Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Reveal: My Income and Expenses

I got an e-mail from Honey O., ( hey, girl! ) an OFW currently based in the Middle East. Her actual message is copy pasted below minus her last name:


Hello PinasforGood,

I'm one of the many readers of your blog and this is my first time to send you a message to thank you for being such a great inspiration to us. Your story gives me hope that one day, I too, can become like you. :)

I am writing because I have one question. May I know which industry you're working on (nursing/customer service/IT, etc) or, if you don't mind, your salary range per hour or per year? (Emphasis added)

If my questions are too personal, it's ok if you don't want to answer them :) 

I am also an OFW for 3 years here in the Middle East and I am trying to follow your style in saving. Like you, I have been frugal most of my life. But I haven't gone far saving as much as you have. So, I'm sure I am doing something wrong.

I just want to be able to compare your income and expenses versus mine and see where I can improve :)

Thank you for your time and I would appreciate any response from you. 

May you continue to write and sharing your story to inspire people. :) May God bless you on your plans in the future.


Honey O

I have been debating for the longest time if it is appropriate to post my numbers or not. Since I remained anonymous, sige na ngaI want to post what I am earning not to brag but to give inspiration that no matter how little you are earning, you too can save.

To tell you honestly, my salary isn't much. Maybe in the Philippine standard it's huge, but in American standard, not really! For those who are working in America, you'd be shocked on how meager my salary is, but I still am able to save. 

 May I know which industry you're working on (nursing/customer service/IT, etc) or, if you don't mind, your salary range per hour or per year?- Honey O.

- For those of you who have been visiting this site since I first started blogging, you would know what kind of work I do coz I posted it in my About Me section, but I changed it to "Overseas Filipino Worker". So for those of you who doesn't know , I take care of old people. I am a caregiver.

- When I first started, I only earned $1,420 (more or less Php 60,000) per month but, I was lucky that my employer let me do overtime coz:

  • I want to buy a house. My brother was going to college and I want a place somewhere close to his school. (Php1.3 M). Click here for details.

  • Sending my brother to college

  • Helping my two nieces  with school. I already saved up Php 200k for my niece who is currently in college. When she was in high school and her sister was in elementary, I spend around Php 10,000 per school year for their tuition fees and books.

  • I was helping my brother who wants to go through drug rehabilitation program: cost Php 200k+

You see, while I was doing all of those, I was working like a carabao and earning as much as $4,000 (more or less Php 160,000). Though it really sped up my savings, I rarely slept. I felt like a zombie. I was spreading myself too thin, I HATED every moment of it. I kept telling myself that it was just temporary. I'm glad it was all over. I don't do overtime anymore. I value my time off from work more than anything.

One thing I was fired up to work at that time was  because of the recession. Companies have been firing left and right. Although healthcare was not affected, I was just saving up and working like a madwoman just in case things don't go well coz we never know.

You know how much I am earning now? I am just earning $2,000 (more or less Php 85k) coz,as I have mentioned, I don't do overtime anymore. Despite my meager salary, I am happy. I don't feel like a zombie anymore. I get to read. I get to run. I get to take long walks. I get to bike. I get to hang out in the library. 

Yah, I don't earn much in American standard. In fact, maybe to you, my life is boring but, it fits me just fine. I don't go to fancy restaurant partly because I don't know how tipping works. Haha! I don't travel partly because, I am saving up for my one year round the Philippine backpacking adventure. I don't earn much, but I am contented coz I get to do a lot of things outside work that nourishes my soul and makes me feel alive. Life is all about balance, right?

How much do I spend?

Despite my meager salary, I am happy to tell you that I don't spend much because:

  •  Housing is covered. I used to live in my employer's other house. I was kind of like a caretaker coz it was a recession and housing market crashed so she was waiting for the market to recover. She is currently renovating it and I am also crashing at her house. All is good.

  • I have $100 meal stipend from work,

  • I walk/bike to work except when the weather is bad or if it's snowing out. More or less, I spend $20 of transportation cost for the whole year.

