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Preparing your family for an earthquake

Sourced Rappler  | March 29th 2015

Preparing your family for an earthquake

“Safety must start from homes” .

MANILA, Philippines – Is the Philippines ready for a big earthquake?

With the country surrounded by various active faults and trenches, earthquakes – whether weak or strong – are expected to occur. (READ: Strongest earthquakes in the Philippines)

In fact, a 2004 study conducted by Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the Metropolitan Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS) found out that a magnitude 7.2 earthquake could destroy 40% of the buildings and could kill about 30,000 – 40,000 people in Metro Manila – the country’s business hub and where government agencies are located.

While schools and offices in different parts of the country conduct earthquake drills regularly, these are focused on what the public and the government should do during and after an earthquake. (WATCH: LIVE: #OplanPagyanig: National Earthquake Drill)

But what are the ways to prepare for it?

On Thursday, March 26, MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm, held a #ZeroCasualty conversation on Facebook to discuss earthquake preparedness and safety with guests from Phivolcs and Red Cross.

In a country prone to geological hazards, Phivolcs stressed the importance of preparedness, which should start within the family.

“Safety must start from homes. A family should discuss and have a plan as to what they should do in case of an earthquake,” the agency said.

Here are some ways on how families can be prepared for the “big one.”

  • Know the earthquake hazards in the area
  • Be conscious of the structural integrity of the house
  • Set up furniture and appliances in a way that they will not topple when there is a strong ground shaking
  • Prepare emergency bag/kit for each member of the family

Below is a Phivolcs infographic on what to do before, during and after an earthquake strikes

Earthquake awareness infographic

While earthquakes in general, cannot really be predicted, the risks it poses can be reduced by avoidance through proper planning, according to Phivolcs.

7 Family Rituals MUST DO to Add Meaning to Every Day

By Asha Dornfest | Babble – Thu, 10 Jan 2013

Whether religious or not, many people consider ritual and tradition to be an important (and treasured) part of life. The word ritual has such a serious ring to it, but rituals can also be simple, comforting and fun. And now that we’re past the distraction of the holidays, it’s easier to think about ritual in its less-loaded, everyday form: the little things you can do each day, each week, or each season to insert a pause for reflection or appreciation. Rituals need not be time-consuming (or all that serious) to be special. As long as they’re predictable and important to your family, they will be meaningful. Here are 7 ideas to consider. See if one resonates for you. – By Asha Dornfest

Light a candle

Photo by: Brendan DeBrincat
1. Light a candle
Lighting candles at mealtime naturally quiets things down and encourages reflection. (Unless your kids are toddlers or pyromaniacs, of course.)

 

Give thanks

Photo by: Ali Edwards
2. Give thanks
Expressing gratitude before you eat — such a simple way to pause. No need to include religion if that’s not your thing.

 

Friday night dessert

Photo by: Benny Mazur
3. Friday night dessert
We make Friday nights special by serving a treat. It encourages our kids to invite friends over instead of making plans, and it takes dessert out of the “daily” realm and into the “special.”

 

Change of venue

Photo by: Danny Sullivan
4. Change of venue
Dinner in the living room. Sleepover in the basement. “Predictable variety” is exciting.

 

Weekly family fun night

Photo by: Morgan
5. Weekly family fun night
Movie night, game night, quiet reading night…whatever you enjoy.

 

Scheduled phone calls

Photo by: Julie Corsi
6. Scheduled phone calls
Regular calls to the grandparents or far-flung friends maintains connections and adds rhythm to the week

 

Coming of age rituals

Photo by: Etsy/HouseHoldWords
7. Coming of age rituals
Monthly growth chart recordings, weekly allowance…these small actions let a kid know she’s growing up.

How to form a lifelong bond with your child (while running a career)?

By Cecile Baltasar for Yahoo Southeast Asia | Yahoo SHE – Mon, 6 January 2014
How to form a lifelong bond with your child (while running a career)

Here’s a question many working parents ask: how do you form a strong bond with your child when your to-do list is packed with meetings, errands, and desk work from 7 AM to 8 PM every weekday?

The solution is simple: “Spend uninterrupted time with your children for at least 30 minutes every day,” says Maribel Dionisio, MA, a parenting and relationship consultant at AMD Love Consultants for Families and Couples.

