The barre3 Essentials (Metro Magazine)

The barre3 Essentials

Who would have thought that you could combine ballet, yoga, and Pilates in just one workout?  That is the idea behind the revolutionary class aptly named barre3 (pronounced as bar-three).  The 3 in barre3 actually represents balance, which is our core essence.  It symbolizes having balance in your body, your mind, and your life.

barre3 is a non-intensive workout that brings together the grace of the ballet barre, the wisdom and techniques of yoga, and also the strength of Pilates.  Although it is not as formal as ballet where you have to dance to classical music, nor do you have to do advanced yoga poses, or use various pieces of Pilates apparatus.  It is a simple, yet challenging, workout that helps improve your balance and strength, as well as increase your body’s flexibility.  If that isn’t enough, barre3 can also make it easier for you to achieve long and lean muscles, and get a better body posture, too.

A Background of barre3

barre3 is the brainchild of Sadie Lincoln, a fitness expert who has 15 years of experience in teaching various exercise platforms.  It is also inspired by the Lotte Berk Method, which makes use of different rehabilitative exercises.  Lotte Berk, a dancer and the creator of that particular method, thought of using the ballet barre to rehabilitate herself after she had suffered a severe spinal injury from a car accident.

The ballet barre can really do wonders for you when you utilize it correctly.  That is why the barre3 workout attracts those who have a passion for good health, whether they are athletes, dancers, yoga practitioners, Pilates enthusiasts, or ordinary men and women who want to get fit.  Yes, that’s right, men and women alike can take the barre3 if they are up to it.

My barre3 Experience

I recently attended the free trial of barre3 at The Spa Wellness at The Fort in Bonifacio High Street, and there were, in fact, a couple of straight men present.  All I brought with me was a pair of socks and my two close friends for moral support.  I never, in my life, tried ballet, yoga, or Pilates, and I was a bit scared that I would look foolish or something.  Good thing all of us were beginners in the class.  We were all in the same level.

I arrived at barre3 studio in my casual attire but I still had to change into my workout wear so I will be comfortable in doing the exercises.  Note: You have to arrive 15 minutes before the class starts so you’ll be able to hear the instructions of the trainer.  Before you go inside the workout area, you need to remove your shoes and wear your socks. The Spa will then provide each student with an exercise mat, a set of two-pound weights, a yoga strap, and an inflatable ball – all of which are up to par with U.S. standards.

The exercise studio is like what I imagined a ballet studio to be – mirror-covered walls and a wooden barre that goes all the way around. What’s unique though is the cork flooring, which is a distinct feature of barre3 studios. It is said to support your body, particularly your spine, better than regular wood flooring. The room is fully air-conditioned but it is not set too high for an optimum exercise atmosphere.  In the background, you will hear the latest hip-hop and electronic beats to help you get in the mood to workout.

The afternoon class was pretty packed but I was still able to find an ample spot in the ballet barre.  Probably 90% of the class population were women and the minority were men, but that would not really matter since you would be too focused on making the right exercise moves and not have time to mind the others.

Dare to barre

Our instructor, Marie, started the session with a little introduction as we settled down our chosen spots.  For the first few minutes, we performed some basic stretching exercises to get us all warmed up.  Then things got more serious as Marie instructed us to reach for our two-pound weights.  She demonstrated a sequence of exercises that use low resistance but with high repetitions.  (Read: Lift weights just about an inch from your starting point but do it for quite a number of times.)  Believe me, those weights will feel heavier than two pounds as you go along with the exercises.  Even if you do weights in the gym, you can still do barre3 since it will focus on the lengthening of the muscles.  But it is still important to find out what your goal is – whether to lose weight or just get muscle tone – and convey it to your personal gym trainer and your barre3 instructor so they would know how to make it work for you.

I had a misconception that the barre3 workout would be a piece of cake, but my muscles thought otherwise as I followed Marie’s demonstration of how to do movements and exercises I’ve never done before.  I admit, I am not the athletic type.  I have never enrolled in a gym or have delusions of becoming a serious athlete.  Although, I would say that I am the health conscious type.  I want to look and feel good inside and out, which is why I summoned the courage to attend the class.

I never regretted my decision.  I learned a lot of good exercise moves in the class.  For the first time in my life, I was able to do a plié, which involves standing up while you bend your knees a little, keep your back straight and align your hips.  Now I know how hard ballerinas must train to be able to do those poses while maintaining their grace.

