Migs and Alaine

Chronicles of a Happy Married Life

Free Online Board Games for Kids

With all the lockdowns that the pandemic brought us, we sometimes run out of activities for Chuck. I tried searching for different apps and websites that offer educational games for toddlers because I wanted him to learn and enjoy while playing.

Our go-to website for online kids’ games offers a variety of games for kids of all ages. Chuck and his grandpa’s favorite is Master Chess. Of course, he doesn’t fully understand the game yet. But it’s nice that his grandpa was able to introduce chess to him at an early age. He is very attentive whenever his grandpa explains to him what the game is all about.

Master chess is a standard online version of the board game chess where a player can choose to play against the computer or a human opponent using the same computer.

80’s to 90’s babies will surely relate to Chuck’s second favorite game – Snakes and Ladders! If you haven’t tried this classic board game yet, then now is your chance. Your whole family will surely enjoy this.

There are a lot of board games to choose from but if you wanted to take a break from the classics, you can challenge yourself to different Math games!

What about you, how did you spend the seemingly unending lockdowns?

The Rainy Season Is Here Again

The Philippines only has 2 main seasons. Dry from December to May and Wet from June to November.

The rainy season in our country is not like in any other country.
We experience different types of rain during this period. We have monsoons, LPAs, Storms, and Typhoons, heck it even rains in Summer. LOL. This is the season when it’s almost impossible to get out of the house to do our normal leisure activities. You’re a little lucky if there’s no flood in your area. Fortunately, electricity and internet is pretty stable even during a harsh rainy season.

Here are indoor activities that you can do until December.

Netflix and Chill

This is a term that has many meanings so I won’t mention any of those. I’ll stick with the core meaning of this phrase. This relates to just chilling or relaxing while streaming a movie or an addictive series. Alaine and I usually use the rainy season to binge-watch highly rated shows with more than 6 seasons. We also stream movies and documentaries in-between seasons. This is not limited to Netflix only, There are Amazon, Hulu, Disney+, and a whole lot of other streaming channels. We also watch vlogs and DIY tutorials on YouTube.

Home Workout

We are serious cyclists. We ride our bikes 3 to 4 times a week covering almost 1200 every month. Not riding for a certain period of time affects our mood, health, appetite, and many more. So, when roads are wet, we go back to our good old HIT (High-Intensity Training) home routine. We just follow an instructor or a video from YouTube and sweat away. You don’t need costly gym equipment, just get a water bottle, fill it with water and use it as weights. It’s quick, it’s easy and it works.

 

Computer Games

I grew up playing computer games, especially retro games like Tetris, Minesweeper, Galaga, Battle City, and Solitaire. Yes, you read it right, I love playing Solitaire on my Windows computer. I watch my mom play this using real playing cards and enjoyed watching her get frustrated while playing it. Sadly, Windows removed it from their new OS versions. So, if you like to kill time and get frustrated at the same time, solitaire.org is the place to go. They have other Solitaire versions that you’ll surely love. My personal faves are the Classic and Wild West Klondike.

Declutter

Last but not least. Just flip your house inside out. Spend your time sorting things that you no longer use. Decluttering is one heck of an activity. It’s energy-draining but fun, and you can also earn an extra buck by selling good condition stuff that is just collecting dust and consuming precious space in your home. In our house, we always declutter every year. Since we have a toddler, we always sell his year-old stuff because he really grows very quickly. The proceeds go to new stuff because we sold everything. LOL

Let us know what your rainy season activities are like.

Cheers!
Migs

Buy or Rent in 2022

In my previous blog post, I discussed how the pandemic changed the way we see real estate and mentioned a few tips on getting the best deals in the market. This time, we will try to figure out if it’s wise to buy or rent this 2022 or until the end of the pandemic.

Buying our very own home is every Filipino’s dream, and we will do everything in our power to make it happen. Even if we have to be in debt for the rest of our lives. But wait, let’s pause for a bit. Let’s weigh things out first, and ask these questions. Can we afford it? Am I trying to rush because my peers have already signed their mortgage contracts? Is this the right time to pull the trigger?


Let’s start with the first question (Can we afford it?).
We still have to figure out if our income can cover our mortgages and still sustain our families’ essential needs. Can we afford to pay it in the shortest time possible, or will we sign our wallets away to a lifetime of debt? If you already have a target property, do some due diligence. Most importantly, get the figures straight. Use a Loan Calculator, It’s going to tell you how much you’ll owe, the projected interest based on your rate, and a lot more. It’s well equipped to give you close to accurate numbers to help you decide if you can afford it.

