“I see dead people.” ~Cole Sear, The Sixth Sense

Can kids really see ghosts?

I confronted this question five years ago when my firstborn, Sasha, was only 3 years old. I observed her playing with someone I couldn’t see. I asked her who she was playing with, and she said, “Kuya.” But we were only four in the house, and we didn’t have a Kuya with us. 👻👻👻

kuya

big or older bother

This matter hits close to home because I saw ghosts too when I was much younger. Yup, my third eye is open before my father closed it, so he said. I guess feelings of dread are just feelings of dread until you can accurately describe what your grandfather has worn while he lay peacefully inside his coffin by looking at him standing on the door. Hair-raising, isn’t it?

Looking at her then, she seemed not afraid at all. Looking back, I think I was more scared than she was. It’s a different realm, so to speak, and no one is prepared to handle such. Not me definitely, despite going through the same experience when I was younger.

How parents deal with their kids’ ghostly encounters

Now that I’m a mother, the question is: how I/we (Papa and I) should deal with it? My husband was very unenthusiastic about it, though he also believes in mythic creatures. 🧚🧚🧚 Oh well…

According to Caron B. Goode, author of Kids Who See Ghosts: How to Guide Them Through Fear, parents respond differently. Some parents experienced abject fear, but some would support their children, listening to their stories yet not acting on them. I also know parents who think of it as an intuitive gift that should be accepted. But, then, some parents would immediately seek doctors and therapists.

Goode also noted that the younger the child, the more delicate the situation will be because “the child’s psyche is open and fragile.” However, the parents are in the position to empower their children in facing their fears. It would help to be more compassionate about the entire situation.

How to deal with kids seeing ghosts

There is no formula here. But as parents, we just have to deal with it, not dismiss it. Remember that how you would react will significantly affect your child’s values and belief system, so tread carefully.

1) Encourage your child to talk more about the experience.

Conversations are powerful. The more your child gets to talk about her ghostly experience, the more comfortable she will be. Also, this is an excellent way to validate the said experience and how they are feeling about it.

Don’t tell your child “ghosts are not real,” “you’re just imagining things,” “you don’t know what you’re talking about,” or things like that. From the eyes of your child, everything is real.

2) Listen to your child attentively.

Talking about what she’s seen is therapeutic enough, knowing that someone is ready to listen to her. While it is true that kids have an imaginative tendency, the devil is in the details. Spooky, right? But you’d know there is nothing inventive with her stories because of the details.

Concrete details than abstract ones are definitely hard to doubt nor refute. So I asked Sasha to describe him. I got horrified because there were mentions of a “white t-shirt” and “bloodied face.”

3) Believe in your child.

Goode also states that it doesn’t matter whether you believe in ghosts or not. What matters in situations like this is that you believe in your child.

She might get scared, but this is entirely normal and understandable. You might get fearsome too. What you can help her with is in processing the fear. Of course, you want her to feel safe, so any assurance coming from you will help.

4) Lower the fear factor.

Freaking out will not help. But when faced with situations like this it’s either you’d want to know more or not hear about it anymore. So I took the first path. I asked her about it—where in the house it would appear, what time of day, is it alone, does it hurt her. Sure enough, I asked a lot of questions about Kuya because I wanted to understand more about it and gauge if she was scared or not.

However, I realized that it would be best to take the child’s lead about what she is willing to share with you. Don’t force your child to talk about it, definitely not in front of other people. You don’t want your child to feel humiliated, intimidated, or overwhelmed. But I did ask Sasha, and I would still ask her from time to time. And her stories are consistent.

Not long after, when Adele was the same age, she would laugh hysterically playing pretend with someone. When I asked her to hand me something, she grabbed what I was asking for, gave it to me, and hurried back outside. “Why the rush?” I asked her. Adele said, “So I can play with Kuya.” Oh no. Here we go with the pep talk again.

I also asked Adele about this Kuya. I regretted asking her, “Where is Kuya now?” because she immediately pointed at the back of the door. 😱😱😱

So think of this as an opportunity to move beyond fear while learning about the world of spirits. This is also a great way to start exploring different realities. Not to mention, child psychologists believe that having an imaginary friend is actually a sign of healthy development.

