Let’s face it, everyone loves a little bit of sugar, spice and everything nice in their life. And while some say money doesn’t buy happiness, let’s be honest, up to a certain point it does. But are you spending a little too much for your habits? There are plenty of tips and tricks to that you can do to save those ringgits and we’ve listed 8 of our favorite money saving hacks that we’ve tried and love.
1. Put your savings on auto-pilot
You can automate just about everything; and you should. It takes a lot of weight off your shoulders and frees up your time. Saving is easy to automate with online banking – simply set up an automatic transfer or a standing instruction from your salary account to your savings account each month. Some banks don’t charge for interbank or instant transfers.
2. Start using cash
Try to start paying as most of your expenses with cash, preferably bigger bills. There has been much research about how the brain interacts with money. Recent studies have shown that when you pay with cash, consumers are more likely to spend worn and old bills over new bills. Even more important consumers are less willing to spend bills of higher value. The smaller bills are psychological equivalent to a small cash account, making spending them much easier. When spending money through your plastic card the brain has a way smaller negative response, even if the amount is a lot higher than a RM100 note. This makes you less likely to spend high amounts if you only use cash.
3. Make a meal plan and cook at home
Quite a few of our CompareHero.my team members feed their small families of 3 or 4 for under RM500 a month, I have two words: “meal plan”. Planning your meals will save you a ton and eliminates buying extra food that you don’t need. It also helps you plan ahead for making more affordable meals, rather than buying what looks good when you’re at the supermarket.
Preparing your own meals at home is a lot cheaper than gong out. This might be difficult of you are living a busy city life, so try to learn basic meals that you can prepare in less than half an hour. Or if you don’t have anytime to cook meals during your work week, try preparing your meals during your days of for the rest of week. You can take it one step further be packing lunch for work, something that people disregard is the costs involved with our lunches during work. Packing your lunch will end up saving you a lot of money.
4. Time your shopping for everything
Most people already time their shopping when it comes to big purchases, waiting for sales or promotion deals. In Malaysia, sale seasons come at least 3 times a year; March, August/September and December, where numerous retailers and eCommerce sites drop their prices with massive discounts. This includes buying flight tickets and travel packages. However, this trick works well for both large expensive items as it does for smaller items. Certain foods become less expensive when you buy them during their harvesting season.
5. Avoid vampire charges
No, these are not the blood sucking type of charges. Vampire charges, or bleeding charges, are what you pay to keep all of your appliances and electronics plugged in while you’re not using them. Even your toaster is still costing you money, just by keeping it plugged in. You can stop the bleeding by unplugging all electronics or kitchen appliances when not in use or just investing in a few power strips, which stops electronics from draining electricity when you’re not using them. A strip may cost up RM50 but it can save you around RM100 in electricity bills per year .
6. Walk away from gym fees
Many say daily exercise of just 40 minutes will keep you fit and many pay upwards of RM150 a month for gym fees or exercise classes. We say get your exercise everyday for free! Walk whenever you can, up the stairs, to the MRT station, down to the grocery shop to buy bread or milk or if you have a dog, take cool evening walks. There are many YouTube videos on exercise routines that you can do in the comfort of your own home (and avoid the embarrassment of not being able to keep up with the really fit aunties you meet at the gym). Many apartment buildings in urban areas also come built with small areas or parks to exercise, and quite a few have in-house gyms that residents can use for free.
7. Buy generic
Did you know that many name brand household products carry the same ingredients as generic brands? You can save hundreds of ringgit by simply buying the generic store brand instead of the well-known brand. All the bigger supermarket stores, namely AEON, Giant, Tesco, carry their own generic labels and we’ve tried a few and have been satisfied with the quality. To give you examples: toilet paper, multipurpose cleaners, cordial drinks, sugar sticks and many more.
8. Delay purchases, use the 30-day rule
Impulse purchases are often the ones we regret the most. Even when doing the groceries try to make a list of all the things you need, and stick to that list. Use the 30-day rule, if after 30 days you still think you need the product as much as you did 30 days earlier buy it, if not, you won’t mind because it’s no longer worth it. This will prevent you from making big purchases which you will later start to regret.
We’re all too familiar with the age old Malay proverb… “Sedikit-sedikit lama-lama jadi bukit.” In literal translation, it means “Bit by bit, over time, it will accumulate into a mountain. Or the English saying of “In for a penny, in for a pound“. These small actions will help with your financial health, ultimately playing a role in your overall happiness.