Canned tuna tastes more delicious one week before your next payday.
Many Filipinos are familiar with the shortage of money within five or less days from the salary cut-off. And surprisingly, many in this situation survive it with debt or generosity of people around them.
Most workers know this as the dreaded Petsa de Peligro, which is not having enough money to survive until the next payday. This is primarily caused by the disproportion of spending during payday and before the next cut-off. While there are valid reasons for this to happen such as medical bills and emergencies, others view payday as an occasion to celebrate with lavish meals and unnecessary shopping. Indulging oneself is not bad as long as it won’t do your finances any harm.
People laugh or deny this is a widespread phenomenon among Filipinos. It is too common to see people flocking the mall once they get their paychecks but they look like ghost towns at 5 days before the 15th or the 30th since this is the usual salary cut-offs for Filipino companies. I’ve tried this by shopping groceries every 24th or 28th of the month and it is a breeze compared to the 30th, 31st, or the weekend after those dates.
How do we change this so we won’t have this disproportionate spending affecting our finances? The simple answer is, avoid spending almost 90 percent of your salary once you get your money in the bank.
The complicated answer is going against cultural norms. Office get-togethers happen immediately after the salary goes into the employees’ bank account; and they generally head to the nearest expensive restaurant for lunch or bar for after work drinks. Going against your workplace clique’s plans makes you a stingy killjoy. Many of us do not want to be labeled like that. So, we go with the flow.
The problem with that is that it only gives instant gratification and will make us develop a bad habit over time. The good food you will experience earlier will result in longer-term financial distress.
Another long-term fix is finding frugal friends. This will make you spend less and not require you to keep up with anyone. Would your friends want to stay at home instead of going for a night-out? Do they have the latest gadgets or cars all the time? Answers to these questions will give you a sense of what kind of friends you have. Frugal friend will be hard to find, but definitely worth looking for.
Your P300-400 meals when payday arrives could be used for special occasions instead of just an ordinary day. You can do this by scheduling lunch-outs or catch-ups and setting aside money for it. You can also schedule potlucks instead of eating out to reduce costs.
Don’t fall for the trap of spending before saving. Avoid Petsa de Peligro to build a better financial habit.
Kristel Silang is the content manager of MoneyMax.ph, a financial comparison website aiming to help Filipinos save money through diligent comparisons of financial products.