Know what your core qualities are and keep developing them!

Image to illustrate core qualities

Your core qualities are your specific strengths, what you are good at, or for what you are often praised by others. They are positive character traits. To know and develop them will help you define and reach your personal objectives.

Focus on the positive, it will give you motivation and energy while thinking of the negative will only lead to demoralization and inaction.

Make the list of your 5 top positive qualities and then ask your family and close friends to tell you as well the 5 positive qualities that define you best according to them. If you don’t understand their answers, ask them for clarifications.

You can use the list below to help you or choose other qualities as well.

  • Cheerful
  • Thoughtful
  • Practical
  • Proactive
  • Productive
  • Professional
  • Balanced
  • Achiever
  • Knowledgeable
  • Leader
  • Logical
  • Original
  • Outgoing
  • Patient
  • Positive
  • Consistent
  • Compassionate
  • Independent
  • With Integrity
  • Mediator
  • Emotional
  • Forgiving
  • Generous
  • Devoted
  • Candid
  • Rebellious
  • Cooperative
  • Meditative
  • Understanding
  • Competitive
  • Modest
  • Courageous
  • Enthusiastic
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Facilitator
  • Focused
  • Genuine
  • Open Minded
  • Wise
  • Sensitive
  • Sense of Humor
  • Sensible
  • Sincere
  • Solid
  • Communicative
  • Helpful
  • Fast
  • Responsible
  • Results-driven
  • Results-oriented
  • Self-reliant
  • Organised
  • Personable
  • Pleasant
  • Flexible
  • Adaptable
  • Persuasive
  • Perceptive
  • Insightful
  • Trustworthy
  • Easy going
  • Good listener
  • Imaginative
  • Warm
  • Ambitious
  • Diplomatic
  • Curious

Did you think of other qualities not listed here? How helpful is this exercise?


Make better decisions – Gala and Anna – Correction

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Help Gala and Anna make better decisions for their futures and then review your own decisions.

  1. Gala loves cooking. She wants to open an eatery in her hometown. Which questions should she ask?
  2. Anna wants to build a house to avoid paying a rent. Which questions should she ask?

You will find below some ideas of questions. Of course you can have different ones. The most important is to ask yourself questions and take the time to make some research.


Questions about herself, her needs and feelings

  • How much does she need per month to live? Can she make this amount of money with an eatery?
  • Does she have enough knowledge to open a business? Do she feel strong enough to do it? Does she need support from her family?

    Questions about the options: Costs/Benefits? Risks/Rewards?

    • Cost / Benefits: Is the eatery the best business idea? How much does it cost to open (cooking utensils…) and to run (ingredients…)? How much money can she expect to make? Explore some other options: open a boarding house or a grocery store for example.
    • About the risks: are there already a lot of eateries? Or if there is no other eatery, is there a reason why it would not work (not enough clients?)

Questions about the decision: back up plan

  • What should she do if there are not enough clients? Move to another location? Or open a different business?  At which point should she close the business before it loses too much money?


Questions about herself, her needs and feelings

  • Why does she want to build her house? For herself, her children?
  • What kind of house does she need exactly? What are her “NEEDs” and her “WANTs”?

    Questions about the options: Costs/Benefits? Risks/Rewards?

    • Cost / Benefits: Is it cheaper to rent until the end of her life or to build an house. How much does it cost to build a big house compared with a medium one and does she really need a big house? Does she have quotes from different constructors? Reviews of these constructors by different clients?
    • About the Risks/Rewards: Can a typhoon may destroy the house? Does she have enough money to finish building it even if she loses her job?

Questions about the decision: back up plan

  • What if the constructors are not reliable?
  • What if a typhoon comes when the house is not finished?
  • How to make sure there is no issue when building the house?

Your own decision sheet

  • My decision:
  • Why do I want to do that:
  • How do I feel about it:
  • What are the other options:
  • What are the costs and benefits of each option:
  • What are the risks and rewards of each option:
  • What do I do if I fail:
  • What do I do to reduce risks of failing:


Become a decision master! 6 steps to make better decisions.

