3 Reasons Why You Should Shop Online

My Sony Cybershot DSC-TX5 Pink and its box

Christmas is fast approaching! Have you got your wishlist for Santa ready? With the fast evolving technology, one can now opt to shop online and with just a few clicks, you can have your purchased items and products delivered right on your doorstep in no time!

First Online Shopping Experience with Kim Lato's Kim Store

However, some people are still skeptic about buying online. Well, I have always been skeptic too. It's not easy to entrust your hard earned money to some seller that might not hold his end of the bargain and you would be left with nothing but regrets for taking such an idiotic step. 
Screenshot of Kim Lato's Store, Kim Store, as featured in The Good Housekeeping magazine
Photo of Kim Lato of Kim Store, as a featured entrepreneur in The Good Housekeeping magazine

Well, not anymore! A week ago, I asked my friend to meet up with the online seller of the Sony Cybershot DSC-TX5 camera whose office is located in Manila. I have been checking the background of the store where I would purchase the item and when I was satisfied that Kim Lato is not a bogus seller, I immediately sent the funds through BPI after sending her a message through Facebook indicating my interest in the said product mentioned. Her online store, which is hosted for free by Multiply is quite a hit indicated by the reviews and satisfied customers feedback of her service and ensured high quality yet affordable products.

Now I finally got my Sony Cybershot TX5 in the shade of pink.
Excited about my new underwater camera, Sony Cybershot DSC-TX5
It's so cute, so pink, so handy and so girly. So Sony. 

Below are just 3 of the bazillion reasons why you should consider shopping online after making sure that the person or the business that you're going to purchase to is indeed reliable. 

Advantage of Shopping Online Over A Traditional Store

1. Shop at the comfort of your home. 
It's about time to break the tradition of heading to the nearest department store and wait for the long queue just to purchase a single product or so. With the advent of online stores, you can easily search for the products or items that you want to purchase, select a color, size and quantity at your own pace with worrying for some sales lady bugging you about what do you want! 

2. Save time and gasoline.
Shopping online eliminates the need for travelling to specific stores in their physical locations thus minimizing your total effort. Instead of hopping in different establishments looking for a specific product, with just a few clicks of your mouse, you can browse various products and items without any cost at all. You can browse at your own convenient time without worrying for the store to close when you're in the middle of contemplating which among the two brands is better than the other. When I was in the process of searching for a rent-to-own house here in Iloilo, I used the web to look around and glad I was able to find the best deal ever!

3. Easy comparison of products' prices and features.
Compare product prices and features to make a better decision with less effort. When you're going to physically visit every store just to look for a single camera, you cannot easily spot the differences in prices and features when you need to go back and forth to each of these establishments. With online shopping, you can simply open several tabs and you're free to compare several stores and products without  so much effort!

Start purchasing those items in your wishlist now by shopping online. Be careful with choosing a merchant to entrust your money though. Be sure to check on their background, reviews and customer feedbacks so you can be assured of the safe and speedy delivery of your purchased items.

Below are just some of my snapshots with my new camera purchased through an online store!

Meet Mandy, my Sony Cybershot DSC-TX5 underwater camera
Sony Cybershot DSC-TX5 has some pretty smart focus which allows you to know adjust the focus with just one touch or with the aid of the pen
I love this shot because it shows the features of my button-free Sony Cybershot DSC-TX5
An underwater note "Olive You" which means I Love You as coined by my favorite YouTube celebrity, Dave Days and his friend Kimmi Smilez. The photo was taken using my underwater Sony Cybershot DSC-TX5

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4 C's I've Learned From My PLDT Selective Browsing

PLDT Selective Browsing Issue

When you spend most of your time online then all of a sudden the connection gets acting weird, you would normally and initially be ticked, wouldn't you?

Being snowed under by several tasks and issues at hand, I couldn't bear but another issue. For the second time in my online life, I experienced selective browsing. It is a point in your online life wherein your browser only allows you to open selective sites and in my case, I can only open Gmail and other Google-related products like Google Calendar, Google Docs, AdsenseGoogle Voice and fortunately this Blogger platform.

Normally I wouldn't mind such setup and would even appreciate that I couldn't access Facebook, Twitter and other social networking and procrastination-friendly sites. But when I realize that it wouldn't allow me to access everything except the platforms mentioned above, I know something must be wrong.