Peer pressure.
I know it’s a little childish to be indirectly pressured by our friends. We always see their posts on social media chilling in their newly acquired home. This may have conditioned our minds that maybe we should be like them right now. Thinking about what others think about us because we’re still renting. But the truth is, they don’t care. They don’t even think about us. So make sure that you are making that big decision because you thought it through.

How Much
Third, I noticed that new development prices have gone up to ridiculous amounts. Yes, real estate during the pandemic is expensive. So think about it.

Renting on the other hand is frowned upon ever since I can remember. The oldies give renters the impression that they’re losers because they can’t afford to buy their own home especially when you’re in your 30s to 40s. But it has its perks.

Low cash out
I know I know; the place will not be mine. But renting will give you the power to choose wherever you want to live on the fly without emptying your bank account. If you choose to live in the outskirts, you’ll be paying even lower rates. Facebook Marketplace is the best place to look for a rental property. You can filter the price, and even choose the neighborhood.

Maintenance
Maintaining your own place is a costly ordeal especially if you bought a used or a foreclosed property. The annual cost to maintain the paint, plumbing, electrical, or anything that needs not to be neglected will leave a dent in your pocket. Not to mention that monthly rent vs mortgage is cheaper, and don’t get me started with real estate tax. Now If something goes wrong with a rental property, all you need to do is to call the owner or the manager and have it fixed free of charge.

Neighbors
The last one may seem shallow but I really take this seriously. If you happen to buy a house and have the worst neighbors, you’re kind of stuck with them. There’s no amount of homeowners” association that can make them go away. The beauty of renting is you don’t own that house, therefore you can always leave and even choose your neighborhood.

I hope you found this quick follow-up article helpful in your decision-making.
Cheers!

Real Estate at the height of the Pandemic

2020 hit us really hard. Everyone was caught off guard even the biggest industries that we think are invincible, like Schools, shopping malls, entertainment, and even the food industry took a big hit. Covid 19 changed how people live their lives. The majority of the workforce lost their ability to go to work because public transportation also took a halt.

It took months before we started to learn how to adapt to the new normal. The BPO industry was the first one who recognized that the pandemic is not going away anytime soon, hence their decision to let their employees work from home. The work dynamics suddenly took a 190-degree turn. We suddenly don’t need to be near our workplaces just to perform our duties. This is where the real estate industry boomed here in our country.

People suddenly want to go as far away as possible from the big city. We will trade the bustling metro life for a quiet and peaceful day in a rural province as long as the internet is stable. For my family, we no longer feel the need to stay in a place where the risk of getting the Rona is higher. Since we are in the market looking for our forever home, we decided to look for a place where the grass is literally greener, Traffic is zero to minimal, and where the air will make our lungs happy.

Once we’re done with the list of what we look for in a home, we now start the grueling process of selecting the right one. Back in the day, finding a property is a lengthy and tedious ordeal. You either have to read the Sunday newspaper or go to the place where you think is good to settle and hope there are developments there. But technology made it a lot easier for us to find our forever home. From online listings, Realtors, developer’s website, even a mortgage calculator is now available online.

So, we started our search, looking in the most accessible place for new homes and/or rentals, the Facebook Marketplace. It may sound funny because it’s a social media platform, but it’s pretty handy when you’re trying to look for something. From food to houses, you name it.
If you are in the market for repossessed houses, Foreclosure Philippines is your go-to site. You can also just go straight to the PAG-IBIG website for the list of foreclosed properties. Though we didn’t go this route, I still recommend looking at foreclosed properties. They have the best deals.

The next move is identifying if you have enough money to pay in cash or do you need to finance your dream home. If you decided that you’re going to have to take a loan to afford that house, you’ll find a mortgage calculator very handy. There are a few local resources for that. Local banks have it. I also use an international calculator called MortgageCalculator.uk because it works. You don’t have to wait for the realtor/agent to answer all your questions about payment terms and other stuff. You can check affordability, payment schedules, and other things that you need to know before pulling that trigger.

We will be moving in the next few weeks. Can’t wait to live in a new peaceful place where we can watch our family grow outside the chaotic big city.

What are your plans this 2022? Let us know in the comments.

Cheers!

How I started my work-from-home journey

It was the year 2016 when I finally decided to leave the corporate world and try my luck in freelancing. My wife resigned after receiving her 14th-month pay, bought a new laptop and a desktop so she can start looking for a remote job.

What made me decide to shift to freelancing? The traffic situation here in the Philippines is getting worse! We were also trying to have a baby and I had the opportunity to retire from work early. This is the same year when we started our journey to become entrepreneurs.