Here are a few tips to help you do just that:

Have daily one-on-one sessions with each child. “When you get home, rest for 20 minutes, then spend the next 30 minutes with one child,” suggests Dionisio. “Take a break for a few minutes, then move on to the next child.” It may take some adjusting at first, but once you’ve established a routine, it will become easier.

“Many parents complain to me, ‘How can I give 30 minutes every day when I have so many other things I need to do?’” says Dionisio. “I tell them, ‘If you can’t give 30 minutes a day, then there goes your influence on your child. How will you get to know your child if you don’t spend time with him or her?’”

To be able to do this effectively, consistently, and without regret, you will have to line up your priorities. And you’ll have to say no to things that are of less concern to you so you can focus on your children.

Go on weekly solo dates with each child, as well. Dionisio says apart from spending exclusive time with your kids daily, it’s also important for each parent to take each of the kids out on one-on-one dates every week (or every two weeks).

But there’s one rule: “You have to do it on a budget of P50,” says Dionisio. That will force you and your child to be creative, and it will teach your child financial responsibility at the same time. Will you have ice cream at an outdoor playground? Kick around a ball in the UP sunken garden? Part of the fun would be figuring out with your child what you can do together.

“This weekly date will be so special to your child because he will have you all to himself,” says Dionisio. “Make sure there’s no interruption from anyone. Turn off all your gadgets. And then just talk with your child: ‘Who’s your best friend? What’s your teacher like?’”

Set a schedule and let everyone know about it. This one-on-one project is a family effort, so everyone has to be in on it wholeheartedly. Both parents have to figure out a schedule for the weekly dates—who takes whom out, how long they’ll be out, etc. Divide your time wisely, especially if you have many kids. Write down this schedule and put it up where everyone in your family can see. This will create a routine, help parents figure out their priorities, and show kids when their turn is with you.

“If you do this consistently and with love, you’ll see the results immediately,” says Dionisio.

With teenagers, you’ll have to be creative. “Your weekly dates won’t be good enough anymore when your kids become teenagers,” says Dionisio. When that time comes, you’ll have to be more creative because you’ll be the one chasing them to spend time with you. Is your teen going to her friend’s house? Offer to drive her over. Does your son need some supplies from the bookstore? Offer to go shopping with him. Does your daughter have rehearsals at school? Pick her up and take her out for ice cream after.

Or, Dionisio suggests, “Just say, ‘I heard there’s this new restaurant. You want to try it with me?’ Let them know it’s your special time with them. But don’t label it a date or your kids will say, ‘Yuck, you’re corny, Mom.’”

Don’t use a cookie-cutter routine for all your kids. Because each child is different, you’ll have to treat them differently, as well.

“Your eldest and your second child probably think in opposite ways,” says Dionisio. “If you put both kids together and force them to do the same things with you, normally, they’ll just end up fighting. Or you might inadvertently give more attention to the louder child. Your alone time has to be custom-fit for each child. Some kids need more alone time with their parents than other kids.”

If your child likes to doodle, tape sheets of manila paper on one wall of your house and paint a mural with her. If your other child likes to read books, take him to the National library on your weekend date, and scour the shelves for interesting children’s books.

Take advantage while they’re still young. Spending time with your children is important, more so while they’re still young.

“It takes three to five years to change behavior,” says Dionisio. “The sooner parents understand this principle, the better. Their positive relationship with their kids will give parents leverage if they have relationship problems with their kids later on. They won’t have to do repair work [on their kids’ attitude] if they work on it now.”

And by ‘working on it,’ that means spending quality (and quantity) time with your kids. If you connect with them this way for their first 10 years, you’ll be able to connect with them for the rest of their lives.

Are you financially ready for a family emergency?

By Mike Aquino for Yahoo! Southeast Asia | BDO Money Matters – Mon, 20 May 2013

To have children, the author Elizabeth Stone once wrote, “is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

Sleepless nights ensue—once, you were the sole subject of your financial priorities, now you’ve got your spouse and kids to worry about. Even if you’ve got things well in hand now… are you sure you’ve got everything covered, even the emergencies?

While Filipinos are generally not lacking in the sacrifice-everything-for-their-children department, most of us don’t have the financial savvy to properly prepare for a future emergency. “We have this, ‘sige, bahala na, the money’s there’ mindset,” says personal finance consultant Randell Tiongson. “A lot of people start with the life insurance policy, the educational program, all these things, but what about emergency funds?”