  •  Since my brother is done with school,  I am breathing a big sigh of relief now. That was a big dent on my salary. 

  •  I already saved up Php 200k for my niece's college education. I spend 20k-25k per semester for her tuition fee (7 semesters to go!) and my other niece's tuition fee is just 3k per school year.

  • My brother, who went through drug rehab program, is all okay. I am so glad I made the decision to let him go through the program. He is a change man. The two nieces that I am helping are actually his daughters.

  •  I remit more or less Php 10,000 every month for my Mama. (PHP 2,000 every week and the rest is for utilities such as water and electricity bills.) I don't give them much. Just enough for their month to month expenses.

  • I also donate a portion of my salary to an organization which I am supporting. I won't tell you the name of the organization but it's Philippine-based. (Php 5,000)

  • I am training myself to "waste not, want not". Well, except for an occasional workout outfit that motivates me to hit the road and run more. Running=getting fit and getting fit=being healthy.

  • I am also training myself to have give thanks all the time coz I feel blessed when I do that. Even little things like warm shower. Whenever I take a hot shower, I thank God for the nice and warm water that feels sooo good against my skin. I thank God for the bed and the pillows whenever I go to sleep,etc. It might sound o.a. to you but for me, having a thankful heart makes me realized how blessed I am. Click here to know more about it.

Over all, I am saving more or less 70 percent of my salary. 

There you have it. Income and expenses part of me is revealed. 

Okay lang if maliit ang sweldo coz the experienced I gained and the lesson I keep on learning far outweighed my meager salary. The independence I gained while working away from home is priceless. 

Were you shocked or what? :)


  1. you continue to amaze! i love that you aren't selfish about sharing information, even though some of them border on the personal. am sure a lot of people will benefit from this, and for that a lot wish you nothing but more blessings to come, especially with your grateful attitude.

    to honey o. continue to examine your money outflow. while you may gain a lot from pinas' wonderful outputs, things will still boil down to things being "personal"...your expenses and cash inflow might entirely differ from hers. so careful about comparing. pinas put it rightly, amount doesn't really matter coz it's possible to be earning much, and yet grabe naman ang spending as opposed to someone who's earning little, but has the discipline to save. honey o - i don't know your financial circumstance, but i believe you're in the right track. asking from others, educating yourself about these things will slowly help you figure out your own formula. padayon, pinoy^^

    1. Funny when you said "padayun" coz Honey O is bisaya,too!

      Thanks a lot! :)

    2. Hello, guys. Honey here (karon pa jud nagka-dayoff, hehe). Thank you so much, PinasForGood, for taking the time to write this article..and for being nice and approachable in our e-mails. :)

      As expected, this article inspired me to keep going. And for sure, it will give hope to others as well. Whenever I'm tired and feel like giving up here in Qatar, I always remember role models like you and it motivates me to continue working. I believe that as long as I keep my expenses to the minimum and constantly invest a big part of my salary, I will someday be financially-free like you.

      Hope that you will continue to inspire people. And may God bless you on your future plans. =) You're a smart and brave woman. I'm sure you'll succeed anywhere you go. Padayon tang tanan! =)

  2. Oh my, your current income isn't that "impressive" at all, but what is impressive is how you were able to save and invest 70%! This just goes to show that it's really not how much you earn but how much you're able to set aside.

    Are you excited to come back home to the Philippines? :)

    1. I know,right? There are people who works in the Philippines that earns more than me. Maybe the BPO industry? I don't know. But Im glad I came all the way here coz If I didn't, I bet won't know what the heck "investing" is. I've met my mentor here and that is worth the price.

      Yah, I am still ironing out things from work. Hopefully it'll all be good. I am super excited na.

  3. Inspiring post!

    Indeed it is not how much you earn but how much you keep and invest. ;-)

    I calculated my savings percentage. I am just saving 38% of my monthly salary. I have my family here living with me. So our expenses are doubled.

    I am still on the process of saving my emergency fund. It is realy 44% of my target amount.

