Making the most of your money
By Patricia May P. Catan and Christian Jay B. Quilo
JUST in case you needed a reminder (because we all need one on occasion), money is not easy to find. It’s earned by putting in hours of labor, work and stress. And the reality is, purchases are not getting any cheaper these days (hello, inflation). For most of us, it is crucial to save and spend when and where we get our money’s worth. To help you in these dire times, below are some practical tips — broken into three categories namely food, clothing and transportation — on how to save and wisely spend your hard-earned money.
Invest in classics and staples. Trends are fun but they come and go, while classics stand the test of time. A good fitting pair of jeans, a bunch of solid-colored crew necks, crisp smart shirts, a pair of white sneakers, etc. — build a wardrobe that consists of pieces you can see yourself wearing four or five years from now (or even 10 if you maintain your physique).
Avoid impulse buying. Love at first sight is a dangerous circumstance. It’s so easy to find a piece of clothing, try it on and it just looks and feels right — but do you really need it? Take a step back and ask yourself: “Is this worth my money?”
Check out ukay-ukay shops. There are so many in the city you can check out! Just take your time and don’t give up after a few minutes of searching. The most precious of treasures are hard to find, after all. If you’re concerned about sanitation or highly sensitive to dust, you can always wear a mask and/or wear gloves while thrifting.
Try out trends sparingly. Just because something is trending, like a color — say, mustard, — that doesn’t mean you should shell out all of your funds on a head-to-toe ensemble in this color. If you’re eager to wear out a new trend, try it on first. Is mustard flattering on your skin stone? Are oversized tops flattering for your body type? If you’re unsure, try on a few pieces in store and decide from there.
Live by the cost-per-wear rule. Before purchasing an item, ponder this question first: “How many times will I be able to wear this?” Will it reconcile with the price?
Share clothes with a family member. If you’re lucky to have a brother or sister who is the same size as you and is willing to share his or her wardrobe, that means double your OOTD options!
Wait for sale season. If the piece of clothing you’re eyeing isn’t a matter of life and death, wait for it to go on sale. Patience really is a virtue. When that cute top you’ve been thinking about for months finally gets the red tag with a 50 percent markdown, I promise you, the feeling will be priceless.
Compare options. Brands, especially ones that dish out trendier collections, will more or less have the same styles of clothes on display for a certain cycle or season, so don’t buy the first thing you fall in love with. Window shop at neighboring competitors and get the one that gets you the best value.
Take good care of your clothes. You did spend on your clothes so make sure you give them the care they are due. Check care instructions like if they’re dryer-safe or if they’re dyed fabrics, make sure to wash them separately so they don’t bleed onto your other clothes. Most garments aren’t high maintenance, but you do have to pay attention to details if you want them to last as long as they can.
Quality over quantity. Cheaper doesn’t always mean better. Go for one high-quality t-shirt than three or four mediocre ones that’ll probably bacon at the neckline and wrinkle after a few wears. Clothes aren’t supposed to be disposable.
Cut the junk food. You might not know it but spending on junk food costs you more money than you think. Imagine how much you spend on junk food every day for snacks. It’s not only bad for your health, but it will slowly drain your pockets of money. Before you purchase that bag of chips, ask yourself if it’s really a smart buy.
Eat with friends when dining out. There are times when cafeteria food doesn’t look appetizing at all, which leaves you no choice but to eat out. Dining out in restaurants don’t come cheap, so the best option is to invite workmates. The good thing about this is that everyone gets to share orders and split the bill right after without hurting the wallet.
Prepare your own food to bring at work. Packing your own food to bring at work will save you loads of money. It may be time consuming to do your groceries and prepare your food every single day, but you’ll be surprised with how much cash you’re left with at the end of the month. The money that was supposed to be budgeted for your everyday meals will now go to your life savings.
Visit public markets more often. Meat and vegetables are way cheaper in public markets compared to grocery stores. Food is an everyday staple and it’s advisable to find a place where you can save the most money. Meat and vegetables are fresher in public markets, too, even when places like this can be a little inconvenient for some.
Lessen coffee purchases in coffee shops. A cup of coffee in well-known cafés costs hundreds more than buying your own beans and brewing them yourself. With one pack of ground coffee, you can brew and drink more coffee that can last longer than your single purchase of iced Americano. Why buy overpriced coffee when you can make your own, right?
Say no to fast food. Too much fast food is both bad for your health and pocket. It’s understandable that people resort to fast food for obvious reasons, but honestly it’s the worst kind of food you can spend your money on. You might have to buy fast food out of necessity at times, but it’s still best to avoid this as often as you can to save good money, as there’s always a better option.
Go for carenderias. Carenderias are the closest place where you can eat homemade-like dishes for a good price. Dining in restaurants most of the time won’t give you the chance to save on money, and that makes carenderias a better option when you feel like dining out.
Grow your own vegetables. Growing your own vegetables at home is probably the most effective and healthiest way to save money on food. You don’t have to visit markets or grocery stores for vegetables as often because you’re growing a garden in your backyard.
Walk when you can. Walking should always be an option especially when your point A and B are less than a kilometer apart. It’s no use taking a cab or riding a jeep when you can always choose to walk. A kilometer isn’t that far and you can also consider this as part of your daily exercise. Who knows, you might get used to walking every day that you don’t need public transportation anymore?
Ride the jeepney. The cheapest public transportation available in the city is the jeepney. Starting from P7, you can get to your destination and save good money. You just have to familiarize yourself with jeepney numbers and routes to make every jeepney ride efficient.
Take advantage of free shuttle services. When you’re around Robinsons Galleria or Robinsons Fuente, free shuttle buses will take you to and from the said malls. Other routes include SSS, Cebu Port, North Bus Terminal, South Town Centre, Time Square in Talamban, Guadalupe Church, Banawa Road, and Wilson St. in Lahug. MyBus also offers free rides from BDO Fuente Osmeña to SM Seaside City Cebu and vice versa. Just make sure to check the bus schedule online beforehand.
Carpool with friends. Grab can get expensive on high-demand days. The only way you can save some cash is when you’ve accumulated enough points to get a discount or carpool with friends who are on the same destination as you. Why pay everything yourself when you can split the fare with three other friends? It’s a win-win situation for both sides.
Hitch a ride. You can hitch a ride with a family member on your way to work. He or she can drop you off in an area where it’s only a jeepney ride away from your workplace or when you’re lucky enough, you might get dropped off right outside your office.
Plan your route wisely. One way to save transportation costs is planning your everyday route wisely. The best two ways to achieve this is to take the quickest route possible when driving your own car to save fuel and do all errands in one go instead of making separate trips. And take note: the shortest route is not always the quickest. Having a navigation app on your mobile also helps.
Telework. Working from home offers its benefits, especially in helping you save on transportation costs. If your work schedule allows, you might want to consider teleworking to reduce such costs. Ask your office if they offer such an option.