2019 is coming to an end, and if the financial plan you set at the start of the year has completely gone off track, you are probably not the alone. The good thing is, though, you can always start over this year to turn that dream vacation or apartment into reality.
And to help you out, we have put together below 20 money saving tips to make sure your 2020 financial plan will be a ringing success!
Have a game plan
1. Know your reasons
Take a piece of post-it, write down why you want to save money next year, the clearer the better, and stick it somewhere you can see every day. Knowing exactly what your reason for saving money is will keep you motivated and help you stick to the plan till the very end. Overspending is so last year!
2. Record your expenses
You can’t decide how much to save without knowing how much you spend. There are many apps such as Spendee, Wally or Expense that not only allow you to record your expenses but also break down your spending into categories, so you can have a more comprehensive picture of your spending habits. Some of these apps can even connect to your bank account to automatically sync data from your expenses.
It can be difficult at first to get into the habit of expense tracking, but just like any other habits, once you’ve got the hang of it, it gets easier and pulling out your phone to record a transaction will be second nature.
After recording your expenses consistently for about a month, you will have a clearer idea about how much you spend and what areas you tend to spend the most on, be it entertainment, food, transport, etc. The next step would be to rank the different categories according to how important they are to you and whether you can reduce your spending in these areas.
For example, if you constantly suffer from a serious case of wanderlust and don’t want to compromise your travel budget, you can cut down on other things that matter less to you such as entertainment or eating out.
4. Create a budget and stick to it
Once you know you much are currently spending and where you can cut down the expenses, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of budgeting. There many ways to go about it. You can write it down in a notebook, create a spreadsheet, or use the same app that you use for expense tracking.
In order to help yourself stick to this new budget, it’s important to be realistic. Instead of trying to slash your monthly budget by half in the first month, try to reduce it incrementally over several months so you don’t feel the pinch too much and are tempted to give up.
5. Learn to say no
Impromptu events and last-minute invitations happen, but if you want to stick to your budget, you are going to have to learn to say no to some of them. Depending on who else is involved, especially if it’s your close friends, it’s also okay to suggest another location or type of events that is within your budget.
6. Automatic savings
You can set up a separate savings account and direct a fixed amount off of your monthly salary to be automatically deposited to it. This way you already save before you even see the amount of money coming in every month, so you don’t get tempted to overspend and eat into the amount you are supposed to save.
When you go shopping
7. Make a shopping list
And more importantly, stick to it! Committing to buying only what you need will help avoid impulse purchases that often end up being a waste of money.
8. Avoid instant gratification
In a similar vein, avoid seeking instant gratification with your purchases. Think carefully about whether you are paying for a product or service for its actual use or just for the sake of buying something.
9. Go minimalist
You don’t have to completely transform your lifestyle into minimalism, but you can totally adopt a minimalistic approach when making purchases, which will help you buy less, and as a result, spend less.
Minimalism also champions quality over quality, which means that while you may be paying more initially for higher quality goods, it will save you money in the long run as the product will last longer and you won’t have to replace it as often.
10. Buy secondhand
Before buying something brand new, check whether a secondhand version is available. You can get used items in good condition from Carousell or various Facebook groups at very attractive prices. As with any online transaction, though, use caution when making payment and meeting up with sellers.
Or just don’t go shopping
11. Don’t replace. Repair.
Every time something breaks and needs replacement, see whether you can get it repaired instead. Better yet, learn to repair simple household appliances or amend clothes yourself to save even more money.
12. Make use of public resources
There are many public resources in Singapore such as libraries or public transport that are not only free or very affordable, but also convenient to use. You actually are already paying for these resources with your tax money so why not take advantage of them?
13. Stay in more
Going out means money coming out of your pocket in one way or another. Instead, invite your friends over for a night in watching movies or playing board games. You still get to hang out with your loved ones without the unnecessary expenses!
Bonus tip: if you are going to invite guests over, do it over
Look around the house
14. Use energy-efficient appliances
Energy-efficient household appliances such as light bulbs, refrigerator or washing machine not only reduce your energy bills but are also great for the environment.
15. Declutter your living space
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A messy living room or bedroom is an ideal environment for junks to pile up without being put to use. Clear out your living space to see what you already have so you don’t buy duplicates, and what you can sell or donate.
16. Quit smoking
Smoking isn’t just a harmful habit, it’s also expensive. A pack of cigarettes in Singapore costs around SGD12 and if you go through one in a day, seven days a week, that’s at least SGD4000 you will be able to save if you decide to quit.
When it comes to food
17. Never do groceries on an empty stomach
Even the strongest resolve will crumble in front of an entire aisle of snacks when you are hungry. Not only do impulsive food purchases cost you unnecessary money, having unhealthy snacks lying around in your cupboard will tempt you during those late night cravings. Being kind to both your wallet and waistline by only going grocery shopping after a meal.
18. Buy staples in bulk
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Pantry staples such as grains, beans or oil usually have a longer shelf life and are cheaper in bulk, which will save you money as well as the hassle of constantly repurchasing them.
However, not everything should be bought in bulk. For example, spices and seasonings tend to lose their potency if kept for too long. So if you don’t reach for certain spices often enough, only buy them in small jars to make sure you finish them within the recommended time frame.
19. Don’t get all your groceries from one store
There are many supermarkets and groceries stores in Singapore, each one offering different selections of food items at different prices. Shop around and see which one has more attractive offers for the items you are looking for. Nowadays, online grocery shopping is widely available, making it even easier for to compare prices across different retailers such as Fairprice, Redmart, etc.
20. Cook your own meals
Not only does cooking your own meals cost less than takeouts, it also tends to be healthier as you go easier on the amount of oil and sugar put into the dishes. And if you meal prep or pack leftovers from dinner to work the next day, you can also avoid the long queues during lunch hour. There really is no downside to this.