Surviving versus living: The Filipino family’s monthly budget

June 11, 2018 - 11:43 AM
How does a family with an average income able to break down the little it has? (File photo)

(Updated June 15, 2018) After the National Economic and Development Authority received flak after it was misquoted for supposedly claiming that a family of five needs P10,000 to survive each month, the agency clarified that P42,000 would be the estimate for a decent-enough living—and not simply for survival.

Two family members would need to each earn at least P21,000 per month under the estimated figure to have a rather comfortable lifestyle, noted Ernesto Pernia, the country’s socioeconomic planning secretary.

Pernia said, however, that P42,000 is not an official figure by his agency. “That number was just top of mind,” he said.

He also explained that NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon used P10,000 as an example before since the figure is easier to multiply with other numbers to see an estimated effect of the rising inflation rate.

He explained in an interview the supposed P10,000 estimate that caught on even if it was just used as a sample income at a press conference. “The average Filipino family size kasi is five, kaya na-coconnect. ‘Yung P10,000 is illustrative lang iyon eh, kasi madali mo increase by two times, three times, ganoon.”

Pernia added that the estimated P42,000 figure can change if one of the two family members is not working.

Meanwhile, Renato Reyes Jr. of the left-leaning of left-leaning Bagong Alyansang Makabayan noted that living with P10,000 per month is attainable but the family would be close to the “poverty line.”

Breakdown of costs 

For a family of five, a budget of P42,000 per month can be broken down into the following:


Partido ng Manggagawa declared that a family needs to allot P3,150 per month to buy themselves 2.5 kilos of the cheapest rice available in the market. For other types of food, around P17,160 is needed.

Non-food items 

Non-food items are further broken down into different purchases:

  • Clothing,
  • Electricity and water bills, and
  • Transportation and funds for the children’s education, among others.

Renato Magtubo or the workers’ group said that a family can survive on around P21,840 for non-food items.

In total, families would spend P39,000 per month, close to what Pernia has estimated for a family to live decently.

An average Filipino family spends much on food, followed by education of the children.

Considering Pernia’s unofficial estimated budget of P42,000 per month, a family of five can have some extra fund amounting to P3,000.

Magtubo noted that the group’s estimates do not include miscellaneous expenses:

“Our cost of living study is, in fact, an underestimation as it does not provide for leisure and recreation, savings or social security which should comprise 10 percent as a standard or for a house help, which is a necessity if the government insists that both parents must work to sustain the family.”

The P3,000 may be further broken down into:

  • Leisure and recreation
  • Social security
  • Income for the household help


Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story cited a report that was proven to have misquoted an official of NEDA. The latest update identifies and corrects the error.