Pinays Get Real About Their Shopping And Spending Habits

Things change when it's your own—and not your parents'—money you're using.
PHOTO: Chris Clinton

Just how do Filipinas in their 20s and 30s fare when it comes to spending their salary? What do they splurge on and save up for? We spoke to seven women about their shopping and spending habits, and this is what we learned:

Name: Mariel*

Age: 28

Occupation: Businesswoman

Industry: Health and Beauty

Monthly income range: P80,000 to P100,000

How often do you shop?

For beauty products, I’d buy two or three very nice things monthly, to be updated with the trends and hottest releases. For fashion, I shop only once a month, sometimes even just once every two months. I typically only do so when there’s a special event I need to get dressed for. What I wear is one of those things I don’t like to think much about! This is due partly to laziness and partly because I don’t have a lot of time to work on it. 

Do you set a spending limit when you shop? Give us an idea of your budget.

Since I don’t shop that often, I tend to purchase things in one go. I’d normally put in P5,000 to P10,000 per shopping trip. 

What do you usually buy?

It really depends what I think I need at the moment! I won’t bat an eyelash at a P3,000 makeup palette or skincare. I’d buy a P3,000 to P4,000 dress or top as long as it’s something I know I’ll be able to wear for a long time, for a lot of occasions. 

Otherwise, I buy all my casual clothes in Uniqlo (the fabric technology and fit are top notch). I also love shopping at Zara for updated classics, and Zalora for the crazy convenience.

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Do you consider yourself an impulsive or a smart shopper?

I used to be an impulsive shopper when I was younger, but now I’d rather just buy things I know I need and will use for years. Perhaps my style has become boring through the years since I keep re-wearing the same things, but I’m comfortable in my classic-quirky style and don’t feel as pressured to look super trendy.

What is one shopping tip or rule you always follow?

If you’ve been thinking about getting something for a whileyou know, it’s just at the back of your head for weeksit’s probably something you should just buy.

Avoid buying on impulse because whatever it is, it’s probably going to be there for at least a couple of weeks so you can really consider the purchase. And if it’s sold out then, well, in my experience it’s not going to kill you (even though the crushing regret feels like it’s going to!). There will always be something better to buy eventually. It’s the nature of a capitalist economy. 

Do you believe in investing on designer items like bags or watches?

An “investment” is something that is used in the future to create wealth. It is technically something that should make you more money. If you buy a designer item just because it’s “nice” and makes you feel good, that’s not an investment. That’s a luxury. There’s no judgment there, just that we should know what our money is supposed to do for us.

Personally, I do invest in designer bags. I interact with people of note for my business so maintaining a certain level of status is part of my job description. An expensive bag is a practical acquisition in an industry where status is a currency that can buy you money-making projects, and an entrance to a useful network of contacts which can be used to start more businesses.

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Other than that, I like having nice things I can use for a long, long time. Remember, I’m a fairly lazy shopper and dresser! I have bags that are three years oldI’ve never even had them cleaned but they still look fairly new! This is the luxury part of my designer bag purchases.

What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought? 

Are we talking just in fashion terms or in general? The most expensive thing I ever put money into is my company. The second most expensive thing is an out of the country trip with my mother, which I paid for in full. The third most expensive thing is my latest bag.

How do you save up for significant purchases? What sacrifices do you make?

I follow only one rule when it comes to big purchases: spend only money you already have. I don’t save bit by bit, per se, at least not for one item. I maintain an emergency fund. For unnecessary or non-urgent purchases, I just work harder, and when I get a good windfall, I spend it on the item.

Have you ever spent a lot of money on something and regretted it?

Not that I recall at the moment. I live by myself and pay a lot of bills, plus salaries, so I don’t have the luxury of making a mistake when I buy something particularly expensive.

Shopping aside, where does your salary go?

As I mentioned above, I live by myself so I pay all my bills and expenses without the help of parents. I also spend money on traveling. I used to maintain a respectable savings account, but I invested most of it into my business, which is riskier of course but turns over a bigger ROI. I do still keep an emergency fund, and I am in the process of getting health insurance.

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Are you saving up for anything right now?

Not at the moment! I’m pretty happy with what I have currently. I’ll be traveling later this year but I have enough set aside for that already.

* Names have been changed.

Up next: Steph, 21. Monthly income range: P18,000 - P20,000

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Name: Steph*

Age: 21

Occupation: Digital Marketing Officer

Industry: Fashion Retail

Monthly income range: P18,000 to P20,000

How often do you shop?

I shop probably once every two to three months, depending on what happens in my life (e.g. event/s coming up, trends I want to try, worn-out clothes). I don’t strictly schedule to just "shop."

Do you set a spending limit when you shop? Give us an idea of your budget.

Definitely! I probably won’t go over P4,000. I often shop with an item in mind already and know how much it is before I actually buy it (because I would be eyeing it a lot in the store). So anything in excess is, well, impulse-bought haha! 

