Have you Tried Saving your 50 Pesos?

I’ve encountered several posts about this on Facebook. People are saving all 50 peso bills that they get as change. Sounds clever, so I thought I should also give it a try. I actually tried this last year but I ended up spending them on taxi fares, small purchases at a convenience store, and the like.

When I moved in to my place six months ago, I started this 50-peso saving challenge again.

The rules are simple

Save all 50 peso bills that land on your hand. So if you go to a store with 500 pesos, bought an item worth 100, and the sale clerk handed you eight 50 peso bills as change, you will have to save them all! Don’t ask the clerk to change them to 20’s or 100’s. No cheating!

Personally, I would put them in a small jar and placed it on the table where I normally leave my keys. That gives me the signal to check my wallet for any 50 peso bill upon entering or before leaving the house. I planned to never count the bills until this month (December).

How many 50 peso bills did I collect for six months? I counted exactly 45. Which means I got to save Php2,250. Not bad! I would say it was quite effective and I will surely continue doing this challenge again starting this January.

Any small money-saving tips you want to share?


Why it works

If small expenses are the ones we need to be very careful of because THEY ADD UP, small savings will also add up! Just like small expenses (that add up), saving fifty peso bills is also easy  in the pocket. The best part is, you won’t notice putting away small amount from your expenses, and actually adding more to your savings.

I am aiming to save at least P10,000 worth of fifty peso bills by December. That should give me more than enough cash to put inside several tiny envelopes for my inaanaks. That means crossing out a huge amount from my Holiday budget list as early as now. Awesome!

13th Month Pay

Where did your 13th month pay go? Mine is gone, in 24hours. But unlike in previous years when I used my 13th month pay to satisfy my short term wants, I am glad that over 60% of it this time was spent wisely.

 

– 33% went to my Sun Life Fund/Insurance
– 30% for my home loan amortization
– the remaining 37% was used to pay off my other debts

You could tell I got a bit inspired that I even put it in a chart. I may not have used the money for something that I could “enjoy” now like most people normally do, but I went extra practical this time. Clearing off my debts is first in the agenda, followed by my insurance and my loan amortization payment. My money basically left my hands in 24hours.

So no new gadgets this Holiday season, and no splurging of any kind. It feels boring but good at the same time. I guess I’m on my way to achieving financial maturity in a way, I really hope I am!

How about you, where did your 13th month pay go?


Money Saving Challenge Report: Week 3

This update is quite late, but how was my third money-saving week? I would say it went pretty well.

First, I took jeepney rides to work for the entire week! That’s a huge accomplishment. I am taking advantage of the good weather when it’s not as hot as Summer; I could still tolerate the heat. I doubt if I could do this in April and May, but who knows?

Additionally, my Grab reward points will expire this December so I have been using them to get me 50pesos off on my rides going home. In total, I got to save over Php600 on transportation last week and that is awesome!

Fast-food intake stays at once a day. We had a free meal at the office (as a prize for winning an office event) last Friday so that’s minus a hundred off my budget for food. Wonderful!

Coffee, unfortunately remains a weakness, but at least it’s not Starbucks? I still go to McDonald’s or Country Style for my daily coffee cravings. Which reminds me, I think I should post about my love of Country Style next time.

But first, tomorrow is 13th month pay day. Another challenge. Wish me luck!


How to Save on Accomodation on your Next Travel

Last week, I talked about how I felt on my over spending during my travel. I learned my lessons and I’d be more careful next time. Planning ahead definitely helps because last-minute arrangements often leave you with limited, expensive options.

However, if there’s one thing that I realized I was right about, that would be on my choices of accomodation.

While I acknowledge that there may have been other ways to save on accomodation, I felt that I actually made a practical choice afterall. See, I had to meet my sister and her husband in Baguio the day before we took the five-hour trip to Sagada. Our scheduled departure is 5:00 AM so we needed a place to stay for a night. I immediately searched Airbnb for listings.

Why Airbnb? It is a practical choice for groups of 3 or more. I would say, this is the modern version of the traditional transient house offerings which was a big thing in touristy cities like Baguio. I had less than a week to prepare at that time and hotel booking rates are already going up. Airbnb offers cheaper options; where more than 2 guests are allowed without the burden of paying for extra beds. I chose French Nest because of its location, and somewhat positive reviews:

The place is just right for its location and price.

