It's been almost a month since Yolanda struck our country. It's been one surreal experience for those who survived and a great loss to everyone.

I myself was too busy coordinating on the retrieval of some relatives who lived in Tacloban when I was asked this question:

"What will happen to those victims who have previous loans in the bank, credit cards to pay, jewelries or valuable items kept safe inside the bank? How will they be able to fulfill their obligation to pay when they have lost (******) everything?" 

I don't own credit to this image.

Based on my professional point of view and understanding, my response was:

"An obligation is an obligation. A debt is a debt. Doesn't necessarily mean that the calamity has washed away everything, it doesn't necessarily wash away their debts and obligations. However, these institutions (the creditors) do give extensions on the payment."

That was my quick and short response. But after that, I decided to ask for further details on the affected institutions and ways to address this certain kind of risk.

Payment of debts - A banker friend of mine who's task is into generating loans, she confirmed my quick and short response. She also mentioned to me that in their bank, they would usually give a 90 day extension for the debtors to pay off their dues. Penalties are also waived off.

So, if you are affected by Yolanda and your concern is on the payment of your outstanding debts, just approach your creditor and explain to them the situation. I'm pretty sure they will be more lenient with their debtors.

How can they rebuild their lives?

So, yeah! How can one protect one's self from this kind of risk? Time and again, I have heard of studies stating how Japan gets to rebuild itself even it being one country that get's hit by a lot of calamities. The answer to this is INSURANCE.

Japan is the second biggest insurance market in the world after the U.S. and generates nearly 20% of global premiums. In our industry training, it has been shared to us how Japan picks itself up after someone passes away. A Japanese have an average of 7 insurance policies. So, when a Japanese dies, his beneficiaries receives funds that can help them rebuild their lives.

Basically, if we Filipinos learn to understand and harness the magic of insurance, rebuilding would be a little bit more easier. 

Pioneer, one of Honeycomb's financial instrument provider, has HomeMaster under it's Non-life insurance arm. I will not be explaining in full detail all the benefits but here are some that could have addressed the situation of those greatly affected by Yolanda and other calamities or "acts of God".

HomeMaster benefits:
  • Protection against the following perils: 
    • fire and lightning
    • smoke
    • vehicle impact
    • explosion
    • falling aircraft
    • burglary or robbery
    • bursting and/or overflowing of water tanks and pipes
    • earthquakes* (at insured's option)
    • typhoon* (at insured's option)
    • flood* (at insured's option)
  • Coverage for Valuable Items
    • Aside from insuring the building, it's improvements, and the standard household contents, you can also secure coverage for declared valuable items such as jewelry, fine art and antiques.
  • Protection for Your Living Standards
    • When the property you occupy becomes uninhabitable due to damages caused by any of the insured perils, HomeMaster will reimburse you for any necessary increase in your living expenses should you need to move in to a temporary residence. This provides you and your family financial assistance to keep on living comfortably.
There are a few more benefits of this particular package but a summary of the benefits are:
  • Have the resources to rebuild your home and all its amenities.
  • Have the most comprehensive cover for your residence to include perils that may not be covered by  standard home insurance.
  • Cover for your medical expenses should any of your loved ones get into an accident.
  • Provide financial assistance should an accident result in a family member's disablement or death.
  • Protect you from any legal liability should you cause bodily injury or property damage to any third party.
  • Enjoy savings on your premiums and convenience as you get Personal Accident, Property and Liability insurance in one package.
What's done is done. Now is not the time to regret what should have been done cause we can't do anything about what has happened. But for those who are concerned of the same thing, of protecting one's major assets and you're wondering how you can protect yourself from these kind of calamities, INSURANCE is the key.

We can't keep on relying on outside help to rebuild our lives. There are ways to minimize our exposure to the damages of these kind of calamities. Unfortunately, majority of the population have no idea of what's available out there.

As they say, "Nobody plans to fail, they just fail to plan." 

So, let's all learn the lesson here. There are ways to manage these risks, it's a matter of asking the right people how. We can help you protect your biggest investment. You may reach us via or reach us on Facebook.

