Along with other ASEAN countries, the Philippines' economy has been experiencing a slight dip lately, as evident in our current Philippine Peso - US Dollar exchange rate the past few weeks.
This, together with the thousands upon thousands of late Filipino employees due to congested roads, has forced some to look for an alternative, and unfortunately, more expensive modes of transportation. Others are left with no choice but to accept salary deductions due to tardiness. Combine that with shelling out for basic needs, saving up has become a lot harder than it should.
Filipinos all over the country already have to cut down on expenses just to make ends meet. With the slight increase in the inflation rate in the coming quarter, the art of making ends meet is about to get more challenging.
It's never too late to ask: “How can I get back on track and jumpstart my savings? Or at least make some progress on what I already have?” The answer sometimes lies on the simple things we do every day. Here are a few easy ways you can do to help save money, courtesy of COCOGEN:
Cook your own meals.
No matter how we ignore this fact, cooking your meals instead of eating out will always be a more practical option. The average decent urban meal ranges from Php 125 to Php 175, so if you eat out twice a day, that’s already around Php 250 to Php 350 a day out of your budget. That’s not even considering those days you give in to your cravings and go for something a little fancier. Instead of taking your Php 500 to a restaurant, why don’t you buy yourself some fresh ingredients enough to cook a week’s worth of meals? Sure, you might end up with a pile of dirty dishes at the end of the day but at least you’ll go to bed with both your stomach and wallet full.
Leave your home early (-ier).
Getting from point A to B around the Metro has become more of a chore considering the everyday traffic building up wherever corner you turn. It doesn’t matter whether you drive your own car, take an Uber, or even joined a carpool, getting around Manila will drain you physically and financially. Imagine your fuel consumption before and during rush hour or even commuting before and during rush hour. Obviously, when you’re stuck in heavy traffic, fuel consumption increases since you’re traveling at least fuel-efficient speeds or going nowhere while the engine is running. If you do the math, that’s hundreds of pesos worth of gasoline slowly chugging away just because you need to get to work or get home on time. Leaving your home and office earlier can help maintain your cars’ fuel economy, travel time, or even commute expenses as you avoid the rush hour (and the traffic) as you get a headstart over everyone while they’re still sleeping.
Stick to your shopping list.
Everyone who participates in a mall or supermarket “sale” is only there to do one thing: to get the best deals. That’s if you stick to your shopping list. End of season sales and price-drop promos have their own pros and cons. Depending on how you’re able to stick to your shopping list, you can either save cash or run out of money trying to get “more bang for your buck.” Buy only what you need and you won’t find yourself out of cash a day after payday.
Regulate your electricity consumption.
Always keep in mind to turn off and unplug your gadgets and appliances when they’re not needed. Leaving the TV on while surfing the internet isn’t productive, it’s wasteful. Swap your bulbs at home for the more energy-efficient LED lights or better yet, use natural light around your home whenever available. Consider similar energy-efficient appliances such as refrigerator or air conditioning inverters. If you can sleep with only your electric fan on, do so. With the -ber months having to yet hit its cold peak, you can turn off the AC for now until the summer.
Learn to say NO.
Especially to unplanned vacation trips. While it’s nice to go on a spontaneous trip to take a break and go out-of-town, unplanned vacations will stress you out more than you can think. The destination may be perfect, the itineraries packed with fun activities, but what will happen when it’s over? Unplanned vacations could be a burden on the wallet. You’ll never know how much you’ll be spending beforehand and without proper budgeting, you’re forced to spend needlessly just to have a good time.
Avoid ATM fees.
When you think multiple ATM withdrawals anywhere isn’t harming your finances? Think again. Be aware of the ATM withdrawal fees charged by your bank. While some banks waive fees for all ATM transactions on any ATM machine, most don’t. Be sure to use only those ATM machines where your bank will not charge the fees or rather, withdraw directly from your bank. Those Php 8.00 to Php 12.00 per transaction can be a big amount once you consolidate all of it. Another tip: if your bank is available online, better do your balance inquiries there so you’re less likely to get charged.
Pay your bills on time.
As soon as you receive your bills on your mail, open them right away instead of forgetting about them until due date comes. Being organized with all your bills could save you some cash. Let’s face it, paying bills is often held off until the last minute to see what else you can squeeze in into the budget after all the taxes and bills. However, this can take a while, and if forgotten, can result in service disconnection due to late or non-payments or overdue fees. Most of the unwanted fees are due to late fees or what they call overdue fees. Think of it this way, if you’ll be able to pay all of your bills on time then that means you’re sparing yourself from an average of 2% overdue fees per bill per month. That’s basically Php 20.00 per Php 1,000.00 worth of bill. So imagine your postpaid plan, internet, cable, utilities, and credit card bills’ combined amount and add 2% on top of that. That’s a big chunk of cash you got there.
Always adhere to the basics of savings.
Generally, the rule for savings is: INCOMES less SAVINGS is equal to EXPENDITURE (needs- 50% and wants- 30% combined). The ideal savings is a minimum of 20% of your monthly income. If you can go higher than that, better. Just make sure that when you’re not able to save this month, you’ll double your savings on the following month. You can also put an incremental amount on the succeeding months if it’s too much for you. Do whichever works for you.
Be mindful of your own lifestyle.
Sometimes, no matter how diligently you try to save, our lifestyle or habits can get in the way of our financial goal. Replacing your “old” iPhone with every new model that comes out can get expensive. As much as it is a “stress-relief”, buying a pack of smokes or excessive partying or clubbing are unnecessary expenses that you can let go every once in a while. Most Filipinos have this one-day millionaire mindset when it comes to payday. It’s a habit that has too deeply rooted in our culture that it may take a drastic shift for us to overcome it. We’re not saying it can be done overnight but what better time to start than now?
Saving money can be a lot of hard work. It requires you to be fully aware with all of your expenses and control your personal cash flow. If you will notice, the very core of saving money is self-discipline and consistency. These simple ways can really make a difference if you’ll try your best to monitor every peso that goes in and out of your bank account.
The author of this article contributed in their own personal capacity. The views expressed are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of COCOGEN Insurance.