Now, we also needed to spend the night in Baguio (again) three days after our Sagada trip so I had to book another place. I went for a hotel this time for three reasons:

1. We will be dead tired after all the trekking and caving that we did in Sagada, plus the long trip back to Baguio, so a hotel felt a lot more comfortable and convenient.

2. We need the free breakfast the next morning (which most hotels offer).

3. The hotel that I liked still has vacancy! And still within the price range that I find convincing.

This time, I used my Agoda account and stayed right at the center of Baguio City:

This was my second time at the City Center Hotel in Baguio.

Now, should you book from Airbnb on your next travel? Or should you stick to a hotel? I’d say it really depends on your preferences. Here are my tips.

Choose Airbnb when:
1. You are travelling in a group of three or more. The larger the group, the more reason that you book an apartment or an entire house via Airbnb.

2. When you need a place to stay for more than two days, this is certainly a cheaper option. You will be able to save on food because most hosts allow their guests to cook (and they actually provide pans and other kitchen utensils).

Book a hotel when:
1. When you are picky like me. When you have certain expectations such as complete toiletries, free breakfast, and the usual hotel offerings.

2. If you are travelling alone! You do not need an entire apartment or house for yourself. A small hotel room will do.

Out of all the hotel booking sites or apps out there, I find Agoda to be the most user-friendly. I have been their customer since 2013.

Aren’t we glad that all these very convenient ways to book our accommodations these days exist? We do not need to buy local papers anymore just to see the ads, and only to find out that the ones we liked are already fully booked when we call. With all these apps, we can get all the information that we need in just a few clicks.

Do you have other tips to save on accommodation when travelling?




Affiliate Marketing for Newbies

When I started this blog, I know I could monetize my content using Google Adsense, paid posts, and other forms of advertising. However, I didn’t know anything about affiliate marketing. Upon reading other blogs and learning about what affiliate marketing is, I got interested and wanted to know more.

I am writing this as a newbie myself. Join me in exploring and discovering the ins and outs of affiliate marketing.

What is an affiliate marketing anyway? From what I understood, and putting it into layman’s terms, it is a form of advertising where you (as the affiliate) gets a commission for every purchase made through your advertisement (in the form of banners or links that you post). For bloggers, you can post the link within your articles or put up a banner in your side bars. This is not direct selling. There are many ways to sell or advertise without being pushy, most bloggers don’t even sound like they are selling something in their blog.

Who could sign up for affiliate marketing program? Any content creators like us, bloggers. But as a blogger, you will need to have high-quality content that could make your blog convincing enough for your readers to trust. People will buy when they hear believable reviews from credible sources. You want to be that blogger who is speaks and breaths credibility and honesty.

How and where do you start? Sign up to available affiliate marketing programs online. From my research, the big names such as Amazon in North America, and Lazada and Zalora in Asia, are topping the lists. I am sure there are a lot more and I will have to explore those too.

Now, you do not need to sign up to all of them. Find the best ones that fit your blog category. Zalora, for example, is a clothing store and is most appropriate for Fashion and Lifestyle blogs. Hence, I crossed it out of my list.



What else do you need? A disclosure policy. I am drafting mine and will publish it as soon as I get approved by the programs that I signed up for. You will need to disclose that some of your posts contain paid links, or may be sponsored. All legit affiliate programs require a disclosure. More importantly, it not only shows transparency, but adds more credibility to you and your blog. Update: I just published my disclosure policy.

Today, I signed up to one affiliate marketing program that caters to mostly Philippine audience. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I would qualify. I will be sharing my experience as soon as I receive a feedback. Wish me luck!

Update: I got approved by Amazon and Lazada. However, despite their wide array of products, I am having a hard time looking for an item that could blend with the overall content of my blog. But I am still hopeful, nonetheless. I’ll give them a shot.

I am not sure how far this would take my blogging but I am really excited. And I will make sure to document and share my experiences.

Are you also trying your hand at affiliate marketing? Where did you sign up for so far?

Saving Money While Living in a Condo

If you just moved in to your newly acquired condominium unit, it would take time for you to get used to paying your monthly amortization, condo dues, and utility bills. You will be making big adjustments on your budget and the amount you are able to save every payday may get affected.

How can you still save money now that you have a condo lifestyle to sustain? In my case, everything started as a trial and error. Six months into living in a condo, I found ways (and continuing to make ways) to save money. I wouldn’t want to end up failing to pay the bills or get broke.

