Everyone is now dealing with financial burden, problems, stress or struggles during this current COVID-19 pandemic situation. If you’re one of them, learn how these 11 practical hacks can help you overcome and reduce the financial difficulties you’re facing.
Money is the one thing that we all work hard for, yet always seem to never have enough. Though money can’t buy us complete happiness, it’s still an important tool to help us achieve goals that we aspire in life.
Our struggles with money is particularly evident in today’s COVID-19-inflicted economy, which has caused many to lose their primary source of income. Therefore it is imperative, now more than ever, for us to manage our finances prudently to ensure that we save for a rainy day.
To help you relieve your financial burden and navigate the somewhat challenging world of money management, we’ve compiled a list of financial hacks you might want to consider in a bid to stretch your Ringgit to the maximum.
1. Schedule your savings
One of the most tempting times of the month is when we see that nice, fat, paycheck land in our accounts. We instantly feel the need to spend on the cash, but hold up! It’s time to change that bad habit.
Split your paycheck between multiple accounts by scheduling your transactions so that a higher percentage of your paycheck ends up in your savings account every month. This will remind you that you’ll only be allowed to spend on a certain percentage while the rest goes into savings or investments.
2. Grow your own food
Cut the long-term purchasing costs by growing your own produce and basic ingredients like ginger, garlic, chilli, among others. Of course this hack depends on whether you have a functioning lawn to begin with. Additionally, the growth of your produce depends on other factors such as sunlight, water, soil and fertilisers, which when added all together may seem like a lot of work for the faint hearted.
But this fix works well for Malaysians in particular, who use a lot of basic ingredients and vegetables in their dishes. We found a local blogger who agrees with us. This local news outlet thinks it’s worth the effort too.
We recommend growing your own food because it will generally contain fewer pesticides and fertilizers, and is also greener and more environmentally friendly than its counterpart. The only flipside is that it may be slightly more expensive. But think of it as a long-term investment for the overall health and well-being of you and your family.
3. Make the most of your spending by using credit cards
Take full advantage of the benefits that come with credit cards such as rewards, cashback, and airmiles. (Well... maybe keep the travel rewards for when the pandemic is a distant memory.) Many banks and e-commerce companies offer huge discounts or attractive cashback options.
If you’re wondering where to get a headstart on credit cards, you can consider browsing through some of the credit cards available on CompareHero here. Shopping online is also much safer, faster and more rewarding in today’s new normal.
Though credit cards offer many great benefits, it must also be managed wisely. Besides paying credit card bills on time, making a budget for your credit card spending, and checking credit scores constantly, here are other tips on how to use credit cards responsibly. As long as you maintain high discipline and remain cognizant of paying the monthly bills before the due date, credit cards can be very beneficial for you.
An alternative are e-wallets, which have mushroomed in Malaysia over the past few years. In an effort to encourage cashless payments, the Malaysian Government is offering a one-off RM30 e-Wallet credit for qualified Malaysians as part of their e-Tunai Rakyat initiative.
When you claim it with GrabPay, you can enjoy vouchers and discounts worth up to RM3,000. Touch ‘n Go also offers rewards like cashback and cash vouchers when you spend on their platform. Other recommended e-wallet platforms include Boost.
Here’s a 101 on how to use GrabPay credits
4. Get DIY-ing
Save up on cash while being creative!
You don’t have to cut corners to cut costs. Save up on the moolah by not spending unnecessarily on items that can either be brought for a cheaper price, or better yet, created from scratch. Now is a great time to try your hand at DIY-ing your own household items or necessities.
We’ve learned that you can save a few bucks (and help the environment) by making your own household cleaners for instance. According to familyhandyman.com, all you gotta do is mix 2 cups of water with a ½ cup of vinegar to create your own cleaner. Another formula to create an all-purpose cleaning solution is mixing 4 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 quart of warm water.
5. Cut down on house bills
Switch off all electrical appliances when not in use and switch off sockets because these simple steps can make a huge difference. Also be sure to completely unplug all appliances because this can help save up on bills too. Trade in the convenience of the standby mode for cheaper monthly electricity bills.
Though Malaysia has one of the lowest electricity prices in the world at 0.06 U.S. dollars per kWh for households, it’s still good practice to be extra cautious of your electricity usage.
Save electricity by unplugging
Repair those annoying water leaks, which may appear harmless or too little to make a difference at first, but can lead to excessive loss of water, in turn, ramping up your water bill. Also reduce your water bill by only washing clothes on a full load and reusing rainwater to water plants.
