Getting the Help to Help

Labandera

Inday, A Portrait

“Mam, wala nang bigas”.  Ma’am, there is no more rice.

Inday can make me crazy sometimes.  We just bought 600 pesos worth half-sack of bigas (rice) three weeks ago.  And in the house, it was just me, husband D, daughter C, Inday 1 and Inday 2 .  And Yo-yow, our Maltese brat, but she’s not counted because I do not give her people food (uhm).

D and I, we hardly eat at home.  We eat out all the time (I am not complaining).

But there is no more bigas.  The day before, no more drinking water.  The day prior, out of Coke, and I do not even drink it.  A week ago, no more cooking gas.  Meralco, too high.  Maynilad too high.  If I think about it (and I do think about it), it is too easy for me to fall into the I-am-being-duped trap and go crazy.  I imagine the Indays, which, by the way, is a form of endearment we use for our househelp, holding huge parties at my expense, having the TV on 24/7, aircon on full blast, cooking my food and my bigas and giving it away to friends, relatives, lovers, the whole subdivision and beyond.

But I refuse to fall into the trap.  To quell my doubting heart, I asked Inday to make me The List.

The List is a method a friend N (wife of J, my FP) uses to audit her household expenses and monitor her Indays.  I urged myself to try it, see if it works, see if my BP (yes, blood pressure) would normalize.

“Inday, gawa ka ng listahan ng lahat ng gastos sa bahay.  Bigas, shellane, Coke, tubig pang inom, lahat ng binabayaran sa bahay, Meralco, tubig.  Pati lahat ng niluluto mo, para ma-monitor ko.”  Inday, please make me a list of all the household expenses – rice, Shellane cooking gas, Coke, drinking water, all of the household expenses, Meralco, water, etcetera, that we have.  All of the food you cook too, so I can monitor.

The first few days of “The List” were hard.  The Indays were on the defensive track.  They knew they were being monitored and they did not like it.  They staged pseudo-hunger strikes and then asked me for a budget for them for food so they will not eat ours.  I finally sat them down to talk and I explained to them that I was not at home all the time and it was hard for me to understand why the food is being consumed so very fast when my husband and I hardly eat at home, or why the Meralco is so high, or why four long bars of laundry soap will only last 2 weeks.  I told them that I was sorry to have made them feel that way but The List was just a way for me to understand.  I did not know how long food or water or gas should last and usually, my expectations are not very reasonable.  I wanted to be free of delusions.  I did not say it but I also wanted to be free of suspicions.  It was not a very good way to live.  For either me or the Indays.

They understood.  Well, I think they did.  They told me they forgave me.  I had prevented a mutiny.

We still run out of bigas, or Shellane, but now at least I know rice usually lasts us a month, and the Shellane a month and a half.  If it falls below the projection by a week, I do not seethe and squirm because almost always, the Indays are good, following my projections to the letter.   They are out of my radar and I am out of their hairs.  They are involved and are more conscious on how they use up the things that I buy for the household and for them.

Yes, even the help can help in the arena of personal finance.

Be rich,

Issa

Text by Issa.  Art by D. Copyright 2009.
blog: www.YouWantToBeRich.com
email: [email protected]

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7 comments

  1. Nannette Ferreria says:

    Issa,
    guess what? i just let go of one inday who was with me for 16 years!. hard to do. she was “family” already. She helped raise the kids, nurse my sick mom.
    But i realized, my kids are bigger than her and they still ask her: “Ate, water, ate, my clothes… and ate this and ate that!” I had to finally cut the “yaya” umbilical cord.
    A month after, our house is more tidy – the kids know that no ate will clean up after them so they pick up after themselves. So that’s one salary less (added to savings) less water and electricity consumed.
    I pray that inday will be able to go to Italy which is her wish for now.
    N

  2. Issa says:

    Wow, N! You are very brave to have done what you did. I am not sure I could do that. Well, that is how we have started actually, Inday-less, having come home from the States and a life of independence. But dependence is so yummy and gooey we are liking it too much. In 10 years, hopefully. Thanks for serving, always, as an inspiration. 🙂

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