Personal Budget for New Graduates

Here’s an article I published at my now-defunct blog PinoyYuppie. It might have changed in the past year or so, but it could still be a good guide for you to plan for your personal finance as you start working.

How Much Does it Cost for a Single Yuppie to Live in Metro Manila?

Being a yuppie comes with a very important privilege. You can finally wean yourself off your parents. You can go solo.

Of course, some yuppies don’t have that choice because they help in the family finances and that’s another story we’ll have to deal with in a separate post.

You can also enjoy the benefits of staying with your parents: like free board & lodging. But staying with them has pros and cons. Read this post to see if you’d rather go independent or stay with your parents:

But if you’re dead serious about going independent, you should count the cost. Before you even tell your parents you’re moving out of the house, ask your wallet if it can sustain you.

So here’s a breakdown of how much it costs for a single yuppie to live in Metro Manila. Continue reading

Learn to Invest

If there is one thing I regret doing when I started working, it is that I did not save money right after I started earning money through my job. If you are about to start your first job, take note of these simple lessons in managing your money.

  1. Start saving as early as you can. How much should you save? At least 10% of your income. It doesn’t matter if you are receiving P8,000 or P100,000. Ten percent is the baseline to build that habit. I know that 10% of 8,000 is P800 and you may feel the pinch. But if you can survive when your pay is low, you will reap the benefits of your habit when your pay increases.
  2. Build your Emergency Fund right away. There will always be an emergency — you or your family members may need medical attention, or your TV, cellphone, or washing machine breaks down. It would be nice to have your expenses covered for at least 3 months just in case something happens.
  3. Discipline your desires and your wants. Spend on your needs reasonably. It’s okay to spend your money. After all, you worked hard for that. But don’t be the One-day millionaire, who spends everything he has today, and does not worry about tomorrow. Evaluate the things you want to buy. Are they really needs? Or are they simply wants and desires because you want to keep up? Avoid keeping up with the Joneses. Don’t buy a gadget or clothes, or anything just because they are cool, trendy, or everyone in your office has it.
  4. Have a financial goal. It doesn’t to be for yourself only. A lot of young professionals desire to help their family get out of poverty. That is a really great goal. So, write down your goal and remind yourself often.

The following books, blogs, and websites are great starting points to learn how to invest.


Kasusweldo Pa Lang, Ubos Na? by Vic & Avelyn Garcia

No-Nonsense Personal Finance by Randell Tiongson

My Maid Invests in the Stock Market and Why You Should, Too by Bo Sanchez

Till Debt Do Us Part by Chinkee Ta

Pwede Na! The Complete Pinoy Guide to Personal Finance by Efren Cruz

Blogs & Websites

Resume and Cover Letter Sample

Your resume is an important document that you will send to companies so you can convince them that you are the best person for a job. Here is a sample resume that you can download. It has a basic, minimalistic layout, but you can customize it for your purpose.

If you want to download this file, please head over to this link: Alternatively, you can also create your resume through the following online resume builders:

Cover Letter or Application Letter

For sample cover letter or application letter, please check out the following links. Don’t ever forget to customize your letter and make sure that you highlight your strengths and qualifications in relation to the job you are applying for:

One final tip, do not send a generic resume and application letter to many different companies. Instead, make sure to tailor-fit them to the company you are applying for.

Social Servant Option

From among the options listed in the book “Start Up”, this is probably the most difficult. The pay is not that good, and often, you need to look for your own sources of funds to sustain your life and your projects.

But nonetheless, the path of the Social Servant may be tough, but it is definitely very fulfilling.

Here are three young people who have decided to take on the path of being a Social Servant. Watch the videos and see if their path resonates with you, and if you want to follow in their footsteps.

Jayjay Lizarondo

Jayjay Lizarondo is the founder of Helping Overcome Poverty through Education (HOP-E). He helps provide educational opportunities to marginalized kids. He has also established “bamboo schools” in Tanay, Rizal, which provides elementary education to indigenous children who would not otherwise have access to education.

Jay Jaboneta

Jay Jaboneta is the founder of Yellow Boats of Hope, which provides boats to families in Zamboanga. These boats help kids travel to their schools. Without these boats, the kids will need to swim and walk for 2 hours just to go to school. He has been featured in Facebook Stories, a project of the Social Networking company to highlight connections online that led to personal and social change.

Sabrina Ongkiko

Sabrina graduated from the prestigious Ateneo de Manila University, but instead of working for big companies and organizations, she decided to work as a teacher in a public school. This goes against all expectations for people of her caliber.


Entrepreneur Option

In the past decade, there has been an explosion of books about entrepreneurship and setting up your own business. A lot of training for would-be entrepreneurs and business owners have sprung up. In addition to this, franchising of food carts and other small scale businesses have gained popularity.