Hannah Almira Amora is a financial consultant by profession, a finance educator by heart. After their life-changing experience with their son's life-threatening congenital heart defect, it has pushed her further to educate why it's very important to educate one's self on personal finance. 

She has seen the effects of being passive on different investment vehicles out there. She will discuss the different types everybody can participate in - in layman's terms and she will be sharing her story on how they can be harnessed to help each and every person's dream/s.

Basic Overview:
- Stocks
- Bonds
- Mutual Funds
- Insurance

- Why Save?
- Why Invest?
- Where to Invest?
- How to Invest?

Registration fee: P500 per pax, with all the good things that has happened, we're giving away a 50% discount, that's P250 per pax, with snacks and materials already!

So, if you feel you can learn a thing or two from Hannah and her success stories, register now and bring along a friend with you. :)

RSVP: 0932-802-0412

Or register through this link, .

It's been a while since we did a public seminar / workshop. And because of the generosity of a client of a cousin, we are back with our public seminars, this time, entitled "Honey from your Money" which will be held at Bizala Business Hub.

If you answer "YES" to any of these questions:
- are you a newbie in the stock market and burning money right now with the volatility of the market?
- are a you student who wants to know if there's a way for you to invest with a meager allowance?
- are you a saver right now and not happy with the returns on your regular savings or time deposit account?
- are you curious if there's another way for your money to grow?
- are you working 9-5 and still unhappy how your financial life is going?
- are you curious what's "Honey from your Money" is all about?
Then you should attend this seminar. 

Registration fee includes snacks and a few materials. Seats are limited, so, please do register ahead to ensure yourself a seat.

So, today will be my first born's first day in 1st grade. When he was just 3 years old, I started calling schools to ask how much the tuition fees where. I did that because of my background, a finance educator advocate and a financial planner. If I was not in this field, I don't think I would have done that. 

Anyway, this post will be more of a sharing of the data that I gathered back in 2010 and an updated version of the Tuition Fee Study that I started.

I have read an article years back showing the tuition fee rates of the top schools in Manila. However, for somebody living in Cebu City and have no plans of sending my son to Manila, I decided to do my own to get an idea of the situation in my very own city.

Note: This research isn't rocket science. CHED and DepEd wouldn't give us access to the latest rates with their respective reasons. We respect it but still we needed to get the data, and so we had to go from one school to another. Some rates were given by working students, some would only give the rates for my "imaginary" incoming students. The gathered data where then tabulated. The averages and medians were computed. So, the rates that you'll be seeing are just a guide as to the average tuition fee rates of the different levels in the schools. We do not guarantee 100% accuracy on the data gathered. The rates that you see are inclusive of dictated miscellaneous fees. For those who gave us purely tuition fees, we added 15% on top of it to take into consideration the miscellaneous fees. 

Tuition fees for Pre-elementary, Elementary and High School

Tuition Fees for College
As you can see, the average tuition fee increase from the schools listed is at 10%. But I saw an article dated last year that listed more schools here in Cebu, and the average increase was at 12%. (Article here.)

Since April, I have read several posts of mothers being shocked of the tuition fee rates in the schools that they're eyeing on for their child. Well, if they're surprised of the tuition fee rates TODAY, how much more in high school? In college?!

To give you a visual presentation of a 6-year old's tuition fee based on the current average tuition fees (elementary - P46,779, high school - P55,793 and college P72,011) vs the average budget for education of a P50,000 and P100,000 combined family income. Education budget allocation is based on NSO study on family expenditures in 2009.

based on average tuition fees

based on average tuition fees

From these two charts, for a couple with a combined take-home pay (net of taxes and other deductions) of P50,000, they would have a hard time sending their child to school based on the average tuition fee rates. Even if their annual income would increase by 6% per year. 

For a P100,000 take home pay (maybe an OFW's case perhaps?), yes, sending their child to really good private schools is doable in the first few years but by the time the child will reach Grade 7 until college, at an average tuition fee increase of 10% per year, the couple would now have to consider increasing the budget allocated for education OR find additional source of income to compensate the need.

Now, that's based on the AVERAGE tuition fee rates. How about if the couple would just go for the minimum tuition fee rate based on the study? Well, here's a chart for that. 

based on minimum tuition fees

based on minimum tuition fees

Based on these 2 charts, there's a big adjustment made. The school considered here are the one's with the least tuition fees based on the study.

