A Lesson from the Vetoed SSS Pension Increase Bill

Last year, the Senate approved the bill granting an extra P2,000 monthly to SSS pensioners. This was in response to the two million Filipinos who receive a meager amount of P1,200-P4,000 monthly pension which is not enough to pay for medicines due to illnesses that come with old age and other needs. There were some speculations though that the approval was linked to the 2016 elections. Nevertheless, retirees and pensioners were hopeful that the increase will happen.

However, the pensioners’ mood soured when Pnoy vetoed the bill this Thursday, 14th January. Apparently, Pnoy said that the increase will significantly decrease SSS’ income that will result to negative funds and undue closure by year 2029.

Here’s an excerpt of the president’s message:

“…the proposed pension increase of P2,000 per retiree, multiplied by the present number of more than two million pensioners, will result in a total payout of P56 billion annually. Compared against annual investment income of P30 billion-P40 billion, such total payment for pensioners will yield a deficit of P16 billion-P26 billion annually..In view of these considerations, I am constrained to veto” (House Bill No. 5842).

Source: http://www.interaksyon.com/article/122711/pnoy-vetoes-p2000-hike-in-sss-pensions

With the turn of events, what can we learn from Pnoy’s decision?

If we think about it, retirement should be a time to enjoy the fruits from years of our labor. But it seems that if we rely on our government for our retirement needs, there is no guarantee that we will be assured of our future. Even if we receive the highest monthly pension limit of P13,000, it will still not be enough to sustain the increasing cost of living especially during our retirement years.

So, what do we do now while we have the ability to earn?  

The best step to take is to look for different instruments that will fund our retirement. SSS pension is there to assist our future financial needs but it should not be the main source of our retirement fund.

We may look at different options out there by learning how savings, insurance, mutual funds, UITFs, stocks, bonds and other financial vehicles can help in reaching our goals.

It sure is better to save and invest early. I have a disclaimer though, make sure that we entrust our money in reliable institutions. Because in the end, it may already be too late and we may end up regretting not taking any action to secure our retirement needs. Don’t you agree?

PIME 002: Where to Start Your Journey to Financial Independence?

Starting something always feel difficult and uncomfortable. That’s same for any life experience as it is in money.

In this session, we’ve tackled the first things that we need to understand and accept before really taking the road to financial independence.

Busting the myth: “Money is the root of evil”

Blaming money for most terrible things that happen in life is one of our favourite excuse in failing to manage it correctly. After all, most of us believe that Money is the root of evil.

Contrary that, we have to understand that money is just a tool that does not have life on its own. It is whom who use it has the morality of being good or bad – it us, people.

It is about being a good or a bad person, not a good or a bad money.

In this session, I compared money to a knife.

A knife is a tool often used in cooking our meals – used in cutting meat, chopping vegetables, etc… However, that same knife is used by some people to commit murder and some use it in threatening other people.

Again, there are good and bad people, not good and bad things (money).

The Pillars of Financial Foundation

Once we have accepted that money is just a tool. The next best step is to educate ourselves on how to manage it and how to make it work for us, and not against us (debts).

I. Build an Emergency Fund

We have a habit of giving our own definition of emergencies. The need to buy a luxury bag that is on a DISCOUNT is not an emergency!

Emergency fund aims to safeguard your investments by being the second line of defence in case emergencies happen – the REAL emergencies. I’ve mentioned “second line of defence” since insurance are really the first line defence.

As a rule of thumb, we have to keep at least 3 to 6 months worth of our monthly expenses.

II. Get Protection through Insurance (Life, health, and the necessary non-life)

Insurance stands as our first line of defence to Financial Stress.

During time of need, say you will be hospitalized, or in a vehicular accident, what comes first thing to mind? Insurance, definitely.

Insurance protects us from spending a huge chunk of money during sickness, accidents, and other life’s contingencies. It protects our emergency fund from being spent, avoiding any unnecessary financial stress in the process.

Once both insurance and emergency funds are in place, you’re now ready to invest.

III. Make Money Work for you by Investing

Investments aid us in making our money work for us. We worked so hard to earn money. It’s just right to make money work for us, real hard.

