Geographic Arbitrage – An Example of Food Hacking

by FI Fighter on May 30, 2018

in Philippines, Travel, Ways to Save Money

Early FI is different for everyone… There’s no denying that… What works for one individual won’t necessarily appeal to the next person… I think that’s all fine and dandy, and just the way life works… Having said that, I think the most important thing any of us can do on a regular basis is to keep an open mind as we try and navigate through the Game of Life, so that hopefully we can maximize it each and every single day.

For a cheap bastard like myself, well, when it comes down to it, I just deep down immensely enjoy investing money a lot more than spending it. So, even though I was born and raised in the Bay Area (and later worked my entire high-tech career there), I was willing to look reality smack in the eye and realize first-hand that the Cost of Living (COL) in my own backyard was fast going hyperbolic… Further, as someone who really didn’t want to work 9-5 for the entirety of my life, I had to accept that I might just have to spread my wings and look at living elsewhere.

Traveling around the world is tremendous for overall personal growth, I truly believe that… I mean every new place I go (Hong Kong, Philippines, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Japan, Italy, Thailand, Vietnam, etc.), I tend to pick up some insights and a newfound appreciation for life…

Especially after witnessing the struggle the vast majority of people around the world have to go through, on a day-to-day basis…

Operating under the constructs of gratitude can’t help but better our own lives…

When you strip away all the noise, I dunno, life can become very simple, at the heart of it…

This past winter, I was in Manila for a good three months and I had the time of my life… I met some amazing people, established life-long friendships (which are priceless!), and just got to immerse myself in a new culture (albeit one that is VERY SIMILAR to American culture, but still with its own unique flair and intricacies).

And I quickly realized that by making use of Geographic Arbitrage, I really didn’t have to spend all that much $$$ to have a smashing good time…

Late at night, we used to sometimes make a run to the local supermarket in Uptown Mall, Bonifacio Global City (BGC).

There you go, you can score a cold Heineken for only 49.25 pesos…

I’m not much a drinker at all, but for $0.94 USD, sure drinks all around! I usually opted for the local San Miguel beer, which is even cheaper at 36 pesos!

With life, the drinks, food, amenities, scenery, etc. are usually more complementary pieces than anything else… It’s the company that you are with that really matters the most!

They say, “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” I tend to agree…

Talking investing until the early morning… Great times…

But yeah, no denying that when you can spare your wallet a lot of unnecessary pain, it’s a damn nice (almost liberating) feeling… that only enhances the good vibes.

So, you can get a drink for less than $1 USD…

What about lunch, or a snack?

Well, there’s lots of good affordable restaurants in Manila, but even at a more “pricey” establishment like Denny’s, you can find some ways to save on costs…

One of my best buddies taught me the following “Denny’s hack”… Turns out, the “add-ons” menu is quite a bit cheaper than basically everything else on the menu…

So, we used to half-jokingly mix and match and order a buncha items off of there… The following image shows a pretty filling meal for less than $4 USD…

I mean, obviously this isn’t something that is suitable for daily use, but I mean, it just goes to show that some creative thinking can go a long ways towards saving you money…

Again, the food was always just a bonus… We had a lot of great conversations and discussions here… ones that I still remember and miss to this day…

Before I departed from Manila back home to the Bay Area, I even bought myself one of these Bistro cards… for even more savings.

It was pretty sweet being able to order a FREE complimentary coffee/hot tea everytime I visited Denny’s, or one of the other branches that supported use of the Bistro card… I forget the details, but I think the Bistro card was a one-time fee of $45, and it was good every visit for an entire year!

I was only able to use the card for about ~1 month, but I’m very certain the card paid for itself… a few times over. 30% off Mondays was my favorite, no doubt!

Lunch at Watami for less than $10 USD…

Avoiding the international chain restaurants can also help you stretch every last dollar further too! In fact, my favorite eatery while in the Philippines was without a doubt a local Filipino “comfort food” restaurant called Fat.

The roasted chicken was my “go to” meal on many, many, occasions while staying in BGC.

I’ve been here far too many times… All the staff knew me and after a few visits, I no longer had to order… They already knew what I wanted!

Yeah, my buddy and I were super excited to dig in!

For less than $4 USD…

Even better, Fat offers perks like a stamp card where you can “buy 10 entrees and get 1 free”.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

I suppose any discussion of eating in the Philippines (especially on a budget) wouldn’t be complete without at least mentioning Jollibee, no doubt the most popular fast food restaurant in the country.

Most people go to Jollibee for their chicken, but since they are open 24/7, late night ice cream/sundae sessions are quite the norm too… I mean in the Philippines, they only have two seasons… 1) HOT and 2) REALLY HOT!

There’s always room for some (CHEAP AF) ice cream!

For some reason, I am obsessed with locating Gong Cha whenever I’m in the Philippines or Hong Kong… It’s kind of funny because I never really ever order it in the Bay Area…

But at half the price in Manila, again, why not?

$2 USD does the trick… Not healthy enough for daily consumption, but sometimes you just wanna live a little…

And keep in mind, these are just some really basic examples of saving on eating out… If you want to be even more a tightwad (and perhaps eat better and healthier), it’s much cheaper to just cook for yourself. I already showed how cheap alcohol is at the grocery store… For homecooking, it’s more or less the same deal (super affordable).

So, again, Geographic Arbitrage is definitely not suitable for everyone… I mean, for myself it’s possible because I’m a single guy, I have no kids, and I can more or less come and go as I please…

But for anyone who is sick and tired of working 9-5 everyday and wants to desperately get to early FI ASAP, all I am saying is that there are “tricks” and “tools” you can utilize to help expedite the process greatly.

Hmm… I can’t seem to recall the last time I ever had the nerve to order a drink in the Bay Area, but in Manila, sure why not?

 

Fight On!

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