Aside from those ballet moves, we also performed some basic yoga poses that any barre3 beginner like me would not have a hard time doing.  Do not expect to do any complicated arm balances or inversions, just the simple yoga standing positions and other relatively easy “holding” poses.  Our instructor even told us to perform the bridge pose, which I thought would be difficult to do but it was not so tricky after all.  These yoga poses will help you ease muscle tension and relax your mind as well. Afterall, barre3 is a mind and body workout.

Like with the yoga positions, the Pilates-inspired exercises were also manageable to do.  During this part, we were able to fully utilize the exercise mat as we carried out the instructions to do leg stretches, leg circles, and other positions.  I really felt my abdominal muscles contract as I did every movement.  These exercises would really test your flexibility, stamina, and endurance.

Of course, the session would not be complete without the use of the actual ballet barre.  Imagine that you are in a standing position while facing the mirrored wall as you lift one leg and place it parallel to the barre, which is as high as your waist…  Did that mental picture come with a wince?  Well, that was my reaction too when I accomplished that act, but it came with a sense of pride also as I realized I did it correctly.  You don’t have to worry though, if you are doing the exercises properly because your instructor will make sure that you are.  Do not be surprised if you suddenly see the instructor by your side to check up on you.

Benefits of barre3

When our instructor Marie said, “Press your navel to your spine,” I thought I heard it wrong.  But I suppose that is the right description to use when you want to work on your core.  One of the benefits of barre3 is actually getting a strong core, which is good news to those who want to get in shape for the summer.  In each 60-minute session, the instructor will help you work with your foundation, basic alignment, and muscle actions to help balance the body.  As you perform each action, you will feel energized and sense that increase in stamina.  Yes, even if you feel your arms starting to ache, you will be able to muster up the energy to finish the whole exercise.

What I like about the class is that I felt more motivated to perform better as I was in the company of people with the same goal.  Our class was relatively small also – with just around 15 students – so the trainer was able to give out precise instructions to each of us.  For once, I felt like I had my own personal trainer.  Even if barre3 provides a vigorous workout, it is also very effective in relieving stress and connecting the mind, body and breath.

With regular practice of barre3, you will be able to develop muscular strength, endurance and flexibility, which will give you a toned body.  Every person is different so barre3’s effect will vary but what is proven constant is inch-loss, especially when you try to do the movements and exercises the right way.

Breaking the barre-iers

Whether you have already tried ballet, yoga, or Pilates separately, you will still find something new in barre3.  This workout mainly focuses on maintaining a good spinal alignment, as well as aiming to incorporate the neutral length of the spine in your normal everyday activities.  But even if you are not physically active, you can still do barre3.  It is actually the best exercise to try out because there will be an instructor to help you find your “most correct posture” before you start doing any unfamiliar movements.  Before going to your first session, make sure that you are well rested and are properly nourished to achieve optimum results.  On the other hand, if you are the sporty type, you can definitely include barre3 in your sports repertoire.  It complements any sport since it helps improve your flexibility.  Runners, for example, will benefit from the hamstring exercises in barre3.

This workout is even safe for pregnant women, as long as they have certification from their doctor.  This is open to young people too, as long as they can focus for an hour and most importantly, reach the ballet barre. Once you get to class, it is essential to listen carefully to your instructor, and more importantly, have fun!

barre Hopping

Want to see for yourself what the fuss is all about?  Head to The Spa where you can sign-up for barre3 classes.  See below for the contact information and rates.

barre3 at The Spa Wellness at The Fort

Address: Building 8, 908 Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City

Email: [email protected]

barre3 at The Spa Alabang

Address: Lower Ground, Alabang Town Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

Email: [email protected]

Soon to open: barre3 at The Spa Rockwell and Eastwood

Email: [email protected]

Rates

Classes

Single class                                                                                    Php 700

10 class (valid for 2 months)                                                            Php 5,500

30 class (valid for 6 months)                                                            Php 15,000

Membership*

Monthly Unlimited membership

(valid for 30 consecutive days)                                                Php 5,500

Annual Unlimited membership                                                Php 50,000

*Inclusions:

Special Rates

Private Session (one-on-one)                                                            Php 2,000

Exclusive Session (minimum of two clients)                                    Php 1,500/person

(Published in Metro Magazine, March 2010)

Get Ready for That Sunless Tan (WMN.ph)

(This “Sunless Tan” article was published in WMN.ph March 2010)

Summer means sun, sand – and sunburn? There’s no reason to expose your skin to the harmful rays of the sun just to get a tan. You can get that golden glow right here in the metro. Check out some of the top tanning salons in the city.

