Sunday, July 16, 2017

Climbing Out Of A Career Rut: Where Will Your Next Step Take You?

As the weekend draws to a close, I'm already plotting the coming week. There's a lot of work coming up but I'm also seeing friends, getting a treatment from my skin and body clinic of choice (I choose Flawless!), and diving into lots of school-related concerns since it's oral tests and PTC this week! Thank goodness my work set-up is flexible. It really is kind to my situation as a mommy of small kids.

Many of my Loyal Readers have emailed me telling me they wish they can just quit their jobs just like I did. Well, it wasn't that easy. When I left my employment, I walked away with a generous compensation package earned from more than a decade's work. While I agree with the wish that all moms can spend more time with their kids, I'm also aware that not all of us can do this freelance life. For one thing, the pay checks come at erratic times, which can be a source of worry especially since we have kids to feed and send to school. Honestly, I'm starting to think of going back to the corporate world! So if you wish you were also a freelancer and entrepreneur like me, think of your financial situation first. If you determine that regular pay checks are better for your family, then stay employed. Just think of ways to improve your work situation!

Stuck at work while the kids look for you? All working mamas relate!

We all have days when going to work is the last thing we want to do. However, if you feel like this every day, it’s likely that you’ve fallen into a career rut. If your current job doesn’t fulfill you, you feel like you’re giving everything for nothing in return, you’re exhausted, or you crave more, it may be time for a change. Where will your next step take you?

If you love your job but you’ve been at the same level for years, and you want to take on new challenges and earn more money, why not look into the possibility of working towards a promotion? Let your boss know that you’d be interested in any roles that become available, and try and make sure you put your case forward in the best way possible. Show that you’re passionate about moving upwards and that you’re committed to the company. If the company says there's no budget for a bigger salary, sometimes it's possible to ask for a higher position anyway and ask for another kind of compensation—like flexible work hours, a car, travel with learning opportunities, even a home nearer your place of work!

If there aren’t any posts available and movement within the firm is restricted, only then should your consider looking at jobs offered by different companies. Even if you get on really well with your colleagues, you don’t want to stay on the same rung of the ladder for too long. 

Sometimes, a change of scenery is what we need when life becomes a little mundane. If you enjoy your current job and you want to stay with the company, ask about the possibility of moving to a different branch or taking a position in a different province, or even another country. When I was looking for jobs last year, my family advised me to apply to international companies so that in case the Philippines implodes, I have a chance to migrate to another country via my work. If you're looking for a job where your working environment is conducive for growth, you can check out software engineer jobs in Boston and see if something catches your attention. With plenty of options available, you might consider taking it up there.

Before you research long distance moving companies, think carefully about the jobs on offer, make sure they appeal to you, and find out exactly what the move entails. For example, will your new job pay enough in case your husband will have to quit his job to move with you? Will your kids miss their school and friends? Then again, your new office doesn't have to be a country away! You can do it the way my mother did—she found out a Meralco branch was opening right outside our subdivision so she asked for a transfer there. She was happier to be nearer our home. So even if you’re only relocating to an office a few kilometers down the highway, you can still benefit from meeting new people and experiencing a different environment.

Change of career
Of course, if you're really unhappy with your job, by all means consider leaving it! It’s important to put food on the table, but it’s also beneficial to get something other than financial reward out of employment. If you dread every morning or work is purely a means of paying bills, think about what you really want to do, and start working out how you can get there. This is easier said than done, of course, because your family needs to be financially secure before you take the leap, but when you're finally ready to take that leap, do it! You may need to study, train or get some experience, but it’s worth making changes that will benefit you in the future now.

Career break
Sometimes, when you’re burned out and you’ve been working incredibly hard for as long as you can remember, a career break can do you a world of good. Even if you only take a few weeks to relax, do something different—take some time out to travel and catch up with friends, learn a new skill, 
refresh knowledge by enrolling in online courses, or even if it's as simple as spending time with your kids and just being a housewife (which may make you decide if being a housewife is something you really want!), time off will let you think about what you’re going to do next. You can either go back to work refreshed or you can have that drive to start a new job with a new lease of life. 

If you’re stuck in a career rut, it’s time to mull over your options and work out where your next step will take you. Good luck, working mamas!

*This post contains affiliate links. Image by William Iven from Unsplash

Monday, July 10, 2017

Blog Biz: Taxes 101 for bloggers

For today's edition of Blog Biz, we're going to talk about something that bloggers don't want to talk about—taxes. This is true! When I started blogging in 2006, I never thought it would become an income-generating hobby. I'm sure people who created blogs before 2010 also think that way. But when 2010 happened, people started to notice blogs and bloggers and the massive influence they have and that you can monetize said influence. So lots of people started blogging in the hopes of making it a career.

