Filipinos are looking for ways to earn more income or tighten their belts by reducing expenditures to only what is necessary or buying from cheaper sources of their needs.
Aside from their current jobs, Filipinos are looking for a second or third sideline to be able to afford basic goods amid constant increases in fuel and food prices, transport fares and utilities while daily wages have risen only by a few pesos.
A feature story of Business World showed that call center agent, Mayzel Revuelto, 33, was shocked to see her electric bill hitting P1,200 in May, up by 50 percent from April’s P800.
She noted that everything has become more expensive. The price of 2.7 kilo (liquefied petroleum gas for cooking) has gone up to P270 from P190. Her budget of P1,500 for groceries that used to last two week is now good only for a week.
Inflation hit a three-and-a-half-year high of 5.4 percent in May, breaching the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) 2-4 percent target band.
Inflation is expected to continue to hasten amid higher forecasts for global oil and commodity prices, and the approved provisional jeepney fare hike. The BSP raised its average inflation projection for this year to 5 percent (from 4.6 percent) and for 2023 to 4.2 percent (from 3.9 percent).
She and husband (who works parttime) raise an 8- year- old but are looking for other sources of income.
“We have no choice but to tighten our belts during these hard times.” She dips in her savings to make ends meet, she said.
A salesman in an electronics store in Marikina, Reynald Imperial, 26, said he decided to leave his apartment in February and move in with his uncle’s family to save on rent.
Imperial, who benefited from the recent increase in daily minimum wage, said he noticed a “slight” increase in electricity and water bills to P900 (from P800) and P500 (from P300), respectively.
To cope with the soaring prices, he stopped buying clothes from pricey online stores and now orders from Shopee. He also walks to work, allowing him to save P20 per day on jeepney fare. “I expect — but not too much — another wage increase so I can save more for the future,” he said.
Insufficient wage hike
Laban Konsyumer, Inc. President Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba offers pragmatic advice for consumers during these hard times.
“What will consumers do to cope with these price increases? I believe consumers just need to use their inner gut feel… If the consumers cannot afford to buy the item, then don’t buy it,” he said.
He said the P33 hike in daily wages in Metro Manila was not felt by the laborers due to the “big-time” fuel price hikes. Commuters also had to pay a peso more for jeepney fares.
Oil companies on Monday announced another round of hikes, P0.50 per liter for gasoline and P1.65 per liter for diesel.
Since the start of 2022, per-liter prices of gasoline, diesel, and kerosene have gone up by P28.70, P41.15, and P37.95, respectively, as of June 14.
Quezon City resident, Ding Q. Antonio, 39, drives a jeepney at night but the soaring price of diesel has made it difficult to earn enough for his family’s daily needs. He used to earn around P700-P800 a night, but this has now fallen to around P400-P500 a night.
So, he started working as a construction worker during the day, earning P500 per day or P3,000 per week.
“I have no choice but to do two jobs every day, because I can’t support my family just by driving a jeepney,” he said in Filipino.
Mar S. Valbuena, president of the Samahang Manibela Mananakay at Nagkaisang Terminal ng Transportasyon, said the minimum jeepney fare should have been raised to P15 instead of P10.
“Not all of us benefited from the service contracting program. It would have been a big help for all transport workers if they raised the fares for all modes of public transportation,” he said.
Anicito Z. Lagos, 46, quit being a taxi driver to start as family driver on July 1. As a taxi driver, he typically spends P1,800 on fuel and P850 for the operator per day, so he takes only around P600, less than half of the P1,400 he earned before the pandemic.
Being the breadwinner, he survives each day from “diskarte” since he sends money to his wife and four children in Bohol.
“I told them that we need to tighten our belts because it’s now very difficult to earn money in Manila. I used to send home at least P700 a day, now I’m happy if I’m able to send P350 to P400, but most of the time P250,” he added.
Lagos said working as a family driver is his best option, as he will have a fixed salary, meals and accommodation. For now, he asks for tips from his passengers. “I think they understand my situation.”
The Philippine National Taxi Operators Association has been asking the government to increase the flag-down rate to P60 from the current P40.
“Many fleet operators sold their units already due to pandemic restrictions and driver shortage,” Jesus Manuel C. Suntay, president of the association, said.
Wealth coach and book author Chinkee Tan said there are two ways for Filipinos to cope with the higher cost of living. Through ‘bawas-dagdag’ (reduce-add) method, which involves cutting back on unnecessary expenses and prioritizing needs.
Tan said cites the importance of being more practical. “Rather than looking for branded things, you might look for alternatives that are less expensive… Look for cheaper ways to do things,” he noted.
Filipinos also need to save more, especially for emergency funds that cover at least six months of their living expenses.
“Because of the pandemic, we may never know, hopefully not, that there will be another surge. Once it persists, there will be some limitations again and, at the same time, some people will have a problem earning daily,” Tan said.
Filipinos should also consider other ways to augment their income, like online gigs such as writing, graphic design or video editing, he said.
For people who are entrepreneurial, he recommended getting into the food business.
“They can start cooking at home and sell it. They can also look at the health and wellness industry because health and wellness products are among the easiest products to sell right now due to the pandemic,” Tan said.
Tags: #costofliving, #tighteningbelts, #earningmoreincomes, #inflation