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How to make better decisions especially financial ones? Everyone makes poor decisions at some point in his life. Sometimes it’s ok to let it go but for important decisions, it’s better to follow a rational approach. Analyze the situation, look for information, compare multiple options, make a decision, have a back-up plan and review regularly.

1. Analyze the situation

Make sure to know what your objectives are. Be aware of your emotions and don’t let them cloud your judgment. For example if you are considering buying a  motorbike to your husband, is it because he really needs it or because you don’t dare saying no?

In this situation your objectives are to keep a good relationship with your husband AND investing your money wisely. If your objectives are clear, it will help you be more creative and consider more options. For example, you could discuss your financial situation with your husband and decide than instead of a motorbike, you will buy a tuk tuk / taxi so he can start making some money himself as well.

2. Look for information

Give yourself time to search for neutral information and don’t rely on only one source of information. It’s not because someone is your friend that he knows best.

Look on the internet to search for information. If you plan to buy something, go to different sellers to compare prices and conditions.

If you plan to open a business, look around first and see if there are already of similar businesses. If there are already a lot of similar businesses, the competition may be too harsh but if there is no one it may also indicate that there is no potential market and buyers.

3. Weigh your options

Compare carefully your options. Weigh costs against benefits and risks against rewards. Some investments for example seem very good because they can bring a lot of money but maybe the risks are also very high or it actually requires too much time compared with the benefits.

4. Make a decision

You must be willing to make a decision. Don’t let life or others decide for you.  If you hesitate a lot, look for additional information if you need it but give you a deadline. For example give you one month and then make your decision.

5. Have a back up plan

When you make a decision, always take time to think what you will do if things don’t go as you planned.

For example if you decide to launch a business, what is your back-up plan if it fails? What will you do if things don’t work out?

6. Review

Review your decisions regularly, when you succeed and when you fail! Have a notebook and for each decision you make, note

  • Your objectives and feelings
  • The options you considered, their costs and benefits, theirs risks and rewards
  • The one option your chose and why
  • Your back up plan
  • And later the results and how to improve in the future

Conclusion: ask questions!

To take better decisions, the key is to ask a lot of questions!

  • Questions about yourself: what are my objectives, what are my feelings?
  • Questions about the options: what are the options available? Costs/benefits? Risks/rewards?
  • Questions about the decision: what is my back up plan? What do I do if things don’t work out? What can I do to avoid problems?
  • Questions about the results: what worked/did not work in order to improve your future decisions

Now help Gala and Anna make better decisions for their futures and then review your own decisions!

  1. Gala loves cooking. She wants to open an eatery in her hometown. Which questions should she ask?
  2. Anna wants to build a house to avoid paying a rent. Which questions should she ask?

And then, take your notebook and for your top 2 dreams, write down

  • Your objectives and feelings
  • The options you considered, their costs and benefits, theirs risks and rewards
  • The one option your chose and why
  • Your back up plan

Then share with us! Is the exercise helping you to feel better about your decisions?

Read the correction of the exercise below:

Make better decisions – Gala and Anna – Correction





Do you understand loans? How much does your money cost you?

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Taking a loan seems such an easy way to get money when you need it! But do you know exactly how much a loan is costing you? Learn about interest rates to make better money decisions.

Money costs money!

When you borrow money from a financial institution, you have to pay back more that what you borrowed. Loan agencies and banks make you pay  “interest cost” for the convenience and to cover for the risk they is taking if you don’t pay back. If you don’t pay back in time, you may have to pay even more and end up borrowing again to cover your first loan! This a vicious cycle and many domestic workers get trapped inside.

Example. You borrow 1000$ to pay back in 10 months. Your monthly installment is 150$. So in total you will pay back 150 x10 = 1500$. Your interest cost is 1500 – 1000 = 500$. So your loan actually costs you 500$! It’s half of what you borrowed!