I called my ever crappy ISP, PLDT. A polite customer service representative walked me through their generic responses during this time and simple troubleshooting steps of which I could now memorize and have actually conducted on my own prior to calling them as this is usually my last resort. Even though I was highly disappointed at how routine and unhelpful their customer service was, I appreciate that the guy who strive to help me was indeed trying to genuinely help out that most people in his job lacks. Though the main goal of troubleshooting my connection wasn't reached and successfully executed, I appreciate that he has done his part. I just know it when someone is faking it or just basically reading without even understanding or full knowledge of what he's saying having been a call center agent myself for more than 3 years. 

Perfection is totally overrated, and just having the guts to make an effort is totally underrated. - Penelope Trunk

Personal and Technical Troubleshooting

There were several steps that I have done to try and solve the selective browsing issue but still couldn't because when I called my ISP again, they said that they're already "undergoing an intensive troubleshooting in our area". Like I would believe that, but I just gotta hope so.

Most threads online are saying that changing your default DNS to that of Google and OpenDNS would solve the problem. Unfortunately in my case, it didn't. I've changed several TCP/IP settings and configuration but I'm still helpless and I guess still doomed with this selective browsing issue.

2. Install an Anti-virus

The only anti-virus site which I could surprisingly access with this selective browsing is that of ESET node. However, whenever I try to download the program, the crappy connection wouldn't allow me.

Mommy Jo, our ever supportive network administrator, told me that it was unnecessary for me to change any of my connection settings because PLDT automatically assigns me an IP address. It would only create a conflict if I try and reset or tweak any of my default settings. 

At the end of the conversation, she asked me what is my anti-virus program. I smiled sheepishly and told her I have none. She went numbed for a moment and I know what's next. She told me the importance of having an anti-virus (all of which I know and understand but failed to give heed to). She reminded me that the Internet is like a vast ocean infested with sharks that are constantly looking for prey to pry on. There are bazillion of viruses lurking around trying to look for any vulnerable system that they could corrupt.

I still don't have an anti-virus but I know it's not about my system because my other friends in our area are also experiencing the same connection. They actually didn't know they could browse selective sites because I'm the only one who likes to access Blogger, Google Docs and Gmail. They're still stuck with Yahoo, Facebook and what-not.

3. Reformat the Computer

My favorite! Though it may sound too tedious for others, it's still the best solution for me when all else fails. I don't want to deal with trying to fix a mess when I don't really know where to start. Why try to fix something when I can always get rid of everything and start all over. Don't get me wrong but I think it's more convenient to end the problem when all other possible solutions are utterly useless. 

Trust me, you don't wanna try and fix a situation where in the hindsight the pieces may seem to fit together but you know inside everything is falling part.

4 C's I Learned from the Experience

Up to this point, I am able to publish through this blogging platform and let the whole world know about my rantings if I really want to. However, knowing the person I am who would always see the bright side of things and hoping for a light at the end of he tunnel, I look into what have I been learning from the experience?

1. Compliment and Appreciate What You Now Have

I have always been so critical of my slow connection but when it reached to the point wherein I could only browse selective sites, I have learned to notice the little things and appreciate them. I've read my inbox more carefully and realize I have been misunderstanding people sometimes. I had more time to read the forwarded messages on my mobile phone's inbox. I listened to the bell of the nearby church more intently and the music from the chirping of the birds around me. I knew I have always been so busy savinginvesting and doing my own thing and failed to give thoughts on what others would think or feel towards me. 

I've learned that the world may move so fast so, as the people around us, but we can always stop for a moment and laugh. Notice at how clever our Creator has made everything so perfect. Everything may move so fast but it doesn't necessarily require us to be fast in judging things and the people around us. 

The world may be fast but we must be slow to anger in order to keep the world we live in balanced.

2. Copy and Back-Up

Make it a habit to create a copy of everything that matters to you so in case you would need to format it or lose the original, you can still have something to hold on to. 

The same is true with our relationships with people. Retain a copy of your good memories together so that when conflict or angry thoughts would cloud over your head, you can still hold on to the wonderful moments you had together. Whenever I have terrible thoughts due to misunderstandings with friends, I would be swift in looking back at the good things that we had together so I won't have to focus on the bad ones.

Do not let a single unfortunate event ruin all the great moments you had together because every relationship deserves a second chance. 