If you want to start your own business, check out these resources to help you get started:

Entrepreneur Magazine. 

Entrepreneur Magazine contains tons of ideas to help you think of a business idea. Not only that, the magazine also provides case studies of successful Filipino entrepreneurs–how they got started, the problems they faced and how they solved them, and other tips to help you succeed. Every now and then, the magazine also lists several resources and suppliers that you can contact, depending on the kind of business you are starting.

If you want to save some money, you can get older issues of the magazine at Booksale or Filbar’s. But the information contained there are still solid and helpful.

Please check out the following websites, too;

Putting up your own business is a challenging project. Here are a couple of other tips to help you build your own business.

  • Save up for capital before you start your own business. You can either get a job, or do freelance work, and bring your expenses down.
  • Come up with a Minimum Viable Product. In simplest terms, this is the bare essentials version of your product and service. Market it to your target audience and try to come up with the optimal pricing and set of features to get your business going. To understand this concept fully, I suggest reading ‘Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries & ‘The 7 Day Startup’ by Dan Norris
  • Get investors. They could be your friends, or family who believe in you and in your business project.
  • Take the Plunge. Don’t overthink and over-plan things. Sometimes, the best way to learn is to simply dive in, learn more about the industry you want to enter, and make adjustments as you go encounter problems and challenges.


The OFW Option

Moving away from the Philippines to work in another country is a difficult process. You need to adjust to a new culture, learn to speak a new language, and rely on yourself and a handful of friends in your new country.

But I also believe that your twenties is the best time to go out of the Philippines, travel abroad, earn a lot of money as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) and save for your future.

Government agencies & their websites you need to know:

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) – This agency can verify the license status of your recruiter. Don’t trust just about any agency who recruits you to work abroad. Check with the POEA if they are legitimate and if the duly accredited.

Overseas Workers Welfare Authority (OWWA) OWWA is not under the wing of the POEA, but of the Department of Labor and Employment. OWWA provides assistance, not just to the OFW himself/herself, but also to his/her dependents.

Balik Manggagawa Online Processing System (BM Online). Before you leave the Philippines, you will need to have some clearances and forms. In order for you to avoid paying for the Travel Tax (P1,620), you need to have an Overseas Employment Certificate. Thankfully, you can have this document done online now. Although, you still need to visit a POEA office in person for the first time.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)

Make sure you know the address of the embassy in the country you are going to. List down all the emergency contact numbers you need to know just in case an emergency happens and you need to evacuate.

Other Tips as You Go Abroad

  • Thanks to all the technologies available now, it is easier to communicate now. Before leaving, prepare your Social Media accounts and messaging apps and give them to your friends and loved ones.
  • Put all your important documents in a safe, plastic container. Scan them. Take a photo and store them on your phone. And make copies. Send the copies to people who care deeply about you.
  • Get more information about the country you will visit–culture, customs, food, and any potential difficulties you will face once you get there.
  • Develop a plan to save money and for how long you intend to work abroad. Please prepare this plan now so that you will not make the mistake of spending all your life abroad.
  • Make friends in the foreign country where you will be working. Proverbs 27:10 (NLT) states ” It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away.”
  • Do not upgrade your lifestyle right away. It’s easy to buy all the gadgets and spend a lot of money on yourself and on the people depending on you. Resist that temptation.
  • Educate yourself on how best to manage your money.
  • Do not send too much money back home. I know it is hard to resist sending lots of money. But always remember that you also need to live and prepare for the future. Do not be too consumed by the present.
  • Set a deadline for working abroad. It will help if you have a plan. Don’t make working abroad as your life-long job, unless you intend to be a Permanent Resident or a naturalized citizen of the country you are going to.




Employee Option

A lot of blogs and books encourage Filipinos to start their own businesses. But the path to Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. There are still some benefits to becoming an employee. The truth is, majority of new graduates will be following the employment path. There is nothing wrong with that. It can be a good way to start learning about yourself–your work habits, observe supervisors and managers at work, and build your expertise and career.

Here are some books you can read that will help you ease into your new role:

Jumpstart Your Career: The Handbook to Finding Your Dream Job by

Your First Job by Nelson Dy

You can also read my interview with Aleks Tan, who used to be a ‘Powerpoint Guy’ but now serves as the Chief Executive Officer of OMF Literature, arguably one of the most successful Christian businesses in the Philippines.

