes of payment?” Ask if you can make payments over the counter, through auto debit arrangements, or through post-dated checks so you can pick the most convenient for you.
  • “Can I change my mode of payment?” Find out if you’re allowed to shift from one payment mode to another during the duration of your loan. If yes, ask if modifications would require you to pay advance amortization.

Don’t hesitate to ask these crucial questions before signing a loan. Or better, find a bank that will help you from day one until your loan gets approved.

Security Bank offers low interest Housing Loan option with approval in as fast as 5 days. Click here to inquire about our housing loan offer.

home loan calculator

5 Easy Tricks to Improve the Value of Your Home

home improvement diy cheap

One of the best things about a home as a tangible investment is the control you have over it. Because you’re not bound by developer restrictions like with condos, you can pretty much do anything. You can put it up for lease, improve its resale value, use it for Airbnb, or just breath new life into it.

Read more: 7 Ways to Ensure Your Land Title is Real and Clean

Contrary to popular belief, increasing your home’s value can be done with a just few tweaks; it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to do it. Whether you’re selling it or just maintaining it, here are some ways to give your home a facelift without breaking the bank.

Repaint

Giving your home a new paint job is like dressing it up with brand new clothes; think of Valentino suits over your old hand-me downs. Yes, a new coat of paint can do wonders. Not only does it give a fresh vibe, it also covers up cracks and discoloration that have accumulated over the years.

If you don’t want to shell out cash for painting services, you can also do it on your own. Change pantones or apply new colors using various wall painting techniques like combination, glazing, or faux painting. Your options are countless!

Tip: Some eco-friendly paint products have been developed to absorb and filter the air. You might want to try them out to not only get a new look, but better ventilation as well.

Add Curb Appeal

First impressions last, and often, it begins from the outside. Any self-respecting real estate agent will tell you that one of the keys in reselling your home is to make sure it has “curb appeal.” In layman’s terms, this is simply the attractiveness of a property and its surroundings when viewed from the street.

There are many ways to do this: frame your door, install porch lights, plant flowers, or improve the landscape of your yard. You can also play around with light fixtures like garden lights to make it more polished.

home loan application

Improve your storage situation

Storage is your lifesaver when things get cluttered. Whether your space is small or not, you’re bound to bring home new stuff every now and then. If you’re items start piling up so much that they’re spilling over to your living room or kitchen, then it’s time to consider expanding storage space.

You don’t have to rebuild the entire house to install more storage. Just be imaginative and resourceful. If you have an old, unused room somewhere in the house, you can convert that to a makeshift cabinet. Install built-in shelves, extend a wall to fit a walk-in closet, or have an armoire.

Now, expanding storage can only can get you so far. To clear up some space, you can hold a garage sale and turn your old stuff into cash that can go towards your renovation efforts.

Lighten up the place

Never underestimate the benefits of good lighting. There’s a reason why photographers emphasize the need for good lighting when doing shoots. It’s because good lighting can accentuate the good angles of your space and hide flaws.

As a lighting centerpiece, you can place antique fixtures with pendant lightings or an eye-catching chandelier. For wall lighting, you can opt for USB-powered strip lights that can complement the overall mood and color-palette of your space. If all else fails, you can check home depot stores for low-cost artisan lighting fixtures.

Don’t underestimate good flooring

Admit it, flooring is often forgotten. It’s probably the last thing that comes to mind when you think about a home upgrade since maintaining it can be costly. But that doesn’t mean it should be left ignored.

Laminate your flooring, mix and match carpet tiles, or select and roll up rugs. Hardwood floors can also be quite the eye-catcher. Just apply a thin layer of varnish or wood stain to make it look new again.

Need some cash to furnish your new home? You can apply for a Security Bank Personal Loan to give your home the makeover it deserves.

personal loan application

House vs Condo: What Property Should You Get?

The Philippine real estate market is projected to soar higher this 2017. Developers remain optimistic that a continuous incline in saving and income–especially in the middle class–will stimulate demand for townhouses and condos. Homebuyers, on the other hand, can expect more competitive prices for properties as developers scramble to get a bigger piece of the pie.