I submitted proposals in Upwork, Online Jobs PH, and countless agencies that I see online. It was like a game – the more entries you send, the more chances of winning!

Here are some FAQs about Freelancing.

Did you avail of any paid courses before landing a freelance job? I didn’t have formal Virtual Assistant training but I guess holding a project manager position with my previous company was also an advantage. After a three-week training in an agency, I was very fortunate to be picked by a client. I worked for my very first client as a Virtual Assistant/Office manager for his Real Estate Company in the USA.

Was it easy? Not at all! I had to make a lot of adjustments, watch countless video tutorials, and even relearn my accounting 101 because I was doing some basic accounting too.

How much was my salary? Being a first-time VA, I had no idea about the standard base pay for Filipinos. I was offered $4.00 per hour plus a Healthcard. I accepted it since I wanted to have an experience. Later on, as I was checking my client’s receipts and other payables, I saw that my agency was charging my client $9.5 per hour. Did I feel shortchanged? A little bit. But I also took into consideration their overhead for trainers and other staff members. Plus, they were the ones who found the client for me.

Can you earn more with freelancing? Definitely! I had a part-time job that pays a higher rate than my full-time client. It’s really up to you on how you would market yourself! Being a member of different International VA groups, I learned that we shouldn’t let our clients pay us based on our location. Because offering a Virtual Assistant service is similar to running a business. So, it doesn’t matter where you are located – what matters is your skills! I know some people who are earning $4,000 per month because of freelancing!

Are all online jobs graveyard shift? No. My most previous and current clients are based in Australia. You can also find a client who will let you work flexible hours! So, always read the job description and don’t forget to ask questions!

Do you get an increase? Of course! Some clients are very generous that you do not have to ask them – they will automatically grant you an increase. I had a client who even give bonuses and 13th-month pay! It’s really about how you negotiate your rates, increases, and bonuses with them. All these can be added to your contract too!

Is freelancing stable? I would say that it depends on the nature of your job and your client’s background (e.g. is your client’s company a start-up, etc.?). Also, just like in any other job, you have to give your best so you can maintain a healthy relationship with your client/employer.

Do you miss working in an office? There are times that I miss dressing up and cathing-up with friends after shift. Working from home can be boring sometimes but when I think about the traffic situation here in the Philippines and the extra hours that I get to spend with my family because I work from home – I feel very lucky!

Do you have different clients? Because I do a lot of things aside from work, having multiple clients is not an option for me. But, blogging has helped me earn extra income, especially during my free time. I accept press releases, blog reviews, etc. I also discovered a safe platform for bloggers like myself where I write short articles for at least $100. It’s called Influencer Marketing. It’s a big help, especially during this time of the pandemic. The best part is, registration is FREE and you get paid through your PayPal account. I think this blog has helped me a lot in transitioning from the corporate world to freelancing. You can check out Intellifluence to learn more about the platform.

These are just some of the questions that I get most of the time. But if you have other questions, let me know in the comments sections.

Improve your financial mindset.

You are a very hardworking individual.
You work 2 jobs, never called in sick, doesn’t take a day off(barely).
You’ve been doing that for years, but nothing seems to change in your financial situation. You don’t even have enough money in your bank account for the rainy days. You’re still living the same life as you did 10 years ago. You keep on asking yourself, what am I doing wrong? What can I do to improve my finances?

Hey reader, can you relate?

We always hear or read about this quote from our friend Albert saying “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” I’m not saying that we’re insane, but good old Albert has a point. We can’t be doing the same thing and expect a different result.
We have to mix it up. It’s time to step up our game by improving our financial mindset.

Let’s start with your financial input mindset.
Do you always think or say that you are poor, you don’t have enough money, you can’t afford this or that? That mindset needs to change.
You need to change your financial input to improve your financial output and in order to do that, I made a list for you.
1. Read books. Not just any books but financial books and business books
2. Watch webinars. If you’re in debt you can go straight to financial literacy sites. This one’s my favorite.
Lastly, get a mentor. You don’t have to personally know that certain person. Just choose anyone to follow, heck you can even subscribe to a bunch of mentors. The internet has a sea of financial gurus and mentors. Just watch out for fake ones. My wife and I always recommend Robert Kiyosaki.

