Friday, December 09, 2016

Money-making tips while you're in between jobs

I'm a blogger. That's my job now and it's making me good money. Problem is the money doesn't come in regularly and collection is a painful task. So I've decided that next year, looking for a job is my top priority. With two kids in big school by June 2017, I need regular income to sustain us especially when my blogging income is sporadic.

If you're job-hunting like me, the money situation can be stressful. Landing your dream job can take time, and time is expensive! Plus, all those interviews, procurement of documents, and ticking off the list of requirements will cost money. So what to do? Don't wait for that dream job. Make money now! Income can come from anything at all—something I learned quickly when I left my cushy corporate magazine job and entered the world of freelancing.

Brands call me an "influencer" yet I can't seem to put that on my résumé!

Knowing that you’ve got enough to tide you over will take off a lot of the job-hunt pressure. Getting creative with money-making ideas is essential for getting through the hard times. There are many more ways to make money from home than you might realize! I should know because I've been hustling like crazy for the past 4 years! Here’s a list of what I've done over the years:

Sell your stuff!
Selling household items you don’t use can be lucrative. One time I sold my preloved stuff on eBay and made 20K in one weekend! It’s surprising, once you start selling, how much you find you don’t need anymore. Go through everything—your closets, jewelry box, bookshelves, attic, basement, garage. You are going to find sooooo much stuff and most of it will earn you so much cash! If you're lucky, you might even come across old items in your house that have tons of value. Check paintings, jewelry, the labels of your old clothes, first-edition books, and even your old stamp collection. Vintage stuff is big business. Selling things couldn’t be easier, with sites like eBay there to do the hard work for you. Put your old stuff online and see how much money you can make!

Every so often, I'd post all my preloved stuff or all the press products still lying around in my house on eBay and I'd earn enough for a nice dinner, a new dress, or even a fun shopping expedition. In fact, I'm going to start selling stuff on eBay next week!

Blog your loves!
As I can attest, blogging can be a fun way to make money. Have you got a niche subject you’re dying to tell the world about? Setting up a blog is much easier than you’d think, and could lead you to massive success. Blogging isn’t just a way to make a little extra cash either. If you put in a fair amount of effort, you might find this is the dream job you never knew you wanted. I seriously never thought blogging would become my highest-paying job!

You can have a lot of fun with a blog. Most importantly, it's an easy way to get yourself out there. In fact, a blog can be one effective way of getting noticed by brands who might become your future employer. So start a blog and learn how to draw traffic to your blog. Getting a large enough audience is essential if you want to start making money. Most of the money you’ll make is off of advertising (banner ads, sponsored posts, paid links, etc) and companies will pay well if you have a strong-enough audience. It’s also essential that you integrate yourself into the blogging community. As my BeautyBizBliss community advocates—collaboration over competition! Get your name out there by becoming familiar to existing bloggers. Be friendly and be nice!

Sell what you know and do
Got crazy crafting skills? Homemade items are always desirable. It’ll amaze you how much people are willing to pay for your crafting goods. If you’ve got a knack for knitting, use it to make you money! Knitted goods sell for top money. If you’re a wiz on the sewing machine, why not get to grips with your inner designer, and sell your creations? Take a look at what’s on the market and see if you can do anything a little different. If knitting and sewing aren’t for you, there are many other options. How about making candles? If you’re good with design, you could create your own art prints. If you're amazing at baking, make cookies, cupcakes and other pastries to sell.

As for me, I offer services. As a blogger of 10 years, I hold workshops where I share blogging tips. As a former magazine editor, I also do workshops on beauty and fashion. And soon, as a writer and editor, I plan to teach creative writing to kids! If you have a skill you can teach others—anything from journaling, calligraphy, baking, cooking, playing an instrument to building a business or making a relationship work—offering your services can be fulfilling and lucrative!

Answer surveys
Various online panels offer cash rewards for the completion of surveys. The money's not much (I tried around 8 years ago) and signing up for one of these is unlikely to make you rich, but it will give you a little extra spending money each month. Studies usually last between 10-30 minutes. You’ll be required to answer a series of questions about a variety of subjects, ranging from shopping habits to your opinions on a product. This is a hassle-free way to make money. Once you’ve signed up, survey invitations will go straight to your inbox. Many survey sites even offer the option to take part in control groups. If you’re able to travel to these, you could make even more money! Remember to check that you will be making money, even after travel expenses. If you’re not making money, don’t go! 

