Grocery Shopping Tips That Will Save You Time and Money

As a newly married couple, I and my husband Dave find grocery shopping as one of the overwhelming tasks of a husband and wife. When I was still single, my mom was in charge of the grocery shopping. Dave went to a supermarket to buy his supplies just once in a blue moon. So the first thing we did right after our honeymoon aside from doing the laundry is to go to a supermarket. Exciting!

But our grocery-shopping-journey seems to be a trial and error. We discovered some ways that are effective, and some ways that cost us more money and time. So here are some of the tips to make you a WISE SUPERSTAR SHOPPER:


When you go to a supermarket, every single item has an invisible tag on it telling you, “BUY ME, PLEASE! Remember, you need me!”  So if you don’t make a budget and a list, you’ll end up buying things that you think you need, but you really don’t.


This is one of the things that we learned from our couple mentor. Aside from planning the things that you’ll do for the week (projects, meetings, date night), plan also your meal. With this, you’ll be able to know what are the dishes that you will cook for the week, what are the needed ingredients, etc. Then you can add this to your grocery list. In our case, I made a menu plan for the whole month of January and set a scheduled day and time in a week for our grocery shopping.


If you plan to buy your grocery needs from a convenience store, think twice. Convenience has a price to pay. There is one instance that I didn’t have a choice but to run to the nearest convenience store to buy pineapple tidbits for my Pininyahang Manok (The consequence of not making a list-I forgot that a pineapple is needed in that dish, duh?!?). I found out that the price of that item in the convenience store is 50% higher compared to the price in the supermarket. A convenience store is for urgent and emergency needs only. But buying your toiletries, canned goods, and other grocery needs in a convenience store is not a practical thing to do.


As a first-time grocery shopper, I believe this is a must. I remember one time when we were looking for table placemats. We had a lot of detours inside the supermarket and found ourselves carrying a half-filled basket and asking, “I thought we are just planning to buy placemats?” In order for us to save time and money, we took note of the sections of the supermarket. And every time we do our grocery shopping list, beside the item, we write down the section number where we can find it. Swear, this is really effective!




Use an expense manager app, an excel sheet, or small notebook to monitor your grocery expenses. This will help you analyze whether you are over the budgeted amount or not. Keep and organize your receipts for your reference. It is also our practice that we put tags on the items that we bought and write the date when we started using it and when it is consumed. This will help you track your consumption and include this as a consideration when making a grocery budget. So the next time you run out of toothpaste or shampoo, you’ll avoid buying those things from the convenience store.

With these things in mind, are you ready to kick start your new grocery shopping habits?


Just love,


A Few Thoughts About the 52 Weeks Money Challenge

It is the start of the year hence; most of us are getting gaga on writing our new year’s resolutions or faith goals. And I bet that saving money (or should I say, a lot of money? ) is one of those resolutions that you want to accomplish for 2017. In fact, according to the GOBankingRates’ 2017 New Year’s Resolution survey, “SAVE MORE, SPEND LESS” is the top financial resolutions (23%) among the survey’s participants. This shows that people will always find ways to save money either by running after on discounts or by filling up a cute piggy bank.



One of the popular saving techniques is the 52 Weeks Money Challenge. Many people are pleased on the idea that you can save at least P100,000 after 52 weeks by saving in P100-increments weekly. On the first week, you save P100. Then on the second week, P200, and so on and so forth until you reach the 52nd week. Others who succeeded on this challenge found this fun and thrilling. This is not a straightforward kind of saving system compare to saving a fixed percentage from your income before spending or saving from what’s left.  There’s a feeling of satisfaction when you see that your savings are growing exponentially. Who wouldn’t love to have extra money of at least P100,000 at the end of the year, aside from your Christmas bonuses? But this 52 Weeks Money Challenge is not effective, for some.

May it be in an increment of P1, P10, P50 or P100, the truth is, our salary is not increasing every now and then. Everyone can start saving P100 on the first week but not everyone can save P2,000 or P5,000 for the nth week.



The 52 Weeks Money Challenge may work for you. If not, there are numerous ways on how to save money. But two things will matter more than the techniques that you are going to use to achieve this financial resolution, your WHY and DISCIPLINE. When saving money, you need a specific goal. Why are you saving? Is it for investment? For emergency fund? For down payment of a car? For travel? If you don’t know your WHY and you save money just for the sake of saving, you may end up spending it on things outside your priorities.  And if you are not disciplined enough to watch out on how you spend, after 52 weeks, you may end up wondering where your money went.