Change your financial habits.
Do not make a purchase when you are hyped by emotions. What are these emotions?
1. Excitement – This type of emotion can make you buy something in a hurry that you may end up regretting after a very short time. Pro-tip, If you want something, give it a month or two before buying it. If you still want it, buy it. You’ll most likely end up not liking it anymore.
2. Happiness – We like to reward ourselves. May it be a vacation, an expensive piece, or just an impulse buy disguised as a reward.
3. Anger – We always do this every time we feel bad or mad. Remember the term “stress shopping”? That has to stop.
4. (Not an emotion, but still valid) Do not shop when you’re hungry
Try this experiment. Eat a good meal before going in. You’ll be surprised that you only have what you need or what’s on your list in your shopping cart.

Change your financial priorities.
1. Stick to your budget – This is as basic as breathing. Create a list of things that you should prioritize to spend or pay and stick to it.
2. Track your spending – “Where did my money go?”
Have you ever asked yourself this question? Stop wondering, Track your spending. There’s a ton of paid and free spending tracker apps on Playstore and Appstore. Utilize that technology and you’ll never ask that question again.
3. Prioritize savings over rewards – After paying all your bills, rent, mortgage, etc. and you still have money left? You will be faced with 2 questions. “Should I splurge” or “should I save”. You don’t always have to choose the latter, just make it a priority.
4. And finally, INVEST. After reading all the books, watching webinars, and a couple of seasons of Shark Tank, you should have an idea of how to make your money work for you. I will not tell you what to invest in, because I trust that you know exactly what to do.

Goodluck reader,
Cheers!

Live Safe with Defensil Isopropyl Alcohol

Defensil Isopropyl Alcohol encourages Filipinos to live safe with many establishments slowly re-opening and allowing people to resume their pre-pandemic lifestyles.

With the nationwide vaccination program in full force, Filipinos can slowly enjoy various activities such as more dining options as well as doing physical activities by going to the gym. However, health experts continue to remind everyone to not let their guards down even as we gradually go back to normal.

As there are reports of new and potentially more contagious variants, everyone must remain vigilant through following established health protocols and getting vaccinated so we can all continue to live safe and prevent the cases from surging again.

That’s why when we do essential errands such as buying groceries, exercising outdoors, or simply going outside, disinfecting your hands and any surface you interact with goes a long way to ensure living safely for you and your family.

One way to prevent the spread of the virus is by always carrying a trusted rubbing alcohol brand that contains at least 70% alcohol solution whenever you go outdoors.

Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol, the alcohol recommended by the Philippine Society for Microbiology (PSM), can kill 99.9% of common germs and bacteria starts to kill them on contact so that you can safely do the activities you love wherever you are. Defensil also provides up to 12 hours of protection upon constant use so that you are protected and do activities with ease.

Skin dryness from too frequent sanitizing will also not be a worry as Defensil has moisturizing properties and is hypoallergenic, giving you one less thing to worry about when going indoors.

“We are 100% behind the government in their efforts to prevent further spread of the virus. Defensil encourages everyone to remain vigilant now more than ever and do our part in this fight towards eventually resuming our normal way of life by adhering to social Distancing and sanitation protocols, especially when doing essential errands outdoors,” shared Nikko Cruz, Brand Manager of Defensil Isopropyl Alcohol.

For more information on how to stay protected, you may visit the Defensil Isopropyl Alcohol’s Facebook page at facebook.com/defensil.philippines.

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*Defensil 70% Isopropyl Alcohol was tested against Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhimurium, Escherichia coli or E. coli and Candida albicans

Classic Games That You Can Play Online During Your Break Time

For people like me who’s been working from home even before the pandemic started, it’s important that I do something different every once in a while to fight boredom and the feeling of being burnt out from work.

During days when the weather wouldn’t let me do some outdoor activities, I read books, bake, or play online games just to clear my mind and distract myself from feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

I love playing games that I do not need to download because I am reserving my phone’s memory for my son’s photos and videos – I am sure all moms can relate!

Browser-based games are the best when it comes to old games that you used to play when you were a kid. You can play all the old titles without having to raid your basement for your retro gaming console.

Let me share with you some of my favorite online games and I hope you can share some of yours too.

Klondike or Classic Solitaire. Who doesn’t know how to play this game? Spending a few minutes of my time playing Solitaire is nostalgic and relaxing. It reminds me of my High School days! I used to play this game after I am finished doing some homework and research.

But who’s got time to go to a store and buy a deck of playing cards? Also, since this game has been removed from Windows 10 in 2019, I just go to a gaming site and play it whenever I want. no need for real playing cards and a big table. Just click and play. It even does the shuffling for you. LOL!

I tried playing it online last night after work and didn’t notice the time. I started playing at 8 pm and noticed that I haven’t had dinner at 11 pm. I really wanted to finish the entire deck and didn’t realize that I have been playing for 3 hours. I just missed playing the Classic Solitaire. I also liked the Spider solitaire. The rules are very interesting. I still have to figure out to finish the entire deck. I’ll get back to it later.

