It’s just so easy to fall into the “bigger, better and faster” mindset, moreso when everything and everyone around you seem to encourage unabated spending.

Your phone is half a year old? Why it’s time to upgrade! Check out our new models which can be yours for 12 easy payments at 0% off!

You received a promotion at work? Then it’s time to celebrate by going on a Hongkong shopping spree with your 10 closest buddies! Charge all your expenses to your brand, spanking new credit card!

This season’s must-haves are animal prints festooned with glittery rainbows, and no self-respecting fashionista should be caught donning last season’s castoffs. Ugh.

This radio commercial from PAG-IBIG likewise bolsters that train of thought:

Lumalaki na ba ang pamilya mo? Kailangan mo ng mas malaking bahay!

Umaasenso ang buhay? Kailangan mo ng mas magandang bahay!

Kailangan ba talaga o gusto lang?

I can understand taking out a loan if your family can hardly fit inside your house anymore, but why do you need to upgrade your house and go into debt for it just because you’re doing well financially? 

I hear that all the time from my friends, how there’s a certain standard that they need to live up to just because they are now at this stage in their careers.

I say bullshit.

If you’ve been happy and content all this time with what you had, why should a salary increase or promotion change all that? Why do you suddenly need to live “commensurately” to your perceived status? It just makes my head spin and my heart ache to see my friends trapped in this never-ending cycle of spending because of the insidious marketing campaigns by the sneaky powers that be.

Which now brings me to our planned house expansion. The hubby is thinking twice about taking over the unit next door because he insists that we are doing well in our tiny 30sqm box and adding an extra 30sqm will not really make a difference in our lives. I acknowledge all the points he raised, but I want the extra space. I want to have a nice kitchen where I can putter around while watching TV. I want to have my own work area with this cute desk from Heima.

I want Bean to have his own room.

I want to have dinner parties with friends.

I know the difference between a need and a want, and that extra space is definitely a want at this point in time. A want that will probably cost us between Php100,000-Php150,000 to construct (not counting the extra for furniture and appliances), plus taking on an extra Php5,000++ per month for the mortgage and another Php5,000-Php10,000 a month for 3 years or so to pay off my brother’s equity on the unit.

Yes, I am willing to spend all that much for the extra space, but since this is a want and not a need, I refuse to go into debt for it. And so the penny pinching begins to raise the funds needed to pay for this want.

This is my version of buying a designer bag, I don’t need it and it’s not an investment (although it might be if we manage to flip it for a profit in the future). But I want it, I worked hard for it, it makes me happy, and so I will enjoy it.

I don’t believe in a miserly existence, nor in foregoing pleasure and accounting for every peso earned. But I do believe in spending money on my own terms, knowing fully well what I’m getting myself into, and not simply because I was bamboozled by some clever marketing campaign or because of some misguided need to keep up with the Joneses.

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