    1. No amount of saving percentage matters just to have your family by your side. Mother,father and children are suppose to stick together. Mahahanap ang pera,but the time you lost watching your children grow while working abroad, Hindi na mababalik. I keep telling my sister-in-law that. i told her that if you cant find a way to bring her daughters with her, I'd rather she stay in the Philippines coz her daughters are growing up so fast. She'd regret it later in life.

    2. Very true.

      It took us two years to get our son. It was very expensive as we hired a nanny and paid all the recruitment expenses. All the expenses including renting our own flat costed us a fortune but it is worth it.


  4. Hello there,
    i was an on and off reader of yours. While i admire the kind of discipline that you have on your personal finance and health, I am more interested on the depth of your bravery of coming up to the decision of going home for good.
    Dont get me wrong, every OFW needs to go back home at one point or the really depends on the goal. but then, you know, time and again, i was contemplating about it. i have been an OFW since yr 2005 when i was only 25yrs old.
    I have planned on going home for good several times but i never proceeded. regardless whether i have achieve my financial goal or how i missed being home, or how i plan my future at home, i did not seem to have that 100% conviction of being in Phils for good.
    since i read your blog a year ago, ive been itching to write to you. not to discourage but to give you a picture of the other side of the situation. im sure youre a smart woman, you may not need it but im giving my unsolicited view anyway.
    as i try to compose what to write to you, funny thing is, i cannot come up with the right phrases convincing enough or elaborate enough to emphasize my views. because one way or the other, we have differing scenarios, that perhaps what made me decide may not be potent to you.
    im sure you know what i mean.
    now, i read this article in rappler and it was so spot on. and this is perhaps the core points that i wanted to share with you. so please read this article at least twice.

    im not sure if the link would work. the article is entitled the contradiction of coming home written by patricio abinales filed under Views\Voices.

    Pinas is our home but there are but.
    i filled my own 'but' and i can guarantee you that you would have your own share of 'but'.

    my personal, unsolicited view is that, try it first to have a long vacation, say 2months if you can. have a feel if that is what you really want. but dont burn bridges with your employer or cancel visa or anything that would hinder you to go back to USA. just be open to either situation.

    My update: i used to work in Dubai as accounting manager and after countless times of deciding to go home for good, i just decided to move in a region nearer to Phils. i now work in southeast asia,3hrs travel to manila with generous public holidays. so i get to go home as often as i want to spend time with my aging parents as well as my family (son and hubby) now lives with me where i work. all is good.
    hopefully, my sharing is not too much,rather, would catapult you to be firm with your either decision.

    God bless.

    1. Hey there,

      Thanks for your insight. I really do appreciate and respect it.

      I always "go deep" and soul-search about my coming home for good decision. Am I just being silly? Am I just homesick? Am I just romanticizing my old, laidback and simple life I had back when my father was still around?

      I accepted the fact that I cannot go back to my old life. Things change. As saying goes " There is nothing constant in life but change"

      I am in the stage of my life where I am craving for risk. I want to take the road less travel. I want to make wave in my, otherwise, still life. I want to see what's the outcome of my decision. My only advantage is "I am young and I could always go back go back to square one if need be"

      In our old age, we look back and wonder how life would have been so different if "we had taken the leap". I don't want to live a life of "what ifs". We never know how successful we will become if we haven't take the first step.

      I read the link you gave. The writer really hit it right on but, I feel like, the people he mentioned were kind of "old" and I feel like that they don't have a plan on what to do next. They didn't accept the fact that things change just like a mango seed could turn into a strong tree in a few years time.

      When I finally come home for good, few of my OFW readers would know how life is in the other side of the fence. Will my life be a boom or a bust? Who knows!

      In 1982, if Howard Schultz listened to his mom not to quit his high-paying job because people were losing job left and right. If he hadn't risk it, we wouldn't have Starbucks today.

      I am not saying that I wish to be filthy rich like him. I am just saying that we should take a risk once in a while coz YOLO. Haha! But seriously, we should take a risk once in a while coz we won't know until we give it a try.

