Monday, August 03, 2020

Reverse mortgages - can you walk the talk?

I was talking to some loved ones about mortgages. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they lost their main source of income and are now looking for other income streams because they have to pay the mortgage on their beautiful new home. So when this guest post about reverse mortgages showed up in my inbox, I figured it may interest many people. Unfortunately for us living in the Philippines, I don't know if it applies but for my readers in the United States, read on!

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GUEST POST - Although people look forward to retirement while they're working, nothing hits harder than getting to the point of retirement and still not having enough money. Many people turn to personal loans or remortgaging their homes to solve this problem, but neither of these is advisable because the last thing you want during retirement is a commitment to years of recurring debt. There are also grave consequences should you miss a payment, such as a foreclosure or eviction - something you don't want to face in your senior years.

A far better alternative is a reverse mortgage, as you are able to take advantage of the full amount of the loan without being under any pressure to repay it until the loan comes to an end. Sound too good to be true? Let me break it down for you.

What exactly is a reverse mortgage?

Where you would have paid a monthly predetermined amount towards the settlement of the total amount of your loan if you had taken out a regular loan, a reverse mortgage works differently. You can take advantage of this long-term loan and enjoy access to the money, as long as you stay in the house to which the loan is bonded.

HECM - where does that come in?

These four letters are quite simply an acronym for a home equity conversion mortgage. The difference between that and a reverse mortgage is that a HECM is issued by a state agency. This means that the state-issued loan comes with government-backed insurance. Apart from this point, there is no further remarkable difference between the two.

I've heard of a reverse mortgage calculator - what is it?

This is a very useful tool that any lender, no matter which kind you choose, will use to determine your financial standing at the time of your AAG reverse mortgage review. This calculator takes into account the age, condition, and physical location of your home, in order to create an overall picture of what you can and cannot afford and whether you would be eligible for a loan. Because federal laws prevent you from borrowing the full value of your home in the form of a loan, the calculator is also useful in determining what percentage of the total value you would be allowed to borrow.

Do bear in mind, however, that if you already have an existing home loan in place, you would have to settle that amount first, using the funds that have been made available to you in your reverse home loan, before you can access the balance of the funds.

How do I get my money?

You can choose to have the money made available to you in either a lump sum or in a line of credit. If neither of these is to your preference, you can also select to have a set monthly amount paid into your account for as long as there is money available in the loan. You are free to decide which option best suits your needs and lifestyle.

*Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash.

* This is a guest post, with my edits. To place a guest post, email 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Frances Finds: blueberries in Manila! Plus, my homemade blueberry honey oatmeal bar recipe

Confession: I have never ever had blueberries before. Well, I've had blueberry cheesecake, blueberry pancakes, blueberry jam, and once a blueberry smoothie, but fresh blueberries, picked from the bush? Never. I've never even seen one. So imagine my delight when I found out I can get fresh blueberries here in Manila!!!

So I got a small crate and look at Mother Nature's edible sapphires:

Fresh blueberries taste like a mellow duhat. A little sweet, a little tart, a little fragrant. I love it! I had enough to make smoothies and toppings for pancakes and my breakfast oatmeal, but I also wanted to make my own blueberry recipe. Check this out!

Blueberry Honey Oatmeal Bars


1 cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup oatmeal
¼ cup US Blueberries
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons honey


1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease aluminum foil and line an 8-inch square baking pan with it. You can also use parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Add nuts, oatmeal, sugar, and blueberries to a large bowl. Mix well.

3. In another bowl, whisk together oil, butter, and honey.

4. Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients. Stir and fold until well mixed.

5. Pour the mixture into the baking pan. Use a spatula to distribute and tightly press the berry oatmeal mixture.

6. Bake for 20 minutes.

7. Cool until completely firm, about 1 hour. Slice into bars and store in a jar or a Ziplock bag. Enjoy!

Don't feel like cooking? No worries! Because it's a fruit, blueberries are delicious and perfect on its own. Just pop in your mouth. You won't stop at one, I guarantee it. It's so simple and easy, it's the perfect snack! 

Blueberries are nutritious, too. So mommy me was happy to offer them to my kiddos. I checked just how healthy blueberries are (I always have to, to convince my kids to eat anything that doesn't resemble candy haha) and here's what I found:

Blueberries are full of antioxidants.
They may be small but each little blueberry is full of antioxidants that protect the body against many diseases.

Blueberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C.
This vitamin protects cells against damage by neutralizing free radicals, builds collagen so we stay looking younger longer, helps our skin recover from damage faster, and aids in the absorption of iron.

