Best Money Hacks & Frugal Living Tips for Modern Day Filipinos

Last Updated – Nov 22, 2021 @ 8:57 am

At first glance, frugal living may seem immensely hard. Between looking up coupon codes and vouchers, not going out all the time, and cutting off cable TV, it looks like saving money can be restrictive. However, living a frugal life is easier than you think. 

With the prices of fuel, electricity, food, and other necessities skyrocketing, being smart about your spending has become mandatory. If you want to know more about the best money hacks and how to start your journey in frugal living, keep on reading. 

What is Frugal Living?

When people think about frugal living, the first thing that comes into their mind may be shopping only at thrift stores, or clipping coupons in newspapers. While frugal living can be those things, it’s much more than that. 

Contrary to what many people think, frugal living does not mean being a cheapskate. Instead, it entails being more conscious of your spending and making sure it aligns with your financial goals. For example, a working student struggling to pay for her books can look into living in a dorm with roommates, or tutoring other students; or a graphic designer working remotely can move to a low-cost city.

Before we dive deeper into frugal living, you need to understand that it has no clear path or steps. Instead, it is a general lifestyle choice that serves as a motivation for people to prioritize what they need more than what they want.  


Benefits of Frugal Living

Following this lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to be like the stars of Extreme Couponing. If you’re still on the fence about becoming more frugal, we’ve rounded up some benefits that come with it.

Early retirement

It’s tempting not to think about your retirement when you’re still in your mid-20s or 30s since it’s still far away. However, the earlier you prepare for retirement, the better your life will be when you’re older.

Being intentional about living a frugal lifestyle will help you achieve this financial goal faster. Every time you save money by not purchasing something unimportant, you are one step closer to building your wealth to provide for yourself when you are older. 

The best part about living frugally when you are younger is that you can build more investments. Therefore, you can choose to have a more lavish lifestyle when you retire.

Freedom to follow your passion

You may think spending less money will only make you demotivated. But with every money you save, you are building your financial capabilities and you are moving away from living paycheck to paycheck. 

Have you ever noticed how there are many Filipinos who hate their job but couldn’t resign because they depend on it so much?

When you stop relying on your monthly paycheck to make ends meet, you can break free from pursuing a career you don’t love. Being frugal will grant you the capacity to escape a situation you don’t like in the future. When this happens, you will be free to run after your passions.

Reduce stress

Money is one of the biggest stressors in life. Living a frugal lifestyle is a great solution if you are always stressed about money.

If you find ways to save less, you won’t continually chase your paycheck. Making specific changes in your life will also ensure that you will have extra money at the end of each month to put in your emergency fund, investment fund, and other goals. 

Additionally, frugal living makes you realize that material things are not as important as you once thought. When you have a friend whose house is bigger than yours, you won’t feel the need to move out of your two-bedroom house, or when you have an officemate that just bought a brand new car, you won’t pity yourself for having a secondhand car that works just fine. 

By having this perspective, living within your means will be easier. More than that, you will not feel left out or envious of others. After all, just because someone has a better car or house does not mean they have more money than you. 

Preparedness for financial emergencies

When you live frugally, you can breathe easier when you go through tough times. For instance, if you suddenly lose your job, you can still have money to fall back on for a few months or years.

In many ways, deliberately practicing a frugal lifestyle will help you build your emergency fund


11 Money Hacks to Save More Money

If you have never tried living this lifestyle, you may not know where to start and that’s completely fine. The key is to make changes along the way. You can start by following these money tips below.  

1. Buy low price car fuel using PriceLOCQ

If you have a car, you’re probably bummed about the constantly increasing price of fuel. Thankfully, there’s an app that can protect you against price hikes. 

PriceLOCQ is the country’s first app that helps Filipinos save on fuel. Through this app, you can buy up to 600 liters of diesel products and gasoline at today’s prices and enjoy them at a later time. This way, you can redeem when prices are high, and hold on to your purchase when the price drops. 