Needless to say, it remains to be a great time for Filipinos to invest in properties. Payment terms are becoming friendlier with several housing loan options offered by banks and financial institutions. Choices are diverse too with homes and condominiums sprouting almost everywhere. The big question that comes to mind is “Where should I invest my money?”

Read more: 8 Simple Tips to Get Approved for a Home Loan

Should it be a house or a condo unit? Here’s an infographic comparing a house and a condo to help you determine the most suitable property, be it for your own use or investment.

real estate home condo rent or buy
real estate home condo ownership and maintenance
real estate home condo location
real estate home condo price
real estate home condo amenities
real estate home condo security and privacy

Is There Really a Real Estate Bubble?

As income rises in a growing economy, consumers tend to buy more property, usually with the intent of flipping (buying low and selling high) or for a personal–and more stable–investment. This strong demand for property moves prices up in the face of limited supply.

These are the warnings of a real estate bubble. With prices continuing to shoot up, more and more people will buy properties believing that property values will just continue to rise. This will soar the prices even higher to the point where the bubble pops: properties become so expensive that consumers can’t afford them while buyers default on their housing loans.

If you are investing in a property, the idea of a bubble is a nightmare scenario because it translates to an increase in your mortgage payments. If you haven’t been approved for a loan, this also means that it will be harder for you to get one as lenders become more stringent to recover money they have loaned to other borrowers.

In a report by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas last January 11, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo downplayed the idea of the bubble and said that, “At this point we don’t see any signs of stress in the real estate sector.” In a nutshell, their stress shows that “we are far from the so-called danger level.”

Final Thoughts

Amid the rumors and the hysteria of an impending real estate crash, it’s important to make decisions based on hard numbers and data. With experts across the industry agreeing that there is a huge deficit in supply of properties over demand, it’s safe to say that the bubble is nowhere in sight, at least for now.

When purchasing property, weigh the pros and cons of a condo and a house before sealing the deal with your real estate agent. Once you’ve decided, remember that you don’t need to cough up the cash immediately to pay for the property. You can take advantage of friendly home loan terms and financing options that’ll let you get the keys to your dream house or condo sooner rather than later.

home loan application
home loan calculator

Budget Travel Guide Series: Japan for the Cost-Conscious Traveler

japan guide travel tour itinerary

Japan? On a budget? Yes, we were thinking the same thing. While it may seem like a pipe dream to visit Japan without breaking the bank, it is possible with proper planning and a little bit of luck. This is our guide for a fun-packed, practical, and memorable trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.

To start you off, below is an example of the things you might spend on during your whole Japan trip. We’ve also outlined areas you can splurge or save on:

ITEM/ACTIVITY NORMAL COST ON A BUDGET
PLANE TICKET P22,000++ (Promo Airfare) P6,500+
ACCOMMODATION P6,000 – 17,000+ P2,000 – 4,000
TRANSPORTATION
JR Rail Pass (7-day) P17,050+ (Luxury Cabin) P12,765+ (Regular Cabin)
Subway (1-day Pass) P440 P440
Bus (Tokyo – Kyoto) P1,566 P1,566
FOOD
Ramen P340 P170
Sushi P200/plate P50-90/plate
Bento P300-1000 P135
ATTRACTIONS P6-8000+ P500-1,000+
SOUVENIRS P400+/item P44/item

Which side of Japan would you like to see?

map of japan guide travel itinerary
Japan has 8 major regions divided into 47 prefectures.

Before anything else, decide if you’d like to go on an interregional tour of Japan or to focus on a city/region. Knowing where to go outright will make it easier for you to make an itinerary as well as a budget plan. For example, the Kanto Region–home to the capital city of Tokyo–offers a vastly different feel of Japan than, let’s say, the Kansai Region where the tourist-friendly city of Osaka resides.

Deciding where to go first and where to go last is crucial; these will dictate your ticket purchases. Research on the cuisine, dialect, customs, and culture of each region before going to the next step.

Book your plane ticket early

A huge chunk of your travel expense is the plane ride to and from Japan. The two most common flights are MNL to Tokyo and MNL to Osaka. As with all destinations, the best way to save on your plane ticket is to book as early as possible. If you want the lowest rates, book promo flights months or even a year before your departure date. Try Skyscanner to look for the best seat fares.

