Plan everything, don’t leave anything to chance

A young family shows how to be peso-wise
By Heinz Bulos

Raising a growing family is a challenge for anyone, and many just let their finances get out of control. Not the Ramoses. Cynthia Ramos, 35, and her family are savvy consumers.

They buy non-food items in bulk to pay for today’s lower prices. And they avoid the frequent trips to the grocery, which means more gas, more merienda on the side, and more effort. They always make a list and refrain from buying things not on it. For fresh food, they buy from the wet market, where it’s often fresher and cheaper than supermarkets.

When malls hold sales at 50%-70% off on children’s clothes and shoes, Cynthia buys 3 to 5 items for each of their two children, including items a size bigger for future use. She waits for major price reductions for shoes, bags, clothes and make-up. For house decors, they frequent Tiendesitas and Kanlaon, where they hunt for bargains and at the same time support cottage industries.

They’re role models for the environment too, as they recycle whatever they can. She says, “Our helper collects bottles of suka, patis, toyo, and newspapers and magazines. The proceeds go to our helper. You help someone and you also help the environment.” They also teach their children to conserve water, even employing that Barney song to remind them (“Oh, I never let the water run”). They save on electricity, thanks to their air-conditioner with timer and free fan. They cook for more than one meal and store leftovers in the freezer, since re-heating entails less time and uses less LPG. Cynthia sometimes arranges carpools with her neighbor or sister.

They often bring the kids to the movies, but they carry their kids’ snacks and drinks instead of buying exorbitantly priced popcorn and sodas at the cinema. They also avoid Timezone when they’re with the kids as it’s practically a money trap. Rather, they create fun games at home using existing toys and computer games, even using their own point system and giving out prizes.

They also time their vacations when low-cost packages are offered. “Try the Palakbayan packages of PAL for domestic vacations. Or try the Cebu Pacific seat sales,” she points out. And when she needs a little pampering, she gets a massage at home for just P200 to P250, half or a quarter of what it would cost going to a day spa. “You can even sleep longer,” notes Cynthia. “But be sure to pick one with a good reputation.”

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