From Powerpoint Guy to CEO

hen I started out at OMF Lit in my early 20s, I easily became the unofficial “PowerPoint guy” who created presentations and operated the multi-media set-up for the CEO. Financial reports and strategic documents would find themselves on my desk as I worked with the CEO to design his slides. At my job level that time, I wasn’t supposed to be privy to such information. I understood this and was careful to consider myself privileged that I could learn more about the organization’s operational big picture. As “PowerPoint guy” I sat through many board meetings to set up the LCD (which entailed dismantling one of the PC stations so we could use the CPU at the board meeting; laptops were a luxury back then, and only the CEO had one.) I was a fly on the wall, a shepherd-boy David who suddenly found himself in the royal courts. Little did I know, that my training to become CEO years later had begun.

[Mighty’s notes: Don’t consider any job “too small” for you. Sometimes, small things really lead to great opportunities.]

How did you invest on your career growth?

I did not. Well, at least not consciously. When I started work, I was not aware of the concept of a career path. I was drawn to publishing work mainly because I believed in the power of words, especially words anchored in Scripture. I’ve seen how words have transformed my own life. And getting a front-seat row to see how words can also change other people’s lives was too good to pass up.

When I was starting out in publishing, I just did what I was asked to do as excellently as I could—and a little bit more. I worked hard and stayed away from fence sitters and complainers. (I called them “nega-stars”.) I did not count the hours or keep account of the extra things I did on top of my official duties. I was young, single, and hungry (literally and figuratively!) and so I devoured all the new things I encountered. During my job interview, I remember telling HR I would work for books. Thankfully, they paid me in cash.

I enjoyed what I was doing, and I learned to enjoy what I didn’t know how to do. When I was asked to do something I felt I didn’t know how to do, I… Googled. Seriously. And at the risk of dating myself, I should say that not everyone back then knew the magic of Google! I researched and learned and did the job. You can say that I invested in my career growth by giving my heart to it. I looked at what I was doing as a life vocation and not just a livelihood. Cliché as it might sound, passion does yield very good returns.

The organization also invested in my growth, for which I am exceedingly thankful. At 26, I was sent to the US for training in the sales and marketing aspects of publishing. I now see this as a turning point—by this time, I had fallen in love with Christian publishing and OMF Lit, and there was no turning back. That trip—my first overseas (and yes, I saw snow)—was to be first of many in this ongoing journey. We’re a practical company, and so everyone travels economy. But, just as I’m learning how to navigate this new life as a CEO, I’ve learned how to get a good seat on a long-haul flight, one that has more legroom and away from the noisy flight crew reheating food. I’ve also devised a strategy for dealing with jetlag. I will share that with you if you promise to buy me coffee.

On the matter of investing in career growth, I would like to point out that this is mainly the responsibility of the professional and not his or her organization. Sure, you should convince your company to send you to training events, but you should not let the lack of those opportunities hamper your growth. There are books (lots at OMF Lit!). There are online resources like TedTalks, YouTube, and websites such as this one, that offer an impressive wealth of insight and information to help yuppies better themselves. In this age of accessible information, crowd-sourcing, and free content, there is really no excuse to stay ignorant or professionally stunted.

How to Respond to Common Job Interview Questions

Going to an interview can be scary, especially if it’s your first one. It helps to anticipate and prepare for those interview questions. Why do recruiters ask these questions anyway?

Because they want to you who you are as a person and as a professional. They will be wasting paying you money so they want to make sure you will contribute to the company.

Just a few tips before the interview questions below.

1. Don’t ever memorize your answers to these questions.

The recruiter will know if you’re reciting versus coming up with a spontaneous and heartfelt response. Better to know your answer but not the exact words to say. That would be like reciting a poem or a declamation before the recruiter.

2. Practice. Grab a friend and do role plays.

Ask your friend to ask you follow-up questions that may not necessarily be included in the list below. That will help you become more spontaneous. It will also help you think on your feet.

3. I strongly suggest doing a career planning session.

That way, you know what you want to accomplish in 5 years and 10 years. A recruiter friend complained to me that a lot of new graduates these days don’t really know what they want out of their careers. If you know what you want, then you already have an edge over other job seekers.

Continue reading

Setup Your Homepage Chapter Resources

Here are additional books, blogs, and resources you can check out in relation to Chapter 5 of “Start Up: Find your place. Engage the world. Sustain your life.” These are great resources on the subject of identity and personality. Whenever possible, we’ve also included the places where you can a copy of these resources online and off.

Blogs and Websites

A thoughtful piece on calling from Relevant Magazine: Your Calling is Closer than You Think.

A good set of questions to ask from Huffington Post: Finding Your Calling.


What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20 by Tina Seelig.

Written by a Stanford University Professor, Tina Seelig, the book tackles a number of advice for young people, especially those who are getting ready to face the real world. Tina Seelig also advocates not only pursuing your passion, but offering something to the market for you to become productive and competitive. Available via National Bookstore and


Got other resources?

Feel free to share with us other resources you may come across so others can benefit from those.