Brazilian Bare

What to bring or wear: Before you head to the Brazilian Bare salon to get some serious sunless tanning, you need to purchase their tanning kit (P2,450) and take it home with you. The three-piece kit includes Before Tan Scrub, Skin Smoothie, and Self-Tanning Lotion. To get the full effect of the treatment, you need to use the scrub at home on the same day as your scheduled appointment. Then bring along the rest of the kit for your tanning application. Make sure you wear loose and dark-colored clothes on the day itself. And if you want it to look like you just came from the beach, you can bring a bikini top and wear it during the treatment to get those amazing tan lines.

Price: P800 (for whole body application only)

What to Expect: You need to set an appointment before you can get a tan in this salon. The application process takes about 1 1/2 hours, and the tan will last for five days or so.

Contact Information: Heaven on the 5th, 5th Level Rustan’s Makati City
393-3718 or 0920-4313087

Institut Clarins

What to bring or wear: It is essential to don dark colored clothes before you get the “Beautiful and Tanned without the Sun” treatment at Institut Clarins. Once you get there, they will provide you with disposable undies to make sure that yours would not get discolored.

Price: P 2,400 (includes product and application)

What to Expect: It is important to schedule this treatment beforehand. The whole procedure will take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, and the natural-looking tan will last for about a week or so. If you want to extend your tan, you can purchase one of their moisturizers and bring it home with you.

Contact Information: 5th Level Rustan’s Department Store, Ayala Avenue, Makati City
817-8414 or 813-3739 local 271

Belo

What to bring or wear: There are some dos and don’ts prior to the treatment. Do wear loose dark colored clothes and slippers on the day of your scheduled appointment.Don’t put moisturizer and deodorant before heading to the salon. Do scrub before the treatment, but don’t shave on the day itself.

Price: P1,680 (for the tanning treatment alone) and P2,240 (includes body scrub and the tanning treatment)

What to Expect: You can still get that golden tan without actually basking under the sun with Belo’s “Quicktan,” which offers a safe alternative via airbrush tanning. The tanning procedure will require 1 1/2 hours of your time, but it will give you that golden color for three to seven days.

Contact Information: The Mega Atrium, 5th Level SM Megamall, EDSA corner Julia Vagas Ave., Mandaluyong City
470-1992 or 910-8330; 0917-5849260

(Image taken from this site.)

Confessions: Is Living In Still an Issue? (WMN.ph)

(This “Confessions” article about living in was published in WMN.ph last February 2010)

Is living in still taboo these days? Find out what some Pinay women think about this controversial topic.

“For as long as they love and respect each other, I don’t see any problem with couples living together. It serves as a great dry run for married life. It’s better to uncover the possible points of conflict and work on it before actually saying “I do” and committing yourselves to each other, until death do you part.”
– Cookie, 26


“I’m all for living together. I think it is a practical solution to starting a life together. You never really know someone until you live with him, so it’s better to do it before getting hitched on a more semi-permanent level.”
– Ana, 35

“I prefer that couples get married first before they live under one roof. But I have nothing against couples that live together before marriage. I think every couple is unique with how they handle their relationship and situation.”
– Cielo, 31

“I think that a trial period for young couples is important if they intend to get married in the future. Living in works for some couples, while it’s not an option for other conservative couples.”
– Pauline, 25

“I’m for living in! I think it’s better to test the waters before jumping in.“
– Monica, 30

“I’m against living in because it’s like you’re just playing it safe. I believe that two people who are in love and are committed to each other should get married.”
– Shaine, 34

“I’m personally for it, but I think it’s something that you should do after graduating from college, and of course with the right person.”
– Suby, 29

“I don’t have any issues with couples that live in. Sometimes it’s because of the circumstances that they’re in. I think its pretty much accepted by society already. But being brought up by strict Catholic parents, I would still advocate getting married first. I still believe in the sacrament of matrimony and being part of a union blessed by God.”
– Cor, 29

“Although I’m neutral on this issue, I would not consider this an option if I were in a relationship. Living together should be saved for marriage.”
– Khristine, 31

“Being raised a Catholic, I do a double take on couples living in and do wish that they would get married. But in a way, I am neutral about it because I respect their decision on choosing to live together.”
– Inday D., 28

Finds for Your Baby Fashionista (WMN.ph)

(This “Baby Fashionista” article was published in WMN.ph last December 2009)

Shopping for your baby can be a tedious task if you’re a newbie mom, but you can’t go wrong with buying products that are designed by actual moms who are aware of what you need-and want.

