Given that there are over 1,000 verses on money in the Bible, how we use our medium-of-exchange is something that must be given careful thought.
How one spends his or her material possessions will probably be one of the things that Christ will look at come judgment day (apart from using our time talents, lives, and, most importantly, whether or not we submitted to His Lordship or not).
I stopped asking my parents for allowance the moment I got a regular job, even if I was still technically a student finishing my undergraduate thesis. It was easy back then, when I was still working in Pasig, I only had to worry about lunch and fare. It was when I got transferred to Laguna, living away from home, that I started becoming extra cautious and even more kuripot with spending.
To make things a bit more fun, I thought of this new predicament as a strategy game challenge (I’m a sucker for turn-based class-changing offline RPGs). The aim was to live a simple lifestyle without having to sacrifice my health, safety, and sanity. All these was to be done so that more resources could be generously allotted to:
- The future (“savings”)
- The church universal (tithes/offerings/benevolence/ministry support)
- The world (other charitable/humanitarian causes)
So in what practical ways can we make better use of our resources? Obviously, we first need to know how much of our money goes where. Spending is usually seasonal. There are expenses that don’t occur regularly (like replacing your old cellphone or shelling out for annual camps and seminars or buying expensive prescription medications when we get sick), but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll start with our day-to-day needs. For this post, I will only tackle our favorite basic necessity.
Part 1: FOOD
I wouldn’t be surprised if the average fresh graduate spends at least Php 170 per day for two to three meals and some snacks. Ever wondered why people with the luxury to bring baon to work religiously do so? (when we were kids it was usually the poorer ones who can’t afford to buy from canteens that had baon , nowadays those who don’t have baon at work end up becoming poorer. Ironic.) It’s because they can easily save four digits a month. Living in Laguna took away from me the baon advantage. A former officemate of mine once set a goal of spending only Php 90 per day on food. Deep inside I laughed at him for his seemingly impossible goal. That was until I realized that I probably had to do the same. To date, my Jan-Feb daily food expenses average at Php 74.88. Okay, I get around 3 free meals when I go home during weekends, but hey, we all get free meals every now and then…
At first I thought I had to sacrifice nutritional value in order to achieve this, but the opposite was actually true. Nutritious food is often cheaper than delicious food (yes, hindi lahat ng masustansya ay masarap). You don’t have to eat fishballs and lucky me everyday… So, here are some principles to help curb the food budget:
- Eat only what you need. You don’t need to go kain karpintero every day, especially if your work is more sedentary than a carpenter’s. There’s no use sticking to a 2000-calorie diet when you consume only 1000, even if you have a metabolism that can beat Kim Chiu’s.
- Cut on fastfood and restaurants. Eat in semi sanitary canteens and karinderyas if possible. I work in the food industry, and I know that most mainstream food are sold at high markups relative to raw material costs.
- Cut the meat. Meat is expensive, and to a certain extent, your lifespan will be inversely proportional to how much meat you eat. I was a carnivore by birth, but now I could live with eating only one meal with meat a day.
- Cut on dry snacks – chocolates, candies, chips and the like have more calories per gram and often leaves you filling less full. try substituting it with breads or fruits
- Drink water instead – Sodas are nothing but aerated sugar solutions. Juices are flavored sugar solutions. Sugars are an added 4 calories per gram and is currently at Php 60+ per kilogram, and carry the hidden price of diabetes medicines and lancets, among others.
Cost cutters -personal favorites and staples
- Skyflakes Fit Oat Fiber Crackers – Php43 for a pack of 10, provides 16% RDA for fiber and some protein
- Local panadery pisong pan de sal – 10 pieces with your palaman of choice for some variety. Hot off the pan, minsan may paa pa ng ipis! (kidding=p)
- Energen Vanilla/Monggo Cereal – Php 4-6 per sachet. Too sweet to eat on its own, mix with oat meal, crackers, or sliced fruits for breakfast or a light dinner.
- Fruits – bananas, apples, pineapples, corn. Easily available for reasonable prices. Helps make you feel full to eat less
- Gulay dishes – langka, talong, chopsuey, pinakbet. these can be eaten as ulam with rice instead of being treated as side dishes, as they often either taste like meat or have bits of meat to satisfy the carnivorous urge.
- Tuna in can – nuff said, the versatile ulam that you summon whenever you don’t like canteen food.
- 555 Fried Sardines Hot and Spicy – the best 21 pesos you’ll ever spend. Hands down the best canned sardine product in the market.
- Ulalam Dishes – In Adobo, Dinuguan, Giniling, and Sisig. The best 15 pesos you’ll ever spent. Mixing meat with TVP actually helps lower the fat and cholesterol content, plus the serving size just enough to keep you in shape.
- Mustard leaves – AKA mustasa. Salad greens for 1/3 the price of lettuce. Has a bitter aftertaste but is nonetheless delicious with Clara Ole Salad dressings, or when used in sandwiches.
- Lucky Me – 280 Calories, Some protein and a substantial amount of fat. For Php 8.75, they do provide affordable starch-based energy. Use sparingly.
That’s that for part 1!
Related Posts:Practical Stuff: Moneymatters Part 2 : Transportation