Of course, you shouldn’t forget to take advantage of promo fares. These deals can slash off a big chunk on an otherwise expensive regular ticket, which will allow you to allot more cash to pocket money. Be on the lookout as airlines usually release these sales just before travel season, usually on February, July, and November. Also, don’t forget to bookmark your credit card company’s promo page as these are filled with screaming deals for airfare and lodging.

Read more: 4 Secrets to Booking Cheaper Flights

Find the right place to stay

room guide japan travel itinerary
A traditional Japanese room lined with Tatami mats.

There are a ton of options when it comes to lodging and contrary to popular belief, they’re not that expensive. The challenge lies in finding the right balance between comfort and affordability. If hotels are outside your budget, hostels, inns, and airbnb reservations may be your cup of tea. All of these offer standard services such as Wi-Fi, a hot bath, air conditioning, and even futons and tatami mats for that genuine Japanese experience. Don’t forget to read online reviews and recommendations to filter the bad ones from the good.

If you’re feeling more adventurous but also want to save on lodging, couchsurfing is a cheap–albeit a less private–option. Couchsurfing means just that: you sleep at couches for free while getting a chance to meet different people – be it travelers or locals. If you want a futuristic (and a more claustrophobic) experience, you can always opt for capsule hotels (which can be more expensive especially at the airport).

Japanese food is a must-try!

japanese food guide travel itinerary
Izakaya, or gastropubs where employees usually go to after work to eat and drink.

A trip to Japan wouldn’t be complete without treating yourself to some authentic, local, and non bastardized Japanese cuisine. Because there are so many options to tickle your tastebuds, you should pace yourself when it comes to indulging that inner connoisseur. Splurge for memorable meals: Try the Maid Cafes in Akihabara, the traditional set meals in Kyoto, the iconic Ramen in Shibuya, the Takoyaki in Osaka and the fresh seafood in Tsukiji.

To get the most out of your culinary experience, try to save some cash in between expensive meals. Convenience stores are your best friend when it comes to this. And honestly, 7/11 and FamilyMart’s selections aren’t half bad. If you’re starving, look for conveyor belt sushi restaurants for a cheap–but authentic–fill of fish and rice. Sushi can cost as low as P60 per plate! Another pro tip: Steer clear of fruits, they are notoriously expensive.

Make memories with memorable landmarks

places to visit in japan tours travel guide itinerary
The famous Fushimi Inari Shrine in Southern Kyoto.

Going to iconic tourist destinations doesn’t need to be expensive. Kyoto, the old capital known for its stunningly preserved architecture and culture, is a must-visit for those who want to experience old Japan. Exploring Kyoto is like being toured inside a museum. You can stroll along the streets, visit temples, shrines, and gardens with relatively low to no cost at all.

Osaka is a food lover’s paradise. You can literally get lost with the plethora of restaurants available in the bright sprawling streets of Dotonbori. On the other hand, Tokyo is an urban jungle. Here you can experience what the first world is like in Asia–expect high-tech infrastructure, corporate stomping grounds, and a nightlife like no other. Unlike Kyoto and Osaka, Tokyo is not as tailor-made for tourists. Finding english translations can be arduous and people can be too busy walking so fast that it’s hard to ask for directions. Pro tip: Getting a portable Wi-Fi in Tokyo can save you a lot of time. Not only can Internet access help you translate, it can also help navigate the busy streets of the Japanese capital.

For the history enthusiasts, museums of different kinds dot the country, and you’ll surely find one that caters to your liking. The Ghibli museum is a must for Miyazaki fans, while Ueno Park houses a complex of museums such as the Tokyo National museum, the museum of Metropolitan Art, National Science Museum, and more.

If you want to visit as much places as possible, you can cut costs by avoiding tourist traps. For example, Tokyo Disney Resort and Universal Studios Japan are typically included on a tourist’s itinerary but expect to shell out about P3, 000+ for a single-day pass each. Go for a lot of small but genuine experiences rather than grandiose, mainstream attractions. If you really want to (or if your travel buddies insist), balance out pricey tourist destinations with low-cost ones to make sure you get the best of what Japan has to offer.