For the modern moms out there, Proud Mama Concepts offers creative and fashionable solutions to parenting. This is the brainchild of Rianna Roces-Trinidad and Sheryll Ang-Tiong- real-life moms who addressed the needs and wants of moms by creating items like the Reversible Nursing Cover and Funkyfeet Not-Quite-Shoes, among others.

All About Funkyfeet

Have you ever seen those cute little socks that look like shoes? Well, these not-quite-shoes are what they call Funkyfeet. These come in adorable designs like Little Miss Mary Janes (bestseller), Retro Ruffles, Bows on My Toes, Super Sneakers (bestseller), Li’l Loafers, and Fashionista Flats. They also have what they call the Patternista Edition, which offers two fun designs-Candy Janes and Skaterboy.

Funkyfeet fits most babies from 0 to 12 months, and these come in pre-packed box sets already, complete with built-in gift tags. A box of three pairs retails at P320, while a box of five costs P500. The great thing about this is that you can customize your own set of Funkyfeet for the same price!

The Truth About Funkytubes

Funkytubes Playsleeves are actually arm and leg warmers that provide minor protection, and not to mention a lot of attitude to your ‘lil fashionista’s attire. It offers a trendy and practical solution for diaper changes (there’s no need to remove them!) or during potty training. Aside from its aesthetic value, it also keeps those little limbs warm so you can do away with their sweaters and leggings. These Funkytubes are very lightweight too-they give some protection from the sun, insect bites and minor scrapes.

The Funkytubes come in one size only but they can fit babies, toddlers, tweens, and adults as well. You can choose from a variety of cool designs like Crayons, Sailor Stripes, Strawberry Sundae, True Blue, Hi Ho Silver, Sugar ‘n Spice, Merry Winkle, and School Spirit. Each pair retails at P380.

Both Funkyfeet and Funkytubes are locally made, and are created using a soft material that makes it really comfortable to wear. Who says you can’t combine style and comfort for your baby?

Visit the Proud Mama Store by clicking on this link: proudmamastore.multiply.com. To check out the Funkyfeet Store, go to http://funkyfeet.multiply.com!

(Image taken from Proud Mama Concepts.)

Shoes in the City (WMN.ph)

(This “Shoe” article was published in WMN.ph last August 2009)

I believe there’s a little bit of Imelda in every Filipina. Who doesn’t love shoes? I bet you have at least 10 pairs in your shoe cabinet and your man couldn’t fathom why you would need one of each kind. I just say that it’s my ultimate indulgence and weakness. For me, every occasion requires a different pair. You need one for the office, another for parties, for the weekend, and for your sports activities. Here are my top picks.

Workaholic Woman

A classic pair of pumps is always your best bet for the office. This black leather pointed-toe pair from Aldo can just about go with any outfit – a suit, a shirt dress, or even slacks. It’s so simple and has such a flattering silhouette that you can easily mix and match it with whatever you wear for work. I suggest you get a plain pair like this to complete your professional look. Besides, spending P3,499 for this Aldo Jolicoeur would be justified since it’s such a timeless piece.


Gimmick Girl

A pair of trendy shoes like this is ideal to show off during a night out with friends or a date with your sweetie. You’ll look really stylish with this beige patent sandals from Charles & Keith (P2,400). Its chic design and high heel will flatter your feet.

Sporty Sister

Practically everyone’s joining a marathon these days. If you’re into running, you’ll need a good pair of shoes that would provide you with nice cushioning for your soles. I recently came across a great bargain at The Sports Warehouse and immediately grabbed a pair for myself. I got the Women’s Nike Zoom Start + 2009 (White/White-Pale Blue-Wd Pink) for only P2,699, from its original price of P4,995. Aside from its fun design and cushioning capabilities, what I like about this pair is that you can use it with your iPod to track your running progress (as long as you have the iPod Sport Kit.) The store carries other brands like Adidas and New Balance, most of which are discounted too.

