Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Philoso-Files: The struggle

Hey there lovelies,

Today I would like to change it up a bit and take my blog to a more serious tone.
They say that there are some things you just don't talk about. Religion. Politics. Money.
Well, I would like to overcome one of those taboos and speak freely about my struggles with one of them. Money.

I often read money management or finance sites, telling us about the triumphs of overcoming debt and sticking to budgets. But, I often don't read about an ongoing struggle. Sure they gleam on it during the discussion, and I get that those articles meant to be uplifting, but sometimes reading about somebody's ongoing crisis helps you feel "un-alone".  So, let me tell you a little bit about what I am going through right now.

First, a little background, I am the eldest of 4 children, my dad is a successful businessman and my mom was a successful dentist. Early on they struggled with money but as my mom keeps on telling us proudly, she never raised us through debt. (Meaning: even if they were struggling she didn't borrow money. They made due with what they have.). My mom is thrifty/frugal, whichever you prefer, my dad is the most generous guy you could possible meet, he can be an impulsive shopper and we let him, 'cause he has the money. You could say that they are on opposite sides of the spectrum, but as we were taught in school, the mom usually does the at-home budgeting, so it worked out fine for them. Our situation now is what I call blessed. We indeed have been extremely blessed in the last decade. My dad's business has grown and ten-fold and with that the money struggles have been diminished.

I am not thrifty, and although I am not as generous as my dad, I can be, at times. I am also easily persuaded (hee). I love to buy stuff that I love. I guess if I would describe the feeling that goes with it, I would describe it as fear of suppression? I don't like to feel like I can't buy stuff or get stuff that I want. So with that you already probably know where my money problems come from.

It all started when I discovered the YouTube beauty videos. I was looking for, I think, a makeup look for a party,(Side note: I tried doing makeup by myself, once, and I ended up looking like a clown) so I studied it thru watching videos. Needless to say after looking at tutorials I discovered hauls.

Boy was I in big trouble after that, I had major (glad they have a word for it now) FOMO! I wanted to buy EVERYTHING. It spiralled when I got a job (it was a nice paying job) and the bank SENT me a credit card! It felt like I can buy stuff without feeling the lost of cash!

I didn't have to pay for rent or food or utilities because I was still living with my parents, which is typical here in our country, we normally leave the nest when we get married. Yet, I was already somewhat living pay check to pay check.

It didn't help when we go to the States. I am beyond blessed and in no way bragging, but my dad gives us pocket money to buy stuff and let me tell you that it was NOT a small amount, but I ended up still charging some amount to my credit card. I also started a gym membership and hired personal a trainer. I got a Postpaid line and a new phone. All good until it wasn't. I kept shopping for clothes and makeup until it wasn't good anymore. I struggled to pay for some bills but then the loan offers came, I started with a small amount to pay for my trainer and bills but then I was offered a big amount and I misheard that the interest rate would be low like 4% for the whole amount it turns out it would be 4% per annum. Ugh! Stupid! I tried to retract the loan but the officer said he had already inputted it in the system and retracting would make my credit look bad. This is where everything went wrong. I had to pay the loan for 5 years, stupidly, I thought I would have a job in the next five year buuuut....

A few months ago, I lost my job and was diagnosed with mild PTSD (story for another post). I couldn't get up in the morning  and was crying most of the night. I started applying for jobs and going to interviews but I can't seem to pass 2nd interviews. I choke! I know it's because I was still under medication and I haven't fully recovered but instead being uplifted I ended up feeling even more down than ever. Mental illness is a serious matter but still it was no excuse, to what happened next...

The bills started to pile up, I was paying more than the minimum but I had bills automatically charged thru my card I still didn't cancel my membership/s and the amount I pay was JUST enough for these things to go on. I still shopped for things, nowadays, it's books! Ugh! Booktube! Plus I had the loans...Anyways, my debt is now a whopping 200,000+.