3 good practices to avoid taking loans and paying interests

  1. Have an emergency savings fund. Before any other investment, build up in priority an emergency savings fund (2 to 4 months salary). Put this money in a bank account under your name and don’t let your family or friends know about it. Never use this money unless a real emergency happens and then save again for this fund.
  2. Budget! Budget your expenses for the year to come (clothing, holiday) and save every month for them. Budget your long term goals (retiring, opening business, build house) and save monthly for them as soon as you have emergency savings. Avoid borrowing  for investments.
  3. Learn to say no here  and never take a loan to pay for your “Wants”.  Review about wants and needs, expenses and investments here.

5 rules if you have no other option than taking a loan

  1. Ask your employer! Maybe your employer will agree to give your salary in advance so you don’t have to pay any interest.
  2. Understand it! Before you sign a loan, always calculate the amount that you have to pay back = Monthly installment x Number of months. Then compare with the money you actually get (it is called the principal). The interest cost (difference between what you pay back and the principal) should not be bigger than the principal. Never sign before you totally understand the conditions and how much you will have to repay including if you are late.
  3. Compare! Take the time to compare interest rates and conditions of different loan agencies.  They often call themselves banks but they are not real banks. Real banks also offer the option to offer bank accounts. Loan agencies don’t. They charge more for loans than the banks and will try to lure you into taking more loans than you need. You need to carefully read their contracts and conditions especially if you are late to pay back.
  4. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t sign any paper without reading it and understanding it. Never leave your passport as a guarantee. Your lender can only ask for a copy. Same goes with your employer, he cannot keep your passport. As a rule, never trust anyone with your passport and ID papers.
  5. Pay back in time. Make sure you will be able to always honor your monthly instalments. Installment should be less than 25% of your income. For example, if your salary is $400 then your monthly instalment should not be more than $100. Pay back as quickly as possible. Take into account that you may change employer and have a lower salary in the future. If you don’t pay back in time you nah have interest rate surcharge and penalty fee.

Become a loan expert – know the terms!

  • The principal= the amount your borrow. For example here $1000.
  • Interest or Interest cost = The total amount you pay back back minus the principal. For example here we calculated it makes 1500 – 1000 = $500.
  • Interest rate = the percentage of the principal that you will have to pay in interest. Interest rate = Interest cost/Principal  = 500/1000 = 0,5 = 50/100 = 50%. Often the interest rate is calculated annually but it can also be calculated monthly or quarterly.
  • Balance: the amount of money you owe at a given moment in time
  • Monthly Installment: the amount you have to pay back monthly.

You can review percents and fractions here. What you need to remember is that % = 1/100 so, for example 15% = 15/100 = 0,15.

There are two kinds of interests that we will explain below: simple or flat interest (the most advantageous when you borrow) and compound interest.

Be able to compare and calculate simple interest rates

Simple interest is also known as “flat rate” interest, it is a percentage of the principal balance. You only pay interest on the principal you initially borrowed no matter how long it takes you to repay. In this situation, interest is called accrued simple interest.


Interest Cost = Principal x Annual Interest Rate x Number of years (can also be done in months).

Annual Interest Rate = Interest Cost / (Principal x Number of years)

Please note that in mathematics ( ) means that you need to calculate it first. You calculate the result of Principal x Number of Years. Then you divide the Interest Cost by this result.

Exercises with simple/ flat interest rate. Try to do the exercises alone first. Solutions below.