Casual Chick

Weekends call for a much more laid back style, so putting on some flats is the ideal way to go. You can look chic with this gladiator-inspired pair of flat sandals from Zara. I got this on sale a few weeks ago for only P1,500 and it’s well worth it. It’s both fashionable and comfy-a perfect combination.


(Images taken by Nikka Sarthou)

Confessions: How Did You Get Over Your Ex? (WMN.ph)

(This “Confessions” article about getting over your ex was published in WMN.ph last July 2009)

Women deal with heartbreak in many ways, as some of these ladies shared for this week’s Confessions.

Compiled by Nikka Sarthou

“I met my ex while I was working in Bacolod and realized, after a year, that we had different priorities so I ended the relationship. I then decided to move back home to Manila, start a new career, meet new people, and surround myself with family and friends.”
-Frances, 28, Marketing Manager


“I kept myself busy, hung out with good friends, and constantly thought about a list of things that I didn’t like about him!”
-Rosan, 30, Restaurant and Bar Part-Owner

“Honestly, it was not easy, having been in the relationship for six years. But I just woke up one day with sheer conviction that enough is enough and the time to move on is long overdue. And so I did. I focused on rebuilding myself, went back on track following my path, and bounced back beyond what I even expected myself to be!”
-Yanna, 32, Poet/Musician/Marketing Executive

“Love with all your heart right? Only this time I focused it on me. I channeled all that energy into other things that made me happy-like I started baking and actually made a living out of it!”
-Twinkle, 28, Baker (dessertbarn.multiply.com)

“Work therapy-I accepted all the assignments thrown my way and kept myself busy up to the point that I was ready to drop at the end of the day. It didn’t leave me any room to think about him. Eventually, I realized that I didn’t have room for him in my life anymore.”
-Elizabeth, 40, Bank Manager

“I would constantly remind myself of the reasons why we had to break up-why it didn’t work out and why it won’t. I just reminded myself of the things that I really don’t like about him, or hate about him, or about the relationship.”
-Abi, 30, Student/Homemaker/Striving Entrepreneur

“I allowed myself to mope for a month. But I think the rule is that you’re entitled to mope for half the amount of time that you dated.”
-Anna Rita, 26, Editor

“I spent a lot of time with my family and friends. I also kept myself busy doing things that made me feel better.”
-Jammie, 30, Employee

“I got over my ex by giving myself time to grieve-cried for a couple of days, and even over analyzed the relationship with my friends. When there was nothing left to say, or tears to cry, I found myself looking forward to meeting the next guy.”
-Sharon, 32, Freelance Copywriter

“Moral support from family and friends combined with time helped me with that ‘moving on’ phase. Eventually, I learned how to focus on myself and on things I can control. Then one day, I was okay!”
-Chedriel, 31, Producer

(Image taken from this site.)

Safe Ways to Gain Weight (WMN.ph)

(This “Gain Weight” article was published in WMN.ph last July 2009)

Much has been said about weight loss matters and you can even see several shows about it on TV. Heck, there’s even a popular reality show about it.

But if you look at the other side of the spectrum, you’ll hardly see any program that features the topic of weight gain. Maybe there aren’t as much underweight people compared to overweight ones. But these people have a weighty concern, too (pun intended)-how to gain weight.

Here are three options to choose from:

1. Eat the Right Foods

The most obvious way to gain weight is by increasing your food intake. But don’t binge on those Krispy Kremes just yet. Yes, you can easily gain weight by eating donuts and other junk food, but that’s not a healthy way to do it. You’ll consume lots of fats and sugars, and that’s not good for your body. Choose healthier food options instead: lean meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. This way you’ll get all the nutrition your body needs.

How To Do It: Do a health and wellness assessment first. If possible, approach a nutritionist about it. You need to find out your height, weight, and describe your lifestyle (e.g. eating habits, leisure activities). Based on all these information, the nutritionist will recommend the foods you should consume and how often you should eat.

Possible Problems: You might be exposed to unhealthy foods at home or when you’re dining out. Just control your junk food cravings (say “no” to pizza). Also, managing your calorie intake could be a daunting task, so just be particular about your diet.

2. Drink Weight Gain Supplements

The easiest way to put on those pounds is to add some weight gain products to your existing diet. The easy part is mixing the drink and gulping it down. The hard part is choosing what to get from among the three choices: weight gain drinks, protein, and absorption products.