There are various forms of investments. We can invest in our own business, stocks, mutual funds, etc…

Let’s discuss them in future sessions.

IV. Prepare for transferring wealth (Legacy)

After accumulating these wealth, at one point in our lives, we have to transfer them to our heirs/loved ones. If transferring wealth is just as easy as abc, then there’s no need to prepare.

But this is a complex aspect of personal finance, especially if the government is involved.

In the future sessions, let’s talk about Estate Tax.

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Do I Really Need to Purchase Life Insurance if I Already Have That Benefit From My Employer?

Most Filipinos in the working class are employees. And since a very common benefit from employers are life insurance and health cards (HMOs), the need to purchase a separate individual life insurance is no longer necessary, right?

Besides, if one already own a car, why does he need another one? That’s luxury! So if I already have a life insurance policy from my employer, why would I need another one?

WRONG.

Let’s put it this way (oh I love metaphors!).

Does having a job necessarily say we have enough resources to sustain our lifestyle?

Not necessarily. Few questions needed to be answered. First, how much do we earn? Second, how much do we spend? Third, how far do you want to go with life?

Or say you have one set of clothing (shirt, undergarment, pants, etc…). Does having a set means you have enough? Obviously not since you needed to be “covered” for the rest of the week.

For both comparison, answering the question “How much do we need or how long do I need it” is very crucial before we can say we have enough.

Life Insurance is not different, and definitely investments (but let’s reserve that on a different conversation).

Understanding the Need

Life insurance plays different vital roles in the way we plan our finances. We have to understand that the question is not if we have life insurance, the question is how much coverage do we have.

Let’s take a look of the most common uses of life insurance to help identify whether what your company provides is enough.

Life Insurance for Income Replacement

Alright, before you leave this page after reading yet another financial jargon, allow me to explain what this alien term means.

Income Replacement generally refers to the ability of life insurance to provide income to the family during an untimely death of the family’s breadwinner. Life insurance “replaces” the lost income of the breadwinner caused by an untimely death..

Now, say your company gives you P500,000 life insurance benefit, will that amount continue to feed your family, pay the bills, bring your children to school, and shoulder their lifestyle in the next say 5 or 10 years.

If you answer no (and I’m sure you will), then adding up more life insurance coverage is necessary.

Shouldering the Cost of Death

Everyone is different, we have different lifestyles, different views in life, different likes and dislikes, and a very long list of things we do differently.

There are two life experience that we are 100% sure that we share – we were born, and someday, at our own time, we will face death.

For people who are in the stage wherein they are still building their wealth, life insurance provides a safety net to ensure that an untimely death will not compromise the journey to financial independence of the family left behind.

Simply put, we take responsibility to fund the costs relating to our own death (morbid, I know, but it’s one thing we should openly talk about). Let us not be a burden to anybody else.

Now, does your P500,000 life insurance coverage from your employer would suffice the cost of death? Well, studies say it could take around 1M to 1.5M to cover the cost of death in the Philippines.

Protecting the fruits of your Hard Work – Your Assets

There’s one scary thing about dying with too many assets named after us. We call these horror Estate Taxes (Alright! I might be exaggerating too much).

When a person dies, all the assets/properties he have accumulated over his lifetime will be frozen by BIR until appropriate taxes are paid be the heirs. We refer to these taxes as Estate Tax.

“Frozen” means your heirs won’t be able to access your bank accounts, investments, and real estate properties. Without having the ability to access your assets, how could they be able to pay the Estate Tax?

That’s where life insurance comes in.

Using the same example, is your P500,000 life insurance coverage provided by your employer enough to pay the estate tax? Let’s put it this way, if you have successfully built your wealth through your lifetime and have accumulated P20,000,000 worth of assets (savings, investments, and real estate), P500,000.00 is not enough.

At most, you’ll be needing P4,000,000 life insurance coverage.

Add the fact that your life insurance coverage from your employer usually does not extend after retirement.

Now, is having life insurance benefit from your employer enough?

Given the above considerations, it’s not in most cases.

Having a life insurance benefit in your company doesn’t necessarily mean you have enough. You are dressed today, but not for the rest of the week.

Remember that the question is not if you have life insurance. The question is how much life insurance coverage do you have.

