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!


Money Saving Challenge Report: Week 1

So last week, I started challenging myself about saving money. My plan was drafted in such a way that it would not be very difficult and forced. I will not pretend that I could start saving big because I did that for so many times in the past and I failed.

To recap, my plan included:

– Avoiding Grab or Uber at least once.
– Skip getting coffee from McDonald’s or Country Style.
– No food deliveries, less fast food.

Doing so would save me Php665 a week or Php2,600 a month.


So how did my first week go???

– I didn’t book Grab and Uber to work last Monday. I managed to take that one tricycle and jeepney ride instead! Which means I was able to save Php75.

– My co-worker treated me to Starbucks on Wednesday so I didn’t buy coffee for one day! I saved Php50. Now I will need to discipline myself to not buy coffee for at least a day next week, or pray that someone will treat me again. LOL.

– For the first time in many weeks, I did not order food online. I also started cooking (although all fried), so my breakfast and dinner were not the usual takeouts. Which means, I only spent food money on lunch. This is the tricky part because I figured I needed to factor in the money I spent for groceries. But I am confident that I was able to save more than my 500 peso target.

This means, I was able to save Php665 as planned! Now if I do this weekly, I will be saving Php2,600 every month. And if I will be able to put all my money saving tips and plans into regular practice, I’m sure I’d be able to save more! This is exciting!

Wish me luck in this journey. What money saving tips could you share?


Things to Give Up in Order to Save Money in 2018

So last week, I started listing down different things on how I plan to save money, one week at a time. Because I am that guy who finds it very hard to save money, I decided to make it a weekly plan instead of a daily plan, at least as a start. I am hoping that it will become a regular habit in the future, and blogging about it keeps me motivated. In a way, it pushes me to discipline myself knowing that I would end up deleting all these money-saving-tips posts if I won’t do them.

Now, before I list down the things that I plan to give up in order to save money in 2018, here are the ones that I already gave up in the past years which have helped me save money:

1. Television – It’s been four years since I gave up television! Prior to that, I couldn’t seem to live without it.
2. Cable subscription – I have had cable TV since college. I am so happy that I was able to make cable TV a thing of my past.
3. Fast food – I still eat fast food everyday, but managed to turn it from three times a day to just 5-6 times a week. That’s an improvement, but I am aware that it is still an issue health-wise.
4. Movies – I went from 2-3 times a month to once every 2-3 months.


I didn’t even realize these four helped me save money in a way, it would have been nice if I was able to track my before and after expenses with them.

Moving on, I now turn to the hard part of consciously identifying the things that I could give up in order to save money. I say “could” instead of “should” because just like my weekly plan, I do not want this to be a forced activity. So in 2018, I believe I could give up the following:

1. Uber and Grab – I took a trycicle and a jeepney ride to work for the first time yesterday, and I was very happy with my accomplishment. I initially planned to do it on a Friday, but I did it on a busy Monday! In 2018, I plan to do this more often. For my safety, I will still be booking Grab or Uber to get home.

2. McDonald’s Coffee – I am not a fan of Starbucks but I drink a large coffee from McDonald’s at work everyday. That is still 42 pesos times five. As an alternative, I am getting a coffee maker for myself this Christmas. I’ll brew my own coffee and bring it to work!

Take the last bite!

3. Eating out – This is my ultimate weakness because I don’t cook, and I am too lazy to cook. My philosophy is – I’d rather save my time and energy preparing my food in to doing something else. And by preparing food, that includes going to the market or grocery up to the time you need to wash the dishes. That’s exhausting! Why do I have to endure all that when I can just go somewhere else to eat and leave when I’m finished?

But because I am on the mission to save money, I will start limiting this habit. I think the weekly plan that I just started works for me. I know it will be difficult but I’m up for this challenge.

So these are the three things that I think I could give up or limit this coming 2018. They are not something that I could promise to let go totally, but who knows? That’s the good thing about not forcing myself to make abrupt changes, it becomes easier when I do one small step a a time. Starting big never worked for me as I have been conditioned this way for so long.

I am hopeful that I would be able to add more to this list before 2017 ends. I have over a month left to prepare so wish me luck!

