Few months ago, I posted a picture with a tabulation of how a minimum wage earner can save with a 12,000 PHP/month income. Many comments and reactions sank in and say things like “unrealistic,” “too good to be true,” or “impossible.” I wonder why they say that it’s impossible to save with this amount of income. Is it only applied to single people (who live with their parents)? Is 12,000/mo. income too small for our society today?
Personally, me and some of my family members were able to survive with that earning (way before 2017 when I started to teach). It sounds surreal at first, but during that time, my family was able to teach us where we should prioritize our money. It’s very rare for us to eat outside, our clothes and shoes are mostly from the thrift shop (ukay-ukay), and we only prioritize our money to the most necessity payments (utilities, savings, etc.) That’s why ever since high school, I was able to save (sell pad paper/school supplies, help out at school canteen for free snacks), and do babysit job for my sister’s son for my projects, field trips, and other extracurricular activities.
Now that’s way before Jollibee chicken joy meal became 82 pesos. Our money became smaller in value, where 100 pesos can no longer survive a family for one day. And maybe that’s one of the reasons why it’s indeed unrealistic to save with 12,000 pesos. Because as the cost of goods inflates, so the value of our money deflates. There’s no way that you can sustain a middle-class family for a 4,000 pesos grocery expense.
But the real catch is this: with all the inflation and the upgrading expenses that this generation plunges into, why is it so hard to save? Is it more than just the money, or something else stops us to save?
Where do you PUT your money?
Chinkee Tan usually say, “Money is not about numbers, it’s all about emotions.” We usually buy something that we think that we feel good about ourselves. No one in the world that someone will buy his/her dream car without being happy about it. Same with our finances, we usually put it to the things that have an emotional involvement. Some people will spend 10,000 pesos worth of ticket to a concert despite having a PHP15,000/month income. It doesn’t matter how many sacrifices these people make, being hungry, be in debt and all. What matters is the emotion that this concert can make to the person. Nothing else matters when we set our money to the things that drive us.
How to save with a 12,000/month income? Know where your money SHOULD BE. You have to start and end with a goal in mind. Because if there’s a will, THERE’S ALWAYS A WAY. No matter how big or small your income is, your emotions should lead you to the right places. And that’s when you know that your heat and mind are in the right place when it comes to your finances.
Where do you SPEND your money?
My generation is TOO OVERRATED in terms of following trends. I will not be sorry for saying that because I tend to fall into that trap. Probably you already fall into that scenario, where you have to get to that point of buying a stuff that’s out of your budget. And many factors might trigger that decision: peer pressure and conformity. We will get to those sales, Piso fares and “hype buy” to feed our social media status and satisfy our ego. What if you only earn 12,000/month income? What do you do then? Buy that overpriced venti drink or not?
Sometimes, we tend to complain that it’s so surreal to save for a 12,000/month income. But have we checked our expenses recently? Do we ask questions where put our money DAILY? Do we usually spend our QC-to-Makati transport expenses to grab/uber (150 and more) than the usual public utility transportation (50 pesos)? The way you decide where you spend your money will ULTIMATELY determine if a minimum-wage income can sustain you or not. Regardless of your season and cost of living, if there’s a will, there’s ALWAYS A WAY. In this season, I learned to decide on this every single day: to decide where I should put my money, not where my money will take me. Why is that? Because of these two things:
1. God OWNS my money. I’m only His steward and He calls the shots whether my 100 peso bill will go to a Jollibee meal or 50-pesos meal and save the half.
2. God is PLEASED when I allocate His money to enlarge it and be FAITHFUL with it.
Like Chinkee Tan said: “It’s not how much money you have, it’s about how much money you KEEP.” How to save out of your 12,000/month income? Cut those expenses that do not truly belong to your ways of living (lower your utility consumption, remove your Spotify/Netflix subscription, etc.). Know and apply where you SHOULD put your money (Starbucks or 3in1 instant coffee? Forever 21 or Divisoria clothes? packed-up lunch or 150 pesos meal?) and start setting your savings amount WAY BEFORE you spend. Because it will never be about how much money you have, it’s about HOW FAITHFUL you are in spending the income God blessed you. If you can be faithful with the 12,000/month income, you will be CERTAINLY BE FAITHFUL WITH THE 120,000/month.
Where do you SEE your money go?
Sometimes, I tend to complain how my income can sustain me. I used to have that 12,000/month income from my last teaching job. I have to pack my lunch, go to the “rush hour insanity” to work without uber/grab/motorbike (habal), and teach from 7am-4pm (sometimes, overtime), just to earn that kind of income. But what I learn from that experience are these: I can still give my tithes, give my monthly contribution to my family, pay bills, do some groceries, treat my sister at Jollibee every Sunday, bless other people, and STILL save 15% out of my income (through insurance).
Yes, it is insane for me to sacrifice many things for me to save. I need to deprive myself of many things just to make sure that all of my expenses are met and my savings safe and secured. But the end of the day, I can say that it’s ALL WORTH IT. Knowing that at the end of all the delayed gratification and sacrifice I make, my future and my family will be secured. The way I see my savings is no longer a BURDEN but a blessing, knowing that it will serve a great purpose for me and my family. That no matter how the O.D.D.S of life (Old age, Death Disability, Sickness) strikes in, I know that my savings will protect and sustain me in the end. That saving is what I called INSURANCE, and ALL OF US NEED IT.
With Sun Life Philippines, they enable many Filipinos to save and invest in such a way that people no longer need to be afraid about the stigma and fear about money issues. With the help with their licensed and knowledgeable financial advisors, people who works in a minimum wage income can now have a chance to live a life free from financial burden by giving them comprehensive solutions suited to their needs. And that’s what our family really needs.
So again, how to save with a 12,000/month income? Simply CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE, HONOR GOD WITH YOUR FINANCES AND LET HIM MOVE IN YOUR EXPENSES. Because like I said, If you can be faithful with the 12,000/month income, you will be CERTAINLY BE FAITHFUL with the 120,000/month. Saving will NO LONGER be too hard for you because you know how to save spend wisely and give wisely. And with right tools and right people, saving will be as easy and brighter as ever.