IN THE BEGINNING: Frugality 1.0

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I have a confession to make. But be forewarned, the following account is a bare-all description of who we were and who we intend to become from now on.

Weeks before I even knew that this book existed, my husband was already posting quotes and mantras about slaying the debt dragon. First, I wondered about the odd term that he was using to describe our debts and, second, he seems to like simpler things lately. He also kept muttering about being grateful for having our needs met each day.

He wasn’t talking jargon yet he didn’t make more sense till I finally read what he was also reading – Cherie Lowe’s Slaying the Debt Dragon. Now here’s a little backstory before I discuss what I learned. Every morning, during breakfast, I make it a point to do some light reading. Sometimes I read trivial stuff online, at times, the more serious, tangible books.

And so, yesterday, while having my breakfast, I nonchalantly picked up Gary’s current reading material. Lo and behold! There is so much to learn in there. I couldn’t – literally – put down the book. I even asked my hubby and the kids not to disturb me as I read from one chapter to the next and so on till I finally finished the book 10 hours later.

I cannot remember the last time that I read a book in one sitting. I was absolutely hooked.

Slaying the Debt Dragon is part-autobiography (of sorts) but this focuses more on Cherie and her family’s goal to pay off their $127,000 debt. It’s amazing how they did it. Being an Ilocana (I was born in Cagayan Valley though our roots are from Ilocos Sur), people always joke that I am kuripot (stingy). In many ways, I like to believe I am but as I confessed to my family yesterday when it comes to their whims (accompany those with begging, puppy eyes), I am quite weak.

And, yes, I also have my own buying addictions. ‘Can’t seem to resist buying new shirts for our Shih Tzu, Chewy, as well as keep a neat stock of dog diapers. I guess it’s the mother-wannabe in me that’s pushing me to do this but, no matter, these were wrong decisions especially when the money used to purchase our extras is money that was meant for needs.

PicMonkey Collage
Our dog Chewy shown here wearing different outfits. These are just some of his outfits.


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I can relate to the author when she said that they did not go on expensive vacations neither did they splurge on designer clothing. Just like her family, we have our own credit card and other financial obligations today because we bought things that we thought we needed. You know how it is when you go to the grocery and you have your list on hand, and then you end up buying more stuff anyway because you always see things that you need.

It could be that extra tube of toothpaste because it was discounted at the time or buying a kilo of chicken when you just need half of it, and more than anything, our dine outs comprised a huge chunk of our expenses. Being busy people, we hardly have the energy to cook our lunch or evening meals after a long, tiresome day. More often than not, we just default to barbecue (one could easily spend P300 on one meal) or we just go to a fast food joint, eat, drive home, then sleep.

Did I tell you that we also throw lavish Christmas and New Year meals? And we also love to socialize (well my husband’s a unit manager from an investment/insurance firm so socialization is a must) so we invite friends and other people over to our home to eat and basically just have fun. Not that I’m not grateful for those but looking back now, we could have made better decisions (e.g. serve simple snacks instead of full course meals, etc.).

And so, yet again, I would like to admit that we have made many bad financial decisions in the past, not just on our department store or grocery shopping, or our window shopping in malls but also in taking out loans to finance our past businesses (we had a pizza dealership biz, an ice cream business, even a cake and bread making business).

The cake business was amazing but its demise was not because of the non-existence of a customer base but because we could not draw a line between business and personal money.

Our financial heartaches didn’t end with these. We also managed to lose our home in 2010 when my husband got laid off from his job. Naturally, we did not have an emergency fund so we ended up renting once more. I cried buckets of tears during this moment.

Our house looked like this. Featured here is the Garden Villas model unit.


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Add to these those moments when our kids’ tuition payments were due and when water, cable, the Internet, and electric companies seemed to collaborate to send our bills all at the same time. It was brain-damaging.

We didn’t see losing the house as a blessing at the time ‘coz now we’re renting a four-bedroom, three-toilet and bath home that’s much more spacious so we’re okay. There are also talks of the owner thinking of selling this property because he and his family have migrated to Canada which makes it even better.