What do you usually buy?

Clothes, shoes, makeup, and skincare. Again, the article of clothing or type of shoe would depend on my need (or want). I shop in ukay ukay stores and because the items are really cheap, I’d probably buy whatever’s cute or wearable.

Do you consider yourself an impulsive or a smart shopper?

I’d like to think I am a smart shopper, since I am very picky with what I will buy. I’m a petite girl so I try to think if the item in my size will sell quickly, or if a sale or special discount will come up. I would also try to look for alternative brands to buy from if the one I like is out of the budget.

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What is one shopping tip or rule you always follow?

Know what you want before stepping inside the store. It’s so easy to get distracted by pretty things, it’s best to have in mind what you really want and prioritize!

Do you believe in investing on designer items like bags or watches?

Yes! I think it doesn’t have to be a lot or from different brands. One to a few classic authentic bags and watches will already be a good investment.

What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought? Shoes!

How do you save up for significant purchases? What sacrifices do you make?

One thing I’ve done before was to leave my car and commute for a few days instead, to save having to gas up. 

Have you ever spent a lot of money on something and regretted it?

For purchases involving clothes, shoes, or makeup, I have never regretted any so far, since all have been planned beforehand (or I really wanted them badly anyways!). I probably regretted high spending on food or dining out many times.

Shopping aside, where does your salary go?

Gas, nights or dinners out, and savings are probably where the biggest chunk of my salary go to. I still live with my parents so I guess that saved me from a lot of other expenses. (Thank you, mom and dad.)

Are you saving up for anything right now? 

Yes! Saving for savings.

* Names have been changed.

Up next: Carla, 24. Monthly income range: P50,000 - P60,000

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Name: Carla*

Age: 24

Occupation: Senior Account Manager

Industry: Advertising

Monthly income range: P50,000 to P60,000

How often do you shop?

I shop here in the Philippines when I need something specific. But for hauls, I usually do it when I travel, especially if it’s in the US or in Hong Kong.

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Do you set a spending limit when you shop? Give us an idea of your budget.

Depends on what item I will buy. For clothes, P3,000; for shoes and perfume, P6,000; and for bags, P40,000 maximum.

What do you usually buy?

Basic tops and bags. Although, currently, I’m into perfume.

Do you consider yourself an impulsive or a smart shopper? Smart shopper

What is one shopping tip or rule you always follow?

If i’m being indecisive, I’ll have the item reserved first, then if I can’t stop thinking about it, I’ll buy it. But if I don’t even remember it hours after, I don’t buy it.

Do you believe in investing on designer items like bags or watches?

Yes, because I believe in paying for quality. Most designer items, you pay a premium because of their quality. 

What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought? A Prada bag

How do you save up for significant purchases? What sacrifices do you make?

I don’t really make an effort when it comes to material things. I prefer saving up on travels and for my future. I save up a portion of my income regularly, and I’m very strict on implementing this.

Have you ever spent a lot of money on something and regretted it? Yes

Shopping aside, where does your salary go? Savings, investments, travels, and monthly allowance

Are you saving up for anything right now? The future!

* Names have been changed.

Up next: Gela, 25. Monthly income range: P15,000 - P45,000

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Name: Gela*

Age: 25

Occupation: Director, Producer, and Writer

Industry: Film and Television

Monthly income range: P15,000 to P45,000 per project (depending on the work)

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How often do you shop? Three to four times a year for "serious" shopping. 

Do you set a spending limit when you shop? Give us an idea of your budget.

I try as much as possible to never go over P10,000 when shopping locally, unless it's for gadgets and investment pieces like eyeglasses, etc. Shopping budget for trips abroad also differ a lot. I usually allot P5,000 to P10,000 for shopping, but whenever I visit Japan, I get ready to shell out P30,000 to P40,000. It's not like I'm buying anything super expensive there—I just end up buying a lot of different things. 

What do you usually buy? Clothes and shoes

Do you consider yourself an impulsive or a smart shopper?

I'm a bit of both. I buy only when I can really afford to, but it doesn't matter if it's a need or a want. I also never use my credit card, unless I'm sure I can pay it all off without interest when the bills come in.

What is one shopping tip or rule you always follow?

I always look at the quality and the price. If you love it and it's worth it, go for it. 

Do you believe in investing on designer items like bags or watches? 

Only when I really love the design and quality. I don't really like worrying about whether a bag gets damaged or dirty just because it cost me a lot. It's a hassle. 

What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

A reversible embroidered satin sukajan (souvenir jacket) from B.S.C. Gallery in Kyoto.

How do you save up for significant purchases? What sacrifices do you make?

I don't buy anything insignificant for months. I also usually allot half of a paycheck for saving up on that purchase until I reach my mark. 

Have you ever spent a lot of money on something and regretted it?

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Fortunately, no.

Shopping aside, where does your salary go?

Savings, utilities, travels, insurance, food! 

Are you saving up for anything right now?