Over time, I realized why we would always turn to evil spirits or creatures when someone told us they have an imaginary friend. Shouldn’t we consider the good spirits and creatures first, such as guardian angels or… fairy godmothers?

Multo agad? ’Di ba pwedeng guardian angel muna?

Good point, right? Or not? Let me know in the comments below.

If you’re breaking into the market for an incredible home, it’s okay to be excited! There’s a lot of tremendous change that comes with buying your place, but you shouldn’t let that blind you to the important things. When you’re looking at homes, carefully consider each of these details.

Any significant future changes

Where do you see yourself in five years? How about ten? Although these may feel like the questions someone would ask you in a job interview, you have to answer these for yourself when house hunting. Is this first home meant to be your forever home, or are you planning to look at other homes for sale in Toronto in five to ten years? Do you think you’ll have another person living with you? Do you see kids in your future? Consider all of these, and shop accordingly.

How much of a project you can realistically attempt

We all see ourselves as a little more driven than we are. That’s okay and forgivable, yet it’s important to admit that sometimes we don’t measure up. For example, if you’re looking at a home that needs a ton of projects, how many of those projects do you think you’ll complete within a month? How about a year? Although you don’t have to move into a cookie-cutter home, and you can put your personality into place, it’s a good idea to be realistic about what work you can take on.

How far you are from work and family

Most people go to work several times a week, and many more also visit family and friends often. You don’t have to live in the dead center of these locations, but planning around an easy transit time can help your life later on. When you look at a home, think about what your daily transit to work would look like and how often you’d be able to see the ones you love. Is it short enough of a drive that you’re okay with it, or is it more stressful?

Whether the schools are ideal

If you have kids or are considering going back to college, are the local schools the ones you feel good about? Your school area will make an impact on the education of whoever lives in your home, so it’s a good thing to consider if you think it matters.

If the neighborhood is safe and friendly

Talk to neighbors, and become familiar with the neighborhood when you look at homes! If you’re narrowing it down between one or two houses, don’t be afraid to walk through the community for a workout and talk to those you encounter. Be friendly and courteous and see if you align well with this neighborhood. Do those who live there feel nice to you? Check the crime rate in your area, and be sure to look up if it’s a safe place to live or if you’ll be dealing with dangers and hazards that you would be better off avoiding.

When shopping for a new home, it is vital to look into what you’ll need a few years from now. These things are your non-negotiables. However, please keep an open mind about the entire homebuying process because there will be compromises along the way for sure. Most importantly, enjoy the nitty-gritty part of the process. You’ll appreciate all the efforts, even the most mundane tasks of creating lists of non-negotiables and can-live-withouts, once you find your dream home.

And with that, happy shopping!

No one knows precisely when work-from-home (WFH) job opportunities exploded. However, we all know that these opportunities intensified during the coronavirus pandemic and gave people a new chance at earning a decent living while staying at home. At-home jobs are very diverse and categorically easy to do—anyone can do it. Here are some of the most exciting job prospects.

WFH jobs for moms and dads

1) Virtual assistant

Virtual assistants provide all forms of administrative, secretarial, medical, and legal works. Usually, the companies requiring the services of a VA are in the food, retail, and elder care industries. However, some companies that hire VAs are small companies that cannot necessarily justify hiring permanent employees.

Skills required: Word processing, computer, communication, writing, proofreading, organizational, and management

Earning potential: Starts from $15 per hour

2) Translator

Translators don’t translate verbatim, but with both linguistic and cultural differences in mind. Most translators, who translate from one language to another, often work under tight deadlines and with high levels of accuracy. Professional, technical, scientific, educational, and health care services frequently require the help of a translator.

Skills required: Translation, writing, reading, comprehension, computer, typing, and communication

Earning potential: Starts from $20 per hour; some industries pay higher

3) Data encoder

Also called data entry clerks, data encoders enter or update data into a database. Data are customarily typed from paper documents. Accuracy and speed are just some of the measures used in determining the efficiency of a data encoder. Companies dealing with volumes of data such as medical institutions, academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and courier companies are the typical clients.