Public transportation is your friend

transportation in japan travel destinations guide itinerary
The revolutionary shinkansen (bullet train) with Mount Fuji at the background.

Japan is well-known for its comprehensive railway system that branches out to different regions of the country. Yes, train tickets may be expensive, but are worth the price if you’re going to transfer regions over the course of your stay. Taxis are notoriously expensive so avoid them if you can. Buses, while cheaper than trains, take much longer. Pro tip: Take a bus for overnight travels so you can double up on sleep while covering the distance you need.

If you’re gonna ride the train frequently, it might be practical to get rail passes. These are exclusively sold to tourists which entitles them to unlimited train rides on authorized lines. Tickets are valid in 7, 14, and 21-day variants. Conversely, don’t buy a Rail Pass if you’re spending less than seven days in Japan, especially if you won’t be travelling much between regions. Instead, opt for IC cards such as Suica and Pasmo – prepaid cards used to pay for transportation fares (including buses, trains, and subways).

Shopping and buying souvenirs

shopping in japan tourist travel guide
The neon-lit shopping district of Shinjuku.

100-yen or thrift stores such as Don Quixote, Daiso and Can Do are popular thrift stores to shop in when you’re looking for snacks, knick-knacks, kitchen wares, and even cosmetics. You’ll also find familiar stores like Uniqlo, Zara, and H&M although the prices are generally the same as the ones in here.

How to Start and Build Up an Emergency Fund

investing money emergency fund

“Why do I need an emergency fund?”–this is probably the first question that comes to mind when considering the idea of a rainy day fund. The answer is simple: life is full of uncertainties. In this erratic, changing world, not planning for the unexpected is a recipe for failure. Especially when it comes to your finances, it pays to think ahead.

Read more: 4 Signs that You’re Saving Money Wrong (And How You Can Fix It)

An emergency fund can be the difference between being financially prepared and scrambling for funds when the need arises. And in more extreme cases, it could spell the difference between life and death. To help you get started, we’ve listed down some pointers in starting your own fund:

What is an Emergency Fund?

An Emergency fund is a separate savings account dedicated to unexpected outflows of cash for uncertainties such as sudden loss of income, an illness, accidents, or any unforeseen expenses. To make it accessible, your emergency fund should be in liquid, easy to maintain accounts such as a savings or checking account for fast retrieval.

investing money savings for emergency fund account

How to start an emergency fund

First things first, check your cash flow and evaluate how much you can set aside per month towards your emergency fund. While it’s ideal to have a sizeable initial deposit, you can always work your way to your desired amount. Once you finish setting your goals, you can proceed to actually opening an account.

What you’re looking for is an easy-to-access account that yield decent return despite its liquidity. If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, you can also go for higher interest accounts to maximize your potential interest earnings, but that takes away from accessibility, which–in this case–is one of our top considerations. For a full overview of Security Bank’s savings and checking accounts, click here.

In terms of how much cash you actually put towards the fund, financial advisors recommend 3-6 months’ worth of your salary, or enough money to cover your monthly expenses during the short-term. A buffer of 3-6 months would also give you enough time to resolve your current financial dilemma and get back to your normal standing.

How to manage your fund

Managing your fund is more than faithfully depositing cash to it. To make sure that you use the fund efficiently, categorize what constitutes as an emergency to you. As much as possible, leave the fund alone for truly important cases such as the following:

  • Sudden loss of income. When your source of money is suddenly cut-off, your emergency fund will be your lifeline. Use it to pay rent, utilities, and daily expenses until you finally get a new job or a new means of income.
  • Health or Medical emergency. For illnesses or instances when your health insurance can’t cover all the expenses.
  • Property Maintenance. If there is structural risk in your house that needs immediate repair, if your car breaks down, or if a natural disaster strikes your home.
  • Other emergencies that you deem important. Sudden travel plans, acquisition of necessary equipment for personal/business use, etc.