Second chance, when used wisely, makes the bond even stronger.

A quality tire (bond of friendship) can only be tested once the friction (opposite force) is applied to it. You will never know it's true worth unless it is put to test.

3. Connect and Authorize

Since I couldn't open my Facebook now, I am grateful that I have authorized the Networkedblogs application to let my friends on Facebook know of the new articles I have published in my blog thus enabling me to reach out to them despite this selective browsing issue.

The same is true with the relationships. We need to connect with our friends and we need to trust them because sometimes we can't just do everything by ourselves. We need people worthy of our trust to do some tasks for us.

It is not irresponsible to let others help us.

Sometimes even a strong warrior needs the back-up and alliance of his army. We are born to be trustworthy and to be trusting. We need to trust our Lord and our friends.

If you keep looking back who's looking after you, can't know where you are going. - Michael Westen

4. Clean Up

Everything needs cleaning up.

It is the frequency that may vary but everything needs cleaning.

Whether it be the nails in your fingers, the earrings that your mom gave for your 18th birthday, the car that your dad bought you for your debut or the bed sheets that you're sleeping in! Everything needs cleaning in order for them to continue functioning smoothly and retain it's good condition for longer period of time.

Everything needs check up and evaluation of its state. You see, the same is true with our friendships and relationships with other people. Sometimes there are little rusts, ill feelings that may be unnoticed or not given required attention that starts to pile and if not given proper attention, might ruin the whole thing!

If you are having some shaky relationship with your spouse or your friends, don't let it continue until the mind gets corrupted with those little and unnoticeable rusts.

Settle it, give time to it. Or you would spend the rest of your lives regretting the whole thing.

We all need cleaning and tuning because nothing is perfect. Little differences can be settled when everyone makes time for it and don't let pride rob you off with a precious thing called friendship.

P.S. Thanks PLDT for not fixing my internet connection right away because you have just helped me make time to fix but a more important connection -- my connection with my friends!

3 Reasons Why I Still Bank with City Savings Bank - The Thrift Bank

City Savings Bank - A Thrift Bank - Stable, Polite Employees and Fast Transactions

I have been banking with City Savings Bank (A Thrift Bank) for more than a couple of years now. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the bank, it is "the thrift bank affiliate of Aboitiz Equity Ventures...it now has 24 branches and extension offices all over Visayas and Mindanao. It has over 300 employees, a stockholders equity of over P 500.0M and a total resources of over P 4.0B, many times doubled over the initial capital when the bank started. It has increased its clientele base to more than 77,000 borrowers from 3,568 while depositors’ base has reached to over 87,000 from only 2,735 since it began its business.

The Bank remains among the most stable thrift banks in the country. It has one of the best operating efficiencies in the thrift banking industry, lowest non-performing loans and highest capitalization levels. The bank’s basic philosophy of providing excellent banking service, while treating each customer as a family member has stayed the same."

I still do.

Despite one unfortunate event last Friday when my mom forgot to bring her identification document and tried to withdraw a sum of P50,000. The teller whom she tried to have a transaction with, Elmer, knew that she was my mom but the other teller blocked the progress of the transaction and even commented that my mom should have some "common sense". I figured that a true investor shouldn't be deterred by a single unfortunate event but focus on the horizon instead.

City Savings Bank is a great bank with lots of potential.

I could have withdrawn all my savings and time deposit because of such unprofessional remark but remained a loyal client of them because of the following reasons:

1. Low Opening and Maintaining Balance

Two years ago when I was just starting with my job, I always wanted to save some of my salary for the rainy days. So I looked for banks that will enable me to save some money without requiring high opening and maintaining balance. The branch here in Iloilo is so accessible everytime I would go to SM Delgado and you couldn't pass that area in the city without noticing the eye-catching signage, "City Savings Bank" colored in yellow.

So when I saw that they accept savings deposit in as low as P100, I didn't think twice of opening an account! I thought it's going to be one of those fleeting accounts that I would have a hard time maintaining but until now, it still amazes me as to how I was able to save some money and able to maintain it.

As of writing, their opening and maintaining balance starts at P500.00 which is still relatively lower when compared to most commercial banks.