In the next articles, let’s talk about how to compute the ideal life insurance coverage that you should have in order to have a solid financial plan.

Can An OFW Apply For A Philippine Life Insurance While Abroad?

No.

Few weeks ago, I received an email from an OFW asking for assistance regarding an insurance policy signed abroad. She found out (just recently) that insurance application signed outside the Philippines is not valid.

So, I took action by referring her to an advisor of that company.

Clarissa Ramos, a financial advisor with a similar experience, have posted in Facebook the same, but with a detailed guideline on how she assisted the policyholder.

This could help you, dear OFWs, if you are in a similar situation.

Let me share you this post from Pinoy Insurance Talk.

https://www.facebook.com/lifeinsurancehubph/posts/1653226394909286

To every Filipino who signed their insurance applications and proposals abroad, this is an actual story for you.

A client asked for my help. He wants to know the status of his insurance policy. He learned from Pinoy Insurance Talk Facebook group that signing insurance applications and proposals abroad is prohibited and any insurance policy born out of such is void. Also, that when an insurance policy is void, his family may not be able to claim anything. He got anxious and thought:

1. What will happen if I die during the contestability period? We can never be sure nothing will happen.
2. How about after the 2-year contestability period? Will my family be able to claim this time?

He confronted his agent about it. His agent only offered excuses. He contemplated of inquiring about the matter himself, but his agent told him that he will fix it. Trusting his agent, he did not inquire. However, his agent never did. He decided to do something because he did not want to always be left wondering whether or not his family will be able to claim. He wanted to file a report.

I helped him by drafting his complaint which contained all the relevant facts he narrated to me. I told him all the evidence he needed to prepare to establish the facts we stated in the letter. The good thing about the evidence preparation was that he was able to provide everything I asked that we would possibly need. Finally, I taught him where to go to, who are the people he needed to talk to and how to inquire.

He arrived yesterday from abroad and went to the office of the Insurance Company today to air his concern. Here are the following things he learned:

1. Indeed, the insurance policy is VOID, not just voidable.

Void means that a contract is invalid and has no force or legal effect – it never existed in the first place. Voidable means that a contract is valid and has force or legal effect BUT can later on be declared as invalid.

Why is an insurance policy – the basis of which are insurance applications and proposals signed abroad – void?

Under Article 1409 of the Civil Code, one of the void and inexistent contracts is where it is expressly prohibited or declared void by law. Insurance agents and companies here in the Philippines are prohibited from selling insurance abroad because the license issued to them is good only within the Philippines. Thus, it follows that there cannot be an insurance policy born out from solicitations made by insurance agents and companies abroad.

2. Even if the years pass by, the company will NOT PAY the benefits.

Under Article 1410 of the Civil Code, the action or defence for the declaration of the non-existence of a contract does not prescribe. This means that the insurance company can claim that the contract is void at anytime, if indeed it is void. There is no time limit for the company to raise that. The contract being void, the company can refuse to pay the benefits under the premise that they have no obligation. Do note that in void contracts, the parties cannot be compelled to fulfil their obligations because the very source of those duties are inexistent.

Something to remember: The rules on contestability period only applies to valid and voidable insurance policies.
The Insurance Company told the client that it was a good thing he reported and that he had two options:

1. If he wanted to keep his policy, he can request for a letter of acceptance from Insurance Company which will be heard and decided by a Committee.
2. If he wants nothing to do with his policy anymore, he can request for a cancellation of the policy and refund of all the premiums he paid.

That being said, I encourage everyone to come forward and do what the client did. Do not let your family suffer in the future.

In relation to this issue, I have found this article from Rappler. Let us all be aware so we can really enjoy the peace of mind that we have bought.

Why Invest in a Single Premium VUL (SPVUL) instead of Mutual Funds or UITF

You have at least P500,000.00 in your bank deposit account and are planning to invest it in an investment that would help you make your money work for you. You were brought to several options, and you have ended up choosing between a Single Premium VUL, a Mutual Fund, or a UITF.

Now, you’re confused.

First off, the listed options are all pooled funds managed by professionals called fund managers. In investing in either of the three, you will be asked whether you’ll want to invest your money in an Equity Fund, a Bond Fund, or a Balanced Fund.