For the P50,000 take-home pay couple, sending their child to senior high school until college (based on the K-12 program) would still be a challenge. But for a P100,000 income couple, as long as they only have 1 child to send to school, then they will be able to provide for their child's education with extra budget to spare.. :)

Now, the previous charts are showing trends for a 1-child couple. How about those with 2 kids with 4 years gap? Like myself... :)

based on average tuition fees

based on average tuition fees

From these 2 charts, it shows that the P50,000 couple would now be faced with a BIGGER challenge of how to send their kids to the listed schools.

For the P100,000 couple, by the time the 1st child will be in 3rd grade, then the fund source for tuition will  be a challenge, just like the P50,000 couple.

Same situation as those with just 1 child, what if the couples would opt to go for the minimum tuition fees?

based on minimum tuition fees

based on minimum tuition fees
From these 2 charts, it shows that for the P50,000 pay couple, the challenge of paying off for the tuition fee starts at the 2nd grade of the 1st born, and even until the eldest graduates from college.

However, the P100,000 pay couple will be financially struggling by the time the eldest is in senior high school until the child graduates from college. They would be able to take a breather when the 1st child graduates.

Now, these scenarios are good for 1 or 2 kids.. If you would like to have an idea of how much your child's tuition fee based on your school picks, you may use this widget we created based on the data shown above.

Or you may also reach us at or landline (032) 381-0188 for help on creating a financial plan and how to create an education fund.

"Han, upgraded to investment grade na ang Philippines sa Fitch." ("Han, Philippines has been upgraded to investment grade by Fitch.") - This was a text message I got from my client last March 27, 2013 at around 2:48pm.

As a non-day trader, non-economist, and somebody who graduated from an engineering course but saw a career in the financial consultancy field, I knew right there and then that it was good news.

However, the non-economist side of me kicked in. What's in it for me as a regular investor? As a non-stock trader?  How do I translate this good news to my existing clients and prospects in a way that can be understood by somebody not in the investment field, i.e. the savers and non-savers?

This article will be an attempt on that. Wish me luck! Now, if I'm able to accomplish my objective, will you be kind enough to share the information to your friends? Thanks!

Anyway, the moment I got that text message from my day-trader client, I had to check my regular resource sites for that same news. And good thing, I saw an infographic that helped explain about the credit rating upgrade from one of my sources! :) Thank you Rappler for this nice infographic.

Now, I would like to focus more on the effects of a credit rating upgrade...

Lower interest on gov't debt. 

So, if our gov't would have to borrow money, either from it's people or some foreign entity, the rate that they'll be borrowing will be lower to what we're experiencing right now. Now, what are these gov't debts? From my understanding (If an economist reads this, please correct me if I'm wrong in my understanding. Again, this is based on my non-economist side.) sample instruments of gov't debts are T-bills and RoP Bonds.

If you're somebody who plans to buy more bonds, placing money in TDs (time deposits) or SDAs (special deposit accounts) then this will be bad news for you... Well, good news for our gov't but bad news for the one lending there money to. Why? SDA and TD rates are close enough to T-bills and RoP Bond rates. They're pegged at that rate just enough to beat the inflation. But sometimes, inflation outpaces them. Here's a graph to show you how it looks like.

Just now, I saw an article stating that the T-bill rates has dropped to its all time low.

More affordable loans.
Due to the rising confidence of depositors in banks, the bank has now a huge chunk of deposits that needs to  circulate. As of 2012, there are over P4.5T in the Philippine banking system. And the only way for this to circulate is to lend it to the public. And to entice people to borrow, they lower down the borrowing rate. 

Cheaper funds for company expansions; More investments in factories and open offices, more jobs.
More affordable loans means more opportunity to create new businesses (either small, medium or large) or even expand. Now for those trading / investing in the stock market that's good news for you as well! Why? Expansions or new business by these companies will grow the value of your shares! :)

However, for those staying away from the stock market because its "risky", here's a picture I'd like to share to you on the risk that you're staying away from.

Some companies composing the PSEi.