With such a low maintaining balance, I was a little worried that I might have a hard time withdrawing quite large value of money when I need it. But when the time came that I needed to withdraw P110,000.00 from my savings from the said bank in order to pay for my rent-to-own townhouse's downpayment, I was glad when I was able to withdraw without any hassle. A truly stable and trustworthy thrift bank!

2. Easy and Fast Access

Just a ride away from where I am, I love that I don't have to walk a lot when I need to deposit or withdraw because of its centrally located branch here in Iloilo. There are not much queue when compared to other banks because its clients are usually teachers and government employees. It's a relatively small bank but since it's an affiliate of the Aboitiz company, I trust that they wouldn't run away with my hard-earned money unlike with the fear I have with most small banks. Since it is small and it doesn't serve much clients, my transactions are usually very easy and fast (except for what happened to my mom).

3. Longer Hours and Open on Saturdays

Business hours starts at 9:30 AM - 5:30 PM Tuesdays to Saturdays. I love that I could go there and make transactions every Saturday. Aside from City Savings Bank, other banks that open on extended hours are RCBC Savings Bank and Banco de Oro.

I should also mention that the employees are usually polite (except again for one teller who ruined my total respect for this company). Instead of impulsively withdrawing my deposits with them, I calmly talked with their manager last Saturday about what I really like about the company but complained about the impolite and substandard treatment given to my mom. He mentioned that he personally appreciates how I handled the matter unlike most clients that would just storm their branch and withdraw their money.

I reasoned that I do not easily get offended and that I always try to give the people involved with the chance to explain themselves. I have always regarded City Savings Bank highly so one unfortunate event wouldn't destruct such respect. After all, it must serve its purpose, an eye opener and wake-up call to the management, not only of the City Savings Bank, but also to all banks that they should treat their clients with due respect and  provide value to the money that we entrust them because after all, we, the clients, are the lifeblood of their career and their industry.

Our confidence and respect are what enables them to keep their day to day transactions. I hope that's a lesson that not only City Saving Bank would learn but also  Banco de Oro tellers (yes, the latter badly need it).

When compared to other tellers, tellers of City Savings Bank are actually way nicer than most tellers of most commercial banks so if you want value, efficient customer service and stable financial institution to bank with, I wouldn't doubt recommending City Savings Bank.

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Should You Invest in Your Kids' Education? A Journey to Financial Stability with Your Family

Should You Invest in Your Kids' Education?

What investments do you have in portfolio? 

Stocks? Gold? Bonds?

Have you thought about investing in your kids' education? 

My mom did.

And now she's yielding and reaping the interests thereof. It's probably the single most important decision she has ever done in her life (next to marrying my dad) and proved her to be right. She has just made herself the best investor of all time. May I dare say that she's far more better than the world's greatest investor, Mr. Warren Buffet.

Let me tell you why before you start flipping out. 

Not that I'm saying that paying for my education has made us rich. She didn't send me to the best exclusive schools either (mainly because she couldn't afford to) but her efforts of sending me to school, no matter how difficult it must have been for her and despite how exhausting the efforts required of her, may I dare say that they are gradually being paid off.

I would never get tired telling people just how proud I am (and I'd bet all my life's savings that my mom is too, only 1000 times more proud) about me getting us a rent-to-own townhouse. Not that I've paid it all off in cash but I'm halfway there. I may not be literally halfway, but I'm on my way! 

The Children Is Our Future, If You Teach Them Well to the Right Path

Mom knew that "children is our future, teach them well and let them lead the way". Several years of her sacrifices are gradually being reciprocated as I take on the responsibility of being our family's provider (don't worry there's just two of us in the family) and trying to secure a much more comfortable lifestyle for both of us. 

Parents should therefore do all that they can to secure their future, their children's future by investing in their children's education. I've once read in a newspaper that it is ideal to invest the most money during the early years of your child's education than later. Yes, invest more while your child is in the nursery, kindergarten and grade school. Sounds too fancy, huh? Well think about how much a child develops and discovers his potential in his early years. As he successfully do so, the world will open its opportunities for him to the point that such opportunities will pay for his tuition in high school and college! You see, the earlier you invest, the higher the interest will it yield!

Diversify Your Investment Portfolio by Investing At Home

When I said invest, it doesn't necessarily mean just monetary investment but also, and most importantly, the time and love you could give to your children. Educate your children, nurture and help them get the best training from school and from home.