The Bottom line:

Setting up an emergency fund is more than just being practical, it’s being responsible. Aside from having access to money when you most need it, the peace of mind you get from knowing that you are financially secured when times get rough should be enough of an incentive.

Read more: Should You Get a Personal Loan? Here are 4 Situations Where it Can Help You

If you haven’t set up an emergency fund, then applying for a personal loan is also an option. Unlike other types of loans, personal loans are flexible–you can use them for almost anything! Security Bank’s personal loan has a minimum loan amount of P30,000 and a maximum loan amount of P1,000,000. With an easy application, affordable payment terms, and approval in as fast as 5 banking days, you can start living the life you always wanted.

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Common Travel Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Vacation is something that we all look forward to. Whether it’s a trip to waterslide wonderland or an out of town escapade, a break from your usual routine is a good way to discover yourself and explore new adventures.

Read more: 4 Secrets to Booking Cheaper Flights

Travelling is meant to be fun but it only takes one mistake—no matter how meticulous you plan—to ruin an entire trip. Even after countless adventures, know that you’re still prone to make few mistakes that can lead to wasting of time and money. Here’s a list of the most common travel mistakes and—more importantly—how to avoid them.

Overpacking

Packing and traveling light is key. Not only is a heavy luggage a nightmare to travel with, it’s also more costly. The rule of thumb: plan what you need before what you want. Stick to the essentials! Pack outfits that can be mixed and matched to save space in your luggage. Remember, you can always do some laundry during the trip!

Not doing research

Doing a bit of research before your trip will help you save time and money. Research about the culture, food, tourist-friendly places, places to stay or read blog reviews about other’s experiences. Being aware of your surroundings is the best way to prepare for a safe and memorable adventure.

Losing out on Hotel and Airline Discounts

You may not know it but your credit card is a key to a ton of airfare and lodging discounts. If you have a credit card, head to your credit card issuer’s website and bookmark their promos page. These pages are treasure coves for the patient and the persistent. Booking a cheap flight or finding a nice place to stay on a budget trip can be incredibly frustrating. But with enough patience and preparation, you can save a ton on your big travel costs, which means more pocket money!

Not sticking to the budget

Spending an excessive amount of money on drinks, food and souvenirs can lead to a nightmare mid-trip. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to be stuck in a foreign country without enough cash. To avoid mishaps, build a realistic budget with enough space for unexpected expenses. Not only does this help you stick to the original plan, it also allows you to enjoy the rest of the trip without breaking the bank.

Putting all your cash in a single place

Losing your wallet can be a terrible thing, especially if you have all your cash and cards in it. Sometimes, being paranoid is a good thing. Pickpockets and snatchers are everywhere! That’s why it might be a good idea to invest in a light and handy purse. Whatever happens, make sure not to put all your cash in one wallet. Pro tip: Stash a couple hundred dollars somewhere in your suitcase or your wardrobe. When you’re in dire need of cash, it’s easy to get a good money exchange rate for dollars in most countries.

Not knowing hidden foreign charges on cards

Most credit cards—when used in a different country—will charge foreign transactions fees. While they look harmless at first, they do add up that by the end of your trip you’ll be wishing that you didn’t swipe as much. Call your bank to double check transaction fees for overseas purchases or you can apply for a Security Bank credit card for a hassle-free shopping experience with no foreign transaction fees!

Exchanging currency abroad

Exchange rates at airports are infamously steep and paying that premium is definitely a waste. Instead, schedule a trip to the bank a few days before your trip to exchange your currency so you’ll get better rates. To view current foreign exchange rates, click here.

Booking late

If you’re planning a trip, it’s best to book your flight months before your actual departure date. Flight are way cheaper when you book ahead of time. Bookmark airline websites or use apps like Skyscanner and constantly check them for good deals. Instead of spending extra on expensive flight tickets, you can use your savings by booking early to splurge on lodging or food.

Having unrealistic expectations before the trip

Setting unrealistic expectations will not only disappoint you, it can also ruin your whole trip. Don’t be bummed out when things don’t go your way. Remember, unexpected twists can lead to the most exciting experiences.