Is It Debt, Or Is It Equity?

During this time of the pandemic, we should be more careful about how we spend our hard-earned money. When we hear the word debt, we sometimes have this bad connotation about it. But this article perfectly explained historical debt and how good debt can actually help us in our education, careers, and businesses.

For the longest time, since we started our relationship, we always buy all of our stuff in cash. Saving up for something has always been our go to strategy and it works. We were so scared of debt. Credit cards are a no no, because we know a lot of people who were burried in debt because of bad debt. Because we both work in a Financial institution, horror stories of our clients even haunted us in our dreams. LOL! That is until we decided that we need a car.

When we purchased our very first car, we paid it off through a bank loan in a span of 18 months. We didn’t have enough money to buy it in cash. But we realized later on that the money we earned because of our car is even higher than the car’s value. Same thing happened with the new truck that we also loaned in 2019. It has helped us with our food and tech businesses. These are perfect examples of debts that generated income for us.

One of the most successful entrepreneurs from Migs’ family educated us about the pros of borrowing money for a business. He told us that we should not be afraid of debt, as long as we set our priorities straight and use it to make more money. That’s how he started his first business. Although we haven’t tried a business loan yet – we totally get his point. It just takes hard work and responsibility to pay off a debt in order not to be burdened by it.

How do we manage debt? We follow these rules at home.

  1. Prioritize bills. We do not let bills pile up because that would mean additional fees.
  2. Needs before wants. As long as there is food on our table, bills are paid, our clothes are clean – we couldn’t care less if we do not have the latest model of home appliances, gadgets, shoes or bags.
  3. We make wise purchases. We do not settle for cheap items that we won’t be able to use for a long time. We always prefer quality products.
  4. We take care of our health. Even if you have insurance to cover your hospital bills, the time that you lost is invaluable. It sounds cliche but health is wealth!
  5. Taking a vacation once in a while for our mental health. Being frugal doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t be exploring. You can always travel and stick to your allotted budget.
  6. We prepare our meals. Home-cooked meals are always healthier and yummier.
  7. We only withdraw a small amount of money. We always prefer online transactions to save time and to refrain from going out. Because going out could mean gas + food allowance.
  8. We do not compare our lives with other families. Life was never a competetion. Our goal is just to make ourselves better.

Debt can be considered as equity depending on our mindset and commitment. Debt has saved many people and businesses. What about you? What’s your take on loans/debt?

How Blogging Helped Us Grow

All our readers know that we started blogging when we were just preparing for our big day. It was just an online diary and we were surprised that there were a number of people who actually read and even responded to our posts. Some posts were created out of frustrations from suppliers and some were simply recommendations for suppliers that were extremely nice and exceeded our expectations.

We were just like typical millennials who browse the internet for product reviews and such but it’s really different if you are the one reviewing or sharing your thoughts for things that happened to you first hand. From there we learned that product or service reviews can actually have different impacts on readers – these can also define who you are as a person because it will show how you react in ugly situations.

Documenting our lives from our wedding preparations through parenthood has been exciting and fulfilling especially when we hear people say that they have learned something from us. Sometimes, it’s also a bit challenging because others think that we are sharing too much information about our family.

There were times when we wanted to stop sharing especially when we’re too busy with work and business or whenever we don’t feel creative. But we just keep on documenting and sharing our lives in order for life to not escape us. It also felt like we now have the responsibility to give our readers our insights on things so they can pick up a thing or two from our experience.

Blogging since 2012 not only opened doors for different opportunities but also lead us to meet beautiful people that have become our close friends and event clients. It has also helped us with how we communicate with different types of people. It gave us the opportunity to get an inside feel of how things are done in everything that we review or document, like restaurant operations, production, etc. More so, our blog had been one of our tools in keeping sound mental health.

We also remember documenting our first attempt to buy a property from a developer that turned out to be a fraud. We published the article last 2016 and until now, we are still receiving emails and direct messages thanking us for our blog because it saved them from losing money. Others, unfortunately, share the same sentiments with us. That experience taught us a lesson on how to make life-changing decisions. We learned to be very vigilant when it comes to big purchases. Research, research, research, and never rush whenever we are faced with this type of scenario. It also taught us how to be more responsible in giving reviews and expressing ourselves but still being honest.

Although writing PRs for commercial brands makes money, we stand by our principles and review the products or brands fairly and honestly. We always have to remind ourselves that we started this blog not to make money but to write fair and honest reviews. Our blog’s integrity is what we’re most proud of.

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