“Broke people stay broke by living like they’re rich. Rich people stay rich by living like they’re broke.”
I found this to be true when I met Walter Demesa. If one was to watch Walter in this food and travel show Listed in Lifestyle Network, one would probably think that his lifestyle consists of constantly eating out, shopping and traveling. Surprisingly, it is not the case.
Let’s see why despite having much, Walter chose the frugal life and how he is doing it.
Divine: Hi Walter, thank you for granting this interview. It was a surprise for me to learn that a TV personality like you, someone who can afford to splurge can be so frugal. What inspired you to do what you do?
Walter: Hey Divine! As a little kid, I never saw the value of money and always asked for whatever I wanted and my mother would always say “no!” and for me I took that as her being cruel. Then when I started to get older I understood her priorities of allocating money for more important things like our university education.
Divine: When did you start being so frugal?
Walter: When I was a teenager, I would really save my birthday and Christmas money and make it last the whole year. My parents only gave us the equivalent of P400 pesos in Canada as allowance per week. Then I began working when I was 17 doing random jobs because that was really the culture in Canada. First, I worked at Burger King as a back restaurant staff to earn spending money for a school trip to New York City. Then it became another a job at Tommy Hilfiger at the mall then a restaurant, Casino and so on. I worked many random jobs and these would be what eventually would pay for my rent and living since I was 18 years old. Having to take on random jobs, you realize quickly the value of hard work and every purchase was attached to a certain amount of hours you would work. A pair of nice pants would be a half day wage at one of my random jobs. So I became very careful in my spending and would only spend on what I really needed.
Divine: Do you follow a rule on how many percentage of your income you need to save?
Walter: I don’t necessarily allocate a percentage. Basically, I target to save as much as possible. If I can save 100% I probably would haha but it’s just not feasible with rent and bills. I would say I end up saving 50% or more of my salary, or best efforts.
Divine: Do you follow a certain budgeting technique? Do you track your expenses?
Walter: I’ve never been regimented with budgeting even though people say you should be. I don’t tract it on excel or anything of that sort but I am always aware of where my bank account should be by the end of the month. I have a certain target per month where that savings balance should be.
Divine: What do you think was the most challenging financial situation you were in and how did you overcome it?
The most challenging financial situation was when I was in university. My parents told me I had to pay for my rent throughout university. I would work non stop during my four months summer break and often working two or three random jobs at a time just to save up for my rent for the year plus spending money. I would always have my rent for the 8 months of school set aside already so I never fell short in that department. However, spending money was tight most of the time. I would sometimes only allow myself $20-$30 a week for random spending like eating out or partying so you really become creative how you stretch that out. The end of the 8 months would be the toughest cause you would be just scraping by with the remainder of your savings. I loaned money from my little sister which I would eventually pay back when I worked in the summers, I’ve sold my books and then loaned out the university library old editions to study and even took a waitering job at the university catering services and often would serve my professors. But that’s what really built my character and ability to financially survive.
Divine: What can you say about borrowing?
Walter: As much as possible, I would never borrow large sums of money for rent or car payments. I think you should always pay back money transacted in the form of a loan. Even taking out a loan at the bank scares me knowing you’re at their mercy haha.
Divine: I feel that you will be an inspiration to many. What advice can you give to the readers of this post?
Walter: I think most people blur the line between necessity and luxury. Spending for a new iPad, or iPhone is not something you need no matter how much you justify it. It’s something we enjoy. Also, it sounds simple but examine your lifestyle and see what you can afford. We often fall to traps of trying to keep up with our friends and their spending habits but for me if I make it clear that I’m frugal from the beginning then they understand. And when you receive a bonus or pay, it’s not a sign to be a one day millionaire and take everyone out to eat or party. Sacrifice now cause there are tons of opportunities to have fun and enjoy your money later.
Walter once shared to me that his relatives would sometimes say, “Anong gagawin mo sa pera mo? Mag enjoy ka na habang bata ka pa.” (What will you do with your money? Enjoy it while you’re young.) And Walter said, “bakit, hindi ka ba pwedeng mag enjoy ng hindi gumagastos?” (Why? Can you not enjoy without spending?)
I believe that it is the essence of a frugal lifestyle – being content and enjoying the simple things in life.
Walter took his Bachelor of Science at the University of Guelph, Canada and Post Graduate Certificate in Human Resources in Humber College. He is a TV Host for a travel and food show called Listed on Lifestyle Network. Catch him every Tuesday in Sky Cable Channel 52. Follow him on Instagram and subscribe to his youtube channel.