What are the things that you have given up, or plan to give up to save money?

How Many Bank Accounts do you Need?

Do you need more than one bank account?

I started with a savings account when I was in college. It was easier to get one back then because all you need to present is your school ID card. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to do banking at that time and had my account closed after less than a year.

Upon employment, most people would start with their payroll account and later on would feel the need to have a separate savings account. I think that is perfectly fine, but according to an article from the Daily Worth, three is the ideal number:

  1. Curveball fund. Automatically transfer at least 5% of every paycheck, to cover random expenses (a lapse of reason at a yard sale, a broken toaster).
  2. Emergency fund. Ditto, but only tap this in a true do-or-die crisis. When they say, “Save three to six months’ worth of living expenses,” this is where it goes.
  3. YouNameIt fund(s). Set up at least one other account for a looming goal or project: a cushy reading chair for the bedroom, a holiday party (or getaway from the parties), adopting a child.

How about you, how many savings account do you have?

For me, I currently have six:

⁃ my BPI payroll and savings account
⁃ a BDO savings and checking account
⁃ savings account with Security Bank
⁃ the GetGo debit card from UnionBank (which also qualifies as a savings account)

I didn’t start needing all these accounts. Two of them I had to open when I purchased a condominium, and one for my secured credit card. Some of you could probably relate if I say that 5 of these 6 bank accounts only have maintaining balances! My goal now is to turn the remaining one into an Emergency Fund. And I will have to assign a Curveball Fund and a YouNameItFund to 2 of those 5 barely surviving accounts.


How I Plan to Save Money Starting This Week

Yes, not today but this week! I know how hard it is to save money even if we actually have an idea on how to do it. Have you been saving and ended up spending it shortly after? I am exactly that. So I’ll go easy on myself and not pretend that I could do it right now. 

When I started this blog, I knew I will be needing to divulge information which I don’t normally share. I made the decision to carry on and talk about stuff that often involves little details about my personal finances. And since I am now on this topic of financial struggles, I thought I should blog about my plans to recover and free myself from the burdens of living from paycheck to paycheck.

Save now, coffee later!

I mentioned this to my friend while we were in a café yesterday. We laughed at the irony of talking about saving money while drinking expensive coffee. We both know that we are not savers and we are aware why; it’s right before our eyes. And so I said I should go take that painful steps in saving money, and document it in my blog. This is my introduction, and here are my plans.

1. Lessen my Uber and Grab trips.

“I am willing to pay for comfort”, that is my motto. But since I could barely afford that now, I thought I should start going back to the basics in terms of my commute to work. One trycicle ride, plus one jeepney ride.
Uber/Grab: Php100
Trycicle and Jeepney: Php17+8 = Php25
Savings: Php75

2. Brew my own coffee.

I’m not a Starbucks fan but I do drink coffee everyday. I buy them from either McDonald’s or Country Style which are both way cheaper compared to Starbucks. We have free coffee at the office but I don’t like it. I also just stopped drinking 3-in-1 coffees as they’re too sugary. Last month, my former boss gave me a bag of coffee all the way from Costa Rica, I am taking that as a sign that I should brew my own. I will need to buy a coffeemaker though.
McDonald’s Coffee: Php42
Country Style: Php50
My own brew: Free for now
Savings: I’ll put this at Php50

3. No Food Deliveries.

I love the convenience of having my food delivered to my place. There are three McDonald’s branches near me, each about 5-10 minute walk away. But I still prefer having my order delivered instead of going to any of these stores!

Savings on delivery fee: Php40

4. Speaking of food,

I spend a good Php2500-3000 a week on food! Worst, it is almost 100% fastfood. This will be very difficult but I think it’s time to learn my way around the kitchen.
Savings: I’ll aim for Php500 a week.

It is not gonna be easy so I am giving myself a chance to do this at least ONCE a week. My total savings for one week would be Php665. That is Php2,600 a month. Not bad! Successful or not, I will be posting an update next week. I wish myself the best of luck!

Cheers!!!

