1. There are less cheap food places open at night. Most food places close at 10pm with the latest at 12mn although some have catered to the night shift crowd in the more developed areas such as Eastwood, or Ortigas. Then for the few that are open, they typically have markups that make them more expensive and impractical. Pantry food is usually cheap but bland and the menu doesn't usually change over a period of weeks. Tendency for folks in the night shift is to spend at convenience stores, fast food joints and whatever is open at night. Averaging 200php food spending per day(snacks and lunch) is not uncommon (not to mention the health consequences of eating fast food all the time).
What I do: I make sure to eat something healthy before I go to work. I heat up a bowl of oatmeal, or mix up some fruits in a bowl to quickly get some "breakfast". I also pack a healthy sandwich and a fruit everyday. Plus I stash different kinds of nuts (pistachios, almonds, peanuts by the 100 grams bought in SM Supermarkets that I put in a resealable plastic bag) in my bag for snacks through the day. I probably spend less than 1,000 a month in the grocery for all the food I would pack for the office. Not only is this healthier, but I save close to 3,000 php a month.
2. Coffee is expensive but necessary. Working during the night shift, needless to say, makes it tough to get some restful sleep. 8 hours sleeping when there's daylight is much less restful than the same 8 hours at night. For many of my colleagues, coffee is the stimulant that gets them through the night. Some opt to purchase from Starbucks, CBTL, or any of the open coffee shops. I personally have preferred the strong Bo's coffee as the beans are locally sourced, the coffee is cheaper (relative to Starbucks) and the caffeine is stronger.
What I do: I still go to Bo's weekly but many days I brew coffee at home and bring it in a thermos bottle which the company gave me a few years back. I buy beans and have them ground at Robinsons supermarket. One time, I bought a 900 peso 2 kilo bag of Dunkin Donuts coffee from SnR that lasted me for four months. I estimate I save around another 2000 pesos a month because of this. I also keep some teabags in my office bag in case I just need a caffeine fix. I get some hot water from the office pantry and steep my tea (Lipton or Twinings). Much cheaper as well and has almost the same caffeine kick.
3. You need more water at night. For some reason, I feel more dehydrated working nights. Bottle water costs 20 pesos on average for the half liter bottle. I see folks going through 2 of these per night which would cost them about 1500php a month.
What I do: I always bring a reusable water bottle with me. Whether I am out for a run, or off to work, or even during weekends when we go to the mall. My wife had installed this fancy home water purifier (Lux) a few years ago and we have made good use of it over the past years. I think we'll offset the cost of having bottled water delivered to our home and purchasing bottled water when we are out, in a year or so. Savings per month is about 300php from home delivery and another 1000php when in the office.
If you take the time to plan and prepare, you don't have to spend as much even if you work the night shift. Build up the habit of preparation and you'll save a lot of money monthly. In my case, around 5,000 a month which goes straight to savings. Not only is it more frugal, but the tips above also help me stay healthy.
If you are on the night shift, what do you do today to save some money?