They are the same in almost all aspects. Their difference lies on the structural aspect. Single Premium VULs are offered by insurance companies, thus, are regulated by the Insurance Commission (IC).

Unit Investment Trust Fund, popularly referred to as UITF, are offered by banks and managed by their trust department. The regulatory body is the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Mutual Funds, on the other hand, are managed by Investment Companies and are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

I know, stating those differences doesn’t bring up any clarity in your decision making. Now, let’s talk about benefits.

mf vs. spvul

Benefits of investing in Single Premium VULs over Mutual Funds and UITF.

The truth is, there’s really not much difference between a mutual fund and UITF in terms of benefit. For discussion purposes we’ll just compare Mutual Funds and Single Premium VULs.

Allow me to use Sun Life’s Maxilink One as a sample for Single Premium VUL, and Sun Life’s Prosperity Fund for Mutual Fund.

Here’s the situation. You have P500,000.00 to invest in a 10 year time frame. You are inclined to investing in an Equity Fund, you’re just not quite sure whether to choose a Mutual Fund (or UITF) or a Single Premium VUL.

Now, you decided to look at the numbers.

Let’s assume that in both funds, the average annual rate of return is 10%. Both funds, Mutual Fund and Single Premium VUL, uses a backend fee system of 5%, diminishing by 1% yearly (If investment is redeemed in the first year, charge is 5%, if on second year, 4%, and so on and so forth. Redemption of investment after the 5th year no longer have a redemption charge.)

Investing in Mutual Funds

 
Year Fund Values
1 550,000
2 605,000
3 665,500
4 732,050
5 805,255
6 885,781
7 974,359
8 1,071,794
9 1,178,974
10 1,296,871

Projected fund value of the mutual fund investment after 10 years is P1,296,871. Mutual Funds are very flexible that you can withdraw your investment anytime without being bounded by holding period. However, there are sanctions for early redemption.

Investing in Single Premium VUL

 
Year Charges Fund Values
1 266 548,615
2 168 602,146
3 137 660,995
4 102 725,608
5 61 796,537
6 18 874,399
7 959,872
8 1,053,700
9 1,156,700
10 1,289,986

At year 10, the projected Fund Value for a Single Premium VUL is P1,289,986.00. The difference of P6,885.23 to the fund value of Mutual Fund is attributable to the insurance charges for the Single Premium VUL. Investment benefits are identical for Mutual Funds and Single Premium VUL.

Looking at the projected 10 year fund value, you might be concluding that it’s best to invest in mutual funds because it’s higher than Single Premium VUL by P6,885.23.

Benefits of a Single Premium VUL over Mutual Funds, UITF, Bank Deposits, and Real Estate Investments

It is an insurance product. Thus, the minuscule difference of P6,885.23 is really very immaterial compared to the benefits it could provide to the investor (or beneficiaries of investors).

I. Minimum Death Benefit. The death benefit for a Single Premium VUL is then higher of 125% of Single Premium or the Fund Value. In our illustration, it is the higher of P625,000 (P500,000 x 125%) or the current Fund Value of the investment.

This means that in the event a policyholder (investor of a Single Premium VUL) dies while the fund value of his investment is lower than P625,000, his beneficiaries will still receive the minimum death benefit of P625,000.

Say the fund value of the invested P500,000 at the time of death is P400,000 (market declined significantly), the beneficiaries will still be receiving the GUARANTEED minimum death benefit of P625,000 (as long as no withdrawal was made in the fund).

Or lets say the fund value at the time of death is P800,000 (market rises significantly), the beneficiaries will be receiving P800,000, which is higher compared to the minimum death benefit.

In case of a Mutual Fund or UITF, the people left behind will receive only the fund value, regardless if it is higher or lower the the amount invested.

II. Liquidity upon death. While all other assets (investments including Mutual Funds, Stocks, Cash Deposits, and Real Estate) will be frozen by BIR until the appropriate taxes are paid, investment in a Single Premium VUL are readily available to your loved ones. The reason behind this is that Single Premium VUL is still an insurance product.

