This Is How Much I Spent In A Week On A Monthly Salary Of P21,000

I don't live paycheck-to-paycheck—at least not anymore.
by Cosmopolitan Philippines
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Name: Kim, 25

Industry: Digital Publishing

I share a rented semi-furnished condo unit with three other girls. I occupy the sofa-bed, but I’m cool with it because 1) noise doesn’t easily rouse me from hibernation (yes, I sleep like a bear and function best with nine to 12 hours of sleep) and 2) our amenities are da bomb—pool, gym, the works! Sometimes, though, I sleep over at my boyfriend’s place and spend Sundays with my family in the province.

Financial Support: My salary as a full-time digital editor mainly keeps me afloat. Technically, P21,000 isn’t my “full earnings,” but it’s what I get to take home after a small salary deduction for taxes. Our monthly rent costs up to P5,000, and my recently-acquired life insurance plan costs P2,125 a month. I’m also paying my credit card bills (around P6,000 a month) mainly composed of consolidated debt and costly airfares (through installment plans). 

That leaves me with about P7,800 for daily expenses and the savings fund I’m building little by little. I have various freelance writing gigs that help me survive and pay for the occasional splurge on pancakes, pizza, and Korean BBQ.

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Day 1 (Monday)

The start of the work week is usually tiring—not just because of the ~Monday blues~ taking over, but because I travel from Bulacan. Yup, I take a jeepney from our house to EDSA-Balintawak through NLEX (P24). Then, I take the bus to Boni Avenue (P30) because I’d rather sleep for two hours through the ride than makipag-digmaan sa MRT during the rush hour. Hard pass.

I dropped off my weekend bag at the condo and had breakfast there. I mixed a cup of yogurt with a bowl of cereal (both from a month-long supply of groceries worth P1,000, which I bought with gift checks last week). I took out my baon for lunch: a frozen bowl of sundubu jjige (tofu stew with kimchi), which I cooked last Friday and stored in the freezer (the ingredients were also part of my groceries). And since I wasn’t going to buy lunch anymore, and I had P180 left in my Starbucks card, I bought THE best drink ever for the caffeine fanatic: Matcha Espresso Fusion (I had to add P10 for the venti upsize).

Around merienda and dinnertime, my crazy hormones were at work. I had a large glass of Coke (free; a bottle was left over from a photo/video shoot) in the afternoon to beat menstrual cramps. I munched on chicharon bulaklak (P55), roasted peanuts (P38), and three pieces of asado puto (P80 for five pieces) for dinner.

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Daily Total: P417

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Day 2 (Tuesday)

“CRAP.” That’s the first thought that started my Tuesday. I was late for work, and we had a meeting first thing in the morning, so I quickly showered, dressed up, and ran to work (our condo is literally next to the office, so it wasn’t a long run). I skipped breakfast, so when the offer came to leave the meeting by 12:10 p.m., I ran back to our condo to cook and eat.

I cooked a simple stir-fry with tofu, spinach, and (canned) shiitake mushrooms. I consumed half of it and froze the rest for later in the week. So I could be busog and so I could save some of my stir-fry for another meal, I bought rice at Mini Stop (P10). 

Dinner was amazing. I went out with a couple of friends and had a bowl of miso ramen, some spicy salmon sashimi, and some tempura (we shared the last two dishes, so I only paid P420). We had dessert at Locavore. The cherry on top was when one of my friends shouldered the bill—she just wanted to treat us, bless her heart. She even gave us a ride back to our office, so we didn’t have to take a tricycle. 

Daily Total: P430

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Day 3 (Wednesday)

A woman roams our office to take orders and supplies us with super affordable snacks, which usually helps me keep my expenses down when I need to. Plus, she has a variety of filling food items! The day before, I ordered saba, which just costs P15 for three to five pieces that are enough to keep me sated for breakfast. Together with one of my office besties (the friend who ordinarily splurges on food), I was #blessed, yet again, with a free meal for lunch. A friend at work treated us to Rub Ribs' mashed potatoes, spiced rice, and onion rings, and to Caramia ice cream. We bought her Coffee Bean pistachio cake in return (P70 each), and I bought a slice of cake and an Americano for myself (P280). Since I technically saved lunch money, I decided to share the blessings and bought a slice of cake (P140) for a friend at work who’s super stressed out. We all need Mary Grace limone santi for our sanity, you guys.

After work, I went to the Korean grocery store because I was craving some kimchi, but aside from a bag of preserved radish leaves, I also bought roasted seaweed sheets, two kilos of brown rice, three packs of melon milk, and King Oyster mushrooms (PSA: King Oyster mushrooms taste like beef, you guys, it’s ridiculous! Don’t pass it up when you see a bag in a Korean grocery store.) The total was P765, and the food usually lasts for two to four weeks.

