Articles about how cheaply one can live in the Philippines are always popular here.
Also, particularly if you are an older, retired guy like me. you’re whole news article, magazine and Internet reading world is likely to be saturated with “Save Money”, “Live Cheap”, “Economize Now” and an infinite number of other articles, all yammering on and on, ad infinitum about “How To Pinch a Penny”.
Now there is nothing at all wrong with saving a buck as well as avoiding some of the damage that excessive, obsessive, compulsive spending does to the environment, as well as a persons pocket book.’
But there are times when enough is too damn much.
- 0.1 But there are times when enough is too damn much.
- 0.2 Swim For Your Life
- 0.3 I Lose a Lot of Quality in My Own Life — Not By Being Poor, But By Being Cheap
- 0.4 True Cost of Being Cheap
- 0.5 Worth Way, Way More Than I Paid
- 0.6 Did The Express Lanes Fill Up Yet?
- 0.7 Excessive cheapness is a curse, just like excessive spending …
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You can NOT ‘save your way rich”, folks. And life is short. Have you ever read my 3900 Marbles article?
Chances are both you and I have lost many, many more marbles than we realize. I know my jar is getting a bit meager.
Spending hour after hour of the time you have left on earth just to do something cheaply, instead of quickly and efficiently, is something you really have to weigh carefully.
Sometimes spending a few dollars (or Philippine Pesos) is worth far more than the time you waste trying to “out cheap” the other guy.
I was reminded of this just this am when I was emailing with a friend who was trying out a new pool to get in his swimming exercise every week.
Swim For Your Life
He had found a suitable place, but considering the daily rates the place was charging (they did not offer a monthly discount rate), the swimming was going to cost him about a buck a day … slightly over $30 USD per month after taking into account the exchange rates and such.
I had told him in a previous email that I really didn’t consider ~ $30 a month very much at all, considering that he liked the place and that he was sure to get health benefits from swimming regularly. Here’s what he wrote me back …
I enjoyed the swimming this morning, … You are right, of course, though, paying around $30/month is cheap in terms of being healthy…
Exactly my thoughts. Now don’t think I am throwing stones at my friend on that issue either, while I sit here in a glass house.
I Lose a Lot of Quality in My Own Life — Not By Being Poor, But By Being Cheap
I often find myself over-emphasizing costs while ignoring benefits myself. It’s an occupational hazard of growing older, and particularly of living here in the Philippines, where doing things on the cheap is a national art form.
I’ll look at something or think about buying something and then shy away from it as "too expensive" … and when I pause and think about it rationally, I’ll realize, "Heck, that wasn’t really that expansive after all".
True Cost of Being Cheap
Funny story on that … you know I travel the NLEX toll road here often. You can stop and pay your toll, or you can purchase, for as little as P1300, a little passive RF transponder that gets "read" by a sensor in certain toll gate "slots" at each entry/exit point.
You pay the same toll as cash customers, but you pay it through an account with the toll transponder company, kind of like a pre-pay cell phone … you put money in your account and it gets "consumed" as you travel and incur charges. I have one of the transponders. I must have had it 5 years now.
5 years ago. I used to see these almost always empty, open “EZ Trip lanes” as I sat, and sat, and sat, and sometimes sat some more, waiting to pay at regular toll booth lanes. Everyone told me the waiting and paying in cash was cheaper, and after all, “cheap” is what living in the Philippines is all about, right?
I’d sit there, thinking about the P1300 I was saving while sucking exhaust fumes …
… (and burning gas too. Did you realize a car engine burns roughly a liter per hour while sitting still and idling in traffic? So a 15 minute wait each way on as trip (certainly not unheard of at busy times) will cost you P25 or P30 as a surcharge just for the privilege of waiting impatiently to pay your toll in cash) …
Well against all informed ‘save money” advice and against my better “el cheapo” judgment, I got my own transponder tag almost five years ago.
Worth Way, Way More Than I Paid
Since then,life on the toll road has been great. Saves so much time and hassle. And there is absolutely no additional costs to use the system, just the initial P1300 transponder tag purchase. (Actually, mine was bought on a promo deal and came with P300 in toll fees pre-loaded, so it really only cost me P1000)
The transponder company have an excellent website too, where you can check your balance any time, and you can also text while on the road to check your balance if you forget when you are due for a “Top Up”. (costs P2 for that service).
There are color coded lights when you pass the gates also which will warn you if your balance is running low. And at each toll plaza there are “Top Up” lanes where you can add toll credits easily, any time you are running low.
In other words, if you have to pay tolls, this makes a pretty easy to use and painless system.
Did The Express Lanes Fill Up Yet?
Well last Sunday when we were coming back from Zambales I took note of the last tollgate, near our home, where there is always a huge backlog.
Because of the way the toll system is designed, every single car coming back to Manila has to pass through this particular toll barrier.
The line for each of the toll booth lanes was easily 20 to 30 cars long.. but the two EZ Trip lanes (same number as there were 5 years ago), were wide open. Not a single car waiting in either lane.
We swept through one of the empty lanes, hardly slowing down, leaving literally hundreds of cars behind. Why?
Certainly a huge number of those people waiting could afford a one-time purchase of P1300 … but to them? "Wow, mahal. Not me, I’m going to save myself P1300".
Talk about cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.