1. You borrow $1000, and your annual interest rate is 15%, what is your interest cost after one year?

2. You borrow $1000, and your annual interest rate is 15%, what is your interest cost after 3 years?

3. You borrow $2000 and your monthly payments are $200 during one year. What is your annual interest rate?

4. You borrow $3000 and your monthly payments are $200 during two years. What is your annual interest rate?


1. Interest Cost = Principal x  Annual Interest Rate  x Number of Years = 1000 x 0.15 x 1 = $150

2. Interest Cost = Principal x  Annual Interest Rate  x Number of Years = 1000 x 0.15 x 3 = $450

3. Annual Interest Rate = Interest Cost / (Principal x Number of years)

  • We need to calculate first the Principal x Number of Years = 2000 x1 = 2000
  • Then we need to calculate the Interest Cost = Total Paid – Principal. The Total paid are the monthly payments during 12 months = 200 x12 = 2400. So the Interest Cost = 2400 – 2000 = $400.
  • Finally we can calculate the Annual Interest Rate = Interest Cost / (Principal x Number of years) = 400/2000 = 0.20 = 20/100 = 20%.

4. Annual Interest Rate = Interest Cost / (Principal x Number of years)

  • We need to calculate first the Principal x Number of Years = 3000 x2 = 6000
  • Then we need to calculate the Interest Cost = Total Paid – Principal. The Total paid are the monthly payments during 2 years = 24 months = 200 x24 = 4800. So the Interest Cost = 4800 – 3000 = $1800.
  • Finally we can calculate the Annual Interest Rate = Interest Cost / (Principal x Number of years) = 1800/6000 = 0.30 =30/100 = 30%.

Understand compound interest rates and avoid them!

Compound interest not only is calculated “accrued”on the original amount of the debt  but also on interest and fees that have already  been added.

It’s ok if you don’t really know how to calculate it in details, what is important is that you understand the basic principle: you are paying interest on interest and the longer you take to repay your debt, the quicker your debt increases! So you really need to avoid compound interest if you borrow money.


Amount to pay  back (after “n” years) = Principal x (1 + Rate) \^ n number of years.

You can  also find online calculator: compound interest calculator

It’s not so simple anymore, right? Let’s calculate for a  $1000 loan with a 15% annual interest rate after three years with compound interest:

1000 x (1 + 0.15) \^ 3 = $1520.88

Let’s compare:  with simple interest after 3 years, you would pay “only” 1450$.
So, with compound interest, you will be paying $70.88 more than you would have with simple interest, because you are paying interest on interest. Compound interest explains why bills grow so quickly.

It makes it hard to lower your debt because what you pay is eaten by the interests!

The formula above assumes that interest fees are added once a year. But some interest are compounded on a quarterly or monthly basis. It makes your balance (debt) grows even more quickly. To determine interest on such a basis, you can use the following formulas:

Quarterly (4 times a year) : Amount = Principal x (1 + (Rate / 4) \^ 4

Monthly: Amount = Principal x (1 + (Rate / 12) \^ 12

Many financial products utilize compound interest, so it’s important to pay off your debts as quickly as possible. Always try to pay more than the minimum monthly payments on your debts, because otherwise becoming debt-free is very hard.


Say no! What do you care what other people think?

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Very often, we think no but say yes because we fear what other people may think of us… Read this story about an old man, his son and their donkey.

An old man and his grandson were living in a small village. They wanted to bring their donkey to the market.

First, both on them were walking and the donkey was not carrying anything. They could hear the neighbors talking: “Look at them, idiots, they have a donkey, feed it every day but don’t even use it…”

Then, the boy was on the donkey and the old man walking. The neighbors were loudly commenting: “Look at them, this boy is not respecting this old man, he lets him walk while he is resting on the donkey…”

So, they switched, the old man was on the donkey and the boy walking. The neighbors still made some comments: “Look at this poor boy walking while this man is resting…”

Then, they decided to both be on the donkey. They could hear the neighbors whispering: “Look at them, cruel and stupid people, they don’t realize this poor donkey is suffering and soon it will die because it gets too tired…

Finally, they did not know what to do and decided to carry the donkey on their backs! The neighbors laughed at them loudly and called them crazy. The donkey was uncomfortable and finally ran away.