How To Do It: Research on what kind of supplement you need to make your weight gain program more effective. For instance, if you want to gain weight all over, you should guzzle some weight gain drinks to get the best results. If you want to increase your muscle mass, get the protein supplement. And if you need something to help your body take in all the nutrients from the food, then absorption products are for you.

Possible Problems: It could be confusing to select just one product with all the choices out there, and there are products that don’t stay true to their claims. There’s a risk that you might not get the right one you need, so do consult a doctor first before taking any supplements.

3. Do Resistance Training

Exercise is essential in gaining weight the healthy way, although this requires a lot of energy and effort compared to the other two options. But if you do some resistance training like lifting weights, you’ll be able to increase your muscle mass and get in shape at the same time.

How To Do It: It would be best to seek help from a trainer at the gym so he could tell you what kind of program you need and assist you as well. Schedule regular trips to the gym and just stay focused on your weight gain goal.

Possible Problems: You need access to proper equipment when you do your resistance training. It could get a little pricey if you buy your own or enroll at a gym, but you really need to spend some dough on it. You might also need to hire a personal trainer if you don’t know how to go about it.

(Image taken from this site.)

Reality Check: Are You All Set to Live Independently? (WMN.ph)

(This “Reality Check” article was published in WMN.ph last May 2009)

In college, some people get a taste of living somewhat independently from their parents. Why somewhat? Because even though these people have their own apartments, their parents are still the ones who pay for the bills. But it’s a different ballgame after college. You don’t have excuses anymore to get financial support from your parents since you’re already earning your own money. Now if you want to live on your own, you have to consider if you can handle it-and it’s not all about the financial aspect, mind you. You have to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the perils of living alone, too.

So are you ready to move out and live on your own? Here’s a checklist to help you make your decision.

1. Are you earning at least P25,000 a month? That’s what you basically need to live comfortably in a studio apartment. Half of that will go to your monthly rental and utilities, and the rest is for your transportation and food allowance. For instance, if you rent out a studio unit in Cityland Shaw, you have to pay P9,000 monthly for the rent, which doesn’t include parking (condos located in the CBD are more expensive so you need to pay more to live there). Plus, you need to set aside around P2,500 for your utility bills-that’s just a conservative estimate. And once you have paid for everything, you’ll hardly have enough left for your savings.

2. Do you have a stable job? You need to have a regular flow of income in order to pay for all your expenses. It is also important that you learn how to manage your money well so you can properly budget everything.

3. Can you dish up something else besides fried eggs? Unless you want to eat out or order food to go all the time, you need to learn how to cook. You don’t have to be a master in the kitchen; just learn the basics like steaming rice and preparing simple meals. Aside from being able to control what goes to your food, you’ll also save more when you eat at home.

4. Do you know how to get around Metro Manila? Whether or not you have your own transportation, you need to know the ins and outs in your area. The most important route to know is the way from your place to your office.

5. Do you know first aid? Illness and injury may be far from your mind but you need to learn the basics of first aid just in case you get sick or have an accident. Remember, your mom is not there to take care of you anymore. You should put the local emergency hotline in your speed dial just in case something happens. In fact, why not make a list of all the important hotline numbers and post it on your ref?

6. Do you know how to entertain yourself? Imagine not having company most of the time: how would you deal with the solitude and depression? Get involved in activities or sports to keep yourself busy.

If you answered “yes” to one to three items, then you should accept that you’d be living with your parents for quite a while.

If you said “yes” to four to five items, then you’re almost ready to live on your own.

If you answered “yes” to all six, then better pack your bags, kiss your parents goodbye, and say hello to the real world!

(Image taken from this site.)

Investment Tips for Real Women (WMN.ph)

(This “Investment Tips” article was published in WMN.ph last May 2009)

You’ve been working hard for quite some time already. Now what? Well, you could save up and put your money in the bank. But that is not the most practical option since the interest rates in banks are so low nowadays. It would be better if you put your money to good use, say, some kind of investment so you can maximize your money’s worth.

A wise choice is to invest in a house and lot like what Tintin Velasquez, 40, AP Manager for Shell Shared Services, did. She believes that investing in a good home is very important when you have your own family. Just look for an ideal location where your family could settle down nicely. Also, real estate is always a good investment since its value almost always goes up in time. Although buying a house and lot is not that simple, you can do it as long as you set aside some of your monthly earnings and then supplement it by applying for a housing loan at the bank.

