When Metro Manila was declared the third most expensive city in Southeast Asia, it didn’t come as a surprise to most of us. This news strikes a chord particularly with people living independently, like those who have chosen to move out of their parents’ house or those who’ve left their hometown to work in the big city.
And what makes this even more frustrating is that the cost of living is not in line with people’s wages and doesn’t reflect the quality of life of the city’s majority population. This leaves most people with no choice but to live a more prudent lifestyle.
So whether you’re still looking for condos to buy in Capitol Commons or have been renting or living in Metro Manila independently for quite some time now, here are some affordable tips you can follow:
Renting in inner cities may be the most convenient option to escape Metro Manila’s notorious commute, but it carves a huge portion of your paycheck. Rental rates in and around business districts could range from P15,000 to P60,000, depending on the size and type of the rental and its location.
If you find yourself spending more than half of your salary to pay rent, it might be wise to downsize or look for a more affordable place. Downsizing could also mean getting rid of things in the house that may be costing you more money. It could also mean living a more minimalist lifestyle where you buy only what you need.
Cook your own meals
One of the silver linings to our current work-from-home situation is that we have more time to prepare our own meals. Not only is it the healthier option, but it’s also wise on the wallet. Ordering food all the time or signing up for meal plans is simply more expensive.
But there are times when cooking can be costly, too, especially if you don’t plan your meals and don’t store your food properly. To make sure you’re eating prudently, make a grocery list and stick to a specific budget consistently. Invest in airtight containers and research techniques to keep food fresh and avoid waste. More importantly, only cook in portions you can finish.
Use your air conditioner wisely
Air conditioning is the biggest electricity hog, especially in a city where average daily temperatures range from 28 °C to 32 °C. Add to that the urban heat island effect that plagues many urban areas. Whether you live in a townhouse or a high-rise condo, keeping the AC on is essential for your health and sanity.
But, keeping cool and comfortable often comes at a price, and in this case, a shocking Meralco bill that might cause you to sweat even more. To prevent bill surges during hot days, be sure to clean your AC’s filter regularly and keep it at the lowest comfortable temperature. If you have the budget, consider switching to an inverter-type air con as it’s a lot more energy-efficient. During rainy and humid days, change the setting to “Dry Mode” and keep the temperature setting at 24. Also, make sure that the unit you buy is ideal for the size of the room you’re gonna install it in.
Invest in energy-efficient appliances
If you’re single or living with a partner in a small 1-bedroom apartment and your electricity bill is more than P3,000, it may be time to rethink your daily consumption. It’s either you’re using your air conditioner, TV, and other appliances too much, or the units you have are outdated. If so, it’s wise to invest in more energy efficient appliances like LED TV’s, inverter refrigerators and air conditioners, LED lights, and the like. You’d be surprised how this move can significantly reduce your electricity bills.
To cut your utility bills even further, make an inventory of your appliances and gadgets and make it a habit to plug them off when not in use. Appliances and devices on standby contribute a lot to your electricity bills.
Keep track of your finances
This is by far the most effective hack for living more affordably, wherever you are in the world. Keeping a record of your finances ensures that you don’t miss any bills and that you can budget your salary or income accordingly.
It’s also important to update your budget tracker regularly. Whether you’re using an app on your phone or computer or writing your budget down in a notebook, make it a habit to check in every day and update as you go.
It may seem impossible to meet the cost of living in Metro Manila without drowning in debt, but these small sacrifices and hacks can help you get on track.