    2. hello!

      i know i'm not supposed to butt in in other people's conversation. at the expense of being labeled pakialamera, let me share my own inputs (haha, unsolicited galore!)

      bitaw, i understand where anonymous is coming from, too. we hear a lot of negative things being said about our beloved country. economically - we hear a lot of hopelessness coming from our fellow kababayans, that our country is no place to be if you wish to be financially stable, that we are better off in another country.
      pinas' decision to come home for good is a very bold one and would come across as very daunting to some people who won't have the gumption to take risks.
      true, what she may come home to might be different from what she remembers home to be, but there's no doubt in my mind that this decision is one of the best decisions she'll ever make in her life.
      i have confidence in her decision because i believe she is not returning home with her eyes blind. she knows what she'll be getting into and she comes prepared.

      don't get me wrong. i don't have anything against anonymous' advice, i see her insights to be valid as well. i salute that she cares enough to point out the other side of the coin.

      i guess what i'd like to point out is, fellow readers, let's not worry about what will happen to pinas upon her return home. i say this because i'm convinced that she didn't arrive at this decision without mulling over things. sure, there is the chance that what could happen here in the philipines might not pan out as she like them to - but i remain confident in supporting her decision because i read here a girl with the right attitude and the discipline to achieve her goals. if things won't turn out well, her attitude and discipline will help her bounce back. she said it right, there's no better time to take risks than now while she is young.

      if there is one thing i'd like to leave pinas is this: should this decision turn out bad, do not be bound to stick with the decision. you made your decision based on certain circumstances and information at hand, if your information and circumstances change upon your return to the home country, there's no harm in changing your decision. it's not being fickle-minded, it's being wise at reassessing the situation. no harm to reassess the situation and make a new decision.

      i'd like to say good luck in your journey, but to borrow from someone's advice (i just couldn't remember whom or where) i'd say go to your destiny, girl! saying good luck according to that person, somehow has an element of doubt (impending doom), that's why you say 'good luck'. what happened to you wasn't luck, but you made something for yourself because you made the decision to chart your own destiny. so padayon, pinoy!

    3. Don't worry, my friend, I get it a lot. I mean, I get a lot of doubts from people who should be supporting me. Like my family particularly my mama. She wants me to marry a 'Kano instead! Haha! It's as if she doesn't miss me enough that she doesn't want me to come back. But I understand what my mama is coming from, I guess. When people see doom, I see opportunity. As what my mentor , who introduced me to this whole stock market thing, said "Philippines is like 1960's America, so many potential to grow.. You just have to keep your eyes open"

  5. very interesting post... Good luck with your plans. I hope everything turns out well on you..

  6. sorry for the double comments. i swear i got an error message when i hit the reply button. feel free to delete the other one, and this one too..

  7. Wow! You do great in your finances. Iba sa abroad malaki talaga sweldo. I'm just here in the Philippines and as compared to your salary, mine has nothing to boast. Haha! But, I am a financially-aware person and I am trying my best to save and invest for my future. Will be frequenting your blog.

    1. Yah, I guess it all boils down to "contentment". The more you control your material desires and just stick to basic, kahit maliit sweldo, we can still survive.

      Thanks, girl!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Oo nga, as what I said in one of the comments, I am still young and I could always go back to square one. We only live once, why not take a risk sometimes? We don't know what is in store for us if we don't try and step into the unknown. If it doesn't work out, oh well,at least I tried. Going abroad is a risk,too. A lot of OFWs go abroad, get raped and get killed. Life is all about risk but the thing is, you got to managed those risk and not walk blindly.

      Thanks for the output. I appreciate it!

    2. Ooops,sori na delete ko yta comment ko kagabi sa sobrang pagod at antok, bagal pa ng net.I've been following your blogs since last year & I know you'll succeed here.Gud luck friend to ur new journey here.God bless!!!!

  9. Love the honesty here. Your post totally blew me away. Hoping to have even a tiny percentage of your discipline. I earn close to yours but since we have 3 kids, it seems impossible to save. Meeting your mentor in the US and putting your learnings in action, in my opinion, is your greatest asset! Whenever and wherever you go, i'm sure you can breeze through life in flying colors. Follow your dreams!

