Looking back my first quarter of 2015…

First Quarter

Time flies.

First quarter of 2015 will be over soon.

When I started to become involve with our payroll process at work, it seems that each month is flying pretty faster than it used to.

I guess this is psychological (**smiles**) though in a way it is nice because it means salary time again. Hurray!

So, what are the big milestones in my life during this first quarter of 2015?

First – I am thankful that my brother finally found a job. He is now back in Maldives. It was not an easy journey for him to search for a new job. It took quite a long time than expected.

Anyway, I’m glad that he is on track again.

Second – My dear sister finally left the company that she really hated to work with. She braved handing over her resignation even without a job offer on hand. After several meetings with her senior managers, who were persuading her to withdraw her resignation, she reached to conclusion – a big NO.

When a company has a rotten system, I see that company as hopeless. It will not change overnight like what the senior managers suggested to happen.

Luckily, she found a job before her notice period ended. (**big clap**)

Now, we are just waiting for her new employment visa.  I wish her success in her new work.

Third – I am in touch again with my niece, a child born out of wedlock. Well, not really in touch directly but through her Mom. I offered help to support her school but her Mom refused stressing that it’s my brother’s responsibility and not mine.

I truly understand her. I am glad that we are now in touch.

Fourth – I passed the exam. whoa!

I actually attended a 40 hours training course which is related to my current role at work. It was a grueling 5 hours Saturday class.

At the end of the training, we had our exam, a 10 essay questions with sub-questions. I could not express how tiring it was because it was a 2-hours handwritten exam. 

I felt so slow in writing my answers and it was a shame that I didn’t get the correct spellings of some words. It is just a proof how I am so used of computer and keyboards.

I am convinced that I am faster at typing than at handwriting.

Fifth – I am back to writing again.

I decided to return to my passion – writing.

Not having a time to write is not really an excuse. So I am not accepting this excuse anymore. If I want something really bad, then I have to make time and make it happen, right?

I am taking some writing lessons from Angela Booth.  She is a brilliant copywriter, my personal opinion. It seems she knows what she is talking about in her newsletter and in writing course materials. 

With this, I hope to transpire this in my blog. More regular posts, I guess.

Sixth – I found a good reasonable nursery school for my son. My son used to go to this Whiz Kidz nursery. The fee was on the low side.

But I was not happy with my son’s progress. I would say that he was not learning at all.

My sister, who is familiar with toddler’s education system, was shocked that my son was given writing tasks of complicated alphabets.

My son’s new school – Intaleq Language Centre – is great. My son started in January this year and I can really see the difference. Now he enjoys scribbling. He started with easy ones like lines which are easy to write.

But what he really likes most, I think, is the dancing part.

I am happy with my son’s performance and progress. It’s very evident considering he has been in Intaleq for almost 3 months only.

Seventh – We have been supporting a college student and she is staying with us back home. And finally, she graduated with a degree of Bachelor Degree in Education. My family is very proud of her achievement. (**big smile**)

Blessings are overflowing and I cannot complain. My family and I are so blessed and every minute I am thankful of it. 

So let me end this post with a saying from Oprah Winfrey.

“Be thankful for what you have, you’ll end of having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”~ Oprah Winfrey

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Primary Education in Abu Dhabi

I have been warned. Not once, but many times.

Primary School

Searching for school here in Abu Dhabi is not an easy breezy task.

But still, I opted to ignore it.

I thought for sure, I could find and there’s anyways this Philippine Emirates School here, a Filipino school.

So I start the painful process of searching a kindergarten school. My first criteria of course is the tuition fee.

Some expats here have education included in their employment package. Lucky them.

But for ordinary expats like me, it means the expensive education fee is on our own cost.

I would like my son to go to international school with British or American curriculum but so far the fees are just way too much for me.

So next, I popped by in the Philippine Emirates Private School. Honestly I felt disappointed and pity. I was in their old school in airport road. When I entered the villa, it was a place full of junk and dust.

Anyway, I was pointed to one corner office  that somehow functioned as the admin office for the Philippine Emirates Private School in Baniyas.

The fee is reasonable compared to other school and it’s inclusive of the school bus, tuition fees, books and other miscellaneous.

School timing is 7:30am to 12noon.

I asked for the traveling time because I knew that Baniyas is far from the city.

It is approximately 45 minutes. So it means my son will be picked up by the school bus around 6am or earlier. It translates to waking up at around 4:30am.

I lost my interest in this school. Maybe later when my little boy is grown up already.

Lucky, my flatmate before recommended one school. After I phoned them, we were asked to come for interview.

So happy with the result. We were admitted. The next day I submitted the requirements and paid the admission fee. **happy**

Now, I am saving for the next payment which is due in June 2015.

Their yearly school fee is reasonable compared to other schools. Luckily I stayed nearby so we dropped the school bus option.

So that’s the next a must saving goal.

Indeed sending children to school here costs a fortune. 

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Review: Le Meridien Fairway Dubai

It was our family weekend Valentine’s date at Le Meridien Fairway in Dubai.

Travelling to Dubai on Thursday night is always a nightmare. I knew that but I didn’t realize that its worst in reality. Because I decided not to drive, we headed to bus station hoping to catch a late afternoon trip to Dubai. To our dismay, the queue was long, really long and the buses were few.