ALL this I kept form my family because I knew what I was doing was wrong. I have always felt like I had to be responsible and set myself as a role model to my siblings but I guess actions speak louder than words. My actions say I am weak and irresponsible.I kept all this from them so that they will all think I have it together. This is my shame, I am ashamed to say that I have accumulated this amount and am still struggling with this amount. I am ashamed that I was so irresponsible that I let it get to this amount. My mother found out about this and was she mad! But she did not want me to pay for unnecessary interest so she lent me money to pay for the loans and I have to pay her back, without the interest.

It used to be that one of my biggest fears was my mother finding out about this.But now that the cat's out of the bag, I feel relief, relief that I can finally admit that I have a problem and I am not perfect. I have accepted the fact that I to live with what I have done.

This has been my wake up call, I have now given my credit cards to my mother and I am now reigning in and stopped all purchases, cancelled my gym membership and have stopped newsletters from companies to go into my inbox. I am still struggling with my,what I can only call as, "addiction". Yes, my addiction was things, I felt like things validated my status in life... I know I can't take back what I have done and right now the only consolation I have is the lessons that this experience has taught me.  I know I am still lucky to have my mother on my side and some of you may NOT have that, but can I say that one of the things you may get from this is... Some people may just look like they have it all and they have perfect lives. I know I tried to exude that thru the things I bought, but looks can be deceiving. Stop comparing yourself and try to find a place where you know you will be satisfied, and try not to get to the place where you need to be waken up.

The struggle is real because life is real and life is full of ups and downs. We can't control what happens but we can control what we do.

Updates on my struggle and hopefully it's resolution will be posted so watch out for it!
Thank you for reading this I hope you can share some of your stories, as I said there is comfort in knowing you're not alone with your struggles. I hope reading my story has helped you as much as writing this has helped me.

See you on the next post! <3

Friday, January 9, 2015

Biblio-Files: My 2015 Reading Goals Part 1

Hey there lovelies!
Welcome to my first 2015 post...
Let's start things off with my 2015 Reading Goals, shall we?

I love to read, and write. I'm not 100% sure which I love more. But I have to admit I have been in a reading slump (in one form or another) for the past year/s due to college, getting and having a job,etc. Life took over and reading just took a back burner. However, last year around July things changed, and circumstance has given me more time, and I dedicated most of that time to reading. That's right I'm back! Now to continue with this new found motivation I have set myself some goals this year which I plan to conquer like a BOSS! (hee) On to the goals!

Goal # 1: Read 50 books which I can keep track of with Goodreads.

Around the middle of last year I set a goal of reading 35 books, and not only did I reach that goal, I surpassed it! I was able to read 38 books, so I think I will be able to do this challenge of 50 books. I only have to read 1 book a week, so I'll be fine... Right??

Goal #2:Diversify the genres I read. {I mostly read YA books}
Goal #3: Read more classics
To help me along with these goals I decided to do the...

Now, the goal of this challenge is to read 52 books by the end of the year, it has around 50 categories which includes reading a trilogy, that would make the total of 52 books.

There are no clear rules to the challenge except, I think, if you are an adult you can't read children's books (e.g. picture books) it has to at least be 100 pages and have deep substance. Also, you can't put a book into 2 categories (defeats the purpose of reading 52 books) 

But I have given myself an additional parameter/s: I'll TRY not to read the books I have already read.
Plus some parameters detailed below.

I haven't set all the books I am about to read but here are some:

[Disclaimer: I am a bookdepository affiliate and have linked the books for your convenience. I commission which helps me out. Plus they ship for FREE WORLDWIDE.I also tried to pick out the versions that I do have so that we can be book twins! LOL!]

