Change your lifestyle

A busy working mom shows how to stretch her peso
By Heinz Bulos

Saving can sound so boring, but Tracy Aquino, 37, has made it both creative and enjoyable. For her, the most important principle in saving is a change of lifestyle. The mother of a five-year old son makes time for fun without having to spending a lot, or at all.

Tracy, who works as a training manager for a U.S.-based company and a film teacher in a prestigious university on the side, loves watching movies. But before trooping to the mall, she and her family have a meal at home first and bring their own popcorn. She enjoys shopping for clothes every now and then but she never buys those that need to be dry cleaned.

Her husband has also traded his old habits of billiards and going out with the boys for a less costly pursuit such as watching his fish in the aquarium. “Sure he buys all kinds of fish, but he argues it keeps him home and is still cheaper than billiards with the boys,” Aquino jests.

She also makes it a point that her family lives a healthy lifestyle. She always buys fresh food mostly for their health value, but practically for the cheaper cost. Processed food such as your favorite can of luncheon meat is not only expensive but is bad for your health. She does the grocery once a week and always sticks to her list. She also tries to stay away from convenience stores unless it’s a matter of life and death.

On weekdays, she always brings a packed lunch and is seldom tempted to lunch out with officemates even on a Friday when everyone seems to be a little more forgiving about spending.  No amount of peer pressure will budge her from enjoying her lunch lovingly cooked by the yaya. Tracy says, “One of the reasons I hate eating out are the taxes that make an already expensive meal even more costly by a few hundred pesos.”

She’s also a big believer in recycling. In her household, they collect old newspapers and used bottles as well as electronic junk such as old cellphone chargers that she exchanges for cash. To motivate her house help to segregate the trash according to recycling standards and to keep the newspapers and bottles, whatever cash they get from trading these goes to them.

Tracy also proudly declares that she buys her Christmas gifts on sale. In past years, she even made her own gifts. One time, she made 100 small killer whales made from paper-maché, attached with a picture of her family in scuba gear with the message “Save the Ocean”. Another time, she gave away paper weights made of pebbles she bought at two pesos each. She also makes her own Christmas wrapper using the very handy and cheap manila paper and decorate it with stamps made from vegetables out of which she carves her designs.

Saving is no strain on her at all because she has learned what others are still trying to achieve – to live simply and be content with what they have.

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