A trip abroad, a gift for my grandfather, and a new phone.

* Names have been changed.

Up next: April, 27. Monthly income range: P33,000 - P35,000

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Name: April*

Age: 27

Occupation: Writer and Producer

Industry: Publishing

Monthly income range:P33,000  to P35,000

How often do you shop?

Hard to say but maybe at most, once every quarter, excluding the occasional impulse buying. I usually just have two major shopping sprees, one for summer and another for the rainy season. And then of course, everytime I "need" something.

Do you set a spending limit when you shop? Give us an idea of your budget.

Hmmm, I rarely shop for over P3,000. If I'm shopping for a new wardrobe for a season or for a vacation, that's probably only when I can go overboard.

What do you usually buy?

Clothes, of course! Then occasionally, accessories and shoes. Lately, I've been buying furniture and stuff for the house, too. #adulting 

Do you consider yourself an impulsive or a smart shopper?

More of a smart shopper, because I usually put away money for savings first before I shop. But I won't deny giving in to impulses as well, especially online shopping, and whenever I feel like I "deserve" it after something good (to celebrate) or bad (to make myself feel better) has happened.

What is one shopping tip or rule you always follow?

When it comes to clothes, fit it first. Sometimes I even pray that after fitting it, I'd realize it doesn't look good as I imagined it to be anyway, so that I'd end up not buying it. I wouldn't feel so bad that way.

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Another is to listen to your instinct. If you really really like it and know in your heart that you won't be able to sleep at night thinking about it, and the price is somewhat reasonable, buy it!

Third is invite your mom with you for bigger chances of libre.

Do you believe in investing on designer items like bags or watches?

No, because if it's just after the name, I don't want to shell out so much. It's okay to spend more for quality, though. But beyond that? Not my style.

What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought? My laptop

How do you save up for significant purchases? What sacrifices do you make?

I commute instead of hiring a car. I don't eat out as much. I don't go out as much, especially if I'm going to have to spend. You know what they say, learn to say no.

Have you ever spent a lot of money on something and regretted it?
A lot of times! Especially when I'm emotional shopping. 

Shopping aside, where does your salary go?

Rent and utilities, savings, and travels. Does beauty regimen or maintenance of hair color, for example, count as shopping?

Are you saving up for anything right now? 

None per se. Just the future in general.

* Names have been changed.

Up next: Nikki, 30. Monthly income range: P50,000 - P60,000

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Name: Nikki*

Age: 30

Occupation: Officer

Industry: Finance

Monthly income range: P50,000 to P60,000

How often do you shop? Weekly

Do you set a spending limit when you shop? Give us an idea of your budget?

Not really, as long as I know that the quality of what I’m buying is worth the price.

What do you usually buy? 

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I often buy clothes and shoes.

Do you consider yourself an impulsive or a smart shopper? 

Impulsive buyer.

What is one shopping tip or rule you always follow?

If you really want something, buy it when you can. It may not be available when you think of just coming back for it—especially when it’s on sale!

Do you believe in investing on designer items like bags or watches?

Yes, because these are items of good quality that may last long if properly cared for. Watches, for one, may be handed down as an heirloom. Also, the value of bags and watches (the classic pieces) tend to appreciate nowadays.

What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought? 

A Bottega Veneta bag.

How do you save up for significant purchases? What sacrifices do you make?

I try not to buy unnecessary stuff when I shop. Haha.

Have you ever spent a lot of money on something and regretted it?

No regrets, so far. Thank God!

Shopping aside, where does your salary go? 

Food and travel.

Are you saving up for anything right now? 

Yes, saving for another travel.

* Names have been changed.

Up next: Lisa, 31. Monthly income range: P170,000 - P300,000

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Name: Lisa*

Age: 31

Occupation: Entrepreneur

Industry: Financial, Manufacturing, and Sales

Monthly income range: P170,000 to P300,000

How often do you shop?

 Almost every week, and I often browse online.

Do you set a spending limit when you shop? Give us an idea of your budget.

 Sometimes, but not really.

What do you usually buy?

No. 1 on my list are shoes, then bags, jewelry, clothing, and cute stuff.

Do you consider yourself an impulsive or a smart shopper?

It depends on my mood so impulsive, I guess.

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What is one shopping tip or rule you always follow?

Buy something that you will love even after a while.

Do you believe in investing on designer items like bags or watches?

Yes, because they make a good statement even with a simple tank top and jeans. Also, they last for a long time. 

What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

Jewelry and handbags.

How do you save up for significant purchases? What sacrifices do you make?

I will skip travelling with friends.

Have you ever spent a lot of money on something and regretted it?

No, not really. Usually, I regret buying cheap stuff more because at the end of the day, I don’t really get to use them.

Shopping aside, where does your salary go?

Travels and investments, or rejuvenation spas, expensive facials, and laser treatments. 

Are you saving up for anything right now?

I am trying to save up for my own place, like a house and lot. 

* Names have been changed.

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