First, you will need to downgrade on a lot of things.

Cut your cable subscription, and get one of those TV digital box instead. If you could totally get rid of television like what I did four years ago, that is so much better. I would say, you should only pick one between cable TV or data these days. It was an easy choice for me, I couldn’t survive a day without data. Goodbye television!

Are you addicted to coffee? Buy a coffee maker and brew your own coffee. Are you a café lover like me? Create a nook in one corner of your space and enjoy your coffee at home. You just need a small table, a chair, and a tiny pot of real or plastic plant. By the window is a perfect spot.

Cook your own food. And if you crave for a fast-food meal on a weekend, walk to the nearest store, absolutely no food deliveries. I think everyone would agree that cooking your own food is one of the sure ways to save money. Try to eat out only during especial occasions.

Turn your AC off.

I went from 16 hours of air-conditioning a day to 8-10 hours. During the rainy season, I was only using a fan for the most part of the week, and I plan to do the same this December and January. Just save the money for air-conditioning in summer when you all have the right reasons to turn the AC on.

Pay your bills on time, all the time.

Avoid late payment charges. For banks, the late payment fees are computed at a daily rate. Along with your electric and water bills, your condo dues should also be paid on time. No one wants to be paying for interests. Ask your building management if you could get a discount or rebate in paying your condo dues in advance. It would be awesome to be able to save a few hundreds that way.

Walk.

Most condominiums are located within close proximity to malls, banks, schools, and almost everything that you need. Walk. Just walk. That is exercising and saving money at the same time. While it doesn’t offer a typical residential area vibe, I personally like walking around my neighborhood on a Saturday or Sunday mornings. I also make sure that I walk when I go out to run errands, from doing my grocery, bringing my dirty clothes to the laundry or running to the bank.



There are many way to save money while still enjoying a condo lifestyle. For me, I do all these things because I am saving money to furnish my place. I decided to not buy any furniture or big appliances until I have enough budget for interior construction. I haven’t really touched anything in my unit since SMDC turned it over to me at basic finish. It’s still a long way to go, and I am giving myself a year more. Hence, all these money saving strategies.

Are you also living in a condo? Did it affect your finances in any way?

How to Save Money While Renting

I was renting for more than half my life. It started in high school when my sisters and I attended school in a town three hours away from home. College was no different, I was moving from one dormitory to another wishing that I could afford an entire place for myself. In 2007, I decided to move here in Manila and rented a small room. I upgraded to a studio unit after three years, and kept it that way for quite some time. It was not until almost ten years later that I realized that I needed to get a place of my own.

A blog post that I wrote 7 years ago.

So, are you able to save while renting? It was very difficult for me back then. For ten years, I was spending almost 40% of my salary on rent alone. That is way too high from the advisable 30% maximum. If your budget for rent is more than 30% of your salary, it is time to consider looking for a cheaper place. That would be the first move that you need to do in order to save money when you are renting.

Second, rent a place that is within a close proximity to where you work. You are renting anyway, so why choose to live far and incur another expense on transportation? For a few years, I was able to save a lot from living very close to our office building. It saved me time, money, and energy.

If your landlord allows you to cook, take advantage of that. If not, look for a cheap place to buy food. It’s not very hard to find one around residential areas in Metro Manila. For years, I was eating fast-food almost three times a day, and I would never ever advise anyone to do the same. Not only that it is unhealthy, but it could tempt you to over spend. If you are a fast-food junkie like me, I understand the ease and comfort that McDo, Jollibee or KFC could offer, but try to ignore that! Start slowly. I was able to do it, you can too.



Fourth, get rid of cable TV. I would understand if you are spending on data, but television is just a thing of the past already. Chances are, you’re sharing cable fees with your landlord and that is not practical. I’m telling you, I couldn’t live without TV back in the day and I was paying cable subscriptions since college. But when my old television stopped working four years ago, I never bothered buying a new one. I haven’t seen any show on television since then and that was one of the best decisions I ever made! Besides, anyone could watch an episode online, anytime, anywhere, and without the commercials.

Lastly, share a room or apartment. This is related to number one. It is something that I couldn’t do when I was renting because I wanted the place all for myself. But if you are serious about saving money, invite someone you could split the rent and bills with. That is 50% of everything. Big savings!

