Trick yourself into saving!

By Lauren Fernandez for Yahoo! Southeast Asia

We’ve all been there before—it’s the 14th or the 29th of the month, the day before payday and all we have to show for ourselves is about fifty bucks in our wallet, and nothing else in the bank.  It’s enough to make you wonder if you’re working just to make you survive going to work.

Put an end to this butas na bulsa syndrome by tricking yourself into saving, regardless of your salary pay scale. Essential household expenses like rent, utilities, and groceries are definitely necessary, but anything outside of this is often unnecessary. And these expenses—such as going out and shopping too often—though deceptively minimal at first, can all add up to a huge amount in the long run. 

Ending your bad spending habits can be as easy as doing minor lifestyle changes. Here are seven little ways to help you save big in the long run.

1. Squirrel away come payday.
Instead of hitting the nearest department store to celebrate payday, hit a separate savings account. “On payday itself, before I get a chance to shop, I immediately withdraw a few thousand bucks and put it into another account which I don’t touch,” says Joanne Enriquez, a mother, art director, and book designer. Follow suit and make it a habit to set aside at least one fourth of your salary and deposit it in a passbook-style account, so you can’t access it so easily.

2. At supermarkets, shop below eye level.
“All the premium and pricier brands are all placed at eye-level on supermarket shelves,” reveals Enriquez. “So I pick the products that are below or above those items, as they cost less. Household basics like sponges, detergent, and dishwashing liquid do the same job, anyway!”

3. Walk, don’t ride.
The next time you have to go to a nearby restaurant at lunch, or if the bus and FX terminal is less than a kilometer away from your subdivision, forego the taxi or tricycle ride, and walk instead to your destination. By nixing your lunchtime taxi, you’ll save at least P1,600 a month, and P19,200 a year. And by not riding a tricycle, you’ll save about P784 a month, or P9,408 a year. Plus, you’ll be healthier—and slimmer, too.

4. Shop your closet.
Before you buy another dress for a party, check your closet first. Always look at your wardrobe with a fresh eye, and spend your weekends coming up with new pairings using your existing clothes. You can also log on to fashion blogs and websites to get ideas on how to dress. A new outfit including shoes may cost you P5,000, an “old-new” outfit from your closet, zero.

Read: How to budget when you're broke

5. Make going out extra-special.

Meaning, you’ll only go out on extra-special occasions. “I used to go drinking or do videoke with my cousins every Saturday, without fail, and that used to cost us at least P1,500 per person,” Dino Gramonte, an IT specialist, recounts. “Now we only go out when we’re celebrating someone’s birthday, or for a despedida. That saves me about P6,000 a month.”

6. Forego the fancy drinks.
If you always order a fruit shake at lunch, and if you grab a tall mocha latte on your way to work, this may be setting you back at least P150 a day, or a whopping P3,000 a month! A fancy drink is always an unnecessary expense—and it may be adding unnecessary calories as well. “I bring my own thermos of home-brewed coffee to work,” says Enriquez, who admits she can’t get through the day without a coffee fix. “If it gets cold, I just transfer it to a mug and microwave it!” Or just ask the waiter for plain, free, H2O.

Read: Build a better budget in 6 months

7. When you think of buying a bag, think of buying a house.

This may sound strange at first, but this is just a play on reverse psychology. The next time you’re itching to buy a new cellphone or “it” bag even if you don’t need it, convert the unit price of your impulse buy into the big-ticket investment you’re dreaming of. Just imagine: 14 fancy cellphones, or 11 designer bags equals P350,000—often the cost of a nice secondhand car, or the minimum deposit needed to purchase a small condo unit.
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