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I cooked rice and a simple stir-fry with King Oyster mushrooms, soybean paste, and spinach (a recipe I developed when I stayed in Korea for a few weeks). I froze the leftovers again. 

Daily Total: P1,270

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Day 4 (Thursday)

I ate breakfast (cereals and yogurt again), drank brewed coffee, and had lunch (I heated the tofu stir-fry I froze earlier in the week and had brown rice with it) at our condo. I ate lunch late and I felt that I was still so full when the evening rolled in, so the jar of chicharon that a friend shared with us served as my dinner already. Overall, the day was uneventful.

Daily Total: P0

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Day 5 (Friday) 

I had breakfast at the condo again and brought baon (the leftover mushroom stir-fry and rice with a side of kimchi). I was gearing up for a feast that night—a high school barkada reunion at our resident tanggero’s house to celebrate the February and March birthdays. I’m one of the celebrants, so I got off work a little early, bought a box filled with five bottles of wine (YAS!) and three bottles of Smirnoff mule (P1,303.50). I took an Uber from Mandaluyong to Manila (P206) because I felt like I deserved to be spared from lugging around a heavy box of liquor.

Later on, I had a party-sized Shakey’s Pizza delivered and used my boyfriend’s Supercard (a very practical rewards card 'cause you get two for the price of one!); so that’s two 18-inch pizza pies for just P755. The other celebrants were in charge of the beer and other food (siomai, carbonara, and sisig). It was an awesome night, as it always is with them, and all the expenses were worth it.

Daily Total: P2,264.50

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Day 6 (Saturday)

Nursing a hangover can save you money, I guess, because my partner and I just stayed home and slept almost the entire day. He woke up around 2 p.m. and grabbed lunch, while I continued to hibernate. I woke up around 9 p.m. and felt like I could devour a meal for four. We grabbed greasy half-pound burgers and kebabs at this little all-night joint near his place called Yvan Navy (LOL), and this dinner was also my partner’s treat. (I offered to pay, okay?!)

Oh, he owed me P1,500 before to pay one of his bills, so that night he repaid me. Yes, we love each other wholeheartedly, but a debt is still a debt. Praktikal lang. That means I get to slash P1,500 off my weekly total, right? Score!

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Daily Total: -P1,500

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Day 7 (Sunday)

I traversed the roads of Manila (via the LRT) and NLEX again to go home and be with my family (P15 + P24). I saved some money because my dad and mom insisted on treating us to lunch and dinner. On some days, I give back by buying them a month’s worth of groceries, but usually, they’re happy to shoulder the expenses just to spend time with all five of their kids (three of whom are busy with work already and the other two busy with occasional extracurricular activities). I may love #adulting, but I love feeling babied like that by my parents, too. HEHE.

My office BFF texted me and tempted me to splurge on a coveted skincare product, Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair. I said I’ll think about it overnight since it costs around P5,500 (around P4,000 when discounted and shipped from the U.S.) I ended up passing on it because I still have a ton of Korean skincare products at home. But everyone’s been saying ikagaganda ko 'yun, so maybe once my stocks run out...

Daily Total: P39

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Weekly Total: P2,920.50 (P4,420.50 - P1,500)

So that’s what a week without a payday looks like for me. On some weeks, I do better. With filling 70-peso meals available in our pantry and in the canteen at the ground floor of our office, I can spend a meager P150 per day. On others, I really spend like there’s no tomorrow (maybe up to P1,500 for a meal for two or a splurge on a regular “budget” ticket to Korea that costs around P14,800). I especially splurge on date nights when I treat my boyfriend (ang mahal ng sine or massage service at ang hirap 'pag pareho kayong may stress-eating tendency). It’s all about “give and take” for me.

Obviously, like many other ~millennials~, large chunks of my earnings go to food, rent, and debt. However, I don’t feel bad or ashamed about it at all. In fact, the only reason I didn’t disclose my name in this article is because of the salary confidentiality clause of our company. I’m actually enjoying life and my independence, and all the experiences I spend on are worth it. Plus, with all my freelance gigs (#raketisLYF), my ATM never has a two to three-digit balance anymore—which I often experienced in my previous jobs (as a call center agent and as a content robot). That, my friends, is one of the greatest #adulting feats I’ve unlocked so far.

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Someday, I’ll save (and earn) enough to make my budget Pinterest wedding come true, build my own home, and live happily with my own family while letting my parents enjoy life, too. Someday, I’m going to be that tita who totally kicks ass at being a housewife, and maybe I’ll curate a book with my Totally Genius 5-Ingredient Recipes. But for now, I’m trying to be as productive as I can be, stay away from temptation, and attract all the good karma for my future. I wonder if my partner and I will still be able to finish a whole pizza and family size Bolognese pasta by ourselves when that time comes…

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