Another 40-something, Isabel Santos, a bank product manager, also thinks that real estate property is the best investment she ever made. She says purchasing property either for personal use or for investment purposes is more profitable than putting all your money in the bank. You could always get a housing loan from the bank, your office, or even your parents-whoever offers the lowest rate.

If real estate is not your thing, you can opt to use your money in a way that would help you with your craft. Claudette Cuares, 36, sous chef at Sentro 1771, went to study in Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francais (a culinary school in Paris) where she served as an apprentice and then worked for a year. She used to save 10 to 15 percent of her salary before she left for Paris. She also attended short courses and seminars to feed her mind, soul, and even her stomach. She says that as long as you have a passion (cooking, in her case), you’ll do anything to achieve it and you won’t even notice that you’re working hard for it.

It was the same for Cor Sunglao, 28, fashion designer of Coeur Clothing. She really pursued her passion for fashion by taking up a design course, buying the necessary equipment and materials, and creating her own atelier. She worked hard for her dream by working in the corporate world first in order to save up for it. If you have set clear goals and are patient enough, you’ll be able to do it too.

Actually, any kind of education is a good investment. A Masters Degree in Business Administration at Asian Institute of Management is the biggest investment for Donna Tambanillo, 29, a corporate planning manager. The MBA degree was a big help for her to step up the corporate ladder. But even with all the savings she put aside, studying in AIM was pricey, so she had to look for ways to cut costs by availing of scholarships and grants. She asked financial help from her parents, too. So don’t be afraid to ask for help and make sure that you really want something before you put all your money and energy into it.

And if you happen to have cash to spare, you can invest it in something that you could use. For instance, Cris de Luna, 31, a unit head in corporate sales for Bayantel, decided to use the incentives and commissions she earned from her job to buy her own car. Even if she could have used that extra money for other things, she had her eyes set on a car, which she finds beneficial in her line of work and gratifying in the end, too.

(Image taken from this site.)

Top 10 Recession Tips (WMN.ph)

(This “Recession” article was published in WMN.ph last April 2009)

You might have noticed that you’re still feeling the economic crunch even with all the hard work that you do and all the savings you’ve set aside. But maybe that’s not enough. You probably need to take some extra measures so you can stay afloat these days. Recession-proof your life by trying the following tips on for size.

1. Most of you probably couldn’t get through the day without your caffeine fix. But you don’t have to get your cup of Joe in a fancy coffee shop; you can just bring 3-in-1 coffee sachets to the office. Or if you really, really need to get coffee from Starbucks, get a short order instead of a venti.

2. Having lunch out everyday can burn a hole in your pocket. Why don’t you prepare a packed lunch instead? Aside from being able to save, you’ll know what goes into your food as well. Now you won’t have any excuse for feeling sleepy from all the Chinese food you ate. Just treat yourself to a lunch out maybe once a week so you won’t feel deprived.

3. Bringing a car to work can get pretty expensive. You have to pay for your gas, parking fees, and sometimes even toll fees. Instead of driving to work everyday, try to hitch a ride with a neighbor-slash-coworker. Or maybe use your parents’ car from time to time.

4. If renting out your own place is becoming too costly for you, consider getting a roommate so you can share the expenses for the meantime. You’d get some girl bonding time on the side, too.

5. Following fashion trends could be somewhat pricey. But instead of buying all those branded items, you could rummage through vintage shops (a.k.a. ukay-ukay) and look for stylish bargains. Just don’t tell your officemates where you shop. It will be your little secret.

6. Newspapers and magazines do feed your mind but could add to your expenses as well. Instead of regularly buying these reading materials, just visit their websites and you’ll see the same content at no extra cost.

7. Be on the lookout for deals and steals. You could get more bang for your buck if you take advantage of promos in shops or restaurants. Keep your eyes open for such deals.

8. Turn your trash into cash. If you have old clothes and other things you want to dispose, you could organize a rummage sale and earn a little money on the side. For other disposables such as papers, bottles, plastics, and old appliances, you could bring these to the recycle fairs in SM and Ayala Malls. Being green wouldn’t only help the environment but also help you earn money as well.

9. Go for the natural look. Don’t waste your hard-earned cash to buy all that gunk you put on your face. You don’t need a lot of makeup to look good; less is more.

10. Work could get pretty stressful so sometimes you just need to unwind and relax. Invite your coworkers or your sweetie to go out while there’s a happy hour at the nearby bar or restaurant. You’ll have a great time at a fraction of the price!

(Image was taken from this site.)