Tiongson believes in a certain order to laying the financial groundwork for a family emergency. “There are certain things you have to satisfy first,” explains Tiongson, pointing to your home finances and your debt. Tiongson suggests you do the following, in order:

1. Sort out your finances. “You should spend less on what you make, be able to balance your checkbook, see that you’re spending less than what you’re earning, and generating enough savings. That’s one,” says Tiongson. “If you’re in debt, then the next step is getting out of debt.”

2. Start an emergency fund. “It seems to be uncommon to a lot of us Filipinos,” says Tiongson. “But right financial planning necessitates that you set aside a certain amount of money for emergencies—what we call an emergency fund.”

Tiongson varies the amount he advises you reserve for your emergency fund, depending on your employment situation. “For employees, I’d say three months is the least,” he explains. “If you’re in business, six months to a year. In business kasi, hindi mo alam what’s going to happen.”

Emergency funds are not to be invested in stocks, property or mutual funds. “Ideally, it has to be cash or near-cash,” says Tiongson. “Time deposits are okay, if they can be cashed easily. When you put your emergency fund in, say, a bond fund, there’s that risk of fluctuation: if it fluctuates and it’s the time you need it, lugi ka.”

3. Buy life insurance. For the worst emergency of all—the kind that takes you permanently out of the picture for your kids—you’ll want to make sure they’re taken care of even in your absence. “If you have a dependent, like children, you want to cover that,” says Tiongson. As a rule of thumb, Tiongson suggests you get coverage equivalent to “between three to five times your annual salary.”

4. Cover health emergencies. If you’re an employee, chances are most of your medical expenses are covered (to a certain point) by the office HMO. But if the office HMO doesn’t cover your dependents—or fails to cover them to your satisfaction—the option to buy further coverage is always there. “You buy something that you can afford,” says Tiongson. “Of course, the really good ones are expensive. You may want a bigger room, but can you afford the premium?”

Tiongson suggests you make a priority of keeping tabs on your HMO and insurance premiums. “You also have to track that these things are being paid,” he warns. “Baka mamaya hindi naman bayad ang premium. If it’s not paid, what good is it?”

5. Get a lifeline. Tiongson advises that you use a line of credit—personal loans or credit cards—as a backup emergency fund: not to be used until all other options are exhausted.

“The idea is you start a savings program, but you keep credit handy,” explains Tiongson. “That’s why you should be very careful managing your credit—baka mamaya kung kailan mo kailangan, na-max out ang credit card mo!”

Take note, the order of these items is not interchangeable: the first two items should always be first on the agenda, though not necessarily in consecutive order. “I recommend you do this simultaneously,” says Tiongson. “Fix the way you spend, slowly get out of debt, and at the same time, build your emergency funds before you do other things like buying insurance.”

When Does Buying a Home Make More Sense Than Renting?

iMoney Phils. – Wed, 16 April 2014

Many of us working-age folk grew up in an environment where home ownership is held in high esteem. Our parents and grandparents have instilled in us the importance of owning a home where to raise a family and live out the rest of our day.

My dad, for instance, was able to save up for a parcel of land in his mid-30s, build a house for his family of 11, and then eventually bought a small farmstead not far from our home. Although both houses are projected continuously being improved, he’s now looking forward to his retirement as all of us kids are of working age and have fled the family nest.

The Filipino dream of owning one’s home where one can raise a family is much akin to its American counterpart. Most baby boomers—my dad being one—grew up firmly believing in this philosophy.

But after having watched the U.S. Housing market collapse in 2007–2008, taking the global economy with it, many people of my generation are wondering whether owning A home is as sturdy an investment as our predecessors have heralded them to be. After all, the properties are not liquid assets, they can depreciate, and hot spots come and go. The notion that properties make smart investment has time and again dispelled even by the most respected of economists, chief of which is the Nobel Prizewinning Robert J. Shiller (of the Case–Shiller Index).

money jar The Easy, One Step Guide To Becoming a Successful Long Term Investor

According to Shiller, housing traditionally is not viewed as a great investment because it takes maintenance, it depreciates, and it goes out of style.