So if you're one of those bloggers who set out blogging because you wanted to make money from this platform then you have no excuse not to pay taxes!!!

First, blogging and being an influencer is such a PUBLIC business. The very nature of it is you telling everyone who follows you—whether they number in the thousands or the millions—that you're making money from social media posts. There is no way you can hide from the BIR and no way you can deny you're making money.

You're not like one of those word-of-mouth businesses, yung all your customers are your community. Or like those businesses that sell online like eBay and Etsy where you can hide behind seller names. With blogging and social media, you're forever trumpeting to the world that you're earning from this activity. Therefore, you have to be super transparent about everything. At least, that's what I believe.

I do my own bookkeeping. It's the tax-paying I outsource.

By the way, this is not a sponsored post from the BIR. I wish! I'm only doing this because I get questions from fellow bloggers and freelance workers about paying taxes because apparently, I'm the only blogger they know who pays taxes (say it ain't so!). So I asked my friends over at Pinnacle Sources to help me out with this post.

Pinnacle Sources is an international business consultancy firm. They help register businesses, help you pay your taxes, help with your books and accounting needs. Thanks so much, Pinnacle!!! Especially you, Lynn, for being so patient with me every time I'm whining about my business!

For someone like me, a sole proprietor who doesn't have staff, assistance like this is necessary. A working mama never has the time to line up at DTI, barangay hall, mayor's office, BIR, etc! So everywhere I can find help, I get it. Even when it comes to writing blog posts!

Yes, for today's post on taxes for bloggers, I talked to Ruby Gestiada, the Finance Director of Pinnacle Sources. I asked her the questions I've been getting from my fellow bloggers and attendees of my workshops. Thanks so much, Ruby, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to give me and my readers such comprehensive answers.

So here's my interview with Ruby. And then I added my own comments on some of the questions because gusto kong mag-share ng experience ko. Read and learn!

Why should bloggers turn their blogs into a BIR-certified business?
Ruby: The major reason a blogger should legitimize their blogs and be recognized by the Bureau of Revenue (BIR) is that almost all well-known clients and companies that might possibly work with them will most likely want that they have official receipts and know that they’re registered. Aside from that, having your blog recognized by Law as a business signifies credibility and assurance to your potential clients that you are legit and existing. 

Me: I turned mine into a business because of three reasons: 
(1) Big brands ask for receipts. If I wanted to level up my collaborations and sponsorships, I need to be a real business. There was this mom blogger who had a much bigger following than me ask me, "Why are you always getting campaigns when my blog's stats are higher?" (Yes, this happened!) And I replied, "Because I have receipts. It's hard for businesses to justify big expenses—like an influencer fee—without receipts." 
(2) I needed tax documents when I apply for visas. 
(3) I was scared the BIR will sniff me out when they see I have so many sponsored posts and no BIR records.

When do I know my blog should be turned into a business? How much should I be earning?
Not all bloggers have the same level of success and earnings; with this in mind of course some individuals will most likely consider certain things before pushing through with the registration of their blog. For example the cost of registration which will send them back by P15,000.00-P20,000.00, not to mention the monthly overhead of having an accountant which is roughly another P3,000-5,000/per accountant per month.

So for the answer of how to know if your blog should be turned to a business should depend on how steady your blog/s generate income, and for how much a blogger should be earning just make sure you can cover the monthly cost and that you are actually earning something that equals or exceeds your effort.  

Should bloggers register as professionals or sole proprietors?
If one would like to register as a professional they will be required to have a PRC ID. If in case they don’t have, then they will have to register as a sole proprietor and will be required to have their business permit.

If a blogger registers as a sole proprietor, what kind of business is blogging?
Well, now that social media have boomed without showing any signs of slowing down and that a very special niche was discovered, add in the fact that blogging has established a very strong presence in the communications industry, we think that one can actually register their business as “Blogging”.

How do I register my blog as a business?
First, an individual would have to check with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) if their desired name for their business is available. Next comes the securing of business permits and clearances from City Hall. Lastly, registration, filling, and payment of Docs Stamp Tax “if applicable” and Registration of Books, Filling Authorization and Printing of receipts in the Bureau of Revenue (BIR).

Me: Finance blogger Fitz Villafuerte said you should register your first business yourself so you know how to do it. I didn't listen. Instead, I hired someone I actually don't know to make lakad the whole thing. Big mistake. Basta I won't go into details. Basta ang takeaway ko is if you want someone else to do the registration for you, hire professionals. 

Hire professionals! They won't let you down!