Enter competitions
Early in my blogging career, I loved joining contests. It's a great way to get stuff I otherwise couldn't afford. That's how I got my Gucci bag, a Samsung phone, and Evita Peroni hair accessories, for example. Some of my blogger friends have won trips abroad. So fun! Sites like Loquax give you a low-down of a variety of competitions. Most of these are free to enter and offer anything from money to rewards. Even if a competition offers a reward, it’s worth entering. You can sell any prizes you don’t want and get your money that way! Take the time to enter as many free competitions as you can. You have to be in it to win it, after all!

Invest your extra money
If all your work up there earns you decent cash, you could look into the investment world. Investing in stocks and shares can be a lucrative money-making scheme if you do it right. Yes, you have to do it right. My husband and I invested a few years ago in the stock market and we lost money. Be aware that investing in the wrong shares could result in losing your money. Take care and study the market.

If you want market information, find it from Money Morning. Sites like this are a huge help in giving you an idea of where it’s worth investing. There’s no denying that the world of stocks and shares can be overwhelming. I can't knock it even though we've tried it (and failed) because we know so many people who have become millionaires simply by investing wisely in the market. So do your research and don’t jump into anything. If you think you’ve got the hang of the market, investing could be the perfect thing for you!

Getting creative can take your mind off your job-hunting dilemmas, at the same time as making you some money. It gives you something to focus your energy on during your unemployment, as well as offering potentially large payouts! In fact, whatever you do now to make money might become your new career. Look at what happened to me and my blogging hobby! Good luck!

Thursday, December 08, 2016

What I learned about skin tightening

Did that title freak you out or what! "Skin tightening? What is Frances up to now?" Well, as of now, nothing. But if I haven't mentioned it yet, I turned 40 last month and things are going downhill for my body. Literally. Neck, boobs, tummy, butt and thighs. Sigh!

Pudgy me the day after my 40th birthday. The tree and I are twinning haha 
Getting older is something none of us can avoid or hide from. We can try but sooner or later, our body goes through changes that make it obvious to everyone around us that we have aged. Wrinkles and thinning skin, especially on our faces, make it clear we are no longer young. So far I don't have lines on my face yet. For a 40-year-old, that is an achievement! Well, maybe not. My derma says it's because of my extremely oily skin. So, dear oily skin, I will not thank you for the terrible acne you made me suffer through the years but thanks for keeping my middle-aged face supple and wrinkle-free!

There are other less greasy ways to reduce signs of aging. One of the best ways to keep skin looking young is through a procedure called skin tightening. As a former lifestyle magazine editor, I know quite a bit about skin tightening but I never actually processed that information till now. Why? Because I'm saggy now! I was never saggy before! (Lemme wipe away a tear for a second.) So let me share with you information I've recently reviewed to help me choose between the various methods and maybe this little primer will also help you find the skin-tightening procedure that will work best for you.

What is Skin Tightening?

Early in our lives, our body produces collagen, a substance that heals and renews our skin cells, making them plump and thicker. The elastins in our skin keeps the cells close together so the skin is tight. As we age, our body slows down the collagen production, causing the skin to stretch and thin, making it sag. Skin tightening is a procedure in which the skin cells are stimulated to produce more of the collagen, plumping the cells and tightening the fibers.

Types of Skin Tightening Treatments

The skin care industry has made dramatic improvements over the years. The result is that there are numerous treatment methods available:

Topical creams. The least expensive choice also produces the mildest results. On their own, serums cannot penetrate deep into the skin where collagen production occurs. This method also has minimal risks, with allergic reactions being the most common. I'm currently using a pricey cream for my breasts, tummy and butt. No dice.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). This treatment uses a laser device to penetrate deep into the skin to stimulate collagen production within those cells, plumping the skin and tightening at the same time. Spas have used cosmetic lasers to tighten skin for patients for well over a decade, since the treatment has few side effects and lasts for longer periods of time.

I have tried this! It works! I looked like hell for a week, though, and oh how it hurts! I did three sessions before I gave up. I was supposed to do 6-8 sessions but by the third session, my laugh lines had vanished so I didn't go back. I did IPL way back in 2010. My laugh lines haven't come back and I'm laughing more now, now that I'm a mommy. So IPL works! (Hmm, maybe that's also why I don't look 40. It's not just my greasy face but also the laser treatment I had 6 years ago!)