Skills required: Typing, computer, numeracy, administrative, and organizational

Earning potential: Starts from $15 per hour

4) Website tester

From the title itself, website testers inspect a website to determine any bugs, defects, errors, and any usability and interaction issues. Large companies that develop websites require the services of a website tester consistently. Also, there are dedicated websites that list sites that pay people for testing websites on a first-come, first-served basis.

Skills required: Communication, technical, computer, and testing

Earning potential: $10 per test

5) Survey taker

Survey takers answer questions and respond to polls. The website contacts the survey testers regarding a survey relevant to their demographic profile. For example, pay differs on the survey length that is often for FMCGs (fast-moving consumer goods) and automotive companies.

Skills required: Comprehension, typing, and communication

Earning potential: $1 to $15 per survey

I wrote a blog post before on how I earn extra income by answering surveys. 😉

6) Lead generation specialist

Also called a sales executive, a lead generation specialist prospects, qualifies and generates new leads. The specialist commonly conducts a product or service demo. Leads are generated online through social media networks, forums, emails, etc.

Skills required: Computer, typing, communication, follow-up, cold calling, and data management

Earning potential: It depends; some pays a percentage per conversion

7) Social media manager

Social media managers are like virtual assistants, only that the former’s responsibilities are more lenient to doing tasks on the social media platforms. Social media is the newest marketing and customer service channel for brands worldwide. Managing their social profiles means either hiring an in-house manager or outsource to third-party companies or freelancers. Nevertheless, one requirement is a sizable following.

Skills required: Social media, communication, interpersonal, graphics, writing, and customer service

Earning potential: Starts from $10 per hour

Above you will find work-at-home jobs that require no special skills. The works required are straightforward, so it applies to anyone who wants to earn from home. Aside from a computer and a connection and, of course, the suitable skill set, all you will ever need is a can-do attitude. These at-home jobs are ever-booming, so you’d never run out of opportunities.

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed how we usually do things. Case in point: apartment hunting!

On top of finding an apartment that you can afford, you also need to follow health protocols that the authorities and the building management set when inspecting the apartment. It can be challenging to navigate because you need to be extra cautious, more so if this is your first time looking for an apartment and in a city you’ve never lived in before at that!

Don’t fret, though. Below are some of the things to expect when apartment hunting post-COVID.

Things to expect when looking for an apartment

1) Online is a plethora of sources

Like most big-ticket purchases, you can start your apartment search online before you should come and check it out personally. This is a highly recommended approach to apartment hunting nowadays. For instance, if you are apartment hunting in Los Angeles, you may browse available rentals within your preferred neighborhood.

What’s good about these rental websites is they are highly intuitive, requiring a minimal level of experience. In addition, rental websites usually have tools and filters you can use to narrow down your searches. Some websites even allow you to bookmark or save and download the information quickly.

2) A reliable real estate agent is more than necessary

Even when you live in San Francisco Bay Area, you can have someone represent you in person when doing the hunt. The agent can stand in your place while providing relevant information, particularly the required documents such as proofs of identification, income, and insurance; credit report; and recommendation letters. The list can be exhaustive because the apartment building may have additional requirements.

An agent can also give you tips and hacks. For instance, he can tell you you cannot blow up your credit score by piling up on new furniture because it will show up on the report. In some instances, credit reports are checked and rechecked between submitting the letter of intent and moving in.

3) Up to three options are highly recommended

It is expected that people who lost their jobs when the pandemic started would relocate to cities with higher employment rates. For example, in Los Angeles, these places are Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and Los Angeles counties.

The uptake of apartments in these areas is faster than usual. So it is best to prepare a shortlist of neighborhoods that you want to be a part of. Well, of course, this will depend on whether you already have a job (which is more advisable) or is yet to look for one. While at it, list down your non-negotiables. In this way, your agent will find the apartment that suits your taste.

4) An inspection must never be skipped

Your agent can do a virtual inspection via FaceTime, for instance. Nonetheless, it is essential to check the apartment physically before you move in. You should check the door and window, bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, and living room. Don’t skip the safety checks as well, including the fire safety equipment, smoke detectors, and fire escape plan.

