Poverty Threshold: Is P12,030 Really Enough for a Family of 5?

Consider this scenario.
Photo/s: Jerome Ascaño

A family of five needs an average of P12,030 per month to meet their basic needs in 2021, official data released Monday showed which means that a typical Filipino household needs much more to survive in 2022 given the soaring prices of food and goods.

READ: EXPLAINER: Poverty Incidence, Threshold in the Philippines

For basic food requirements alone, the Philippine Statistics Authority said a family of five needed at least P8,379 a month last year. Fast forward to 2022 after inflation zoomed to a fresh high of 6.4% in July, is P12,030 still enough to feed and cover the basic needs of a family of five?

Based on the latest issued price monitoring sheet by the Department of Agriculture, we look at how much PSA's average of P8,379 a month can buy these days. 

For context, let's assume that:

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For rice alone, a family of five would need 30 kg a month. So if they want it to be well-milled, which costs P39 as of Aug. 12 if bought from the neighborhood palengke, they would have to allot P1,170 of their budget.

The ulam or viand would, of course, require more, especially if homecooked since you'll need various ingredients. Note that different meals would differ depending on quality but for the purpose of this article, let's say a family for an entire month ate:

  • 2 pieces each of hotdog for breakfast 
  • adobo for lunch 
  • beef nilaga for dinner

One pack of Purefoods Tender Juicy Hotdog Classic priced at P188 contains 30 sausages, which would take three breakfast meals for a family of five to finish. If there are 30 days in a month, they would need to buy 10 packs which would cost them P1,880 in total.

For lunch, one whole chicken for adobo costs P180 on average.

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Assuming other ingredients (such as oil, garlic, peppercorn, vinegar, and soy sauce) would cost about P100, then a family would need P280 per lunch meal. For a month, doing this every day would cost P8,400--beyond the PSA's estimated budget for a family to stay above the food poverty line.

One can think of cheaper alternatives, but if one still wants to enjoy a hearty meal and with adobo being a common and relatively cheap option already, how much money is left for dinner plus non-food needs like transportation, electricity, water, etc?

We continue with beef nilaga for dinner, which according to reportr's estimate last month, would need at least P350. Eating nilaga for dinner every day would cost a family of five P10,500 in total. If you substitute it with adobong kangkong at P100 per meal, it would take away P3,000 from the monthly budget. 

All in all, food expenses alone, given all options presented, would amount to P20,780. This however can be drastically reduced to P13,280 if dinner is adobong kangkong.

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Filipinos however are known to be creative especially when it comes to budgeting.

A June Social Weather Survey showed that despite soaring prices of goods, the national average minimum household budget that poor families said they need in order to consider themselves "not poor" remained at P15,000 like in April 2022.

"This indicates that poor families have been lowering their living standards, i.e., belt-tightening," SWS said.

But whether one prefers to spend more on food or lessen non-food expenses, what's clear is we live in expensive times and belt-tightening can only go as far before the squeeze becomes unbearable.

ALSO READ:

How to Budget P1,000, P500, P100 for Food as Inflation Soars

How to Save When Inflation Burns Your Money's Worth

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