Money Saving Challenge Report: Month 1

I am happy that I started this challenge for myself. It feels great to have gotten that drive to do it, and having a blog to document my progress makes it even more exciting. I admit that I am not a saver, so being able to come up with ideas on how to save, and having the discipline to follow them is in itself already an achievement.

My first month of trying to religiously follow my own rules has not been very easy, I admit to cheating a few times. Here’s a summary of how my first month of saving money went.

1. Not booking Grab or Uber when going to work.

I’m just glad to have been able to make a jeepney ride for my commute to work a daily routine. Indeed, anything that you regularly do for 21 days straight can become a habit. Well, I’ve been taking a jeepney for almost two months now so my plan actually worked. I am saving not less than Php100 a day, and that’s great.

On a side note, I am totally boycotting Uber until they fix their system. My bad experience with them happened when I started considering cheaper alternatives for my commute. Ironically, it was very timely because now, Uber is no longer an option.

For my safety, I still book a ride from Grab when going home after work, often between 1 and 3 in the morning.

2. Less and less fast-food.

Fast-food is my weakness. It was my main source of “nourishment” for the past 15 years or so, and that makes it very difficult to remove from my system. Needless to say, cutting down my fast-food intake from 2-3 times a day to 2-3 times a week was a great improvement.

Which means, I have to learn to prepare my own food. I can’t cook, so cheap canned goods are my savior. Thankfully, I am not your typical Filipino who can’t survive a day without eating rice. I can live with burgers and fries for a week, but I am substituting that with bread and healthier sandwiches that I buy from a bakery near my place. Soon, I plan to prepare my own sandwich and bring it to work along with my coffee. Speaking of which:

3. I am now brewing my own coffee!

I just bought a coffee maker, and ordered an Atok Arabica ground coffee with that. Moreover, the coffeemaker was purchased using a P1000 Sodexo gift certificate that I got from joining a blog contest in November. Wonderful!

I am a supporter of local produce so I am going for the Arabica coffee from Benguet. I learned about it when I was in Sagada last November. Coincidentally, I saw some Instagram posts about the Beguet coffee, and the hard works that local farmers put into harvesting and processing the beans. That inspired me to patronize their product even more.

Now, along with these money saving habits, I just started saving my 50 peso bills again. Let’s see how much I would save at the end of the year. I’m also thinking about doing my groceries by bulk. I mean because I am your typical lazy guy, I don’t go from aisle to aisle inside the grocery. I buy what I need one at a time, and I don’t mind if that means a daily trip to the grocery store downstairs where I live. How are you saving on groceries?

I realized, I might be able to save if I buy a one week worth of groceries at a time. This is also to make sure that I won’t end up ordering food online when I run out of food supplies. I work until 1 or 2 in the morning so other than the 7/11 in our building, my only option when I’m hungry are 24-hour fast-food deliveries! I would want to avoid that as much as I could.

Lastly, I am taking advantage of the cold January weather and decided to unplug my AC. The electric fan is more than enough. This started in December and my electric bill went from approximately P1600 to P350! Awesome!

Why I am Choosing Grab over Uber

I have been a regular Grab and Uber rider in the past seven months. Prior to that, I was only booking Grab Taxi as I thought Grab Car was too expensive. I tried using Uber when they started accepting non-credit card users. I have been a loyal Uber rider since then.

I started booking Grab Car when I found out about their point system. Since then, I would juggle between these two, often picking the one that offers a lower rate. From my experience, Uber is cheaper 9 times out of 10. This is regardless of the time and location.

Here are my other observations:

– rates are often more expensive.
– no location pin!
– drivers are nearer, five minutes away at an average.

– fare is often cheaper.
– location pin is absolutely very helpful!
– allows business profile.
– drivers are often too far, 8-10 minutes away at an average recently.

So why am I choosing Grab over Uber? The 100 peso cancellation charge just sucks! Two weeks ago, I booked an Uber at around 3:15AM and the driver was just one block away. I’m not sure if it’s a glitch on the app, but the driver did not seem to be moving. I waited for 10 minutes and his position hasn’t changed. There is definitely no traffic in the area at 3AM. The fact that he’s not moving made me feel “unsafe” for some reason. Even if the app is not working, he should have already arrived in my location in less than 3 minutes.

My battery was running low, so I hastily went to Grab and booked another ride. The driver arrived in less than 5 minutes, while Uber still says the driver is 3 minutes away. It’s been like that for the past 15 minutes.

My mistake was not cancelling the Uber booking, and not contacting the driver. I arrived home with a dead phone. I charged it and went to bed.

I woke up at noon seeing the messages from the Uber driver, along with the app notification that I’ve been charged with 100 pesos. Looking at the timeline, the Uber driver arrived in my supposed pickup location after over an hour:

1 hour and 22 minutes travel time, for a distance of less than 500 meters, at 3-4 in the morning?

I reported this to Uber and I received the usual copy-pasted responses which I did not bother reading. I was a chat and email customer service support rep for three years, so I know a canned response when I see one. They knew I am not a happy customer, and may never book Uber again so they sent me back my 100 pesos as credits. I still went on and removed my credit and prepaid cards as form of payments, and ready to uninstall the app anytime.

We’re lucky that we have Grab as an alternative here in the Philippines. I don’t mind the higher rates, for as long as the rules are reasonable. In fact, I’ve already earned enough points to be a Platinum Grab member two months ago. On the other hand, until they fix their service, I hope I won’t have to use Uber ever again.

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.