Ultherapy. This non-invasive method uses ultrasound technology to target skin cells under the surface of the skin, heating them in order to encourage the production of collagen. While the results are effective, the treatment has only been FDA approved for the facial area, décolletage,and neck region of the body. Many skin clinics have actually offered to do this to me for free but I have always declined because, after my IPL treatments before and I came home each time with painfully red face, my husband glowers, "Don't mess with your face!" But, honey, maybe I can try this now for my neck and boobies? 

Plastic surgery. The most expensive and invasive choice is also the method with the most dramatic results. By cutting away the loose skin and reshaping it, the medical procedure creates tight skin. This method also comes with high risks, including increased chance of infection, and major side effects. I don't need this yet as I'm not THAT saggy. 

What Factors Affect Treatments?

It would be so easy if every treatment worked exactly the same way on each person. The truth is that many things influence the outcome of each procedure, starting with your age. Obviously, the older a person is, the more difficult it will be to tighten and improve the skin. Ideally, most skin therapy treatments work best on younger clients aged 30 to 45 years old. That way, you delay aging. Because it will look really weird when you're all wrinkly today and then super smooth tomorrow. Kinda hard to explain that, right?

Another factor that can affect skin tightening is how well you care for your skin before, during, and after the procedure. If the skin is exposed to too much sun, heavy smoking, or the skin is in very poor condition, you will have less than satisfactory results and recovery time will take far longer.

Of course, each different treatment has a different result. Like I said, plastic surgery is the most dramatic while topical creams have milder (non-existent) results. Deciding on a less expensive method will likely mean less pronounced results. And newer treatment methods tend to be more effective than older methods. An IPL device from 20 years ago won't be as effective as one recently developed. Hmm, maybe I should try IPL again! But if all over my saggy mommy areas, I don't think I'll be able to afford it! I guess I'll have to do it the hard way: proper diet and exercise!

Friday, December 02, 2016

Amazing deals and steals await at Landers Superstore!

I just became a member of the newest, most amazing, membership shopping destination extraordinaire for working mommies like me—Landers Superstore!

I signed up yesterday because I needed to finish up my Christmas gift shopping and I heard that Landers has truly incredible deals and steals. The first Landers superstore opened in Balintawak, Quezon City, but it's very far from where I live so even though many of my mommy friends loved shopping there, I resigned myself to never seeing the wonderland that is Landers. But then I heard that a second branch opened up in Otis, Manila, and this one is a few kilometers closer so off we went!

Look at how big it is! Landers Otis is at 1890 Paz Guazon St., Paco, Manila. It's very near where I grew up. Pandacan, Paco, Ermita and Sta. Ana were my old stomping grounds and I haven't gone back in decades so to go back and see so many changes (and that so little has changed, too) was a shock. Anyway, Landers is very near Malacañang. It has a HUGE parking lot so you seriously cannot miss it!

First things first: Sign up to be a member! Here I am getting my ID photo taken. Parang DFA lang pero mas mabilis! Now is the time to become a member because you really don't want to miss the exciting deals for your Christmas shopping! I'm done with my gift shopping and even got extra stuff for my husband and kids simply because everything was soooo affordable that my budget stretched out over more things!

The membership card is worth P800. One (1) extension card is an additional P400. If you're a working mom who owns a business (like I do), business membership fee is P1,000, and you can get up to four (4) extension cards for an additional P400 each. All memberships are valid for 12 months and may be renewed with the same fee. Your membership card will be honored at both Landers Superstores.

And I have extra good news! Right now, Landers Superstore is offering a 20% discount on all membership fees. So that makes the Premium or Personal membership fee at P640 only and its extension at P320, while the Business membership is at P800 only and its extension at P320 also. So I will say is again: Now is the time to become a member!

As I mentioned, we were at Landers to finish up our Christmas shopping. Iñigo is an expert on all things sweet so he came along to help me pick out goodies for his cousins. But before we shopped, we were attracted to the holiday decor on sale!
Merry Christmas!
Showrooms to give shoppers an idea on how to use the items for sale.
Christmas trees and holiday decor everywhere!

 Landers Superstore President, Gwen Lim, said, “This Christmas, we are inviting everyone to visit Landers Superstore where members can enjoy and shop at their own leisure without going through the frantic holiday rush.' She added that Landers aims to change the harried pace of our Christmas shopping by giving “more value to customers so they will always have a blissful shopping experience.”

