Monday, July 27, 2020

Calculating My Travel Budget



As a mom who can still work from home during this COVID-19 pandemic, I still consider myself very lucky to have a job that I can still earn from remotely. A lot of people nowadays are unemployed and are struggling to find work, which is why I'm still very thankful. 

I know that flights are suspended this year especially international flights, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to travel in the future. It may be 2 years from now or 3 years or maybe more since I need to prioritize other expenses since I have kids. So now I really wanted to seriously start saving exclusively for travel or have a travel budget. 

Determining Your Goal

Why are you saving money? What's it for? I think it also helps if you know your goal on why you want to save money. And as early as now, we should be honest with our finances. According to an article from The Balance, a budget only works if you are honest about both your income and expenses. To make an effective budget, you must be willing to work with detailed and accurate information about your earning and spending habits.For me, like I said, my goal is to have a travel budget. Take note that having a travel budget is different from our savings. The two of them must be separate. 

Find a Calculator

So given that I had trouble calculating my finances, using the resources we have today like the internet and Google, I searched for websites that could give me some tips about budgeting. Lo and behold, I found a very useful tool from Pigly.com. I found a very interesting budget calculator that helps me to somehow plan my travel budget and hopefully stick to it.

Pigly has plenty of types of calculator which is one of the reasons why knowing your goal is important. They have a budget planner calculator which is the one I should be using. But for now, I chose the Reaching Your Savings Goal calculator because I do plan on reaching a travel budget of P100,000 (more than $2,000) within 2 years using my current salary. The Savings Goal Calculator is very simple, even kids can easily understand it.

Savings Goal Calculator
Savings Goal Calculator

When you look at the pic above, I set up my savings goal to 100,000. I put zero (0) to my current savings balance because I actually have zero balance in my savings account (I just live from paycheck to paycheck so please don't judge me). But I plan to change that soon.  The annual percentage rate is the interest rate that can be applied once you have an amount entered in the current savings balance. I chose monthly contribution for 2 years to reach my goal and this is the result after clicking "Calculate:"

Savings Goal results
Savings Goal Results
Current savings future value is zero because, as mentioned, my current savings is zero. Savings gap is the amount I still need to earn so naturally that's 100,000. So the calculator says that my monthly required deposit to be able to earn 100,000 after 2 years is 4,087.36. When I computed 4,087.36 x 24 months (2 years), it is equal to 98,088 so I'm assuming I will earn the 1,912 through interest from the bank. If I were to use a simple calculator, I wouldn't be able to compute this so thank you, Pigly :) 

Final Question: Can I Do It? 

So the question now is can I save 4,087.36 per month? I think I can if and only if I find a sideline or a part time job to co-finance it. The said amount is a huge chunk out of my current salary. I can only shell out 1,000 for it so for additional 3,000, I would need another sideline for it. That's why I'm currently blogging so I can somehow have a little income from it and save. 






Saturday, July 18, 2020

The New Normal Due to COVID19



Yes, the pandemic due to COVID-19 is still on-going and people are still getting infected while I type this blog. It’s actually getting crazy because most people treat the pandemic like it’s nothing. Some people even think that COVID19 is just a hoax which is quite sad because people are actually dying. Because of the continuing rise of infections, it is best that the law should take over. In the Philippines, a "New Normal Law" bill has been passed to enforce strict hygiene and social distancing measures due to the pandemic. People must now face the new normal enforcing the following changes:

Wearing Mask 

COVID19 has infected more than 14 million people worldwide  and it continues to rise because most people still do not follow quarantine rules such as staying at home or simply wearing a mask when going outside. During Spring Break, a lot of youngsters went out to party on beaches, bars and restaurants, and sadly they don’t observe social distancing and/or simply did not wear a mask. Authorities believe that this behavior helped spread Corona virus in the US.  Local government in all states in America strongly encourages people to wear mask and other states such as Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, etc.  have actually issued an executive order requiring people to wear face coverings while in (or waiting outside of) essential businesses. If you’re a store owner and fully implements wearing a mask, but then a customer refuses to wear one, insists on demanding service and eventually hurts you in the process, then you may need a lawyer for personal injury like Doug Healy. Remember, the pandemic is not an excuse to break the law. 

Curfews

Curfews are being implemented to prevent people from loitering in the streets or shops late at night to prevent the spread of the virus. It also helps bring down crime rate thanks to the police checkpoints and/or police roving around town to inspect loitering individuals. People who work night shifts especially in hospitals are allowed to go out. They simply need to bring their company IDs. Minors or people age below 18 and senior citizens are encouraged to stay indoors. Once you're caught loitering around during curfew hours, then you're off to jail. 

No Talking in Trains

I’m not sure in other countries, but in the Philippines, commuters are encouraged not to talk to each other nor even answer their cellphones while inside the train or in other public transport as a safety measure to prevent the spreading of the virus through droplets from talking. It is also currently being practiced in Singapore and it’s already common etiquette in Japan so they don’t need a mandate for it. 

The Start of Distance Learning

This is probably one of the most challenging changes that had happened during the pandemic. Physical classes has been suspended and distance learning (a.k.a elearning / homeschooling) is currently being practiced. This means parents at home are in charge of assisting their children with their studies plus the materials / gadgets they need to make distance learning possible such as the computer and tablet they should use. Sad to say, this is very challenging for 3rd world countries.
   
We don’t know how long the pandemic will last, but I really hope this would end soon. We may be in a state of pandemic, but always remember that the law still stands and we must follow it in order to achieve peace and order.  