Don't focus too much on your jobs and accumulating wealth as you may lose them. Invest instead in a long term and high-interest yielding investment vehicle--your relationship with your family where no moth of the Earth could destroy nor men of this world could rob. 

Rear and nurture your kids with love and devotion and put in more effort and investment you can in them. You may lose your jobs, your portfolio may get weak during inflation and financial crisis but as you invest your time and resources wisely with your family, you can never lose them. As you invest with them, you are also investing into a much more secure and better community. Invest in your kids and their education (and regularly monitor them) and your investment will never go waste.

Not Relying Everything to Your Kids 

Now I don't wanna sound like most Filipinos that rely on their relatives and kids abroad just because parents have this sense of entitlement because  they've invested all their efforts on their kids education and feel that they shouldn't worry about their retirement. I am saying this because my maternal grandfather didn't give my mom the choice to study. He has his mindset that girls would eventually marry and that they don't need to spend money on their schooling because of such fate. It's totally unfair and I'm glad that my mom knew what she wants and eventually went to college with the help of some really kind old maids that manages the school she went to. It is very important for parents to provide for the education of their kids with the best that they can. However, they should not rely everything on their kids income and save some money for their retirement too. 

Why Me and My Mom Are a Perfect Combination

Mom has always been prudent, thrifty and practical--to the very sense of these words. She has always been so wise in spending her funds, knowing where to allocate each money available to what which is needed. She has little wants. She barely has them--especially the tangible or material ones. I once asked her whether she wants to buy fanciful dresses. She would just point her finger to Magarbo (an ukay ukay or hand-me-down clothes store) and would be pleased with her highbrow shopping skills.

I have learned to be thrifty and practical but not always wise. Having been deprived with a lot of luxurious things of this world, I have grown to develop a longing for these things and work hard to have them. 

Now, what makes me and my mom a perfect combination for wealth accumulation? I have the drive, she has the control. I have the skills, she has the Liahona (direction). I have been trained to get used to working hard, driven and passionate about earning, saving and investing. Mom knows how to take a few steps backward from the group of fanciful trees and tries to always get a better view of the forest. She helps me control my wants and determine my needs. She's like my hedge fund manager. A prolific one. 

However, mom lacks the investing initiative. She's risk averse and afraid to lose the principal while I am always thrilled at the interests I may yield from my little investments. Mom is a keeper while I am an investor. I am the earner while my mom is the saver. With our joint efforts we gradually secure our future, if not accumulate wealth, without relying too much on my current job.

What about you? Have you been wisely spending on your children's education? Are you trying to control your yearnings and try to increase your earnings? If not, it's not yet too late. Below are great resources for knowledge about investing, saving and other things that would help you refresh your memory or learn more about something you don't know.

Rich Free Resource of Knowledge and Investing Tips
I have recently been reading a lot of investment blogs and found a couple of which are very interesting and filled with bazillion and wealthy resource for investing. Also, I have found a free resource of refreshing our memory with lessons in college like mathematics, calculus, physics and other subjects which you might have forgotten by now. These are really interesting and very scintillating blogs, I must warn you, they are too addictive! 

1. Khan Academy - Bill Gates' Favorite Teacher
The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) with the mission of providing a world-class education to anyone, anywhere. Despite being the work of one man, Salman Khan, this 1600+ video library is the most-used educational video resource as measured by YouTube video views per day and unique users per month. We are complementing this ever-growing library with user-paced exercises--developed as an open source project--allowing the Khan Academy to become the free classroom for the World.

Below is a truly inspiring interview with the founder, Salman Khan about how he envisions a world with more intellectual people through free learning. Watch and be edified.

Jim Rogers, a native of Demopolis, Alabama, is an author, financial commentator and successful international investor. He has been frequently featured in Time, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Barron’s, Forbes, Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and most publications dealing with the economy or finance. 

I gotta save the best for last. Blasting with tons of great ideas and advices on investing, Lloyd is an investing genius!

Being a collection of thoughts, observations, comments, opinions and views on investing--especially for the long term. Disclaimer: This blog is not intended as professional advice. Please seek your own professional advisor who can properly review your particular circumstances. The author disclaims any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals who directly or indirectly act on the information contained herein. All readers must accept full responsibility for their use of this material.

Enjoy your journey to a financial independence!

Building genuine wealth is as much about the builder as it is about the built. - Robert Kiyosaki

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