MANILA – The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic has plunged the global economy into a deep recession with millions of jobs lost and companies closed due to losses incurred. But some Filipinos have managed to take lockdowns as an opportunity to cut expenses and save more.
Filipinos are taking to social media their “Ipon Challenge” or Saving Money Challenge experiences to inspire others to save despite challenging times.
Iriz Lintag Cruz, 40, an events host and online seller, started saving in 2018 so it was not difficult for her to continue this diversion despite the prevailing health crisis.
“My mother would always tell me to ‘save, save, save,’” she said.
In 2020, she found it easier to save since lockdowns helped cut costs on commuting. She was lucky enough to keep her job, earn the same amount as before, and spend a lot less.
“Pag nakahawak ako ng bagong malulutong, save ko siya. Then [auto]matic, 50 to 200s, di ko na ginagasta (When I get my hands on crisp bills, I save them. Then automatic, the 50 to 200 bills, I don’t spend),” she said.
Despite already having a personal bank account, she also keeps her money in labelled cash envelopes because they’re more “accessible.”
Since 2018, she has saved about half a million pesos and was able to buy her family a brand-new Toyota Wigo.
Cruz said she would get satisfaction from knowing that she would not have to struggle to borrow money from anyone especially when it comes to having to pay for essentials.
She would eventually use the rest of her savings to pay for her daughter’s tuition fee, health insurance, as well as emergency expenses. She would also help her friends in need of extra cash.
“I’m one of the few blessed with more opportunities during this trying time, so I extend help to my friends and colleagues in the event industry,” she said.
This year, she looks forward to saving enough money for house renovation.
Even before the Ipon Challenge became a social media trend, Noriel Reyes, 30, also an events host, was already saving one peso and five peso coins in elementary and high school, respectively.
Reyes started taking saving more seriously in 2019 and finally opened his piggy bank—a tin can—in December 2020. He was able to save over PHP40,000 in a year’s time.
He also has a personal bank account but also wanted to keep his own money to know exactly how much he has at hand.
“I save money in my alkansya (piggy bank) for any emergency purposes lang because what if biglaan ko sya kinailangan and nasa bahay lang ako at least di na ko bibyahe pa papunta sa bank para mag-withdraw sa ATM machine or mangutang sa kapitbahay (what if I suddenly need the money and I’m at home at least I won’t need to travel to go to the bank just to withdraw from an ATM machine or borrow from our neighbour),” he said.
Reyes said the secret to saving is staying away from purchasing luxury items and food cravings. Lending money to friends and even family was also a big no-no.
“I’m not a materialistic person kasi eh pag halimbawa gamit na di kelangan wag bilhin tapos nakatambak lang din para lang makasunod sa uso (for example buy things I don’t need, I’d rather not buy them because they’re going to be lying around),” he said.
Reyes said it is especially important to save because the pandemic means uncertainty for a lot of people.
He said his family was also a “big factor” in his determination to save.
“I want to save not only for myself but of course I want to share it with my family. I have a big dream for them, kaya siguro up to now di ko pa rin naiisip magkaron nang sariling pamilya kasi gusto ko ibuhos muna lahat sa mga kapatid, pamangkin and mother ko kung ano man yung meron ako (that’s why I haven’t thought of having my own family because I want to give my sibling, nephews and nieces, and mother whatever it is I have),” he said.
Although not exactly a new concept, the Ipon Challenge was popularized by blogger Kuripot Pinay, also known as Rhea Haguisan.
Financial coach, author, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur Chinkee Tan has also written books about saving money.
There have also been free printable templates on social media that contain templates to save peso increments weekly just like the 52-week Ipon Challenge.
For example, saving PHP500 every week would allow a person to have PHP26,000 by the end of the year while saving PHP1,000 every week would allow a person to have PHP52,000 by the end of the year.
Parents have also started training their kids to save as little as PHP5 or PHP10 coins every time they have spare change.
There are no rules to saving money, but one should always prioritize creating a budget of monthly expenses and spending less than you earn. (PNA)