Can I use my blog name as my business name?
Ruby: Yes, as long as the name is acceptable and available in Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) system.

Me: I wasn't allowed. That's why my business name is my full name. It's so looooong! My former accountant said all the "Topaz" word combinations were bought by some entity. For the record, I do not believe this.

I work from home. Does my residence qualify as a workplace?
Yes, but The Bureau of Revenue (BIR) will require a lease contract if you’re renting and also an authorization from the owner of the property or a letter that they are allowing you to use your address as business address. If not, they will ask for the Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) or Condominium Certificate of Title (CCT) if you own the property.

What taxes should I pay? What exemptions can I get? My blog is not a big business yet.
There are two types of taxes they need to pay: first is the "Sales Tax" which is either non-VAT amounting to 3% (Percentage Tax) or VAT which is 12%. The 12%VAT can be passed on to your customer by charging them the additional 12%. For example, your service is P100.00 but you will charge them an additional P12.00 for VAT. Second is "Income Tax" which amounts from 5%-32% depending on your net income for the year.

The only exemptions you will get is when you have a child/ children. Up to four children is allowed and will be granted P25,000.00 income tax exemption.

Lastly, regardless of how big or how small a business is, you still have to register it. Once your business is registered, you will be required to pay the right amount of taxes.

Me: I have three kids. That's P75,000 deducted agad! There's also personal exemption of P50,000.

Should I get an accountant? What exactly can they do for me that I can't do? I'm scared their service is expensive. I don't earn every month!
Honestly speaking it’s a big yes because there are several tax fillings that some individuals cannot comprehend and might find very intimidating. Having the service of an experienced accountant that is familiar with that field saves you not only the hassle but also all the stress and headache that comes with it.

Plus, it’s really not that expensive to get an accountant because the charges and fees depend on the volume of work they will do for them. Our accounting service can start as low as P3,000.00/month and you’re actually paying not just one professional but the expertise of a whole accounting team.

We can help SME entrepreneurs like bloggers to build their business by handling and organizing their taxes and accounting. We know how busy a blogger can be and by getting our service you will have more time to focus on what you like to do, which is blogging. With our help, building your business will be easy and convenient. By managing your monthly overhead expenses, we can accurately know how much you’re really earning per month and per year. As for the payment, no worries you can actually pay quarterly.

Me: You should totally get an accountant. Unless you're great with accounting yourself!

So there, dear bloggers and freelance friends! Thanks so much again to Ruby Gestiada of Pinnacle Sources for answering my Q&A. For your business and accounting needs, contact them. Highly recommended! So professional! So reliable! 

Address: 32/F BPI-Philam Bldg, Ayala Ave., Makati

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Frances Finds: Harvest Meals (my favorite meal delivery service!)

Creamy carbonara with lotsa bacon and chicken burgers!

I was supposed to publish this post earlier because I have gotten a LOT of questions about Harvest Meals. Because I wanted to style the food first to make them nice and IG-worthy, I've been postponing it. But kebs na sa styling! I'm never going to be a food stylist! What I am is a working mama who needs all the help she can get and when I found Harvest Meals last April, I was hooked and now can't imagine life without these delicious, healthy and affordable meals!

Best chicken lumpiang shanghai ever!

Okay, so first question I need to get out of the way is, "Why are you promoting Harvest Meals so much? Business mo ba yan?" Mommies, I WISH! Hindi ko siya business at all. Ang nangyari niyan is I took photos of the first deliveries to share on my Instagram and then when I stopped doing that, people would ask me, "Walang Harvest delivery ngayon? Ano ulam niyo ngayon? Post niyo the Harvest meal today please." It was weird haha but ayan tuloy, I now post our Harvest Meals as much as I can. If I don't, it's usually because the kids got to it first so hindi ko na nakuhaan ng picture.

Tinolang manok and chicken meatballs. A hit with the boys!

Okay, I really really really love Harvest Family Comfort Meals for these reasons:

1. I have more time for other things. I'm a working mama and to have someone else think of the week's menu for me is a BIG DEAL. That's brain power and physical energy I save and devote to work instead. Also the time I save not cooking is now spent with my kids or on me napping. It has totally changed our life!

2. We eat healthier now. There's more vegetables in our diet. Again, because of my busy schedule, there are times I just fry chicken nuggets or Spam or order McDo. Quick, fast, kids are happy. But now, we always have gulay! Every meal! Healthy na kaming kumain! Every meal!

3. Our diet has variety now. When I do meal planning, I rely on the trusted food that my kids eat and what's quick for me to cook. After a while, paulit-ulit na yan. Adobo, spaghetti, tinola, beef steak. Repeat. After a while, nagsasawa rin yung pamilya ko. But ever since we got Harvest Family Comfort Meals, sari-sari ang ulam! Minsan, when the kids think, "It's weird, Mama," it's kinda hard to make them eat. But they try it anyway, and they eat naman. And I feel good because they get exposed to many kinds of food and tastes.

