How to Survive the City in a 20,000-Peso ($445) Income?

Living in the city with a meagre 20,000-peso (approx $445) income could really test your survival skills and should make us resourceful and wise when it comes to spending our stash. We all should learn how to manage our financial capabilities. We should all learn to prioritise the basic and important expenses.

BASIC: Apartment rental fee; meal/food; fare to/fro work; water and electricity bills

IMPORTANT: Tax; Insurance/investment; social service (SSS/GSIS); PhilHealth; Health Card; Communication (mobile load); Savings; Housing loan; Remittance

OTHERS: Travel

Apartment Rental – 3,500

Utility bills – 500

Meals – 4,500

Fare – 900

Mobile load – 500

Insurance – 1,000

Social Service – 800

PhilHealth – 200

Health Card – 1,100

Tax – 5,000

Savings Account – 1,000

Local Travel – 1,000

Monthly ExpensesApartment. Your apartment does not need to have escalator or elevator, swimming pool or other fancy decorations. As long as you have a functional restroom where you can take a bath and wash your clothes, it is fine. As long as it has a working sink to form part of your kitchen, it is fine. As long as it can protect you from the storm, strong heat of the sun and other bad elements, it is fine. (P3,500)

Utility bills. Water and electricity bills should not be a burden to you. You get to spend only a few hours at home. So it should not cost you higher than 500 pesos in a month. Minimise the number of appliances that you have. Do not install an air-conditioning unit if you can sleep with an electric fan. Do not acquire a refrigerator if you have no plans of storing food items. Your apartment is not a place for weekend parties, so you should not install high-end AV equipment. If you are planning to cook, then try doing it on gas stove. But you have to be very careful as accidental fire may bring you more bad luck.

Meal / Food. You have the option to cook your own food. If you do not know how to cook, then make sure to find the best-deal restaurants or cafeterias near your place of work or home. A 40-peso breakfast (a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of hot milk or coffee, and a serving of a fruit) could give you enough energy to last until 12 noon. You can have a cup of brown rice, half-serving of vegetable and full-serving of meat viands and a piece of banana for lunch (P70). You can have a bowl of salad (made up of local greenies) and three pieces of wheat crackers for dinner (P40). That’s 150-peso a day!

Fare. If you know that you are on a tight budget, then find an apartment near your place of work. Forty pesos in a day could be a good cost for commuting to your work and back to your apartment after work.

Tax. The Philippines has one of the high tax rates in the world at 32%. When you get your salary, you may notice a 10% withholding tax indicated in your payslip. That form part of your annual tax. When computed, you may or may not need to shed additional amount. Don’t fret about paying tax. If others don’t, then why join them. Contribute to nation-building. This may take an estimated 5,000 pesos from your gross income.

Insurance/investment. There are lots of insurance agencies with various packages. Some agencies offer you a combination of mutual fund and investment. A contribution of 1000-peso a month is good to make you live like a prince after ten years of investing.

Social service (SSS/GSIS). You may not immediately feel the benefits of paying SSS or GSIS. But later in your life or when a calamity strikes, this may actually be more helpful than what you think. If you have paid continuously for 36 months, you can loan a significant amount of money that can help you with unforeseen expenses. Of course, you have to pay what you have loaned, but the two agencies offer very good payment schemes with reasonable interest rates. (P800)

PhilHealth. Investing 200 pesos a month for your health is not bad.

Health Card. Aside from your PhilHealth account, it may be significant to also have your health maintenance account. You have to pay a bit higher premium in order to access the better hospitals like St Luke’s, Asian Hospital and Makati Medical Center. (P1,100)

Communication (mobile load). Everyone has gone mobile and digital. With 500 pesos, you can call and send text messages to all networks but limited Internet connection through your mobile phone. Refrain from watching YouTube videos using your mobile data subscription, do that in a place where you can connect via Wi-Fi.

Savings. In order to safeguard your future, aside from the investment/insurance that you are paying, it is good to jumpstart your own savings account by allocating 5% of your income for this (P1,000).

Local travel. It is good if you also set aside a portion of your income for the purpose of traveling. Your life can become better by traveling. You get to meet new friends, experience a new culture and see new sights. (P1,000 or priceless)

There you go, friends. Hope this guide works for you. Of course, you can adjust allocations depending on your income and location. Just make sure to minimise unwanted expenses (you know what I mean!!)

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