The old man said to his grand-son: “We learned that when we try to please everyone, we please no one at the end. What do we care what other people think!

And they went back home with this valuable lesson in mind.

You can also watch this story on YouTube.



The fifth day, they stayed at home and the old man asked his son. “Son, what did you learn this week?” and the son replied “What do we care what other people think! Whatever we do, they will always find something to say about it…”

And you, do you sometimes pay too much attention to what other people may think of you?



4 tips to go back home for holiday without ending broke…

gift when holiday

Do you fear going back home for holiday because it means all your savings will be gone or worse you may have to borrow money? Follow these 4 tips!

1. BUDGET IN ADVANCE! Budget one year in advance. Make the list of all the people you need to make a gift to (including distant relatives and neighbors) and how much money per person. Make the total and then divide per 12 so you know how much to save monthly. And then stick to it!

2. GIVE LOVE! Think about hand-made gifts, recycled decorations. You don’t have to compensate for being abroad, you already provide support the rest of the year. Make it special your own way!

3. TALK! Talk with your family, hold a family council and decide how much you want to spend for holiday and gifts keeping in mind all the other things you need to pay for (education, house…), and savings you need to keep for emergencies and investments. Make your family responsible with you, not dependent on you!

4. NO LOAN! Don’t take a loan! When you borrow money, you have to pay interest rate meaning an extra expense – Give meaning to it: for example if I don’t take this loan for holiday, I will be able to pay education expenses for 3 months.

Do you have other tips to avoid over-spending when you go home for holiday?

5 ways to avoid over-extending your stay abroad

over-extending stay abroad

Do you want to be a domestic worker for your entire life? Discover here the 5 ways to avoid over-extending your stay abroad.

  1. Set realistic financial goals with your family – no more than one or two.  Make them responsible with you. For example discuss the number of years you should spend abroad and if you can share the burden. Learn to say NO and how to talk about money with them. Rehearse before you talk to them to make sure you don’t make them feel guilty but still make them understand that they need to learn to manage money well!
  2. Stick to your plan, don’t buy unnecessary things and be careful of investment schemes. A dollar saved is a dollar earned!
  3. Teach them the value of money and work. Make all able adults of your family make their own money or get trainings. Before you open a business, plan for it and learn business management to make sure it does not fail. Don’t give your children all they want, teach them the value of money.
  4. Limit your charity work. Being kind is not being gullible and naive.
  5. Keep your savings a secret even from your family.

And you, what are your plans for your future?

Read the full article here by Pinoy OFW:

How to Avoid Over-Extending Your OFW Career

Let’s be smart! Set your objectives…and achieve them!

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Why people fail so often to achieve their objectives and end up doing nothing?

It’s often because they don’t know what SMART objectives are. SMART objectives are motivating because you can actually achieve them. And step after step you can make your dreams come true!

SMART is an acronym for

  • Small and specific objectives. It means that you need to break your objective in small actions. For example if you want to start a business, your objective for next month can be to enroll in a business management class.
  • Measurable objectives – for example your objective cannot be to just “save more” – it could be “save 1 month salary in 6 months”. Saving more is not measurable, you need to say how much. Otherwise this is not motivating and you can never know if you achieved your objective or not.
  • Achievable – it has to be possible to do it. Actually make it even easier than you think you can do it! Often we fail because we get discouraged.
  • Resourced – list what you need to achieve your objective. Maybe you need to discuss with your family about money managing, maybe you need to make some research.
  • Time-Bound – your objective needs to have a deadline – choose if you want to do daily, weekly, by the end of the month, 6 months, 2 years, 5 years.

Here is an example of a SMART plan. The dream of this person is to open a business and she sets SMART objectives for that to achieve in one month, 6 months, 2 years and 5 years.

Review your plan and your objectives now and make sure they are SMART!