Looking at this picture, do you really think these companies will be defaulting ALL at the same time in the near future? Granting you don't have any idea on which company is good enough to invest in or stay away from, then a professionally managed fund is a better option for you - i.e mutual funds, UITF (unit-investment trust fund) or variable unit linked (VUL) products. 

This is a graph showing you the yearly performances of different investment vehicles - from savings deposit accounts, time deposits, SDAs (special deposit accounts), mutual funds, t-bills and some of the benchmarks such as core inflation rate and PSEi performance. 

If you had invested P1 in each of these vehicles since 2000, how much do you think the value of your P1 is today?

In order to maintain the purchasing power of your P1 back in 2000, you should be able to grow it at the same rate as inflation. The graph shows that in order to buy the same amount of goods for your P1 back in  2000, your P1 should now be at P1.72.  Unfortunately, bank products and even the 364-day T-bills where not able to grow the P1 at that level since 2001. If you had placed your money in TDs, SDAs, Tbills, worse, in savings account since 2000, you have lost more value to your money. 

But! The "risky" ones, were able to double, quadruple and more for your P1. That is net of inflation already. 

Risk is relative. Crossing the street, either on foot or riding a vehicle, involves risk. You could slip, you could get hit by a car or be bumped by another person. But we still do it on a daily basis. Why? To get to our destination. Same thing goes for our savings. Savers would like to grow their money. However, they forgot to consider inflation - that thing that sucks the value out of your money - keeping you from reaching your destination.

Money Value Calculator Exercise:

Now, if you've been placing money in the bank or plan to park money in the bank with the intent to grow it, I encourage you to do this exercise with me.

Since 2001, the average inflation is at 4.28%. So for inflation rate purposes, we'll just use 4% (or 0.04). Now, for this exercise I decided to benchmark on the rates of the bank I'm using, BPI, Bank of the Philippine Islands*. As per their site, the highest TD rate is at 1.5% (or 0.015) good for 364 days. But you need to  put in at least 5 million pesos.

Using the calculator below, how much do you think you've grown your money? Has it really grown?

Note: In order for the calculator to work as expected, use the decimal form of interests.

(For the sake of those who are not into numbers:

 i.e. 0.1%/100  = 0.001
       1%/100    = 0.01
       10%/100  = 0.1)

Well, your passbook might show a gross growth of P75,000 (called as the nominal value) after a year of parking P5,000,000 in TD, but in reality, after considering inflation, you've lost P125,000 worth of goods since you were not able to grow your P5,000,000 in the same rate as inflation. The real value of your P5,000,000 after 1 year should be at P5,200,000 in order for you to purchase the same amount of goods prior to parking your money.

How does this calculator work?  It will help you to compute by how much you've grown the purchasing power of your investment. If the result shows a positive result, then you've increased the amount of goods purchased by that amount. However, if the result is a negative number, then you've lost that amount of goods to inflation. Ergo, you lost money to inflation.

Now, you try it! Here's a site where you can check the different rates of different banks in the Philippines, And tell me if you've grown your money or you lost money to inflation.

Whatever the result is, whether it's a positive one or a negative one, feel free to comment and I'll give a little token of appreciation. :)

Earlier this month, I wrote "The Consequences of Loosing a Loved One - Part 1". And with that, my mother sent me, my brother and sister a message as a response to my post. And with her permission, I decided to share it with you for you to have a glimpse on the confessions of a widow. Mind you, this is the first time that we really discussed about the loss of our father...

Photo by vincent BOCOGNANI

  • Mama: Hi Hon, good job on your blog. I am so proud of you as a writer. The same goes to Kuya and Ate who also can write well. Did you know that Papa could also write well. It runs in your blood.
    • Ate:

      Mamalou!!! YES!! Papa really writes well! :) XXX We miss you Mamalou!

      Some facts you may not know about Papa's insurance. He had 2 insurance policies - one was the regular and the other was term insurance which had more face value. The last one we bought was the term insurance when we were still in Pusok. We felt that the first policy was not enough for contingencies so we decided to get the term as it had cheaper premiums but more value. I made sure that policies were paid on time including mine even when we were already experiencing financial difficulties . We also got one for Kuya; he being the oldest, which we deemed would be beneficial later, for several reasons. That was the policy I turned over to Kuya as a wedding present so he can continue paying it.

