I Need a Break: Balikbayan Box Shopping Ban. Maybe You Too

Don’t be alarmed. There’s no recent absurd policy change about balikbayan boxes. It’s just me challenging to change my habits of sending stuff in the Philippines.

The balikbayan box (medium size from Forex Alberta) in my room is well wrapped and waiting to be shipped in the Philippines from Canada. I plan to have it pick up next year by Forex Alberta. (Other forwarding companies in Calgary.)

That’s the last box that I will send.

Let the shopping ban begin. No more balikbayan boxes. No more skimming through weekly flyers to find deals. No more strategic packing and wrapping.

Related Post: Send Balikbayan Box in the Philippines from Canada

Am I Just Following a Trend?

I’ve been inspired by my favourite minimalists and YouTubers, Nina and Jenny.

From Canada, I shouldn’t forget Cait Flanders who successfully finished a one year shopping ban. She narrated her experience in her book The Year of Less which I haven’t read or hear. (I’m waiting for my turn to borrow the book or audiobook in the library.)

I cannot do a shopping ban for myself because I’ll likely buy stuff that I’ll need for my vacation in the Philippines. Although I can borrow some things from my siblings, I want to buy some personal stuff that is cheaper there than in Canada.

But that would be a challenge that I should do after my balikbayan box shopping ban.

The Advantages of Doing a Balikbayan Box Shopping Ban

It may seem that I’m following a trend. If it is, I’m heading to the right path.

My plan is not to send a balikbayan box for a year. That’s for sure. I could easily make it two considering all the benefits and goals that I can achieve.

1. Save More. I can use the money meant for buying stuff for balikbayan box to invest in index fund (ETF) in Canada. (Tip: FMETF is the only ETF in the Philippines.) That also includes weed stocks. I’m thinking of switching to socially responsible investing (SRI) but that can wait till further learning.

2. Use time to get things done. I’ll be making a 19 for 2019 list. I was late to the party when I found out about this ingenious hack to get things done. Gretchen Rubin came up with it early this year. She accomplished all the 18 tasks in her list for 2018. How awesome was that.

Hmmm. What should I put in my list? Easy ones should definitely be in the list like reading The Picture of Dorian Gray and Mrs. Dalloway. I finished reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau who, for me, invented minimalism.

3. Pay the debt. A few months ago I bought a house and lot where my family moved in. Owning a home is our family’s dream; I was able to make it come true with the help of financial assistance from my parents. But debt is debt. I am slowly paying it every month without interest (what a relief).

The balikbayan box shopping ban is not about becoming strictly frugal or selfish.

It’s about becoming intentional in achieving goals. I prioritize to invest more and cut back debt. But I wouldn’t be successful without commitment to myself and clear communication with my family.

Balikbayan Box Shopping Ban

How to Get Started

While a shopping ban has many advantages for me, my family may not see it that way. Who doesn’t want to receive imported goods although it takes three months to arrive.

That wouldn’t be the case anymore.

I’m sure my family will understand why I’m doing this. They can see from my perspective why I need a break and focus on paying debt and saving after spending on vacation and house.

Although I’ll be having a balikbayan box ban, I thought of trying Jollibee Padala for birthdays or special occasions like Mother’s or Father’s Day.

I like surprising my family, like the time I gifted my mom a gas stove burner when I had my first job.

Have you tried it? I’ll see if I can use my Home Trust Preferred Visa Card to avoid foreign conversion fee.

Final Thoughts

Others may raise there eyebrows with my decision, but I’ll stick with it like binge watching a series on Netflix. I know I can make it to the final episode of Downton Abbey.

I started sending balikbayan boxes in my first year of moving to Canada. Although it has been part of Filipino culture, I have a different reason.

I did it out of love.

But love cannot be measured by material things. Love is immeasurable and priceless.

To all OFWs, don’t feel bad if you decided not to send a balikbayan box, because apart from that, I know that you are remitting money for education and other needs of your family.

Imported goods are extra expenses when you have extra cash. Save and invest first.

Have you done a shopping ban? How did the ban affect your budget?

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About Pwede Padala Gal

Pwede Padala Gal loves to share tips on how to save in Canada and the Philippines. Someday she'll finally teach her Aspin at least one dog trick and keep a cactus alive. Chat with her on Facebook and reddit.

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