“And there’s technical progress in housing… the new ones are better…so why consider it as an investment?” In a nutshell, housing is not really an investment vehicle.

Unless you’re an end-user and wants to buy real estate for your personal reasons.

And to this I agree with Mr. Shiller wholeheartedly. The importance of purchasing a piece of real estate for one’s residence cannot be overemphasized. Living in one’s own home gives families a great sense of security. Sure, there are maintenance issues, but owning lets them sleep soundly at night knowing there’s no landlord who’ll kick them out anytime.

However, because a home purchase in itself is a costly pursuit, buyers are well advised to read these four considerations before making a purchase, even for one to be used as a place for residence.

1. If You Plan to Stay Put for at Least 5 Years

As a rule of thumb, it is generally not advisable to purchase a home unless the property is expected to be owned for a long enough period of time to recoup expenses. If you plan to relocate to another city, say Cebu or Davao, or even overseas, within the next five years for an impending job change, then renting is for you. Or if you plan to start a family soon, then a one-bedroom condo may not be for you. Spur-in-the-moment decisions in home buying may result in firesale if circumstances require moving, and fire sales usually do not work in favor of the seller. As home buying will make the buyer short on liquid cash reserves, he or she must make sure that the property is to be used for a fairly long time.

2. If You Look at the Non- Financial Aspects
The more I read and learn about real estate, the more I realize that the notion of home ownership as a magical path to wealth is just a marketing ploy of the real estate industry to sell more units. Historically speaking, home prices generally barely keep pace with inflation, so why invest in one?

However, there is a nonfinancial aspect of real estate investing, and it is a rather important one. Buying a house makes perfect sense because it gives us stability and freedom. Financially, it may not be the best bet, but there is still a certain level of financial independence that home ownership brings, such as not having to pay for monthly rent, not to mention taking a pesky landlord out of the equation and the eventuality of finally owning the property once the mortgage loan has been paid.

3. If the Price–Rent Ratio Is Lower Than 20

If the housing market’s price–rent (P/R) ratio is lower than 20, then it makes more sense to buy rather than rent. But what is this number and how do you come up with it.

A P/R ratio gives you a rough idea whether homes in your area are fairly priced. All you have to do this is find two similar houses (condos or houses)—one for sale and one for rent—and divide the sale price of the one place of the annual rent for the other. The quotient is the P/R ratio.

For example, there are two identical condo properties (94 sq. meters, three bedrooms) in Penhurst Place in Bonifacio Global City. The first one is listed for sale for Php10 million, while the second is for rent for Php65,000 per month (or Php780,000 per year). If you divide Php10 million by Php780,000, you get a P/R ratio of 12.82.

According to David Leonhardt, in his article published in the New York Times, a P/R above 20 means that the monthly costs of ownership will exceed the cost of renting. A little opaque, but it gives an idea when it makes more sense to buy than to rent. In the case of the Penhurst property mentioned above, it makes much more sense to buy as the monthly rent is greater than what the homeowner would pay on a monthly basis if he buys the property.

4. If You Look at the Financial-Use Aspect

Finally, every home buyer should consider the personal-use aspect when making a purchase. When the house is purchased as a residence, then the property provides both personal-use return and investment return. This means the homeowner can live in the house and avoid paying rent while he or she also experiences gained in the house through appreciation (though appreciation is locked in as the owner cannot use it without selling the house—and lose the place to live in the process).
But in this case the personal use aspect is more important. An initial comparison between renting and buying offhand might favor the former, especially if one takes into consideration the combined costs of mortgage, maintenance, insurance, and taxes.

However, mortgage payment is finite and fixed, whereas rental costs may and will increase. In addition, the mortgage should eventually be paid off, providing the homeowner with a rent-free place to live, which is a great retirement strategy—if the mortgage is paid off at the time of retirement, there will be a reduction in expenses at the same time income falls.

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About ZipMatch

ZipMatch is the first comprehensive online community of sellers, developers, brokers, and buyers in the Philippines. It offers everything to make your home purchase easy, from finding the right property and broker to tips on how making money from real estate investment. For more information, visit www.zipmatch.com.

About the Author

Rodel Ambas is a former editor-in-chief of a property magazine, has written extensively for Philippine-based publications, and is now in charge of ZipMatch’s content strategy. He attended the University of the Philippines, where he majored in Development Communication.