Cutting down on household expenses is painful and difficult, especially if you’re used to a certain lifestyle. However, if you find yourself in different circumstances, one of the first things you look at is your household spending. Learn what’s essential and what’s not for you and your family and find creative ways of tightening your belt without feeling so deprived.
1. Prepare a household budget. When you measure something, you can control it. Winging it and simply estimating will not do. Study receipts and expenses and do a breakdown of actual expenses (including those signature cups of coffee that you’ve been having during breaks). Do a complete reality check. Afterwards, decide on where you can and can’t cut down. Photography by David Hanson Ong
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2. Prepare a meal plan. Whether you do it weekly or monthly, this is definitely something that will help. If you don’t plan ahead and just bring a grocery list with you, you’ll end up buying a lot of unnecessary items.
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3. Eat well ahead before you do the groceries.
Do the groceries when you’re hungry and you’ll end up spending more, for sure.
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4. Buy local cereals and snacks
There are a lot of local substitutes for your favorite (but more expensive) imported brands. Make sure they’re healthy and whole grain. Check the labels and the content information of packaged food. Better yet, go fresh. Don’t buy too much fresh food at a time, though, because fresh food spoils faster as well.
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Explore your options. Check per unit costs and compare prices. Every peso counts! Also, haggle and waive service fees whenever you can.
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6. Buy what’s in season.
Out of season or canned fruits can be much more costly.
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7. Buy less expensive cuts of meat (with bones) and portion them out for cooking already.
If you use ¼ or ½ kilo of meat with a certain dish, apportion it already so that you use only what’s needed for the recipe. The convenience of boneless and marinated meat can bore ahole in your pocket.
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8. Buy more fresh ingredients rather than the prepared and packaged ones, which cost you a premium.
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9. Opt for home-cooked meals.
Consider bringing ba-on to work. Just heat in your company’s microwave or eat at your company’s pantry/ cafeteria. During weekends, cook at home. Look for great recipes and it will be a treat for your kids as well. Encourage them to help you in preparing the dishes!
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10. Try other places apart from your supermarket, like the wet market for example, so you have more choices in terms of canvassing prices.
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11. Use unbranded disposable diapers. There are a lot of diaper depots where you can get “unbranded” but good diapers, and they even replace defective diapers. You’ll have to factor in gas/ commute to get these diapers, though. If you want to go the eco-friendly route as well, consider going for cloth diapers.
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This isn’t exactly cheap because you’ll need to consider a pump and breast milk containers/ bags into your budget. However, all in all, the pay-offs include less sickness, less time in the hospital and less time off work. Not to mention, you also get lots of bonding time with your infant.
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13. Accept hand me downs from cousins and relatives.
This includes play yards, toys, books and clothes, which kids outgrow so quickly.
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14. Use the electric fan. If it’s really excruciatingly hot, keep a spritzer filled with water beside your bed and just spray yourself when you need to. You may also want to consider investing in one of those evaporative air coolers.
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15. Use the dipper or ‘tabo’.
This allows less wastage than taking a full shower with heater.
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16. Cut down on unnecessary cell phone and landline expenses.
Do you really need that extra data plan?
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17. Debt and Long Term Expenses
This allows less wastage than taking a full shower with heater. 17. Cut down your credit card debt. This is the most expensive kind of debt. Get rid of it as fast as you can. Cut your credit card in half if necessary to prevent further usage – and damage.
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18. Pay your mortgage early.
When and if you can, check your mortgage structure and try to pay it ahead so you don’t spend extra on interest. Photography by Jun Pinzon