The anatomy of our monthly savings

 

Tonight I’m happy…somehow. I have just finished listing and computing our monthly expenses since it is already the last week of February. I’m not expecting anymore regular expenses as we have already bought our groceries and baby stuffs which usually share the largest slice of our expenses pie.

I have actually made a conscious effort to save since the early part of last year. The initial news about our company on April 2, 2008 and the other bad news that followed – including the admission of the then US president Bush about the recession taking place – made it more compelling for me to be thrifty enough. It’s also a good thing that the number of training that our company has arranged, and that I have attended, contributed to my knowledge on how to be in control of our finances. Although it may still not be half-perfect even at this time, at least our drive and urge to save is already there. We just have to start somewhere, somehow.

While there are five more days to go before this month ends, I already feel accomplished in terms of our budgeting. After I have transferred our expenses to the financial worksheet, I compared our current expenses with last month’s. I then marked those that have increased with red. And those that have decreased were marked green. In the end, and to my amazement, the greens significantly dominated the reds. Sweet.

So what was done right then? What have we done to successfully cut our expenses – some items were even cut in half. Let me share some tips.

Dilute, dilute, dilute. I apply this tip to all our cleaning agents for years already. The cleansers we use at home like the toilet liquid solutions and car shampoos are basically concentrated enough to be used in its pure form. Even the manufacturer’s recommended ratio is still strong for the intended tasks that it is a no-brainer that a saving can be achieved if you dilute it with more water.

Be brand-conscious. When I heard Mr. Bengco (of the Colayco foundation) talk about it during his recent seminar at our company, I couldn’t agree more since I’ve been doing it already. What I’m not aware though is by how much is actually saved when you know what you are buying. His example: the bath soap. In his presentation he showed one brand that cost a mere Php 9 (USD 0.2). The next foils showed several other brands that cost twice and even thrice the price just because it promises extra germ killing action, catchy fragrance…and everything there is a TV ads will do just to entice consumers like us. Right now, I try to settle for the ones in the mid-price range.

Buy two brands. This may sound confusing especially just after the previous tip but believe me this is what I’m doing. For almost a year already, I had two different deodorants (Disclaimer: not for the squeamish). I used one that has “superior” action every time I go to work or leave home. Then I use one with the “least superior” action if I know that I’ll be static at home and will be spending time as a couch potato and will just be home alone with the baby – at least he doesn’t know how to complain yet if the deodorant protection fails. Ewww, daddy!

Drive like your grandma. I have mentioned this in my blog – Being a Gas Miser and I cannot stress it enough that one’s driving habit does directly affect fuel consumption. This is where I often fail but I keep on reminding myself to be on track. Until now, I’m still at least within the 13-15 kilometer per liter expected range of our car. Now I’m wondering if I’ll be able to save gas if I stop blaring (if this doesn’t save gas, just at least my sanity) my horns every time I meet a jeepney with only one headlight on – I’ve heard that the reason why its drivers do it is because one headlight on saves gas than having two. Hmmm, sounds like an idea…Nah!

A Honda is a Honda. Well, at least that’s what I’m always telling myself whenever I’m on my Honda 100cc motorcycle instead of our Honda City. That’s because when it comes to saving gas the motorcycle wins, hands down. No contest. But when it comes to saving lives…errr, wrong discussion. Hahaha. Seriously speaking, I recommend this tip for those ready and responsible enough to drive a motorcycle. And if you’re not yet in that mind set, it’s still worth taking a ride in that one-eyed jeepney – I bet, your wife will be even happy about it.

Go slow with the fast foods. So far, this is the biggest savings we had for this month. It was cut by more than 50 percent and it’s a welcome development. One thing that helped us do it is by avoiding the malls. There’s something about the scent of the malls that attracts each individual (or even group) to go and line up in front of the fast food counters. It may be due to poor air circulation or a deliberate ploy to set the minds of the mall goers to go hungry and crave for pizza, burger or doughnuts (and coffee) in an instant. But if you can’t avoid it, and just like what I’m doing, try going there with a full stomach – i.e. take lunch at home. It works for me – I’m now eating Whoppers and half cup of sundae…and large Coke. Ti abi.

Last but not the least, the No rot rule. This is still in the works after I told my wife that we should avoid foods inside the refrigerator from spoiling. Believe it or not, I used to admire people whose ref is so full of foods that most of the times, some of it will rot and end up as trash. Back then, I see it as abundance. Now, it’s nothing but waste – both food and money. So far, I’ve been successful but that’s after I’ve monitored and eaten the leftovers and had my weight build up as a consequence. Ti abi. I think it’s just about time to apply then the “No rot, No fat rule”. That I guess is win-win.

During these times when everyone gets so tired of hearing about the recession (and the rest of the similar tags that’s associated with it), the need to save and finding ways to learn more how to do it is already a must. This is also when sharing what we know – no matter how trivial – and learning from what others already knew (and follow) will help each one of us survive the turbulent ride that the rest of the world experiences.

 

 

 

Mood: 4/10 Honks!

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