“Plus, we have special holiday offerings which will surely delight the members,” Ms Lim added. Here's just a couple of those offers:
1. Fresh Nova Scotia Balsam Fir Trees. Available only at Landers Superstore, this sturdy fresh Christmas tree with its aromatic and soft needles makes the holiday celebration even more festive and unforgettable.
2. Holiday Baskets, which make a perfect gift for your loved ones! For only P2,999, the Noche Buena basket is complete with favorite ingredients perfect for a family’s Christmas dinner. Want to give a thoughtful present to friends who are health buffs? The Organic Basket, at P1,999, is filled with wholesome and healthy treats. And for those who love to sit down for a drink or two, there’s the Snacks and Beer Basket for only P1,499.

We didn't buy a real fir tree or holiday baskets, but we did feel oh so merry with our finds! For starters, we bought a 3-kilogram bucket of Nutella for only P1,100! CRAZY! Here's the rest!
He was wondering why these candy canes were pink. He's only seen the red-green-white ones.

So much candy!!! And this weekend, you really ought to sign up and shop because it's the Super Crazy Sale on December 3 and 4! For only this weekend, members can exclusively shop and enjoy 50% discounts, buy-one-and-take-one deals, and get lots of SurPrices!

I'm seriously thinking of going back even though I'm done with my gift shopping because these caught my eye:
I need this copper cookware set from Kitchen Aid! Each piece was sooo heavy! I can use these FOREVER! And P15K lang!
Even more affordable are these cooking sets from Oster, Farberware and Cuisinart! Gusto kong bumalik talaga!
Because I'm a working mama and my kids are in school, kiddie meals can save my sanity once in a while!
Yes for more frozen meals! A working mama needs all the help she can get!
Check out the big box of cereal. It's so much cheaper here than in regular supermarkets!
Gigantic bottles of skincare goodies from the best brands in the world.
Affordable grooming and pampering products for babies and kids in big bottles are a treat because I have three kids!   
Funny Iñigo. As soon as he saw baby wipes, he grabbed them. These are a must-have in any home with kids!
Speaking of kids, yes, there are toys and art materials, too! I have to go back and buy that Spider-Man plushie for Piero.
Fake grass! This is actually a good idea if you want a lawn but want to conserve water. Maybe I can use it for my condo! 
On your new faux grass lawn, plunk this. This patio set is just P25,000. It's crazy!
Last night, when I asked the kids at bedtime what their favorite part of the day was, Iñigo replied, "Shopping for candy with you, Mama. I really liked that big store!" Awww! And he really did. He was so happy there, he wants to go back with his Papa and brothers. I don't like shopping with all my kids in tow (it's very stressful!) but Iñigo and I had such a good time at Landers. Because it's 8,000-square meters big, there's so much space to move around in. When you're a mom with malikot kids, packed grocery aisles is a nightmare. With such a vast shopping space at Landers, we easily navigated the well-lit aisles and I didn't worry too much about my kid running around.
Everything fresh displayed in such a brightly lit space!
He couldn't believe the size of the place! And that this particular aisle was full of candy!!!
Safety first! Guards block an aisle because they were moving boxes. Iñigo was impressed.

I also liked that Landers Superstore had a huge area for hanging out and eating. There's a lovely café (Doppio), a comfortable diner (Landers Central), and a delectable bakery (Dough & Co.).
Bread baked fresh daily! Cakes, pastries and other treats are also offered.
Relaxing diner for members who love fried chicken, hotdogs, fries, and pizza.
Mmm, coffee! They serve pastries and ice cream, too.

For husbands and kids who want to relax while we mommies shop, there's a barbershop for them to get some pampering. And Landers Balintawak, the barbershop is Talas Manileño while in Landers Otis, it's Federal Barbers. It's free for members. Freeeeeee!!!

Another perk? Gasoline discounts. Yep! Landers Superstore has its very own gas station in its very big parking lot. Members get P2 off per liter of gasoline and P1.50 per liter of diesel from five-star gasoline station, Caltex. And members get this discount all year long!

So if you want to avoid the nightmare of looking for parking at the mall to join scary hordes of shoppers fighting over the same brands and same Christmas promo bundles in the same crowded and narrow supermarket aisles, and then all of you will then line up forever at the cashier, then Landers Superstore is the place for you! It's definitely the superstore for me. I'm done with my holiday shopping and I never even felt any stress. Thanks so much, Landers!

Landers Superstores are found at 1240 EDSA Balintawak, Apolonio Samson, Quezon City and at Otis at 1890 Paz Guazon St., Paco, Manila. For more information and to know more about Landers’ exclusive Christmas shopping promo, visit, follow @LandersPH on Instagram, and like Landers Superstore on Facebook.