A book with more than 500 pages- The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons
A classic romance- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A book that became a movie- If I Stay by Gayle Forman
A book published this year- I'm still not sure which ONE!
A book with a number on the title - 1984 by George Orwell
A book written by someone under 30- The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
A book with nonhuman characters- Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
A funny book- Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling {I decided to do this through Audible  as advised by booktubers }
A book by a female author- Vicious by V.E. Schwab
A mystery or thriller- Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith [aka J.K. Rowling]
A book with one word title- Dreamless by Josephine Angelini
A book of short stories - My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins {I'll prolly read this around December}
A book set in a different country- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr {Now I could have picked a book set in the US 'cause I'm not from the States but I picked this as an additional challenge}
A nonfiction book- #Girlboss by Sophia Amorouso
A popular author's first book- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon {Hopefully before the TV show comes back! Don't hold me to it though...}
A book from an author you love but have not read- The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks {Hopefully before the movie comes out. Oh! Scott Eastwood... }
A book a friend recommended- The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger {Recommended by my sister and also borowed her copy}
A Pulitzer Prize Winning Book- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
A book based on a true story- Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman {Love the show and Ingrid aka missglamorazzi recommended reading this if you love the show}
A book form the bottom of your to-read list- The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch {Consulted Goodreads} 
A book your mom loves- Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen {I even have HER copy}
A book that scares you- The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin {I'll probably read this on November. FYI Michelle Hodkin is coming to Manila! Can't go :( but will have THIS}
A book more than 100 years old- A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle {Don't have this particular cover but can I say? I'm a Cumberb*tch! Also I'm addicted to Sherlock and it's not going to be on 'til 2016?!}
A book based entirely on it's cover- The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't- Hmmm can't remember if a.) I was just too diligent in school that I read what I was supposed to or b.) I forgot what we were assigned

Whoo! This post has taken more space than I thought.  I think I'm going to have to divide it into 2 parts. More to come...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Beauty Globalization: How I buy beauty products from International Stores

Hey there beauties!

     I know how frustrating it can be when you watch your favorite beauty gurus from Youtube or read your favorite beauty blogs and find that the products they recommend are not available in your country. (From my standpoint in the Philippines it's Urban Decay, Tarte, Hourglass...) Not only do I feel this itch to get my hands on said product/s because they come highly recommended, but the thrill of the chase just makes these products more appealing to me. (What does that say about me?) I digress...

     Mind you the process is not easy but once you find your stride and accept that there are just some products out of your reach you will be a happy beauty enthusiast like me...

     Before we begin.. Let me point out that there maybe A LOT of beauty resellers in your country, from which you can purchase some of these products (but that is a story for another post.) But if like me you get paranoid about resellers then read on for some techniques on how to buy from international,but mainly US stores:

First: Check the site if they accept international credit cards or non US based billing address.

I get a monthly subscription of Popsugar Must-Have because they DO accept international credit cards and I just give them my US based address.Voila!

Second: Find a US shipping address or better yet a US shipping & billing address.

I got my US shipping address from my-shoppingbox.com, I am not entirely sure if it is just for Philippines customers, but there are other resources  still like OPAS, and Bordelinx (UK based address) that offers the same service.

Basically these are mail forwarding services. So you sign up with them, most of the time they offer free membership for the first year, they then give a US/UK/Japan based address which you then give to online shopping sites. (Detailed experience on future posts.)

Third: If they only accept US based credit card

Try US Unlocked they give you a US debit card. The process of applying can be tedious and you need to load your debit card with an initial application fee of $25 and load it now and again because it is a DEBIT card, so it's too much work for me but it may get you to buy Sephora products?

Ooooor... This may be bad advice, but sometimes you can get away with using these shipping addresses as your US billing address too. If it doesn't work then nothing's lost. At least you tried?
I have tried this once and it worked, I still haven't tried it with Sephora though.

Fourth: Check Amazon

There are times when amazon.com ships internationally. Their shipping prices are not outrageous  and they say that the additional Duties is refundable if there is any amount left to refund, so you might want to consider it.

Fifth: Check the brand's online shop.

Sometimes we forget that the brands that we want to buy have their own individual online stores that may accept non-US based billing address, or even ship internationally!

     So there you have it beauties! My personal system on how to get your hands on some of the most covetable beauty products that may be unavailable in your country. I am more than happy to be your enabler on your way to becoming a beauty junkie like me...

If you have any other tips, questions and suggestions on how to go about this leave it in the comments section below.

Have fun shopping!

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