      As for the CAP colllege plans, Papa and I wanted the three of you to finish college and earn degrees at all cost. Those are the only gifts that we can give you that cannot be stolen. I applied as CAP Advisor and that allowed me to get discounted premiums. Kuya's age at that time was way beyond the qualifying age for the coverage so it was only Ate and Honhon who had college plans.
    • Mama:

      Earning a college diploma was a big thing for Papa and me. We both came from poor families. You may not know this and Papa has always kept this away from you. He has not finshed a college degree; he finished a vocational course ( 2 year Secretarial Course) in Mindoro and he worked at the same to support himself. He was away from LT and his sisters who were in Cebu. Papa stayed with her Auntie who was maried to a lawyer in San Jose Occidental Mindoro and worked in his aunt's store, even baking cakes.
      • Mama: 

        So, now you would understand why Papa was against your getting a job and at the same time study; because he has been through that. He wanted all of you to concentrate on your studies , just be full- time students and do your share so you can earn the degrees that you really like. With that, we are optimistic that your future will at least be secured as you are ready to face the challenges of finding jobs or putting up your own business.
        • Ate: 
          Yes Mamalou, I remember those. And definitely appreciative of that. That is one thing we pride ourselves of, to have you guys as parents. To have taught us what we needed to survive and no matter how down we get in life, we will always make it because you have molded us to become survivors and rise when we fall. So a huge KUDOS to you and Papa. Ask Ray to pat you at the back when he gets there. LOVE YOU MAMALOU!!!! XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX MWAH!!!!!
          • Mama:
            We hope we have have not failed you on this aspect. We are proud of what you are now. Papa may not be with us physically, but I feel that he is happy where he is now. We just miss him so much.

            • Ate:
              Awwww ... It is obvious that you and Papa have not failed Mamalou!!! I may have gone astray but you guys did not fail :D XXXX

              Yes Ma. I knew that LT was referring to a TERM insurance and I also know about the smaller face amount insurance. She mentioned that to me when she was looking after me after I gave birth to Rayne. And that was a significant story to me that's why I decided to take it.. 

              But was LT correct? What she said to me? That Papa got the term insurance a few months before he was diagnosed with his lung cancer?
            • As for Papa not finishing college, I knew about that before hand.. And I really appreciated the fact that Papa did not allow me to be a working student. I saw the challenges that my batch mates were in as working students...
              And as Ate said it, you and Papa did not fail us... :)
              • Mama:
                We got his term insurance several years before Papa was diagnosed with Cancer. We had to look ahead for your future . .
                • Honeycomb:

                  Ah! Okay! Got that.. Thanks Ma! And because of those decisions that you and Papa made, that's why I chose to make a career out of this to help educate the people of the importance of having one..
                  By the way, did you get what I meant at the last part? About Sir Tony Boy??
                  He passed away sometime August or September, I think.
                  • Mama:

                    Oh No?, may he rest in peace. . .What was the cause of death? He was instrumental in introducing Papa to life insurance. In fact, Papa had another life insurance which lapsed and it was too late when he knew about it. He got a loan on the policy, forgot to make any payment and he was just notified that it has lapsed..
                    Did you go to his wake?
                    • Honeycomb:

                      Wasn't able to do so coz I learned about it a few days after..
                      i just prayed for him...
                      • Kuya:

                        Hi Ma,
                        We all know that you have raised 3 good kids :DAnd were very proud of having you as our parents.
                        The lessons you have taught us have brought us a very long way on being independent and responsible.
                        Love and kisses,
                        Kuya :)
                        • Mama:

                          Papa and I are blessed, and I am happy that you have grown up to be independent, responsible and courageous individuals despite our lack of physical presence to guide and support you in all your trials and endeavors. This, I have to ask your forgiveness for leaving you on your own after Papa's death. Looking back, that was the only way I knew at that time so I can continue to support your financial needs and finish your studies. I could not continue operation of our business and there was no possible employment for me there. Leaving was the only option, although it hurt me so much. When I came to California in 2002 , I suffered for months from depression without me knowing it; I just lost Papa. I could not sleep continuously for several weeks and cried most of the time, being away from you and still looking for jobs to support myself and save something to send you for your needs.
                          Thank God, that is over. Now, I look forward to retirement so I can be with you and my grandchildren. That time will come and it won't be that long. Miss you all.
                          Love, Hugs and Kisses,

                        • ==============================================================
                          *Some parts were edited just to be consistent with the English language. 