10 best practices to make your dreams come true

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10 best practices to make your dreams come true

Who are the people who make their dreams come true? Are they more determined or intelligent? Do they have more luck? Or do they just have better techniques? Cognitive & behavioral psychologists found the best practices to help people achieve their objectives.

  1. Instead of thinking of your fears and all that may go wrong, think of all you will miss and regret if you don’t try.
  2. Have a plan and set SMART objectives.
  3. Start small and if it’s still too hard, try even smaller but don’t give up. Starting small is also the way we learn naturally, look at babies: crawling then walking then running then jumping! If you start too big, you may put yourself in great difficulty and danger.  For example before putting all your savings in a business, make sure to learn about business management first and start with a small venture.
  4. Start NOW, don’t wait for tomorrow. If you start, it will make it easier for you to keep going.
  5. Do something every day for your dream. Make it an habit so you don’t have to make an effort to think about it.
  6. If you fail one day, don’t take it as an excuse to give up. Start again.
  7. Cut your objective in small ones and give you rewards for each one that you achieve like a small inexpensive symbolic gift or a food that you enjoy.
  8. Book regular appointments with yourself (every week  and every month) to check your progress and adjust your objectives if they are too easy or too hard.
  9. Ask for your friends support. Tell them about your objectives and ask them to ask you questions about your progress regularly. Their nice pressure will help you.
  10. Have special tricks for difficult days like a playlist of your Power Songs that give you energy.

And read this short story about Mona and her dream!

How to climb the mountains of our lives and achieve our objectives

How to climb the mountains of our lives and achieve our objectives

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Why do we often fail to achieve our objectives?

Mona has a dream. She lives in front of a tall mountain and her dream is to climb it. The issue is that Mona has a disease that makes her legs very weak.

So, for years, Mona would not even allow herself to look at the mountain or think about it. She was scared to be too disappointed if she tried and failed.

One day, she realizes that she will only live once and decides to climb it. She wants to minimize the risks of failing because with her fragile health, her life is at stake and she could die.

She makes some research and reads about SMART objectives to make your dreams come true. The same day she makes her plan. One of her objectives is to be able to walk up the 50 floors of her building by the end of the year in order to get daily exercising. Here is her plan (if you are not fit, ask for medical advice first, this plan may not suit you):

  • SMALL & SPECIFIC: walk up the stairs of the building instead of taking the elevator.
  • MEASURABLE: 5 floors once a day the first week, then increase each week by one floor until I can walk up 50 floors.
  • ACHIEVABLE: I know I can walk up 5 floors I did it before.
  • RESOURCED: I have access to my building’s staircase.
  • TIME BOUND: every day and increase each week by one floor.

The first 3 days, she finds it hard but she is very motivated so she keeps on.

After one week, her legs are so sore, she can barely walk. She realizes that she made a mistake, she can to walk up 5 floors but not every day. She gives herself a 3-day break to recover and she starts again with only 1 floor a day. This time she chooses an objective even easier to achieve than she thinks she can make it.

However, even with an easy objective, she has a lot of pressure at work and in the evening, she is really tempted to take the elevator…

One evening she gives up and takes the elevator. She calls her best friend and tells her about it. Her best friend reminds her of her dream and motivates her to start again the next day. With her friend’s support, she goes back to walking up the stairs every day.

Each month she books an appointment with herself to review her progress and for each additional 5 floors that she can climb, she gives herself a small reward like eating her favorite cake or buying a small inexpensive symbolic gift.

Still, some days are harder than others. For these days, she has her special tricks, like a playlist of her favorite songs that give her a lot of energy while walking up!

Day after day, she finds it easier and easier. She is so used to walking up the stairs that she does not even think about it anymore. It just became part of her normal daily life.

After one year and careful preparation she is ready. She starts to climb early morning and  after a few hours of walk, she is up! She made her dream come true and is so proud of herself!

And you, what do you do to make your dreams come true and achieve your objectives?

Read here more about the 10 best practices to make your dreams come true.

10 best practices to make your dreams come true