So we took a private car which charged us for AED50 per person until Ibn Batuta.

After an hour, we arrived in Ibn Batuta train station then we were off to GGICO station, the nearest train station in Le Meridien Fairway in Dubai.

After 3-5 minutes walked, we were in the reception area checking in for the weekend.

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Lobby and Reception Area

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I requested for connecting room but it was not available. We stayed in room 315 and 316, just rooms opposite to each other. Our room was spacious. It has a kind of an ‘old but fancy’ touch.

 

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The breakfast was in Petit Restaurant, a name that describes best the outlet. The selection was minimal. Honestly, the food was not really tasty. It was quiet a disappointment.

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I promised my little boy that we would swim. So we headed to the pool after breakfast but there was no available lifeguard and they would not let us in. We had to check couple times until the waitress from the Petit Restaurant had to call the lifeguard.

Apparently he was in the hotel already but not yet in his station.

What I liked most was the morning newspaper. Sounds very shallow, but really it has been awhile that I haven’t received any newspaper delivered in our hotel room. This benefit used to be there but at some point it was stopped, maybe to cut costs or maybe depends with the hotel.

So I was so glad when I opened my door in the morning. The familiar small bag hanging in our door was there. **smile**

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Anyway, our overall stay was still great. The service and the staff were excellent specially the waitress trainee in Petit Restaurant. She’s very helpful.

I personally recommend the hotel if you are looking for a place to stay.

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Review: Nova Restaurant in Corniche, Abu Dhabi

 

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When the weather is pleasant, I always grab this opportunity to go out and maybe enjoy a lunch outdoor like the one we had last time in Nova Restaurant in Corniche area.

No complaints. They have a fantastic beach view. No wonder that they are always full. We actually waited for around 10 minutes to get a table. Worth the wait because our view was fantastic.

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We did what we came for (LOL!) – ordered our food and enjoyed our lunch.

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The food was ok however the service really sucks. I felt that they are arrogant maybe because they really have an advantage, a unique selling point – beside the beach.

I felt disgusted when they served this colored glass where the yellow film seemed to peel off. I requested to replace it and the waitress was a bit upset about it. Their staff has some sort of ‘attitude’. Maybe because I was an Asian dining there. Mind you, the waitresses were all Asians too.

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My recommendations – Well, I cannot complain about the view. It’s great specially when weather is pleasant. The service was really bad.

The bill? It’s up for you to judge. LOL!

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A Tinge of Regret: Buying our Own House

House & Lot

We purchased  our house and lot December last year. As a new couple, we were ecstatic about the idea of having our own home.

2-bedroom house. spacious living room. 600 square meter lot. located in a residential area that is not congested. just one ride to the town proper (market place,  pharmacy, shops and stores).

I was a proud owner of that property until recently.

There’s a big chunk of monthly mortgage to be paid. We are paying also the care taker because we are currently based in Abu Dhabi. Payments for monthly electricity and water bills. Small repairs and renovations to make.

After almost a year of shelling out monthly expenditures, I realized that indeed a house and lot is a liability. As what Robert Kiyosaki in ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ said, ‘Your house is not asset’. True enough.

And I think it will never be an asset unless it’s converted to an apartment or room for rents.

So why I have a tinge of regret now for owning a house and lot?

  • I felt that we could have invested that amount for monthly mortgage payments in some investment vehicle to yield more. We don’t have plans yet to settle back home soon. Maybe in the future but that will be 5-7 years or more from now.
  • I could have save more funds, invest in equity funds, and then buy a property a year or two before we decide to go back home for good.
  • In any case, we can always rent an apartment until we manage to buy our own property.

I am still happy to own that property but I wish I didn’t buy it too soon.

Posted in Family, Finances, Investments | 1 Comment

Understanding the Importance of Emergency Fund

  Emergency Funds1

I was asked to sell his stocks.

As I went through the process, my heart sunk especially when I saw he was losing money because the prices were low for few selected stocks.

I wish he could hold on further until the prices go up again.

This scenario hits me hard.

You know why?

If he had just stashed some emergency funds, then this would not happen.

If you have been reading financial related books or educating yourself about personal finance, then you know that Emergency Fund is one of the basic foundation for sound financial goals.

Yet oftentimes it is taken for granted (I’m guilty of this too!).

I never learned to be a good steward of my financial blessings until I hit the rock bottom. When you experience deep financial shit that you can barely breathe, then you will surely come out from this mess with financial lessons that you will not forget for the rest of your life.

That’s what happened to me.

Don’t wait until you hit the rock bottom. Start saving for your Emergency Funds now.

Posted in Bills, Finances, Goals, Investments | 1 Comment

The new direction of frugal expat

This way

I embraced frugality and eventually this led me to love subjects like personal finance, investment and entrepreneurship. A natural course, I think.

Now I have a clear picture of what I really want to achieve though I am still trying to figure out the ‘how-to-do’ part of it. So I will be shifting gear my blog to topics that interests me most nowadays.

  • Expect me to blog more about personal finance, investment and entrepreneurship.
  • I will touch bits and pieces of my plan to retire early from being an Expat or OFW (Overseas Foreign Worker) here in Middle East.
  • I will still be writing about frugality, life, family and work in UAE.

So I hope that you will stay tune as I shift my direction this year and the years to come.

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