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Crystal Neri | Saving Money (Part 1) - Crystal Neri

Saving Money (Part 1)

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MONEY HAS ALWAYS BEEN a fascinating subject. Growing up, I witnessed how different social classes operate. Unlike the U.S. with a middle class, the Philippines’ rich and poor are two very different animals. We had friends who could not put food on the table; at the same time, we mingled with kids who had drivers, yayas, tutors, and vacation homes. So then I wondered: How come?

This question plagued me and changed my perspective about finances. Just like healthy eating, I have two choices: to eat things that either make me healthy or not. So when I spend, I ask: Does this expenditure take me closer to my dreams?
Now that I work and get a steady paycheck, I still remain very frugal. I don’t loan, don’t shop much and save about 60% of my salary. Hard indeed, but I keep myself in check these specific goals:
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I’ve been to seven countries so far and constantly take mini-adventures around San Diego county

As Paulo Coelho would say: “I’m a pilgrim.” If I could live my life observing sunrise and sunsets, I would be a very happy woman. Saving money is one way to fulfill my pilgrim dreams. On my travel wish list:

1. Capetown, South Africa



I’ve been nearsighted since I was 13 years old, because of genes and excessive reading. LASIK is a life-changing procedure that costs about $1,000+.



I recently got engaged. More than a wedding, which I consider an unnecessarily extravagant party, I’m saving for a new life. I’ll be moving back to my country in a new city (Cebu), learning the dialect, looking for a job, acclimating to new friends and family. All these cost quite a pretty dime. Money is tight, so I want to focus on what matters to me in the next few years: an ample home with plenty of light, a complete kitchen and perhaps even an orthopedic mattress.



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Stores manipulate your senses into overspending

People mistaken frugality as depriving them of what they want, but really, it is about saving for things they need. Mantras I live by:
“If you have to think about it, it means you don’t need it.”
“Know Needs From Wants”
“Lower media consumption. All it does is make you want to buy things you don’t need.” It might be ironic how someone like me who works in media would advocate less of it. Everything around us, screams buy buy buy. A good rule of thumb for things to keep: It must be beautiful, useful, or loved. Otherwise, clutter stores negative energy, says feng shui.

Lifehacker suggests cutting down mainly on two common biggest expenses: transportation and food. For transportation, I get gas at Costco. It’s is the undisputed cheapest gasoline price in my area. I buy in bulk, cook in big batches, freeze often, and watch stores prices. I got it all down to a routine and habit so effective, that my food expense is only $5 a day. I’m currently working on mastering fresh-food-fantastic-cooking on a budget.


Best way to curb impulse buying: writing down every penny

Similar to golf statistics or a food diary – we are only truly of aware of things we keep track of. A few years ago, I read Your Money Or Your Lifethat changed my perspective about finances. At the time, I was just in college so I didn’t have income, yet I slowly started by tracking every penny and drafted a personalized spreadsheet. The finance book teaches many other wonderful things, such as how time and money equates life energy. Simple Dollar did a stellar review of the book here.
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Once a month, I sit down for 20 minutes to review 

First, I write every expense on an app, called Drafts, on my phone. I simply type it when I look at my receipts at home. Second, I total all the expenses on a piece of yellow pad paper. I do this once a month. Third, I input the numbers on my Google Drive spreadsheet. Then, easily I can find my salary, subtracted by expenses = savings.

Also, on the Drafts app, I have separate wish list. Things there include books, touchless motion sensor garbage cans, Mono price MHD wifi action cameras, etc. When I have extra cash, at least I’m spending it on things I covet long enough to write, and not on not random impulse buys.

Just the fact that I write down every penny makes me conscious of what I buy. Personally, the best reward is finding my savings percentage every month. Right now I average about 50-60% savings from my salary. This is truly one of the best habits I’ve ever conquered, one that allows me to travel, work less, and enjoy leisure without guilt. Frugality begets freedom.


(To be continued….)

PART 2 is about money saving tips #3 and #4, and the downsides of frugality. Click here.