Grocery shopping is one of my simple pleasures as an adult. For me, frugal living means prioritizing food, so buying from the grocery store is a must. Of course, our good old wet and dry market has more to offer (cheaper too). But there are instances where I’d rather choose comfort and convenience over getting my feet muddy and wet especially during bad weather.
So what is it about frugal living that I like? Living simply. That’s it.
Not that I don’t want or deserve a fabulous life.
But I’d rather stick to a lifestyle I can maintain without always thinking about losing money faster than how I earned it.
Plus, it gives me a sense of responsibility. Taking care of my finances, no matter how big or small is very important.
So what do I do to keep everything simple, mediocrity aside? Here, I share easy and relatable tips on how I manage things around the house lately.
1. I use all-purpose cleaners
Do you buy bleach?
- Zonrox original for the bathroom
- Zonrox Color Safe for laundry
- Zonrox Lemon Scent for the living room
- Zonrox Floral Scent for the bedroom
I mean, they’re all bleach.
One costs 20 to 30 pesos more than the other.
But all with the same purpose; cleaning, deodorizing and killing germs.
Why not buy one for everything?
My personal choice is the Zonrox Color Safe variant. I like the scent, and it bubbles. No need to add detergent if I will use it to clean floors.
2. Use calamansi instead of sinigang mix
I’m a sinigang girl. If I will be forced to choose between sinigang and adobo, without a doubt, I’d go for sinigang.
Sinigang is a Filipino soup dish usually associated with tamarind (sampalok). The broth is sour and savory and can go with pork, fish, or beef.
My absolute favorite is the sinigang na bangus (milkfish tamarind soup). But I grew up using a store-bought sinigang mix.
Since we’re trying to be healthy here, one small step at a time, I was able to find a substitute, calamansi.
Calamansi is a hybrid citrus plant, also known as calamondin in some regions. Size can be as big as your thumb. It’s not as sour like lemon or lime, but it works perfectly with sinigang.
Usually, you can buy ¼ kilo for only 10 pesos, and that’s more than enough to add flavor to your sinigang. You can save some for your patis/toyo-kalamansi-sili condiment or for your calamansi juice as a vitamin c booster.
3. Cancel Netflix membership (as needed)
I love Netflix. Who doesn’t?
Instead of spending Php 250-300 to watch a movie, I can add a couple hundred and watch ANYTHING, ANYTIME.
It’s one of the coolest things we enjoy today. Thanks to the internet.
BUT, it gets in the way of work.
So, if I know that I’ll be tied to my work desk for more than 12 hours per day, every day, then I cancel my membership temporarily.
If there’s a new series or movie coming, that’s the time I reactivate it.
Like what I did recently.
I canceled my membership because I didn’t use it for a month.
And then there’s El Camino.
I so loooove Breaking Bad and I want to know what will happen to Jesse, so I couldn’t resist it.
So I renewed.
The downside is, when you cancel and renew your membership, you no longer have access to the old plans.
Renewing it entitles you to the new ones, which I believe are more expensive these days.
But again, if you can afford to keep it, then do so.
If not all the time, like myself, then cancel.
4. Manage the difference in paying bills
Yesterday, I went to the market and pay for my water and electricity bills. There are options to pay online, but, I’d rather fall in line at the Bayad Center. Hearing fellow payers chitchatting about life, politics, and gossips somehow bring me closer to humanity.
Anyway, let me show you want I do.
My water bill for this month is Php 242.79
Meanwhile, my electricity bill is Php 1013.40, this includes a past due balance of Php 611.54.
Yup, past due balance is real.
Okay, so the electricity bill has to be paid exactly what the bill says.
However, the water bill can be modified.
So, I paid an extra Php 3.81 which made it Php 246.60.
Php 1013.40 Electricity bill + Php 246.60 Water bill
= Php 1260.00
The extra Php 3.81 I paid for my water bill will be carried over to the next billing cycle.
Therefore, not a centavo goes to waste.
Besides, if I paid the exact amount which is Php 1256.19 total, the cashier will either ask for the Php 1256, or I’ll get to pay Php 1256. 25 because there’s no way she’d bother give me a change of 6 centavos.
Imagine if everybody who’s on the line pays the same thing?
That’s how to get rich using centavos.
5. Walis tingting instead of a rag
I have two dogs.
One is a mixed breed of aspin and labrador.
The other, a Shih Tzu.
They pee and poop everywhere.
And by everywhere, I mean, EVERYWHERE.
They hate to be potty trained.
Believe me, I tried everything.
But they prefer to “let it go” as they wish.
Therefore, cleaning is back-breaking and yucky.
I am never a fan of mopping floors.
I just feel that it’s not cleaning at all.
Instead, you just dip the mop in dirty water and go back and forth.
So, it’s not cleaning, just spreading.
Good thing my dog’s pee and poop near the restroom. So with the use of my walis tingting, soap, and water, I sweep everything towards the restroom.
This leaves a wet floor, but I use my electric fan so it will dry fast.
No dirty water in the bucket.
No dirty mop to clean.
Also, the walis tingting only costs 30 pesos.
6. Minimalist skincare
Since I work from home, I don’t need a lot of stuff on my face. I know sunscreen is essential, but I haven’t found a brand that works for me.
So my arsenal includes, a cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and face masks when I’m feeling fancy, and that’s it.
For cleanser, I use the Himalaya Purifying Neem Face Wash.
It goes well with the Himalaya Olive Extra Nourishing Cream. It smells divine.
7. Wine bottles as water containers
When I’m in a mood to drink booze, I store a few cans of beers in the fridge. But if I’m feeling fancy, red wine is my go-to.