Our current home’s facade.

Our only regret is that we did not behave right away. You see, I work part-time as a financial advisor and I even went as far as being offered a leadership position in this job. I also took up a course in LDS Business College which taught me business skills and principles.

My husband and I already have the principles and it was just a matter of turning them into applied skills. Below are my business and leadership certificates –

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Clockwise from top: My Financial Leadership certificate from a leading insurance company and my Business and Self-Reliance certificates issued no less than by the LDS Business College.

Yet these remain mere papers if I wouldn’t make the first step towards financial independence. While we’re neither left to eat just once a day nor deep in our eyeballs in debt, there’s always this thought that our past credit card bills plus some other loans remain on our balance sheets. These are payables. If these were alive, they’d be breathing down our necks – and no person would want that for the rest of his or her life.

It was one eternal round. Until one day, this book came to our lives. We bought it at a discounted price of P125 from its original P150 tag on Booksale. What could I say ‘cept that it is the most important investment we have ever made at this point in our lives.

So, now, let’s just say that we’ll walk the talk. We have been teaching people to invest and to secure their retirement funds and, this time, we will be more serious in doing that ourselves. We would do this by living minimalist lives.

And, if Cherie Lowe could read this (she, too, was inspired by another author, Dave Ramsey, to face her financial woes), my family and I have made a resolve to live frugally. We will start with baby steps. As she said, the word frugal is not synonymous with scarce/scarcity. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Frugal is derived from the Latin word – frugalis/fru – meaning, fruit. If you research the etymology of this word, you will find out that it also means value, result, and even success. It also means temperate, profitable and economical. Who could I think of as the perfect example for all these but Jesus Christ?

No less than the Son of God taught us beauty in simplicity, humility, and generosity. We desire to be like Him. And we’ve started, in fact, we have been practicing some frugal techniques in the past without us realizing it. Our baby steps include –

  • Slashing off resto dining and replacing it with home-cooked, affordable, yet more nutritious meals.
  • Keeping our old, still functional TV instead of buying a new one.

  • Buying clothes from ukay-ukay. Oh, we’ve developed a sense of what’s hot and not during our ukay expeditions. Yes, having an eye for usable items is a must. Make sure also to properly wash and dry the pieces of clothing before you wear them. Don’t just spin-dry, be sure to have them sun-dried. I mean it.

We were even lucky to chance upon duvet covers at just P150 each so instead of buying a new mattress for P4,500, we just spent P300. We loooooove sleeping now ‘coz our bed’s ultra comfy.

  • Doing our own laundry and harnessing the power of the sun in drying our clothes.
  • Paying in cash and saying no to credit.
  • Unplugging and switching off electrical items.
  • Using the air-conditioner only at night as opposed to turning it on many times during the day.
  • Prepping tablea de cacao instead of going to Starbucks. My mother-in-law happens to make the best chocolate tablets in the world so we have access to quality choco anytime.
  • Keeping tab of our expenses.
  • Holding family budget meetings.
  • Talking to our creditors.
  • Asking ourselves – do we really need this – before we buy something.
  • Giving away old yet still usable pieces of clothing to other people.
  • Setting aside our tithes.
  • Going on vacations that are either dirt-cheap or paid for by our loved ones (I’ll have a separate blog for these later).
  • And as Cherie Lowe would always say, we’re constantly praying that God will sustain us in our endeavor to live more frugal lives.

We also have a few things on our wish list –

  • Building a three-month emergency fund
  • Owning the home that I mentioned above
  • Sending the kids to college.
  • Going on vacations that are paid for in cash.
  • Eventually creating sizable investment and retirement funds.

I have so much more to share and I hope that you will help us pray in reaching our new goals. Also, as an advocate of feminism (that’s equality of men and women), I believe that women have the divine gift to take charge of their finances. Begin by reading this site’s frugality blogs very, very soon.


Stop dreaming of SAVING. Begin your savings/investment today for as low as P75 per day. Get a free quote here or call us directly at 09198989662 (for Smart subscribers) and 09052999662 (Globe).