We have been living in the Philippines for almost 8 years already. Time flies! I believe that the longer you live here, the cheaper you can do so. When you first move here, you tend to buy more imported items, which are very costly. But, let’s face it, when you go in the grocery store and see that jar of gourmet mustard just like you loved so much back home, it’s hard to pass it by! So, in your early days of living in the Philippines, it is not hard to understand why your budget is larger than it need be.
To some extent, if you are a foreigner living here, some of these imported items tend to keep your eye over the years. Although a local substitute may be readily available, that one that you remember from “back home” is very alluring! I find that over the years, Feyma and I tend to go through streaks where we will cut down on the imported stuff in one category or another. Then, maybe in 6 months, we will choose another category where we will switch to a local brand.
Due to the fact that we have a business here that is quite successful, honestly, budget has not been a big concern for us. However, for our online businesses, most of our customers are in the USA, with some also being from Europe and Australia. I would say that at least 80% of our business is from American customers, though. Because of this, in recent months, we have seen a dramatic downturn in our sales! The economy in the USA has gotten rather weak and people are cutting back, particularly on luxury items. The items that we sell online are luxuries – certainly not a necessity. Because of this, when the economy is weak, people buy less. On top of people buying less, the US Dollar has slid to the point where it has really influenced our profit margin too, so it’s kind of a double whammy. Don’t get me wrong, we are not out in the streets looking for scraps of food, but when times get a little tighter than you are used to, it is also a good time to evaluate how you spend your money.
In the past, we used to eat out a lot! In recent months we have cut back on that a bit, and tend to cook at home most of the time now. We used to go almost exclusively for foreign (imported) goods when they were available. For the past few months, we have been trying to shift to locally produced substitutes for some of the items that we purchase. It’s a good move too, because many of these items are just as good! In some cases, we have decided to cook from scratch rather than using prepared goods. As an example, if you buy a bottle of Prego or Ragu Spaghetti sauce to feed a large family, you could pay nearly P300 for that, as these are imported brands. Filipino brands of spaghetti sauce are different, as mostly Filipinos like to eat sweet spaghetti sauce. We prefer more of an authentic Italian flavor, not something sweet. The solution is that you look for some recipes on the Internet for home made spaghetti sauces and go buy things in the market like tomatoes and such to prepare it yourself! It is way cheaper, tastes better, and healthier when you use fresh ingredients!
Over the past decades, as a society, it seems that most of us have shifted to “convenient” things that are pre-prepared and such. It is funny that we can save money, be healthier and enjoy our food more if we shift to fresher goods! I can already see some big savings in our budget, and better food on the table too!
It’s a no brainer!