Your purchase will be stored as Fuel Balance, which you can redeem anytime. All you need to do is scan a QR code at any of their 250 partner stations all over the country.

If you want to top up your balance, you can use a credit/debit card, GCash, or any of their over-the-counter payment partners including RD Pawnshop, and Cliqq by 7/11, among many others. This app works with SeaOil. 


2. Use Cashback credit cards

A cashback credit card is a type of rewards credit card. It offers a very lucrative offer where you can enjoy substantial rewards every time you purchase.

Cashback credit cards pay you back through cash rewards every time you use them for an eligible purchase that you can redeem in the future.

Here are some cashback credit cards you can avail of in the Philippines.

Citibank Cash Back Credit Card: 

  • Up to 6% cashback on supermarket purchases 
  • Up to 2% cashback on Meralco Bill Payments through Citibank online
  • Up to 0.20% Cashback on all other purchases 

Other benefits:

  • Waived first annual fee
  • Easy redemption 

Annual fee (for succeeding years): Php 4,500 

Click here for more information 

Security Bank Complete Cashback Mastercard: 

  • Up to 5% cashback on groceries
  • Up to 4% cashback on gas
  • Up to 3% cashback on utilities
  • Up to 2% cashback on dining
  • Up to 1% cashback on shopping 

Other benefits:

  • Year-round cashback
  • 5-tiered rebates
  • immediate cashback
  • waived annual fee
  • worldwide acceptance
  • Marhaba Lounge Access at NAIA Terminals 1 and 3

Click here for more information 

EastWest Bank Everyday Titanium Mastercard 

  • 5% cash rebates on supermarket, drugstore, and gas purchases for Php10,000 and above
  • 0.5% cashback for non-essential purchases below Php5,000
  • 3% cashback for non-essential purchases more than Php5,000 but below Php10,000
  • 5% cashback for non-essential purchases more than Php10,000

Note: non-essential purchases include non-supermarket, non-drugstore, or non-gas purchases

Other benefits:

  • Low foreign currency conversion fee
  • Special perks and privileges 
  • Global acceptance
  • Supplementary cards
  • High cash advance limit
  • Merchant installment 

*among many others 

Annual membership fee:

  • Php2,800 for the principal card
  • Php1,400 for the supplementary card

Unionbank Platinum Mastercard 

  • 1.5% cashback on all purchases

Other benefits:

  • Access to NAIA 1 Club Manila Lounge
  • Long credit rates
  • No expiration cashback

Annual fee: Php3,000 primary, Php1,500 supplementary 


3. Promos & Rebates from digital wallets

Having digital wallets is a must due to the rising popularity of cashless transactions. More than giving you peace of mind and security, digital wallets also offer promos and rebates you shouldn’t pass up on.

GCash

GCash is undeniably the premier digital wallet in the Philippines. This versatile mobile app offers tons of features such as letting you pay bills or invest money.

GCash  also offers promos and rebates when you cash in, send money, buy load, pay bills, and many more. Check out their ongoing promos here

PayMaya

This digital wallet is up to par with GCash when it comes to flexibility and popularity. It makes shopping more convenient, and users can also receive rewards and rebates when they use the app regularly.

Check out their ongoing promos here


4. Exercise at home using Gym apps

More Filipinos are realizing the importance of having a healthy lifestyle. However, gym membership rates can be extremely high starting at Php1,000 to up to Php3,000 per month.

Classes are also pricey at Php250 to Php500 for one to two hours.

If you want to prioritize exercising but don’t want to spend an ungodly amount of money on gym fees and transportation, you can subscribe to workout apps. 

Muscle Booster, available on App Store and Google Play, allows you to do equipment-free workouts in your home, or use it for gym workouts without paying for a personal trainer. Workouts range from 30 to 50 minutes.

With this app, you can clear goals like losing weight or gaining muscle. You can also choose areas you want to work on such as your legs, shoulder, chest, belly, back, and many more. All workouts are planned through an intelligent algorithm that uses your personal data. 