If you have defined an irrevocable beneficiary, your investment becomes tax exempt (tax-free).

The Bottom Line and Final Recommendation

On a more holistic financial planning perspective, I am recommending a Single Premium VUL over investing in Mutual Funds and UITF. It is a great tool to use in planning your Estate while having the ability to enjoy your investments while the investor is still alive, contrary to other insurance products wherein the benefit focuses upon death, including a Regular Pay VUL in it’s infancy years.

The only barrier to entry in using a Single Pay VUL is its price point – you’ll be needing a much higher initial investment compared to a Mutual Fund wherein you could start with just P5,000.

Here is my recommendation. If you have the funds and are thinking to invest in a managed fund, then go for a Single Premium VUL. Period. (Well, unless perhaps you are already FULLY INSURED)

**You can request for a Single Premium VUL Quotation here for FREE!

Why Life Insurance is an Indispensable Part of Financial Planning

We all (most of us) know the mechanics of how life insurance works. You buy it, when you die, you get money.

Simple, isn’t it?

But what’s not a common knowledge is the vast uses of Life Insurance as a great tool of not only planning our own finances, but also, in protecting whatever we had gained over our lifetime.

Let’s talk about them.

Why Insurance is an Indespensible tool

1) Taking responsibility of one’s own life.

I’ve read blogs discouraging single yuppies in getting life insurance, which I think (on my personal opinion) is quite careless and irresponsible.

For one, we should stop the idea that somebody will carry the burden during an untimely death. This thought will keep this country poor.

As much as we can, let’s take responsibility on our needs when we are alive, and try not to pass the burden when we die.

How much does a yuppy who supports nobody need to stack in his life insurance? One good reference point is this article of Pesos and Sense about the cost of dying in the Philippines.

2) Ensuring that life will continue for those left behind.

Head of the family, parents supporting a family, and persons where other people (young or old) depends on. These people needs more life insurance than just by taking responsibility of their own life.

This is mostly referred to as Income Replacement.

Income, what?!?

Alright, here’s the main concept. The moment a breadwinner of the family faces death, it’s not only a loss of the physical body, it’s also a loss of income generated by that individual.

It’s computed by several means. One way is to divide the annual income provided by the breadwinner by an acceptable investment rate of return.

Let’s say the breadwinner is giving P500,000.00 to the family, and an acceptable investment rate of return is 5%.

That will be P500,000.00 divided by 5%, which will result to P10,000,000.00.

That will be the ideal insurance coverage for income replacement, which, once received by the beneficiaries, will be invested in an investment that would yield the acceptable investment rate of return (5%).

At the end of the day, what’s important is that when we say we love our family, death should not end that love.

3) Ensuring debts will not be inherited.

Ever wonder why life insurance is required when getting a Housing Loan?

Yes, creditors use Life Insurance as a sort of a collateral to ensure that debts will be paid, dead or alive.

This is referred to as Mortgage Redemption Insurance (MRI).

4) Keeping your asset, well, yours (or to your heirs)

I’ve heard an interesting statement from somewhere, just can’t remember where.

It says, “If you are purchasing an asset, especially real estate, you should stack up an additional life insurance coverage equivalent to 20% of the Market Value of that asset. Remember that everytime you purchase an asset, you are giving a burden to your heirs/family, 20% of the market value as an estate tax when you die.”

That brings up the topic of estate taxes, which should be seriously considered when an individual is slowly building up his wealth.

Life insurance ensures that cash will be readily available to beneficiaries to pay for the corresponding estate taxes.

Any case, who would want that the fruit of their lifetime hardwork falls only to the hands of the government, auctioned in a very steep discount, just to pay for the taxes?

No one.

5) Leaving a legacy

Perhaps not the best use for Life Insurance, but nevertheless, some people use life insurance as a way to leave instant wealth to their family.

Well, for a fraction of a cost, life insurance proceeds could leave millions to the heirs.

Conclusion

Life insurance is indeed an indispensable tool in our financial planning, and should not be taken lightly. It is very useful in various stages of our lives.

To learn about different life insurance options, it’s best to talk to an insurance/financial advisor. You may request a FREE quote here, our network of Financial Advisors will be keeping in touch with you.