I am writing this article wishing that I followed all these money saving practices when I was still renting. I would have saved a lot if I did. I use to share stories with co-workers who were also renting and we all had the same sentiments – that saving money is impossible if you are paying rent. That is NOT TRUE! I always knew it isn’t but I just didn’t have the determination and discipline. If you are renting, the more that you should prioritize saving money. Some little sacrifices here and there could go a long way.

How long have you been renting? Has saving money been a challenge to you too?

What Would you get from a Grab Platinum Membership?

My friend asked me to blog about my review on the Grab Platinum Membership. What do you get as a Platinum Grabber?

Let’s see. According to Grab, Platinum members are entitled to:

I earned my Platinum membership two months ago and I never really experienced any of the perks mentioned above. In fact, I am rarely getting promo codes anymore when they use to come in almost a weekly basis. I do not see any changes when I book so the “priority booking” doesn’t seem to be true. Rush hour or not, you get the same waiting time as everyone else, and at the same fare rate. Grab will show you more Partners Rewards basically because you have earned enough points to purchase them. I haven’t had any big issues so far, so I haven’t tried their Platinum Support Line yet.

The good thing is, I earned over 8000 points which I am now using to purchase Php50 off promo every time I book a ride. Overall, you don’t really get much by becoming a Gold or Platinum member, nothing to be excited about.

I hope that didn’t disappoint you. Are you a Grab Platinum member? Correct me if my observations are wrong. 

Sagada: Expectation vs Reality

Rockstar!

I think people should avoid Sagada during weekends and holidays. If these photos won’t convince you, then you may be one of the few who enjoy crowded tourist destinations.

Sea of clouds vs Sea of people
Overexplored.

Visit Sagada during off-peak season, or weekdays if you can. This way, you get to appreciate the place more while continuing to help local businesses at the same time. Did you know that Sagada doesn’t allow outsiders to put up a business in their town? Which means every shop, café, and restaurant are locally owned (except for one diner which the locals are currently protesting against). This is the reason why I encourage everyone to never skimp on food while in Sagada. Besides, their food is really good!

I love Sagada, it reminds me of my hometown, sleepy and full of culture. However, I did not enjoy my last trip as much as I did six years ago. The town is just too crowded now, every vacant lot has turned into a parking lot, and seeing a “pay parking” sign makes me really sad. But I guess, that’s what progress is all about? I just hope that the local government will do something before it’s too late.

Learn more about Sagada before visiting, it’s not so hard to do research these days. Do not limit your knowledge about this town to what you saw in the movie. It is much more than the breathtaking sunrise or sea of clouds. And when you get there, don’t just admire but actually respect the culture, respect the raw beauty of nature and be an instrument in keeping it that way.

If I get to visit Sagada again, it would most probably on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Anyone who have experienced a less crowded Sagada lately?


Money Saving Challenge Report: Week 2

I am back in Manila from a three-day tour in Sagada (plus two days in Baguio). Sagada is a whole different topic deserving of its own dedicated blog post, but if I summarize the experience in one sentence – Sagada is so much better pre-That Thing Called Tadhana era. I have been there in 2011 so I could enumerate several before and after differences. I will talk about the new Sagada in my next post.


Moving on, something dawned to me during the trip – I couldn’t stop thinking about how I could save when travelling. This has never happened to me before, and it feels strange.

See? When I travel, I don’t wanna skimp on anything. I actually booked our tour three weeks prior and barely over a week before I started planning my weekly money saving tips (for myself). So during the trip, I was mentally computing how much I would have saved if I didn’t resort to my comfort-over-everything philosophy. I spent a whopping Php20k for this trip (for three), while a friend is having a 6-day tour in Japan (yes, Japaannn) for only Php21k all in!

I was drafting this post while sitting on a couch in a small mall café in Baguio, and at that moment, I regretted ordering the hot mocha in front of me. Not only that it is ordinary and pricey, but really, what was I thinking? I am now starting to question my poor life choices involving money. And whenever I catch myself unaware of what I am spending for, I will make sure it is documented. This series is gonna be long.

On to my money saving plans, I didn’t get to put everything into practice as I was away for the most of the week. Nonetheless, I am proud to say that I managed to avoid Grab and Uber for two days in a row when I got back. I didn’t get rid of the coffee though, but I still am eating breakfast and dinner at home which is good. Overall, I think I am improving. I shall be back on track next week.

Cheers!