Price: App is free, Php93/month for further use.


5. Use coupon & voucher sites

You may think you’re already saving money from online deals but you’d be surprised to know how much more you can save if you check out different coupon and voucher sites.

Thankfully, there are a myriad of platforms available in the Philippines so you can save on some cash if you want to treat yourself. Here are some of our favorite ones:


6. Cut off Cable TV

Gone are the days when it’s impossible to entertain yourself without Cable TV. The reality is, whether you use your cable constantly or not, it is one of your largest utility bills.

Cutting your cable TV will enable you to save money, and discover more options for entertainment. Here are some alternatives:

  • YouTube Premium: Php159 per month.  
  • Netflix: Php149 to Php549 per month
  • Apple TV: Php249 per month
  • Rakuten Viki: Php259 per month
  • Amazon Prime: around Php305 per month 
  • HBO Go: Php 149 per month

7. Work from home

It’s no secret that working from home offers tons of benefits, especially when it comes to achieving a work-life balance. One of the most important advantages you can experience when you work from home is improved savings. 

When you work from home, you will be saving money on your commute. These savings can be felt whether you usually drive to work, ride a GrabCar, or use public transportation.

You can also save money on clothes, food, childcare because you don’t have to hire a nanny, coffee, and many more. All these things may seem like small expenses when you go to an office to work, but they can add up and take over your budget. 

Aside from all those things, you will also save time. Working from home means you won’t have to deal with traffic, look for an empty space in the parking lot, wake up early to beat the morning rush, and many more.

Therefore, you can use this time to learn new things and focus on your passion. 


8. Cook at home

While there is nothing wrong with treating yourself to your favorite restaurant every once in a while, regularly doing this is a waste of money because beverages and food have a huge markup to pay for overhead costs like rent, equipment, and staff wage. 

When you cook at home, you will not only save money, but also enjoy fresher ingredients, and healthier meals. If you don’t like cooking at home because you are not well-versed in the kitchen, now is the time to learn.

You’ll be surprised at how easy and fast it is to whip up quality meals that cost a fraction of what you would pay for in a restaurant. If you want to look for recipes, you can explore these YouTube channels:


9. Online barter

You may have heard of the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” This is exactly the philosophy behind online barter. 

Online barter involves exchanging goods, usually with equal value, without any money involved. This is done through social media channels.

Chances are, there are Facebook bartering groups in your location. All you need to do is do a quick search on Facebook.  


10. Open high-interest rate online savings accounts

It’s impossible to grow your money in traditional banks that only offer 0.10% to 0.25% interest annually.

If you want to be wise about your money, use high-yield savings account from digital banks to give you a better return on your deposits, such as the following:

  • CIMB Bank Fast Plus Account: up to 0.75% interest 
  • CIMB Bank Fast Account: up to 0.50%
  • CIMB GSave: up to 2.6%
  • Komo: up to 2.5%
  • Tonik Bank Stash: 4% for solo stash, and 4.50% for group stash
  • ING: 4% interest 

Aside from helping you earn more interest compared to normal bank savings accounts, you also won’t get an ATM account so you won’t be tempted to withdraw money out of impulse. 


11. Buy online from one-stop shops

A one-stop shop combines different brands on a single platform. Therefore, you can save so much money on shipping costs since you will be getting everything in one place instead of making different bookings for each transaction.

Some of the most popular one-stop shops in the Philippines are:

About MJ de Castro

MJ de Castro is the lead personal finance columnist at Grit PH.

MJ started her career as a writer for her local government’s City Information Office. Later on, she became a news anchor on PTV Davao del Norte.

Wanting to break free from the shackles of her 9-to-5 career to live by the beach, she pursued remote work. Over the years, she has developed a wide specialization on health, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, branding, and travel.

Now, she juggles writing professionally, her business centering on women’s menstrual health, and surfing.

Education: Ateneo de Davao University (AB Mass Communication)
Focus: Personal Finance, Personal Development, Entrepreneurship, & Marketing

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