                          Some of the things I highlighted:
                          1. I made sure that policies were paid on time including mine even when we were already experiencing financial difficulties. 
                          All I could say is that my mother knew her priorities... She knew that she was investing her money on the right item. 
                          These days, I meet parents who haven't really determined what their priorities are. They would say that they don't have money, but I see them going on expensive vacations, buying the latest "fruit", having expensive hobbies... My question is, will these provide for your family the moment you are gone? Will these address your financial worries when emergencies arise? Basically, a mismatch is happening. They want the "best" for their families, but their actions say a different thing. How about you? Are you a mismatch or you know your priorities?

                          2. This, I have to ask your forgiveness for leaving you on your own after Papa's death. Looking back, that was the only way I knew at that time so I can continue to support your financial needs and finish your studies. I could not continue operation of our business and there was no possible employment for me there. Leaving was the only option, although it hurt me so much. When I came to California in 2002 , I suffered for months from depression without me knowing it; I just lost Papa. I could not sleep continuously for several weeks and cried most of the time, being away from you and still looking for jobs to support myself and save something to send you for your needs. 
                          Even though we received the life insurance proceeds from my Papa's policies, it wasn't enough to last us with the loss of the breadwinner. IF EVER the proceeds were bigger, then my mother wouldn't have had to make those painful decisions. 
                          Lesson is, while insurance is not yet a must-have in your budget and you are still healthy enough, load yourself up. So that when the time comes that you have come to appreciate it's purpose, it's already part of your portfolio. Not something that you wish you could have but couldn't...
                          To all the mothers and fathers out there. The next time you encounter a situation wherein you have to decide on how to go about your expenses, remember my mother. She is a widow. She made a tough decision of leaving us just to provide for us. Don't let it happen to your family. Don't let your kids feel the drastic changes when you're out of the picture already. 
                          Loosing a parent is tough enough, loosing both because the surviving spouse had to leave the kids just to provide for basic needs is something we can do something about. Know your priorities. I have set mine. How about you? 
                          We at Honeycomb, can help you on that. So, contact us here.

                        You are cordially invited to Pioneer Life's 

                        A special forum featuring Philippines' 2011 
                        Chief Investment Officer of the Year

                        Mr. Fritz Ocampo


                        November 15, 2012
                        Registration: 2:30pm
                        Start: 3:00pm

                        Waterfront Hotel & Casino
                        Lahug, Cebu City


                        A Forum on the Current Investment Climate

                        ABOUT THE SPEAKER:
                        Mr. Federico "Fritz" Ocampo

                        Mr. Fritz Ocampo is the Chieft Investment Officer of Deutsche Bank's Asset Management Team in the Philippines. He was voted by the prestigious Asia Asset Management magazine as the Chief Investment Officer of the Year in 2011. The same organization also voted him as Fund Manager of the Year 2012 for Fixed Income Investment instruments. Apart from his full time engagement as CIO of DeAM, he also teaches investment subjects in the graduate school of Ateneo de Manila University.

                        What you'll gain by attending this Forum:
                        • Understand the current investment climate.
                        • Learn more about the investment strategies that work in today's market environment.
                        • Find out what the future projected returns on investment look like given current developments as well as the possible scenarios that may affect investment yields in the near term.
                        Honeycomb Finance Consultancy has limited seats to this by-invitation only forum. We encourage you to grab your seat as early as possible because we rarely get the chance to invite this highly respected speaker. For RSVP, please give us a call at (032) 381-0188 or (032) 239-5225, or text us at 0922-823-2782. Look for Chona or Hannah.

                        Vision and Mission

                        Vision Our vision is to have a financially free Filipino nation through our high-caliber services and programs wherever we operate.

                        Mission Our mission is to empower the Filipino people to reach for their dreams and protect it, thru education and sound and wise financial planning.