10 Money-saving Strategies from Real Dadsby Julian Vorpal .
This article was updated on March 14, 2015
With the economic climate as bad as the local weather, it can’t hurt to find ways to save a little more. However, some people don’t know how to do it, or worse, consider impractical ways of cutting corners that may do more harm than good. So here are ten tried-and-tested ways of curbing your budget from five experienced and practical dads so you, too, can save a little more for a rainy day.
1. Plan routes logistically.
Manny is an old-hand credit investigator for a well-known and reputable bank. Years of exploring unknown neighborhoods have taught him the value of plotting maps. “If I can, I try to get all my errands done on a single trip out,” he says. “Nowadays, it’s easier to do with things like Google Maps, but when I was younger, I had to do this on a paper map with a felt pen.” However, the problems of Manila traffic have forced him to be more resourceful. “If I can’t drive to the places I need to get to, I park somewhere in the city which has a cheap flat rate for parking, then I take the trains or buses to where I need to go. Some are near enough for me to walk to – I just carry a backpack or a bag with a stroller to bring the groceries and items I buy.”
2. Develop refrigerator awareness.
“When my wife goes shopping, I have to make sure that I know where everything is,” explains Lito. “We make sure that that food gets eaten before it expires. Before we buy any more food, we make sure we know what’s in the refrigerator and pantry because we used to throw away a lot of food that gets lipas na.” Lito’s family isn’t squeamish about eating leftovers either. “If my girls can’t finish their food, we just put it in containers and store them in the ref again so they can be eaten later,” he continues. “Sometimes, my wife will cook pizza or fried rice and combine the leftovers into the dish so we eat them fresh as a new meal.” He is also horrified at how much food gets thrown away in a restaurant. “We see people who don’t finish their food all the time. So we make sure to ask the waiter to prepare our leftovers for takeout. At parties we hold, or get-togethers, we let everyone else take home leftovers if there is too much for us to properly store in our ref.”
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3. Invest wisely in stability and what you trust.
“The problem with many people is that they want money now,” states Benjie, a veteran economist and investment banker. “They don’t realize that get-rich-quick schemes are rarely good and that it takes patience to make smart, solid, high-yielding investments. Some play the stock market and risk everything on a fast trade but it’s really like gambling in a casino.” What he advocates is a more staid approach to investment. “Choose blue chip stocks and companies you believe in. Choose companies that have performed well in the past and continue to maintain their track records. If you want to invest in a plan like an endowment fund or long-term maturing investment, go with an insurance company that has been around and does not take foolhardy risks with their client’s money.”
4. Waste not, reuse and recycle.
“We try not to print anything at home,” discloses Glenn, a stay-at-home father of three. “If it can stay on a computer screen to be read, then it stays there. If it has to be printed, then it gets printed on used paper, unless of course, it’s very important that the paper is clean, like a letter or memo.” Garbage bags aren’t a usual purchase for Glenn’s household, nor are newspapers or magazines. “After grocery shopping, we save the shopping bags as trash bags. We also save little things like twisty wire and clips from packaging, to reuse them for little things around the house. As for all the news, we just read what’s online for free instead of buying newspapers – most of the major newspapers are online for free anyway.”
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5. Remember that one person’s junk is another’s treasure.
Erwin loves DVDs and amasses quite a collection of movies and TV series over time. When his wife starts complaining about his hoard, he calls friends over and they trade stuff over a few beers and chips. “It’s a lot of fun,” he admits. “Plus you never know what you can get. Since it’s pretty informal, a stack of movies can get me a pair of jeans, an electric drill, a Transformer toy for my son or… more DVDs that we haven’t seen. It’s a great excuse for the barkada and their families to get together. Sometimes we just give away what we don’t need anymore and that helps de-clutter the house. Better na ‘yan instead of having to buy brand-new, ‘di ba?”
6. Teach kids the value of money early on.
As a responsible parent, Manny believes that it’s never too early to impart lessons about frugality. “I view it as a long-term investment. If my kids are prudent with their money, then they in turn will teach their kids to be prudent as well.” Manny would get cheap or used clothes and toys for his two sons and daughter while they were young but made sure that he didn’t cut corners on essentials such as food, medicine or education. “When they got older, I taught them about earning what they wanted. If they wanted to buy something, I made sure they worked for it whether it was through chores or getting higher grades, depending on how they chose to go about it. In some cases, my wife and I would pay for half and they would pay for the rest.” Manny noticed that this made his children more careful, cooperative and more resourceful with their belongings. “My kids managed to sell their old action figures and dolls later on, then they bought a used XBox with the money (and with a bit of help from me and his mom) from a friend of theirs. Later on, they got sawa with the XBox and managed to trade it with a slightly-used PS3 from another classmate.”ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
7. Research on bargains.
Benjie finds eBay fascinating. He also can’t get enough of discount sites and deal-of-the-day websites. “There are lots of bargains to be had,” he reveals. “Sometimes you can get anywhere from 30%-70% off on a deal if you look carefully. I also check out seat sales from PAL and Cebu Pacific on the off-chance that they might have a round trip right around the time we’re on vacation.” But the temptation for compulsive spending is always there. “I make sure I only buy the things I need. Sometimes, there are deals that look good as gifts, so it saves me on shopping and gas by buying coupons for birthdays and Christmas instead of going to the mall.”
8. Used is cheap and free is better.
Goods become more affordable when they’re used, and the good news is, not all used goods look like hell. “I always check out warehouse sales whenever I get wind of them,” says Erwin. “Some warehouses sell TVs and washing machines at 50% off simply because they have a small scratch on the case and were rejected by the manufacturer.” He also likes checking out ukay-ukay, garage sales and pawnshops like Ablaza and Tambunting. “These places have a lot of used stuff that’s still in great shape. Sayang lang if it gets thrown away so makinabang na lang kami.” The best things in life are free and when Erwin hears that a friend wants to dispose of something, he brings it home and sees what can be done. “I learned a bit of metalworking, carpentry and electrical tech when I was a kid, so I don’t mind fixing some of the stuff I get. Sometimes, cheap lang yung replacement part, so I don’t mind repairing it myself.”ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
9. Don’t scrimp on what matters.
“Sometimes, if you want something important, you have to invest in it,” warns Lito. “Take shoes, for example. It’s not hard to find a cheap pair but if you risk injury because you got them on sale and they begin falling apart at the seams, then it will cost you more in medical bills in the long run. Some things are meant to be spent on and that requires being discerning.” He admits that people have different ways of perceiving what is important and what can be taken for granted. “An easy rule to remember is this – ask yourself, can I go cheap on this item, or will there be consequences if I do?” Lito has a few pairs of shoes that he has lovingly cared for, for years. “When I bought these shoes almost a decade ago, they cost a lot. But they’re in good shape and have traveled all over the world with me. I don’t need to buy new ones anytime soon.”
10. Watch where your money goes.
Glenn believes in going beyond simply turning off faucets and lights that aren’t in use. He uses power saving bulbs, carefully monitors his electrical and water consumption, and studies his bills like a hawk. “Stay away from auto-debit systems on credit cards,” he cautions. “If you cancel a service like a cable subscription, you might still be paying for it if it’s on auto-debit. Just pay it manually or even cheaper, set it up so you can pay online.” He also advises against getting something you don’t use. “For example, gym memberships can be expensive so use them if you must. If you have the personal discipline, then train outside the gym, but be aware of the money you spent on getting a membership and watch out if it’s an expense you may not even be aware that you are paying for.”
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