4. It's so affordable. It's just P250 a delivery and dalawang ulam na yan! Madalas kasya na sa aming lima yung ulam and we have leftovers pa. So minsan umaabot ng two to three meals yung isang delivery!

Okay, now I just want to say that hindi kami malakas kumain. The Harvest Family Comfort Meal is good for 2-3 people, but someone who ordered told me her husband ate the whole thing up at hindi nagtira sa kanila so pang-isang tao lang daw. Grabe naman yun. Look at all the photos here. I seriously don't think pang-isang tao lang ang servings! Another person told me on my IG that she ordered for her officemates so, mommies, very generous servings talaga. Hindi siya fiesta levels, sure, but there's enough for a family. Promise!

Look at those kids eat!

I got to talk to Judy Cruz-Malabanan, the woman behind this food delivery business, because I was getting lots of questions about Harvest Meals and I think she's the best one to answer them. Here's our FAQ:

Where do you deliver?
We deliver in Pasig, Mandaluyong, Ortigas, Quezon City, San Juan, Makati, Taguig, and in the south up until Alabang. There's a minimal delivery fee :)

Can I order meals for tomorrow na? Or is there a deadline for orders?
We have a weekly menu. Ideally, we need you to place the order the week prior. We try to place in the orders for our ingredients beforehand to save on cost :) The shortest notice is 24 hrs advanced order. 

Can I just order one day's meal or kailangan buong week?
You don't need to order all 5 days, just a minimum of 3x a week.

Pansit and siomai! Kulang na lang Coke!!!

When is the food cooked?
The food is cooked the day prior. For example, your Monday meals are cooked at around 4pm of Sunday. It is then cooled down and refrigerate to be delivered in the morning. 

How do I pay for my meals? Pwede COD?
Payment is by BDO deposit :) Pwede COD pero Check-On-Delivery hehe, not cash. We try to lessen instances where our riders handle cash for their own safety na rin. 

The Family Comfort Food meals are so affordable! How is that possible?
Thank you! We try our best to give as much value as possible. Since we've been in the food business a while, we have good relationships with suppliers so we get a good price if we pre-order the ingredients. They don't get delivered all at once (para fresh), but we have our list beforehand. That's why we need to know the orders in advance :) 

Porkchops with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and steamed beans. Sosyal pero P250 lang yan!

What made you decide to put up Harvest Meals, especially the Family Comfort Food type of offering?
Well, I'm a solo parent now and no helper. So I needed a way to feed my son without calling McDonalds every other night hehe. 

How do you plan the meals? Please give tips to the poor working mamas like me who don't know how to plan menus!
The comfort food meals are planned with lots of love! We have senior cooks that we sit down with weekly and we plan the menu. Usually, it's dry viand matched with something saucy or soupy. We try to add in vegetables whenever possible. We also add variety to the protein, mixing up chicken, pork and beef in the week. 

I found that most of our clients order the comfort food for their kids. So I think of varieties that kids would be curious to eat. Mostly, I show the menu to my son, mom, and siblings :)   

Ooooh, this chicken pot pie with garlic bread was sooo good! Siksik sa manok and veggies! And TWO pans!
What are your plans for Harvest Meals? 
It's really by God's grace that Harvest Meals came to be. I pray daily for the business, asking God to lead decisions, bless the clients, and bless the food. For Harvest Meals, I hope and pray we get bigger and serve more areas, and possibly develop more menu options. 

How do you juggle business and motherhood?
It's sooo hard! By God's grace we get by. And mommy duties always come first. I am thankful that Harvest allows me to work flexible hours and that I have trusted staff! 

Things are not perfect. Just today he told me that I work too much. I guess, it's a constant reminder that to him, LOVE is spelled as T-I-M-E. 

Meatball muffins and nilagang baka for my bunso.

Thanks, Judy! And thanks soooo much for feeding my family since April!!! I've been able to be more productive while also now having more time for my family. It seems such a little thing—a lovingly cooked meal—but it has changed our life. Thank you!

Dear working mamas, especially yung masyadong busy, pagod, di magaling magluto, walang katulong, alam niyo na kung sino kayo, order the Family Comfort Meals from Harvest Meals na! Only P250 a day para sa dalawang ulam na! Sulit forever!

Like their Facebook page (/harvestphilippines), follow them on Instagram (, and order via text: (0932) 878-5258.

The kids' favorite: pansit canton and chicken and pork adobo