Resolved: Plugin & Theme Status is Unavailable Due to Site Customizations

GoDaddy: Plugin and Theme Status is Unavailable Due to Site Customizations

This error came up after I updated a plugin or theme. I couldn’t tell which one because I simply clicked on the “Update All” link when I saw it in my dashboard. My site went offline for over 24hours and I didn’t do anything about it as I thought it is just an issue with GoDaddy or WordPress (which often gets resolved quickly). I could not access my WP dashboard or CPanel. My site is just blank when viewed on mobile, and is displaying an Error 500 when accessed via web but the error is not specific. I looked up for solutions online but all the suggestions directed me to disable plugins which I couldn’t do because my dashboard is inaccessible.

I called GoDaddy but the waiting time was too long. Thankfully, I was able to find the link to their chat support and got someone from the other end after 8 minutes.

The agent checked my account and confimed that a certain plugin is causing the error. I asked him to go ahead and delete it but it turns out they’re not authorized to do that. He instead offered to walk me through the process. Here are the steps:

IMPORTANT: Make sure to backup your files; or contact GoDaddy directly for assistance in performing these steps.

1. Login to your GoDaddy account, go to WordPress > Settings. Look for “phpMyAdmin“, and click on View.

2. Click on “phpMyAdmin URL” and login using the given Username and Password.

3. On the left, look for and click on the very small plus (+) sign beside your username (ex: phdo412345678) to expand the selection, and click on “wp_mbsmpvk2n3_options“.

4. A table will be displayed, go to the Browse tab and look for “Active_plugins“. Go to page 2 if this is not on Page 1. Click on the edit option (pencil icon) beside “Active_plugins“.
5. Clear or delete all the texts inside the box. Make sure that the Save option is selected before clicking on “Go” to save. Clearing this box will NOT delete the plugins, it will only DISABLE them.
6. Try logging in to your account again, or check your webpage if the issue is resolved. (NOTE: Your site may look different because of a disabled plugin.)

7. Enable your plugins again one at a time. Doing so will help you determine which one has caused the problem, while bringing your site’s appearance back to normal (if it changed).

If this does not resolve the issue, contact GoDaddy for assistance. From my experience so far, their technical support agents are helpful, and knowledgeable. You may just need to be patient at their often long waiting time.

Anyway, have you experienced similar error before and got it resolved? Which plugin was causing it? This actually made me hesitant to update my plugins since. 

My Most Rewarding Experience with Sodexo Gift Certificates

A few years ago, a friend from a real estate company invited me to cover the ground breaking ceremony of one of their projects. It was my first time to go to such event so I didn’t really know what to expect. I had a scheduled engagement photoshoot with a client that day so I told my friend I might need to leave early, to which he said it is okay. Because I had it handy, I was able to put my camera to good use. I took several photos which I later on posted on social media including a blog post which I published a few days after.

I get to witness the ceremony, enjoyed listening to the speeches of the company’s top leaders, and dined with other guests. They gave us a token, a pretty hourglass with the company logo on it. We were also handed an envelope containing a DVD where soft copies of their press releases are saved, and a few other documents, which I didn’t check until I got home that day.
To my surprise, the envelope also contained Sodexo GC’s as a giveaway! I couldn’t remember how much the monetary value was but it was enough to buy me four pairs of pants! It was very timely because at that time, I needed to shop for new clothes for my upcoming overseas trip. I was attending a meeting with my colleagues in the United States, and because I didn’t think I will have time to do laundry in the hotel, I thought I should bring a two-week worth of clothes!

And so, while I was aware that Sodexo GC’s have always been and forever will be valid (and the revalidation and replacement of Sodexo GC’s are free of charge once the validity date is reached), I headed to a department store right the next weekend, and shopped using my Sodexo Gift Certificates. I was really glad I said yes to that invitation! It gave me a pretty hectic day but it was all worth it. I remember, the next payday is still over a week away so the Sodexo GC’s which I unexpectedly received, really helped!

Speaking of gift certificates, it is a very convenient gift giving option for the Holidays (which is very fast approaching!). Call me lazy but for someone who dreads long lines and crowded malls, a GC is a practical and perfect alternative! Bet you agree!?