Don’t forget to check the neighborhood as well. As such, consider the commute, determining the travel time from your apartment to the workplace, transit options, and traffic dynamics, especially during rush hours. Your expectations regarding this matter will surely affect your comfort levels in a new city.

All in all, be as informed as possible when apartment hunting. Several resources can help you make the process as smooth sailing as possible. However, don’t forget your due diligence, specifically in areas where your presence is needed.

“Every financial decision should be driven by what you value.” ~David Bach

Truth be told, the coronavirus pandemic has put the world at a standstill. As a result, people are forced to stay at home—some reluctantly transformed their place into a remote office, while others just stayed at home without a job.

Some of us have been diligently saving for the unexpected. But, unfortunately, those emergency funds have already dried up several months into the lockdown without a steady source of income.

A survey conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) showed that up to 75% of households have adjusted their finances to accommodate the impact of the pandemic. Some of these are:

  • 7% borrowed from their retirement fund or policy,
  • 11% deferred their bill or debt payment,
  • 11% incurred more credit card debt, and
  • 18% used their emergency savings.

While the future still looks bleak at this point, the financial strain the pandemic caused also brought new realizations. The same surveys revealed the people’s financial learnings such as the need to save or invest (23%), cut back on non-essential expenses (14%), and prepare or start saving for an emergency (11%).

These are good news—a critical path towards solving the looming financial troubles the pandemic created. Nonetheless, these are just three of the ways to minimize the issues you face with your finances.

More tips on how to take control of your finances

Here are more tips for you. I tried to make this list as a no-nonsense, practical guide as possible. But let me tell you this.

Remember that you’ll do all these for savings and debt relief. If you want to save, you pay yourself first. You know how this works: save before you spend, not spend and save what’s left.

Some would say that it is rather difficult to save while paying off some debts. This is also true. So, if it makes sense to your circumstance, pay your debts first.

I know some people who fear the debt collectors, and rightfully so. But they shouldn’t—you shouldn’t. Instead, you should talk to them and work out a reasonable payment plan. Learn more about your rights as a consumer and how to deal with collectors properly because, well, you need to.

Moving forward, take heed of my advice.

1) Cut down on food deliveries

Usage of food delivery apps skyrocketed in 2020 to 111 million from 95 and 88 million in 2019 and 2018, respectively (yes, it must be because of the pandemic). So that’s 16 million additional users. This is understandable because an average American family only cooks nine meals per week. The rest of the meals are to-go food.

According to a study, eating out or ordering food online is 5x more expensive than cooking meals at home. So preparing at least two more meals at home can save up to $936 per year. That much money you can use to settle your bills.

2) Ditch the cable or downgrade the plan

Cable TV packages in the United States start from $50 per month, which means an additional $50 savings if you decide to cut the cord. If this is not possible, you can always choose a cheaper plan than what you have right now.

Another plausible option is to subscribe to a streaming service instead. It’s cheaper even with a downgraded cable plan.

3) Find a side hustle to generate additional income

Moonlighting is commonplace, and people do this all the time to fill the earnings gap. If you suddenly become a single-income (or a zero-income) household, this is all the more important.

Online is a plethora of side hustles or gigs that you may want to consider. If your current skills set does not match and upskilling is not an option for you, then tap on what you already know or have. For example, sell stuff online, create marketing collaterals for fashion brands, or do freelance writing. These are just some of the jobs that trended upward when the pandemic hit.

4) Don’t shop around online and impulse buy

This is by far the biggest budget breaker. We stay at home and scroll our feed and visit websites all the time and usually encounter things we think we need, but we don’t. So what to do?

Practice the personal cooling-off period. A cooling-off period is a consumer right wherein you, as the consumer, may cancel and return the purchased item and obtain a refund. Making it personal means giving yourself time to think if you really need the item or not. Give it three days, and if you forget about it, you probably don’t need it.

5) Don’t charge anything on future income

Don’t burn money that you have yet to earn. This can be very dangerous because that income has yet to materialize. What would happen if it didn’t materialize at all?

If you cannot pay for an important item in cash, don’t buy it. Instead, save up some more before making a purchase. Also, the interest rates could wipe out all the money you’ve saved so far when you choose to swipe your card instead of paying for it in cash.

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