Money BasicsManaging Money

How you can make frugal living work in the Philippines

Here are five tips to a frugal and sustainable lifestyle during a pandemic.

  • Select cheaper but equally good food and home products.
  • Be smart when cutting back on purchases.
  • Bring home-cooked lunch to work.
  • Declutter, sell, or donate unused items.
  • Write down how much you’ve been spending.

The world you knew before the pandemic is not coming back anytime soon. If it does, it will be a drastically changed one and this may be for the better. The pandemic has forced us to learn how to live on less.

Read on to learn ways for you to stretch your finances to ensure a frugal and sustainable lifestyle during and beyond the pandemic.

Select cheaper but equally good food and home products

A higher price does not always translate to a better product. You’ll notice that prices of different brands of the same product vary, for a number of reasons such as availability, how they were made, and sometimes the brand’s popularity. But you may forego being loyal to a particular brand for a more frugal approach.

Always research the prices of the products you buy. The Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) price monitor of specific commodities, which is regularly updated, is a good place to start.

You can also ask around or join online groups to get a more honest review on what products are good. Just because a product makes more buzz with celebrities and influencers doesn’t mean it’s better. Remember, these people are paid to talk about the product. At the end of the day, you can only rely on testimonials from people who actually tried the product. When it comes to product reviews, you can count on average folks to be more truthful, especially if they’re people you know.

Be smart when cutting back on purchases.

There’s a saying that goes, “If you buy cheap, you end up buying twice.”

Think about the longevity of your purchases. Oftentimes, you get what you pay for. It wouldn’t make sense to purchase trendy clothing. Loungewear would make more sense so you can work from home comfortably. If you’re going to buy loungewear, try to go for materials that are both comfortable and long-lasting. You can get more out of them if they can also pass for casual clothes.

But if you are already reporting back to the office then it might be time to spend on quality corporate attire. Either way, the same principle applies. Buy comfortable and long-lasting clothes that are versatile enough that they can be used in casual settings.

Investing in good quality ensures it lasts long and lessens the number of times you have to buy a replacement. It may cost a little more initially, but it pays off in the long run.

Bring home-cooked lunch to work.

Some people don’t like the idea of bringing meals to the office, but nowadays, a packed lunch can significantly lower expenses. A home-cooked meal should cost less compared to buying one outside your office. It also reduces the risk of being exposed to the virus in restaurants and fast food outlets.

To enjoy your lunch, plan it well.

You can save time by cooking days ahead and packing these in several single-serve glass or plastic containers. Most modern office pantries are equipped with microwave ovens, so you only need to reheat your food before serving. You can also pack lunch in an electric heated lunch box that keeps it warm until you’re ready to eat. Just be sure to handle food safely, both at home and at the office.

Same goes with your daily coffee! Some offices offer complimentary coffee to their employees. Skip the daily trip to your local coffee shop and save at least PHP 200 a day. If you can’t, limit it to once a week and make it a treat for yourself. If your office pantry doesn’t provide you with coffee, you can also brew your own at home and bring it with you in an insulated tumbler.

Declutter by selling or donating unused items.

You may have items at home that you have not used for a long while or have totally forgotten. Instead of taking up space, these items can be sold, traded, or donated. Due to the pandemic, you may have had more time to declutter. Explore selling clothes, shoes, toys, books, electronic devices, furniture, among other things, online. Maybe you can even try online selling as a side hustle.

You can also choose to donate your items to a worthy cause. There are numerous organizations that accept various items for communities displaced by disasters or even the pandemic.

Write down how much you’ve been spending.

It’s never too late to start tracking your expenses and reevaluating your budget. If you were unable to set a proper budget before the pandemic, you may do so now. Jot down what you have been spending and compare this with how much you’re earning. You can also start a savings plan that’s suited to your life goals. You may open a savings account separately from your payroll account and monitor your money online through your bank’s mobile app. If you find that there are debts you currently owe, start developing a system on how to manage your debt properly.

Opening a bank account is an important step to building a life-long habit of saving, which you can start any time. You can use Metrobank Online to keep track of your spending too. Head to Metrobank Online to enroll your existing account.

This article is part of a collection of stories and practical financial tips that are published with the goal to help people learn from the experiences of others, and to pick out lessons on personal finance and sound money habits beyond the pandemic.