Expensive wines are not in my vocabulary. Just cheap table wine like the Novellino Rosso Vivace is good enough for me.
And, I don’t dispose of the glass bottles after consumption. I use them to store water in the fridge.
8. Restaurant napkins instead of buying table napkin
Okay, this is odd, but hear me out.
When I eat at McDonald’s or Jollibee, they usually hand you a single sheet of table napkin to wipe the mess out of your mouth, or where you squeeze the ketchup packet for your fries.
What I do is, I ask for more tissue, and bring it home those that I didn’t use.
I use it to blot oil on my face.
To scoop a poop
Blow my nose
Wipe coffee spills on my dinner table.
BUT, in case I really, really need to buy one for the house I choose the cheapest kitchen towel. I always get the SM Bonus twin rolls. It’s 71 pesos, still not cheap. But if I buy once every 2 months, then it’s not bad at all.
9. Avoid watching YouTube makeup reviews
This, I can’t.
I think I have a fetish for watching YouTube videos, specifically, makeup reviews.
And with all the drama from the beauty community (Hi, Shane Dawson and Jeffrey Star series. How are ya?), gossiping is now on a whole new level.
Why is this on my list?
Because sometimes, I succeed 🙂
10. Store bread in the fridge to prolong shelf life
Iza and I spent years living in an apartment without a fridge.
It keeps our electricity bill down, and it’s not really as big of a necessity.
But when she left for Canada a little over a year ago, I realized I needed one.
Home cooking means having leftovers. And I hate the thought of food getting spoiled.
Because of the fridge, I can meal prep during weekends, maximize grocery shopping, and store fish and meat that will last for a month, and sliced bread stays fresh.
Plus, the fridge also prolongs the shelf life of my moisturizer and face masks. Feels good on the face, too.
11. Meal prep
Talking about meal prepping during weekends, I find that this solves my problem with skipping meals.
Having the apartment all by myself, keeping it tidy, with two dogs pooping and peeing everywhere is a lot to handle every morning.
Sometimes, I find myself with an aching stomach, my vision blurry than ever, and a headache that will last the whole day.
Which is why meal prepping is something I’d like to do regularly.
Last week, I made minatamis na kalabasa (sweetened squash) which took care of my sweet tooth, and sinigang na bangus.
A friend asked if I ever get tired of having the same meal over and over.
I guess if you’re used to this routine, and frugal living, getting tired of food will never cross your mind. Heck, there are people out there who can’t even afford a decent cup of coffee.
12. Defrost fridge once a month
You will feel super lazy to do this. But believe me, it’s worth it.
Not only does it make your electricity bill low, but defrosting allows you to check whether your food is still okay, remove too much ice, and wipe spills.
Use warm soapy water and a dishcloth.
Once you’re done, put baking soda or charcoal in a glass to absorb the bad odor.
13. Instead of dog treats, try biscuits
Do you know how expensive dog treats are?
When you see the labels, most of the ingredients are flour, eggs, and artificial meal flavors.
Why not use regular biscuits instead?
Beebee loves Breadstix.
Putin loves Magic Flakes.
But for their teeth, I buy Dentastix by Pedigree.
14. Don’t go grocery shopping without a list
I got this from my mom.
Grocery shopping, at times, can be overwhelming. Heck, there’s even a time when you want to buy the entire store.
But having a list, helps you stick to your budget, plus it helps you not to forget items that are important.
15. Find a way to monitor your expenses
I have an expense tracker every month.
This way, I can monitor what bills are due and when.
So when payday comes, I know what it will cover, and how much I can save.
16. Buy tea bags instead of the drinks
I love Starbucks Black Tea Latte.
It’s high in caffeine, but the hell I care.
It has the right amount of sweetness and the froth makes it super fancy to me.
But spending over Php 100 on tea puts a hole in my pocket.
Fine, it’s nice to treat yourself every once in a while.
What if I have this craving, but I don’t have the money to spare?
The solution? Get the tea bags so you can drink it at home.
A box of 12 tea bags of the Starbucks English Breakfast Black Tea is Php 550. That’s about 46 pesos per cup compared to the usual Php 140 to 165 when you buy at the store.
Sure, it’s not gonna taste the same as what your barista would prepare for you.
But homemade is better than none at all.
17. I stopped shopping for clothes
If you don’t work from home, you can skip this.
But if you are, working from home will give you a different perspective when it comes to buying new clothes.
When I was teaching, I see buying new clothes as a necessity.
But there are times when you will be judged based on your looks, instead of how good you are as a teacher.
18. My phone is still from the dinosaur era
I got my LG phone four years ago, and I haven’t replaced it since then.
Now, it’s already giving up on me.
It won’t charge.
I can’t install apps (except FB messenger lite and Instagram).
And storage is soo limited.
Sure, I’ll get one in the future.
But I don’t see its relevance at the moment.
Besides, I do most of my internet work using my computer.
As long as I can still call and text as needed.
My LG phone and I are going to stick together for a while.
19. I use scented laundry detergents to avoid buying fabric conditioners
Of course, everybody wants clean and fresh-smelling laundry.
That’s why there are fabric conditioners to add that extra oomph.
But adding a little extra doesn’t mean you have to spend more.
So I opt to use scented laundry detergents.
My favorite is Pride with Calamansi and Jasmine scent.
20. I don’t have a lot of cash on hand
Unless I have to pay bills, I seldom go to the bank and withdraw from my savings account.
This prevents me from impulse buying.
But I still keep a few bills and some change in case of an emergency.
Others may find frugal living as a habit of depriving themselves of simple pleasures or comforts in life. For me, it’s about knowing that I have enough and that I can survive by having enough.