Thursday, October 4, 2012

Family Budgeting Tips for Dummies

I have to admit - starting up a family and trying to make it on our own, from scratch, was one of the toughest challenges we ever had to hurdle as a newly married couple. In fact, more than a year into the marriage, and we are still learning the ropes of the game. 

I attribute the difficulty to starting late in almost everything (the downside of spending more years in school than the usual four-year course). It took us more than eight years before we started establishing a career, enjoying our salary through thoughtless spending, and giving back to our respective families. By the time that we got married, we were barely even scratching the surface of a frivolous life. And now, as a married couple, we are often torn between wanting to try a little extravagance, and trying mightily to become responsible spenders. Most of the time, the voice of Robert Kiyosaki saying "delay gratification" wins, and I owe that a lot to the husband. (If it were up to me, we'd mostly be eating bagoong and kamatis in our newfangled shirts!)

So far, these simple rules work for us. If you are a starting family like us, and are mostly clueless about the whole budgeting shindig, you might pick up a thing or two from this list:

1.  Know thy enemies and keep a healthy distance. 

The mall is a dangerous, dangerous place, so we stay away from them. The Cristobal's hardly go out. During weekends, we either go home to our provinces or stay at home. Remember the adage, what you don't know won't kill you - well, if you have no idea that prices are at 70% off, you'll never know what you're missing. So stay away from temptation and live your life in peace.

Seatsales and promos are dangerous, too. If you know that CebPac is offering piso fare, chances are, even if you don't have the money to spend for a trip to the Caramoan islands, you will be enticed to make way for an unplanned trip. And we all know it doesn't take one peso to do that! So, I opted to remove all my email notifications from airline promos. Travel will have to wait.

2. If you have to spend, look for the cheapest way to do it.

No matter how hard we try not to spend, there are of course, things that we really have to buy. And when we do, we make sure we are getting the best deals. Take for instance - gas. Prices are way lower in Tagaytay/Batangas compared to Manila, so everytime we go home to my province, we fill up the gas tank. 

We also do the groceries once a month and we buy things in bulk. Kitchen supplies like soysauce, cooking oil, vinegar, etc. are bought in large quantities that could last us for a month, or even longer. These techniques save us a lot of energy, gas and money. If we run out of anything during the interim, say, coffeemate, we all have to make do with black coffee until the next grocery date.

3. Group-buying sites, contests and promos are there for a reason - utilize it wisely.

To prevent feeling absolutely deprived (which can be a dangerous thing,too!), the husband and I go out for dinner every once in a while. And that's when the group-buying sites come in handy. So far, we've tried A-deals and MetroDeal and the results were great (insofar as their restaurant/food deals are concerned). We tried it twice, and in both instances, we paid for half the price of our food. And if you do not have sensitive tummies, you can save a lot if you settle on service water instead of ordering drinks, which are usually unjustifiably expensive at restaurants!

If you have the time, just sign up the darn raffle tickets thrown at the grocery store or department stores. As for me, I join contests (I join BIR's Premyo sa Resibo every so often), sign up for promos, even buy lotto tickets every chance I get. Not that I've experienced winning, but they're just a lot of fun. It makes me giddy and hopeful all the time. You'll never know, it might just be your lucky day. 

4. Random things that work for us- which you can check if applicable to you, too.


  • The husband and I work nearby, so we just walk on our way home. This is also the time that we get to talk to each other about how our day went, because the moment that we get home, it's going to be our time for Zohan. We only use our car when we go home to the province, so that's a lot of savings on gas, parking, and wear-and-tear. 
  • Breastfeed your baby and save a lot on formula milk. 
  • Cloth-diaper your baby, if not completely, at least once or twice a day, and that will save you a lot on disposable diapers. 
  • Do not overbuy baby clothes, because babies will outgrow them in a snap. Zohan receives a lot of hand-me-downs, too (thanks to Tita Zynia), so that's a lot of savings for us. 
  • Buy baby books in BookSale, Books and Mags, or other second-hand bookstoresIf you are patient enough, you can score books which are almost brand new at more than half its original price!
  • Use your credit card for grocery and other necessary expenses - BUT - earmark the money to pay for the full amount. This can save you from paying interests, and then - you can score a free meal at Chowking or PizzaHut or wherever's the deal of your bank for the month, for a minimum amount charged to your card. (We're loyal BPI customers!)
  • Enroll your utility bills online, for facility and convenience. 
  • Buy meat, fish, fruits and vegetables from the wet market on a weekly basis. It's cheaper and more fresh than when bought from the grocery.
  • Think long-term - if you think you can squeeze your budget a little tighter to buy a house or a condo, do it. The money that you spend on rental expenses are money down the drain for a space that will not be yours at the end of the day, so do away with it as much as possible.
  • It is never too early to start investing!

