How I Got Out of Debt

In 2008, I went to the US — shopped and toured by myself. I was almost broke when I got back.

In 2009, I decided to loan a house and lot with little to almost nothing at all in my bank account. What I had, though, was a handful of credit cards. Like 14 of them from different banks.

The loan I got from the office was not sufficient for my house specs/requirements so I resorted to credit card loans. The payments for the office loan are netted out before my salary even got credited to my account. My net salary each pay period was 4 digits – just enough for other essentials. The payments for credit card dues came from other credit cards, fresh loans (i.e. Insurance policy loans), office bonuses (which were kind of few and far between). In short, I was just plugging one debt with another debt.  I was drowning. 

What did I do to reach the shore?  In a nutshell, I made smart choices.

1.  Create an excel file and start taking stock of all your debts, all your assets, bonuses (if any) as well as dues on a monthly basis for the next N years. Make assumptions, if necessary, like in the case of merit increases, bonuses and their timing. Update this regularly.

  • Insert a worksheet  or have a notebook where you can keep track of your daily expenses.

2. Do not add more debt unless necessary. For a while, my new house had nothing but the cheap furniture basics. My new debts were to pay for debts coming due.  Remember, I had no cash.  Just pay partial or enough not to prompt the credit company to call your debt and consider you in default. Bad. 

  • I didn’t even purchase a car eventhough I was already entitled to 3-4 years ago because the car payments would affect my credit card payments. My 10-year old car is doing just fine anyway. But I have to review this given the upcoming excise tax on vehicles.

3. All windfall (e.g. bonuses) go to prepayments and preterminations of loans. No excuses. Non-negotiable.

4. Pay the loans with the lowest interest last. The insurance loans I made remained unpaid for 5 years. These were the loans with the lowest interests. 

5. Cut paid credit cards. Maintain only those which are reliable and internationally accepted. Interests across cards are almost always the same so the deciding factors don’t include that. (I will write about my favorite credit cards in the future.)

5. Keep at it. Realize that it is a long and painful process. The important thing is you are starting somewhere.

8 years later, I am debt free except for the house and lot which will run for 12 more years. I still use credit cards but only to earn points. I don’t do revolving credit anymore. It has been my goal to pay my purchases as they fall due.
I did it. So can you. 


Confinement at Asian Hospital (Part 1)

I was confined at the Asian Hospital in Alabang for 4 days due to a major surgery. The bill easily ran up to over P300,000. 

But you know what, insurance or no insurance, it was worth it.

Facilities: I am a stickler for cleanliness but Asian never made me feel like I couldn’t trust sitting on their waiting chairs, using their toilets or leaning on their walls. Maybe it is also a function of the crowd who goes there. I am not sure.

Room: My Standard Private Room got the essentials — well functioning ref, phone, cable TV, an ottoman where my Dad slept and a convertible chair where my husband slept, a clean cabinet, a toilet and bath (with simple toiletries and hot and cold water for shower and faucet), a built-in window seat, a bedside cabinet, an eating table and a dresser. It was like being in a hotel minus all the medical sockets and apparatus. 

  •  Toilet Note:   There was no window but there was an exhaust. It seemed kind of dark and the tan-ish tile color was depressing. There were 3 trash cans, one for wet trash, dry trash and contagious/infectious trash. Very good.

Food: My husband said patient food was great (large portions, hot and covered, generally looked trustworthy for a picky eater like me). I was sick so my palate was probably wonky. The sight of porridge for  the 3rd day in a row made me gag, seriously. I remember asking my hubby to buy me take out from the nearby Savory at the mall, the downstairs Cafe France and Cafeteria by Chef Florabel. 

Nurses:  Asian has beautiful nurses on an 8 hour shift so for the 4 days I was there I got to meet a lot. They were all polite and patient. 3, however, stood out. 2 of the 3 had something to do with suppository duties. Hahaha. I felt so icked with the idea of pushing something down there and I doubt if I could have pushed the suppositories all the way through as prescribed so I practically swallowed my pride and asked the nurses to administer them for me. Fortunately, they did not have qualms about it. One even told me it is their job. Well, job or not, thank you.

 The last nurse on my top 3 was the one who gave me practical tips so as to avoid additional/extra charges (e.g. if you already have alcohol do not buy the hospital issued alcohol, etc.).

One nurse, however, with all her happy and welcoming smiles failed to deliver. Whether it was a function of the doctor not giving her proper instructions or advice when she relayed my concern, I don’t know. See, I messed up my pre-op medicines and meals and I asked her how to remedy the situation. She didn’t give me any so I decided on my own.  It wasn’t a big deal anyway as it turned out. I am just saying I was expecting an answer that never came. 