    1. Hey, thanks so much.

      Discipline didn't happen overnight. It took me a while. It helped that grew up not rich so, turning on my frugality personality isn't that hard. I still get tempted though. Goes to show I am still human. Hehe!

  10. Hello! I agree with Frugal Expat comment, its not about how much you make but how much you save, sheez I know people who makes hundred k per year in dollars ha but they own too much stuffs, latest gadgets, expensive bags and clothing, fancy car, they love going out and always happy when its payday. The sad part is they don't own much, they think they own this and that but those are worthless junk. They don't even own a house. Sorry if my comment turns into a rant its just that I can't stand it when people spend their money like wall ng bukas. These are nice people who doesn't know how to handle money. Anyway, I am very impressed with your bravery exposing your numbers and much more impressed with how you are single with so much responsibilities na napagaaral mga pamangkin mo, buying your own house, you're a very typical Filipino at heart you always think of family above all, very hardworking, and always have a soft spot for our native country. Mabuhay!

    1. Hey, yah, very typical Filipino here! Daming responsibilities but, masarap ang feeling once you help.

      True, there are people na "rich lang ang arrival" but in reality, they really can't afford it.


  11. Hi Maria! Your post is very inspiring.

    A lot of people actually find it very, very difficult to save. There are people who earn much more than you do, and yet I wonder why they don't have any savings!

    I want to say "Congrats" and I hope you succeed with your stock investments. I myself am into stock investing, and stories such as yours inspired me to invest. I also developed my own blog to share my personal experience and insight about stock investing. Feel free to click my name and read about it too.

    Again, thanks a lot and more power to your blog!

  12. One of the greatest things I learned about the online PF community is the openness and willingness to share about taboo topics such and income and expenses and investments. I am continually amazed at the transparency that many bloggers have and I guess the good that comes out of that is the fact that we can follow real world life examples and not just some investment/finance theory from a book. Thanks for sharing.

  13. This is an old post but I just want to add a comment regarding decision to come back home after living some time abroad. I guess coming up with the decision is always situational. If you have a family and kids who are studying, then going back to the Philippines might not be a good idea for you. On the other hand, if you are single and young and you have enough savings, or at least you have thought about how you are going to live for the next 5 years in PIlipinas, then the decision is not that far from being logical.

    I have read the Rappler article and its true that most Pinoys after 20 - 30 years of living and working abroad would still want to go back and retire to our home country. Its like pining for a lost love which is very human and acceptable. But then.. and this is important, you have to come into terms with your reality. Kung babalik ka you have to be sustainable. You have to plan how you are going to have consistent cashflow every month (rental property, farm, pension etc), and psyche yourself about how things have changed and even if you are back in the old place, its going to be a new life for you. Hindi rin talaga makakarelate ang mga kamag anak mo about football, snow, long walk in the park etc, and thats fine too. You have to do your research and weigh whats important for you, for your family and for everyone.

    We hear so many bad news about our country, but we have to realized that time is different and we are actually in a better situation now than where we have ever been. Everyone is connected by social media, major issues are exposed (this is to our advantage, it may take a while but at least Pinoy masa will be educated or at least will have the idea of who to vote and who not to vote. and can I just say that I love Miriam Defensor and the way she exposes the rot in the senate and how she is psyching up the youth to be aware and have a stand on political issues. I hope she survive cancer and be elected as a president, I wouldn't know all of these if our kababayan is not sharing this in their timeline. Like I said, times are different )

    Because of the internet and social awareness we have movements like Go Negosyo, Truly Rich Club, Think Rich Pinoy, Foreclosure Philippines etc etc. There are also a handful of entrepreneur in Pinas who put up their own businesses based on the influences from abroad (Food truck movement is amazing). This is what will save our country, mag abroad ka, mag ipon, iuwi mo ang natutunan mong maganda from where you've been and apply it to your home country. In conclusion, if you come back to Pinas and contribute goodness to our nation, then coming back home is a not-so-bad decision after all.


I'd love to hear from you. I read and appreciate all comments. :)