Blueberries help manage your blood sugar levels. 
These little balls of blue contain soluble fiber, which helps slow down the rate at which sugar is released into the bloodstream. Plus, fiber is always good for your digestive system!

Blueberries are low in calories.
With only 80 calories per serving, feel free to pop a few in your mouth!

These are just a few of the nutritional benefits I listed down. I'll share more in another post since I'm so inspired to make a few more dishes with all these blueberries I have!

Fresh blueberries are now available at S&R Membership Shopping, Always Fresh PH, Fruit Loot PH, and Dizon Farms Delivers.

You can find everything you need to know about blueberries and the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council here: and from the U.S. Blueberries Philippines accounts on Facebook and Instagram.

*This post is brought to you by U.S. Blueberries Philippines.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

5 ways to #StayStrongStayBeautiful with Watsons

PRESS RELEASE - As lockdown restrictions start to ease, the ‘new normal’ we’ve been living in is slowly starting to change. Do you remember New Year’s Eve when we thought 2020 was going to be an amazing year? Little did we know what horrors we were about to face. Let's be glad that as we adjust to a new way of life, Watsons is here by our side. Read on for some tips and recommendations on how we can all stay strong, stay beautiful, during these times.

Stay Protected
Making your health a top priority is one of the most valuable gifts you can give to yourself. By following good respiratory hygiene, you also protect the people around you from catching viruses such as colds, flu, or even COVID-19. Right now, the best practice for containing the disease are the ones you already know: Wearing a mask, social distancing, washing your hands regularly, and take your vitamins. We supplement our diet with vitamins from Enervon, Stresstabs, and Watsons Generics. We keep our body clean with products from Safeguard and Dove and care of our oral health with products from Listerine, Oral-B and Himalaya.

Stay Prepared
While online shopping isn’t something new, the current health crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people are now purchasing their necessities. It’s a good thing that Watsons has a website where you can order what you need and have it delivered to your doorstep. Our Watsons shopping list always includes brands like Strepsils, Sinecod Forte, Vicks, Solmux, and Biogesic to help relieve the symptoms of common illnesses like colds, cough, and fever.

Stay Glowing
Self-care is important to maintain a healthy relationship with ourselves as it produces positive feelings and boosts our self-confidence and self-esteem. Skincare is a great way to practice self-care. Something as simple as massaging your favorite moisturizer into your skin can relax your mind and soul. Products from Belo, Ponds, Celeteque, Neutrogena, and Dermaction Plus by Watsons can help keep our skin look nourished and glowing.

Stay Gorgeous
While everyone is excited to have their haircuts soon, expect that going to your favorite salon or barbershop will never be the same as before. At-home makeovers seem to be the sensible routine nowadays. Treat yourself with a much-deserved self-care experience using L’Oreal Excellence, Beautylabo, or Naturtint for your dream hair makeover along with Pantene and Naturals by Watsons products to keep your hair healthy and strong.

Stay Dapper
Skincare is not just for women, men need proper grooming and skincare routines too! Men’s skincare is always straightforward and easy. Adidas, Old Spice, and Gillette are brands that offer products to help with men's skincare and grooming needs.

Watsons is always here to provide us with a wide range of health and beauty products to make us look good and feel great. To provide more value to its Watsons Card and Elite members, Watsons is giving free 100 bonus points for a minimum Php1,000 purchase of participating products on select weekends: July 31 to August 1 and August 14 to 15.

Shop now at any branch near you. Check out this list of 700+ Watsons stores open nationwide: You can also order via Watsons call & pick-up or call & delivery service. Here is the list of Watsons stores and contact numbers to call: You can also shop online at

For more details, follow @watsonsph on Facebook and Instagram.


Watsons is part of the Health and Beauty Store chain of A.S Watson, the largest health, beauty, cosmetics, and perfumery retailer in the world. Today, Watsons H&B Asia is the leading health and beauty chain in the continent with successful operations in 13 markets.

In 2002, A.S. Watson Group joined hands with SM Prime Holdings Inc., the Philippines' leading shopping mall developer. The partnership brought about the first Watsons stores in SM Megamall and The Podium (Ortigas). Watsons now has over 700 stores in the Philippines, serving more than 100,000 customers nationwide.

Watsons strives to ensure that their customers get the best value for their money through monthly promotions, special offers, and continuous consumer marketing programs. Each Watsons store houses nothing but the best brands from top manufacturers all over the world and also carries its own competitively priced, high-quality private labels and brands. With more than 1000 brands ranging from medicines, cosmetics, and fragrances to personal care items and general merchandise, Watsons Your Personal Store delivers only the best health, wellness, and beauty solutions to each and every customer.

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