It is the start of the year and it is the perfect time to do this challenge- pay yourself first.

Just Love,






3 “Payday Habits” That Will Make You a Multi-Millionaire

Do you want to be a multi-millionaire?’
Multi-millionaire stories are not only for the businessmen, wealthy people, or lotto winners. Employees can also be one. But all big success comes from small things. So if you are working on an 8-5 job and you want to be a multi-millionaire, you should start with the following good “payday habits”:

1.Save First Before You Spend.

Have you experienced urging yourself to save but you ended up with no savings at all? Do you find it difficult to start investing because you have nothing to invest?


Saving after what’s left is difficult since we have a long list of needs and wants. That is why if you want to be a multi-millionaire, you should spend what’s left after deducting your savings. As a rule of thumb, we should keep 20% of our salary. This concept originates from Pareto Rule or the 80/20 rule named after Vilfredo Pareto, which means that 80% of outcomes will come from 20% of inputs. In relation to financial aspect, 80% of your wealth will come from 20% of what you are consistently saving from your income.

But not all your savings should be placed in a bank. Money other than for emergency purposes or short-term goals should be invested in an instrument such as VUL or variable unit linked products which come with a protection, health fund, and stock investment that earns higher than the inflation rate.

2. Spend but not Splurge.

Have you noticed the frequent sale in a nearby mall? Before, it was only mid-year and year-end sale but now there is a sale every month, and for some stores, every cut-off.

Have you seen the latest gadget in various stores? Before, you need to have a big amount of cash or a credit card to buy a gadget. But now, you can avail some of those even in a minimum down payment and you can pay the balance even if you don’t have a credit card.

What are the dominant colors that you see in food logos or restaurant? According to Color Psychology, red and yellow are the chief food colors because these evoke the taste bud and stimulate appetite.

But what do these things mean? Business establishments want you to spend your money. Temptations to splurge are everywhere and as Dave Ramsey says, “If you don’t tell your money where it should go, you’ll end up wondering where it went.”


Spending your hard-earned money is not bad. You work because you need money to pay for your dreams, bills, and pleasures. But the dangerous thing is when you spend it above your means or having unplanned expenditures.

Do your own math. Have a budget.

3.Share and Care.

If you take a look what is the common thing among the famous affluent people- they never forget to share and give. 


But you don’t have to wait to become rich before you can give. You can actually start now. According to Jim Rohn,“Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.”

Give your family a small treat. Hand a spoonful of ice cream to a child or a dinner for a family living in the street. Never get tired of giving to God’s ministries. Because when we are giving, we are not losing but we are just emptying ourselves for bigger blessings.

Following these three simple steps will not only make you a multi-millionaire years from now but these will also help you learn how to treasure and manage the fruits of your labor.
If you want to become a multi-millionaire someday and you need help to plan your finances, just send me a message at and let’s talk about your dreams.

5 Things To Do With Your Christmas Bonus

Christmas songs everywhere.

Red tag sale in malls.

Ecstatic spirit for the upcoming holiday.

These are some of the few signs that we are just counting the days away till Christmas. For most of us, Christmas is our favorite season. This is a season of giving. This is a time for reconciliation. This is also the best time of the year to celebrate the blessings that we received for the whole year. And part of these blessings is our Christmas bonuses. Yes you read it right! Bonus is coming to town!

Just recently, I had a coffee with my client, and she asked, “Sarah, I have been working for six years now. And I’ve been receiving 13th and 14th month pay and other Christmas bonuses every year. But sad to say, I can’t even remember where I spend those extra money. What is the best thing to do with my bonuses this year?”

I believe that her question, are your questions too. With this, I want to share to you the 5 simple tips on how you can spend your bonuses wisely.


If you have credit card debts or other personal loans, this is the best time to get rid of them. I believe that bad debts are one of the destroyers of a healthy financial life. If you have multiple loans, you may choose to pay first the debt with the smallest balance (snowball method) or the debt with the highest interest (avalanche method). You may seek the help of a financial planner to assist you on which method of paying debts is best for you.