5. Keep a budget and stick to it.

 As a new house manager, a trip to the grocery can be pretty exciting for you. And if you go by the aisles of the grocery without keeping a budget in mind, you will notice that your needs appear to add up. (Oh, we need this black trash bag, blah,blah.) But if you're working on a budget, you're most likely to sift through what you actually need and what you don't. (Ah, we can utilize the used plastic bags from the palengke as trash bags!) As for us, we keep a budget for grocery and wet market expenses, and we try to stick to it as much as possible. 

6. Realization and Acceptance.

As a starting family, the husband and I realize that things are different now, and we try to accept it as it is. Gone are the days that we can go to coffeeshop at our whims, or buy the latest gadgets. There has to be an acceptance that as parents, priorities will have to change, but...

7. Remember to stay positive!

Tightening our belts cannot go on forever. Right now, our goals are to settle our personal liabilities and then save up for a small business to augment our income. When we look at it that way, saying no to out-of-town trips or dining out more often doesn't seem so sad at all.

There you go. So the next time you see the husband and I looking silly and making funny faces at each other while walking along Pasong Tamo, you know we're walking because we're saving up for the future of the little boy waiting for us at home.

11 comments:

  1. nakita ko kayo naglalakad atty along de la rosa just kiddin ^^ hahaha! well your husband is like mc-when it comes to delaying gratification-between us, I am not as good as you are when it comes to money matters-siguro kasi feeling ko single pa rin ako ( pero single pa nman talaga coz he was away) hahaha! I will understand everything about budgeting siguro pag magkasama na kame.nice highlight about deals sites-member ako ng mga nabangit hehehe :)

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    1. Hehe! Pwede ka pa naman mag paka single bilang malayo si mac hahaha. Actually one of the things that I miss doing is spending my time alone. Not that I'm complaining :) so while you still can, enjoy ka lang. Cross the bridge when you get to the budgeting for a family part!

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  2. "The mall is a dangerous, dangerous place" - and so is the internet! haha

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    1. So true! Its a good thing medyo I have not gotten the hang of online shopping (yet) haha! But I bet its even more dangerous coz of the convenience na with just a click, you can shop na!

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  3. wonderful list! #1 and #3 is also a part of my budgeting trick :D #5 is still a work in progress for me because the supermarket is one of my happy places hehe :D

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    1. Thank you faye, glad that we have something in common. Actually, kung hindi lang talaga ako magrarationalize, I'd always end up at the grocery or furniture shop or hardware stores. They're heaven on earth!

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  4. One thing we can't give up though is travelling. Magkakasakit yata ako pag di ka nakaalis. But true, those piso fares are sooo tempting but because the travel dates are too far, we have plenty of time to save up for the trip.

    Great great tips Kaye! And admire people like you who are successful yet still grounded. =)

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    1. Salamat badet, so nice of you to think of me that way.

      Well, I can't blame you masarap naman talaga mag travel. I have a lot of friends na di rin yan kaya i-give up. Pag may family nga lang too hard na to do budget-travles or backpacking.. At least may mga online promos kahit papano tipid pa din. Hey! Enjoy your boracay halloween! Goodluck with the costume for gwen!

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  5. Hello Khaye ! You are again one of my nominees for the Versatile Bloggers Award. I hope it would not be asking too much for a link back despite your busy schedule.

    Blessings!

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  6. Interesting article! Just loved it! I think that you need to be motivated to follow an effective budgeting plan. Otherwise, it is quite difficult to enact a budget plan in the long run.

    I went into debt problems few years back. Financial counselors recommended me to follow a budget. I created a budget with the help of personal budgeting software. It was quite good. I was able to save some money also. But very soon, I got bored. So I devised few strategies to be motivated.

    I started giving myself rewards for saving some amount of money. I had my favorite pizza when I was able to save $250 in a month. Apart from that, I started cooking meals in my home with my husband. It was fun. We saved money as well as had tasty meals.

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    1. Yup! Motivation is the key! Or is it necessity? LOL. Good for you that you were able to have fun cooking with your husband. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone. I'd love to do that too, if I could only find the time! Thanks for dropping by :)

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I would love to hear your thoughts!

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