How To Save Money in 3 Unconventional Steps
It might seem like everyone’s pretty good at making decent money decisions. But don’t be fooled. Most of us are probably spending beyond our supposed budget! This doesn’t just apply to big ticket items – even the smallest expenditure can add up to strengthen or sabotage your future.
So what does one do then? Well, here are 3 simple and practical tips that teach you how to save money, build up your financial confidence and hopefully, make better money decisions.
Tip #1 – Be Kiasu (With Your Money)
Yes, you read that right. We are encouraging kiasu-ness. Although one might be wondering: how will this ‘afraid-to-lose-out’ mentality help in making better money decisions? Well, for starters, being kiasu can score you good deals at great value, stretching your budget.
Looking for a money converter in Singapore? Sift out the best spots for good exchange rates from online forums, or chat-up that resourceful neighbour of yours for the inside scoop. Got a gathering coming up? Start looking out for promotions and deals to share them with your friends to enjoy more for less!
It’s also a skill that can help when reevaluating your daily expenses – some of which you are probably paying too much for. These are dollars and cents that can be shaved and saved, so start looking out for such spendings. Or you can get started with these 5 day-to-day items that we’ve rounded up.
Families who are kick-starting or in the midst of planning for the futures of their loved ones can also use this kiasu-ness to their advantage. For many, that means preparing ahead of time. Plan your household expenses quarterly (or annually) on a do-it-yourself spreadsheet or, if you’d like lesser work, an expense tracker or money manager app. It’s a good way to track every budget in the present and set targets for the future – allowing you to better prioritise all expenditures.
Tip #2 – Multiply, Add, Subtract
It’s exactly how it sounds, but easier. Adopt and practice this simple method on a daily basis to better understand how your daily expenses are all adding up! Simply take the average cost of an item you splurge on frequently (or frivolously). Say, taxi rides to work every morning: S$20. Multiply that by 5 days (S$100), then 4 weeks (S$400).
Now continue this simple math on all other items. To illustrate, here’s an estimate we’ve done for you. A S$3.20 bubble tea thrice a week comes up to S$38.40 each month. A month of four weekend movies? S$50. A month of four restaurant meals? S$120. Add them all up and you’ll reach an estimated amount of S$608.40 in just one month.
If this figure hits home to what you’re pouring out on a monthly basis (or perhaps, even more), it’s time to rethink and start subtracting some of those indulgences. More often than not, the need for better financial discipline only arises when we find ourselves short on money – creating a vicious cycle which can only be stopped, when one becomes financially disciplined and resilient.
Tip #3 – Question Your Purchases
Did you know that 1 in 2 millennials, those between ages 22 and 37, have started saving for the future, ahead of other generations like the baby boomers and Gen X?1 Yet, millennials are the ones who are most likely to splurge their savings on creating that Instagram-worthy home.
It can be hard to limit temptations when sales, promo codes and highly-curated lifestyles follow you everywhere, online and off. So if you ever find yourself uncertain or unconvinced of any purchase, here are 3 questions you should always ask yourself first before taking out your wallet:
“Can I Really Afford It?”
Will this purchase land you in debt? If the answer is yes, put it on hold. Because good and bad debts are still debts. In fact, very few realise that interest rates can sometimes go as high as 33.99% p.a.2, and that doesn’t include late-payment charges. The Debt Advisory Centre, which helps individuals with debt problems, said that about 20% of its cases are related to payments by instalment2. Should your answer to a case of debt be ‘no’, be sure to double check that the money spent on this item won’t detract from something else you actually need.
“What Will I Do With It?”
Will this purchase help you forward a specific goal? For instance, investing in a professional microphone for your podcasting side hustle? Or will using it contribute to the quality of your life? Like a memory foam mattress for a good night’s sleep? Thinking about your plans for the item and all its realistic uses will further assist your decision.
“How Often Will I Use It?”
Is this item needed just once or twice? Or is it something you’ll use daily? Buying something for a one-time usage isn’t always necessary. Say you’re going diving for the first-time. It’s probably best to rent the equipment rather than burst your budget on a full, personal set.
Unless it’s an item you’d need on a daily basis for work, like a laptop – or for your personal hobby, like swim goggles for your routine – try exploring other creative ways to get your hands on the item! Borrow from a colleague, search on second-hand forums or visit thrift shops. Take the time to reconsider all your options before buying something. Because you might just find that you don’t need it after all.
Practice Makes Perfect
Finessing financial sense and building up money confidence takes time and is easier said than done. The question of how to save money is often about real-life practice and experience with managing (or mis-managing) your money.
But it’s exactly what everyone needs to harness before jumping into financial decisions or commitments that won’t serve them or their future well. Making these 3 tips we’ve prepared for you all the more important, because at least you know – that spending less does not necessarily compromise on your quality of life. In fact, it could end up giving you back more in the long term.
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https://www.straitstimes.com/business/invest/9-financial-planning-tips-for-millennials2 - Desmond Ng, Sara Grosse. “How a S$3,000 bill became S$30,000: The truth behind retailers' instalment plans”, 27 June 2018.