Other Staff:  The members of the food crew, who delivered my meals and who picked them up after, were so nice. Always smiling and always patient especially since I didn’t eat on time. I think they had to make extra trips just to get my meal tray back. Sorry for my wonky appetite boys. Sometimes, though, my meals were late. For instance, I was supposed to eat around 5am, I think, cause I was scheduled for pre-op fasting and cleansing starting 6am but my meal arrived almost 6am. Good thing that it was just clear soup. Clear — like water with a touch of green color (maybe it was veggie soup) — and icky flavor. I would have preferred tea instead. Anyways, being late didn’t matter cause it was a non-existent breakfast.

  • The bestest person in this category was the nurse assistant. She gave me a “bath” on the hospital bed the day after my surgery . Got my hair shampooed, got an upper body sponge bath and a private parts’ wash.  Thank you! Just to put this into perspective, I take a bath before I go to sleep. No matter how long my day was or sleepy or tired I was…I take a bath before sleeping and take a bath again before going to work. Being on the hospital bed was not an excuse not to take a bath or a semblance of it. So, I was thankful.

Pantry: My room was near the pantry, where watchers can wash their plates or what nots. It was also equipped with a microwave oven and there was a hot and cold drinking dispenser.

There was newspaper everyday. 😱😁

Special: 8 Things You Need To Know About Rabies

This got stuck in my draft box. Anyway, rabies, especially in summer, is still relevant. Be safe all.

Note: I highlighted some statements for emphasis.

Credits to ABS CBN News.

8 things you need to know about rabies

Posted at Mar 21 2012 02:46 PM | Updated as of Mar 21 2012 11:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Did you know that 200 to 300 Filipinos die of rabies each year?

Dr. Raffy Deray, program manager for rabies at the Department of Health’s National Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said a patient bitten by a rabid dog may die within three to five days.

“The latest recommendation of the DOH is all bite victims should be provided immunization as early as possible,” Deray said in interview on “Mornings@ANC” on Tuesday.

Here are some things you need to know about rabies, as mentioned by Deray:

  1. Rabies is caused by a virus that infects the central nervous system. A patient may die within three to five days.
  2. Rabies accounts for about 55,000 deaths worldwide every year, and majority of the fatalities are children. In the Philippines, the disease is responsible for the death of 200 to 300 Filipinos annually.
  3. Rabies cases are usually higher in the Philippines during summer, when children spend more time playing outdoors.
  4. There are two ways that a person can get the rabies virus – through the bite of a rabid animal such as a dog, and by inhalation. The latter occurs only in special circumstances, such as when the patient is inside a laboratory.
  5. Here are some signs that you may have rabies: anxiety, stress and tension, delirium, drooling, convulsions, exaggerated sensation at the bite site, hallucinations, loss of feeling in an area of the body, loss of muscle function, low-grade fever (102 degrees Fahrenheit or lower), muscle spasms, numbness and tingling, pain at the side of the bite, restlessness, insomnia, and swallowing difficulty.
  6. Rabies cannot be cured, but it is preventable. There are two ways to prevent this disease – by vaccinating dogs, and by vaccinating humans. Traditional healers’ approaches to treating rabies have no scientific basis.
  7. When bitten by stray animals who may have rabies, do the following: 1) immediately wash the bite with soap and clean water. Antiseptics may be applied. 2) Consult a physician or go to your nearest animal bite center for immunization. 3) Consult a veterinarian for the management of the biting dog.
  8. The DOH is targeting a rabies-free Philippines by 2020 mainly through the vaccination of all dogs in the country.

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) means the treatment of a bite victim that is started immediately after exposure to rabies in order to prevent rabies from entering the central nervous system which would result in imminent death. This consists of:

  • local treatment of the wound, initiated as soon as possible after exposure;
  • a course of potent and effective rabies vaccine that meets WHO standards; and
  • the administration of rabies immunoglobulin (RIG), if indicated.

Effective treatment soon after exposure to rabies can prevent the onset of symptoms and death.

Local treatment of the wound

This involves first-aid of the wound that includes immediate and thorough flushing and washing of the wound for a minimum of 15 minutes with soap and water, detergent, povidone iodine or other substances that kill the rabies virus.

Recommended PEP

Depending on the severity of the contact administering with the suspected rabid animal, administration of PEP is recommended as follows (see table):


Table: Categories of contact and recommended post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)

Categories of contact with suspect rabid animal Post-exposure prophylaxis measures
Category I – touching or feeding animals, licks on intact skin None
Category II – nibbling of uncovered skin, minor scratches or abrasions without bleeding Immediate vaccination and local treatment of the wound
Category III – single or multiple transdermal bites or scratches, licks on broken skin; contamination of mucous membrane with saliva from licks, contacts with bats. Immediate vaccination and administration of rabies immunoglobulin; local treatment of the wound

All category II and III exposures assessed as carrying a risk of developing rabies require PEP. This risk is increased if:

  • the biting mammal is a known rabies reservoir or vector species;
  • the animal looks sick or displays an abnormal behaviour;
  • a wound or mucous membrane was contaminated by the animal’s saliva;
  • the bite was unprovoked; and
  • the animal has not been vaccinated.