Emergency fund is a fund set aside for emergencies like sudden death in the family, hospitalization, or loss of job. This is different from your savings and investment. As a rule of thumb, you should have at least an emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of your monthly expenses.



If you still don’t have insurance, you may consider insuring yourself. Or if you already have an existing one, you may consider increasing your life insurance coverage, if needed. Having insurance is one of the basics in financial planning. This will replace the income that you are contributing to your family or a gift to them in case something will happen to you. A financial planner can help you compute the ideal amount of your life insurance coverage.


Do you want to see your Christmas bonuses grow throughout the years? Then invest! Investopedia defines investing as the act of committing money or capital to an endeavor with the expectation of obtaining an additional income or profit. If you want to earn from your bonuses, invest it an instrument such as stocks, bonds, or businesses which earns higher than the interest of your savings accounts. Your choice of investment instrument will also depend on your time horizon and risk appetite.

5.  GIVE


You may give a sacrificial love offering to your favorite ministries, help your favorite charity, and even give something to yourself- something that will benefit you over the years such as learning new skills or enrolling in a short certification course.
Are you excited to receive your bonuses? Hope you spend it wisely!

PS. If you want to have a concrete plan on how you can manage your bonuses and hard earned money, let’s talk about it. I would be glad to help you. 

Why Having a “Plan B” is Important in Planning Your Child’s Education

“What is your greatest dream for your family?”

This is the question I always ask every time I meet married couples or single parents. And it always amazed me that their answers are always the same: to give the best education to their children.

And those were the exact words I heard from the couple that I met two weeks ago. I could feel their enthusiasm and desire to start preparing for their children’s future. The couple is in their late 20’s, both working, and have two children aged 5 and 1. After considering all the factors such as their preferred university and current tuition fees, we came up with the projected total cost of education for their two children. It would cost them around P3,000,000.

From their case, we can see that they have more than a decade to save for their children’s college. This is an ample amount of time where their money can grow way beyond their saving accounts’ interest if invested in the stock market.

But what if one or both of the parents are taken out of the picture? What would happen to their children’s future?

This is the common story we see in television dramas or we hear from our friends or neighbors: the parents died, then the child stopped attending school, started working even at a young age, and sometimes get involved in vices or crimes.
And you don’t want this kind of story.

That’s why aside from your PLAN A, which is saving or investing for your child’s education, you need to have your PLAN B– you need to be protected through a life insurance. The good news is you don’t have to think or devise your own ways on how to execute your PLAN A and PLAN B, because Insular Life is here to help you with your needs and to achieve your goals.


You can now start saving and get protection with Insular Life’s prime Education Package called Wealth Assure-Education. Let me show you the benefits of this plan using the above case:

*Not guaranteed since money is invested in the stock market.

Based on the illustration, with an annual investment of 90,000 each for 10 years, or a total of P900,000 each, the couple can be assured that whatever happens, their children’s future would not be at stake. The investment value will be used as college education fund and life insurance will serve as a protection if ever something will happen to the parent. You can also see that there is as surplus from  your projected cost of education. You can use this to continue the plan which can be used for your retirement, or use this amount as a graduation gift to your children, or to start a business. It’s like hitting three birds with one stone.

But what if the couple decides to go only with PLAN A and save the same amount in a time deposit? Let  us see the illustration below:


If the couple will choose time deposit as their investment vehicle for their children’s education, there will be a deficit by the time each of their children reach 18 years old. If ever the parent dies during the saving years, the children would not receive proceeds from life insurance which will replace the contribution of the parents for college funding. Mind you also that the effective rate of return is lower compared if money will be invested through Wealth Assure-Education. Take note that only money intended for short term goals or for emergencies should be invested in time deposit or saving accounts but for your long term goals, you should go for instruments that earn higher than the inflation rate.

Parents, do you have your PLAN A and PLAN B in securing your child’s future? Now is the perfect time to plan. Later on, your child will have a different and the best story to tell because you choose to plan and act now.


If you want to start planning your child’s education, let’s talk. I will be willing to help you achieve your family’s goals. You may reach me through my email,
Originally published at


Sarah Grace N. Esteban, CPA is a financial advisor at FinancePH and the Director of Publications and Communications of the League of Young Financial Educators (LYFE), a non-profit organization which seek to help young individuals to be financially literate. Aside from her advocacy, she loves to write because she believes in changing the world, one reader at a time. You may reach her through her personal blog