Monday, July 13, 2020

An Intro to Contracts


I remember my Obligations and Contracts 101 subject during my first year in college where I learned a lot from my professor. Obligations and Contracts is the first thing an individual should need to learn first about the law because eventually you will get into one whether it’d be a marriage contract, lease contract, agency contract, etc.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

All About Sales Tax Nexus



The world has turned upside down thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has caused restaurants to close, companies started to file bankruptcy and massive amount of people became unemployed. But people, especially business-minded ones, saw an opportunity and opened online businesses instead. It’s a smart move because selling online can really be profitable.

I used to think that selling online is more profitable because I don’t have to pay taxes and stuff. It turns out that you’ve made a business out of online selling, it’s a must that you register your business and deal with tax obligations.

 If your business operates in a location that imposes sales tax, you are likely familiar with the concept of sales tax. But, are you familiar with sales tax nexus?

What is Sales Tax Nexus

According to an article from Taxjar, sales tax nexus occurswhen your business has some kind of connection to a state. All states have a slightly different definition of nexus, but most of the time states consider that a “physical presence” or “economic connection” creates nexus.
Just to clarify what physical presence is, they can be the following:
  • -          Personnel
  • -          Having an office
  • -          Having a warehouse
  • -          Storing inventory
  • -          Having an affiliate

-        Temporarily doing physical business in a state for a limited amount of time, such as at a trade show or craft fair

If you have sales tax nexus in a state, then you must collect sales tax from buyers in that state. In a state’s mind, you, as the merchant, are using their roads and other infrastructure to run your business so you should be helping them out by collecting sales tax from your buyers and remitting it back to the state.

This means you must determine the sales tax rate in that state, plus any local sales tax that might apply. For example, the sales tax rate in Beverly Hills (90210) is 9%. That includes a California state rate of 6.5%, plus a Los Angeles County rate of 1% and a district rate of 1.5%.

So in other words, a state would definitely want to have a lot of merchants selling in their area so they can collect a high number of sales tax nexus; the greater sales tax nexus they collect, that’s more revenue for that state.

Is Vat the same as Sales Tax?

According to an article from Thomson Reuters, Value Added Taxor VAT is collected by all sellers in each stage of the supply chain. Suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers all collect the value added tax on taxable sales. Suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and end consumers all pay the VAT on their purchases. Businesses must track and document the VAT they pay on purchases in order to receive a credit for the VAT paid on their tax return. VAT is actually popular to consumers because this is what we always see on our receipts including grocery receipts, coffee shop receipts, etc.

What Triggers the Tax Administration Requirement?


Sales tax:

Nexus – Taxpayers with a physical presence in a tax jurisdiction or who meet the economic nexus thresholds.

VAT:

Permanent Establishment – Existence of a facility, bookkeeping facilities or ability to enter contracts.
Registration Threshold – Taxpayers with business activities that exceed the monetary threshold in a tax jurisdiction.

That’s all I could provide about tax nexus for now. I hope this article has enlightened you even for a small bit. If you need more information, it’s best you consult  your accountant or anyone who specializes in business tax and finances.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Investing in Real Estate

Investing in real estate is more like an old profession. I remember my parents used to buy cheap land and then they sell it after a few years for a higher price. Some people would also borrow money from a lender and then eventually settle to pay them back with a land title since they don't have any cash available. 

Photo from Pixabay

I would also receive offers from friends to sell a property (house and lot) and then they told me it's up to me how much I wanted to add on top of the property's selling price so it got me to thinking that real estate can be pretty lucrative and generates substantial returns for both short and long term depending on how much time and effort you would render for it.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Using Snus May Help You Quit Smoking

I discussed in my previous article about alternative of smoking or how to quit smoking using vape. I'm happy to say that my husband has not smoked a cigarette for more than 5 years now and counting. At that time, vape really did its work. Unfortunately now, vaping is now strictly prohibited in our area so people can't try vaping anymore so most of them resorted back to cigarette smoking especially those who are stressed at work or even at home. 

I used to read something about a tobacco that you can chew as an alternative to smoking, but the catch is the constant spitting and it's just unsanitary for me. One item that stood out for me is this thing smokeless tobacco called snus ( pronounced as "snoose" like "loose). This is very new for me so I researched more about it. 

All About Snus

Snus is moist tobacco that is usually placed under the upper lip, and it usually comes in different kinds of flavours such as wintergreen, mint and the like. It was created in Sweden to help reduce the rate of smoking in the country. The good thing about Snus is that you do not have to burn or smoke it. Also, you do not need to spit when you take it, and it is considered less harmful than cigarettes since it does not pose any harm to your lungs, unlike when you smoke a cigarette. 

They may look like tea bags, but these pieces of snus are actually designed to give users a tobacco hit without having to light up.


History of Snus

According to Wikipedia, in the 16th century, snuff (pulverized tobacco), the precursor of snus (moist snuff), was introduced to France by French diplomat Jean Nicot, who worked at the court of King Henry II of France. He recommended snuff to Catherine de' Medici as a migraine remedy. When she became a regular user of snuff, it became a fashion among the court and upper-class citizens of France, especially among females, as it was deemed more socially acceptable than other forms of tobacco.

Will You Use It?

Snus is available online so basically anybody can purchase it except residents of Europe because it's currently banned there. But since vape is no longer available in our area, I think snus can be a step to help people stop smoking. I mean snus still does have its side effects since it is still tobacco, but if it can help you stop smoking then it's a good alternative until the  user can finally stop using tobacco altogether. Maybe using it in moderation is a good way to go. 
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