Not leaving your comfort zone

Let yourself explore rather than sticking to crowded tourist places. Try local food, converse with the locals, or search for hidden gems outside the city. By being flexible, you can discover new and fresh destinations that can make your adventures one of a kind.

6 Damaging Habits of Unsuccessful People You Don’t Want to Copy

habits of unsuccessful people

We all have habits—our own quirks and routines that make us unique and human. Unfortunately, they come in both the good and the bad, with the bad ones seemingly harder to get rid of. Some we pick up as we grow older while some have been with us since childhood. Whether good or bad, these habits have a profound effect on our productivity, and ultimately our careers.

Read more: 6 Simple but Effective Habits of Self-Made Millionaires

We’re here to help you spot habits that you should consider laying to rest. That’s not to say that having one or two of these habits make you a failure. After all, there are levels to this: some habits are more damaging than others and some are harder—if not almost impossible—to avoid than the rest. If you’re wondering what’s taking you so long to become successful, you might be suspect to some of these habits that could derail you in the pursuit of your dreams.

They are jealous of others’ success

Probably the hardest-hitting of the list, we probably have been all guilty of this at some point. Comparing yourself to others when you see them winning at the game of life as you stumble day-to-day could lead to feelings of bitterness and unwarranted inadequacy.

To avoid this unnecessary burden on your psyche, it’s best to focus on the things that you’re good at, and then build from there. List down your skills and how you can maximize them as you navigate your career. Most importantly, avoid looking at other people as competition! Try to analyze why and how they were successful and take the opportunity to learn as much as possible.

They don’t take risks

On the topic of development, unsuccessful people seem to be unwelcoming of change. They’ve grown so accustomed to their routines that a slight deviation from the norm causes them a great deal of stress. Being close-minded could stem from a bad experience, from fear of the unknown, or from a feeling of superiority—“this is how we do things here” or “it was much better back then”.

Comfort zones exist because we want them to. We seek out what’s real and tangible, and question things that are unfamiliar. This is perfectly normal behavior, but refusing to bend the other way when needed is detrimental to both you and your colleagues. Start small by trying new things. Learn to accept that change is constant, and that learning about things you don’t know doesn’t reduce your worth. In fact, it could only increase it.

They don’t take criticism well

Let’s get this out of the way, no one likes to be called out. Unsuccessful people breeze through life secretly wishing that no one notices their mistakes or shortcomings. But getting called out responsibility falls on your shoulders and refusing to own up to your mistakes doesn’t make you strong. It only shows weakness and how naive you still are.

Acknowledging what you did wrong and taking steps to correct it is the mark of a true adult. When you see criticism as a means of improvement, you not only earn the respect of your colleagues, you gain self-respect as well.

They cram

No matter the industry, we are all familiar with deadlines. They’ve been a staple in our lives since childhood, and we’ve grown to love them and hate them. The Mañana Habit, or taking comfort in the indefinite future, is something Filipinos are known for. Given a deadline of a month, practicing mananas would probably start work ¾ into the month and rush to finish it on the last day.

When putting things on hold, make sure that you’re using the time doing something valuable or of higher priority. The stress and regretful realization that you should’ve done it earlier as you gulp that third cup of (crammer) coffee isn’t worth it. As the cliche goes: Work hard first and enjoy when it’s done.

They let emotions take over

“I should treat myself after all that work”, or perhaps “I deserve this”, are just some of the whispering thoughts after an especially taxing day. Unsuccessful people are bad at managing cash flow. One reason is that they let their emotions take the wheel when it comes to spending.

Blindly spending with emotion leads to an expensive habit of compensating negativity with the short-lived happiness of material things. Needless to say, you should always try to clear your head before making a new purchase. Wait it out or—better yet—sleep on it. Before making a purchase, ask yourself again and again: Is it something you really need?

They conform

Suppress our individuality to blend in or to seek someone’s approval is a trap most unsuccessful people fall for. True, it does feel good when you share the same interests with someone, but changing who you are to fit only cripples your most distinct advantage.

By conforming, you unconsciously rob the world of the things you could share – things only you know how to do. These could be ideas bubbling inside your head that will never see the light of day. Who knows? These ideas could be the seeds of the next new startup.

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