6. Make your own drinks!
Now everyone should be a barista!
Are you one of those folks who can’t start their morning without a cup of coffee? Well, time to cut down on the extra cost by making your own coffee at home rather than getting it at your cafe. Not only will you help save the environment by using your own utensils, but you also get to save up on cash. Even if it's as little as RM2, every Ringgit counts.
Switch the pricy flavoured bottle drinks from supermarkets, with your own homemade concoction. That’s right, you too, can make your own flavoured drink when you infuse your filtered water at home with slices of fruits like strawberries, lemon, orange or blueberries - to give it that hint of extra flavour. It may even be healthier if you use all natural ingredients.
7. Save up on cooking
If there’s one area of spending that can be reduced significantly, it would be our grocery shopping and cooking.
For starters, learn to appreciate the versatility of an ingredient or food. For instance, if you buy a whole chicken, rather than waste some parts like the feet or bones by throwing them away, use the animal as a whole. Chicken feet help make soups more aromatic, and the bones can be turned into chicken stock.
Secondly, realize that there is more than one way to appreciate a type of food. Eggs, for example, can be fried, scrambled, poached or omelette. There are so many ways to enjoy this versatile ingredient, so make full use of your eggs. Rather than spending lavishly, and needlessly, on new ingredients, try different recipes with the same ingredients.
There’s also a ton you can do to save up when prepping for food. Rather than spend RM12 on a burger, make your own burgers. Buy big cuts or packages of meat and use it over multiple meals. When you are preparing homemade burgers, make one for Monday, Wednesday and Friday to save up on cost.
Prep meals are cheaper and healthier than takeouts
When you take the time to plan out your meal prep, you’ll realize that you feel more secure knowing that there’s food at home. Hopefully, this motivates you to bring your own packed meals to work or as a reminder not to get easily tempted to eat out.
8. Look out for vouchers, coupons and freebies
Yum! Get a RM50 cash voucher on Outback Steakhouse’s burgers, steaks, ribs and more via Fave
Besides reducing your spending, you can also manage your finances better by cushioning it with some good old coupons or vouchers. Always be on the lookout for great deals online whether it’s a discount for a meal or a promotion at your local spa. (But adhere to health SOPs, of course.)
From discounted beauty deals to affordable dining options, Fave offers a wide range of vouchers that will still allow you to enjoy certain lavish activities at reduced prices.
Though we would advise you to prep and cook your own meals to save up, there’s no harm in wanting to dine out from time to time. Make the most of your dinner date by checking out Offpeak.my, for great dining deals at reasonable prices.
The online platform curates all of the best deals from a vast selection of restaurants. Once you’ve scrolled through your selection, make a reservation for a particular date and time. Just remember to practice social distancing when you go out!
Curious about other types of coupons and vouchers? Check out what’s available from other brands like Lazada, Zalora, GrabFood, among others when you click here or run through a list of available freebies here.
9. Reduce on paper towels
This hack seems insignificant, but when you think of the ongoing expense of purchasing new rolls of paper towel, cutting paper towels on the long-term can really bring your expenditures down by a large margin.
Food for thought (Source: Saatch & Saatchi Denmark)
Replace the paper towels with microfibre cloths, which are eco-friendly and washable. By washing and reusing cloth, you get to save money and reduce waste; they are also more efficient as they absorb spills and trap dust better than paper towels.
10. Come up with a budget sheet
When you have a better understanding of your net assets, expenditures, income and cash flow, you’ll get a more thorough picture of your finances and can better decide where or when to cut or add.
Keep receipts or download a spending app to track your monthly expenditures. The benefit of having a budget sheet is knowing how to spend your money in the most optimum way while also being mindful of your savings and investments.
11. Take public transportation (if possible)
One of the best ways to reduce your monthly living costs, while at the same time reducing global warming and air pollution, is to take public transportation when travelling. The caveat to this financial hack is that it will only be possible if public transportation is easily accessible near your house.
If you live near to where you work or your end destination is only a short trip away, consider walking or riding a bicycle, or taking public transportation (if longer), to reduce your carbon footprint and help reduce pollution all around.
According to latest figures from the CO2 Emission from Fuel Combustion Highlights 2017 report by the International Energy Agency, Malaysia’s carbon dioxide emission per capita was at 7.27 tonnes, double that of neighbor Thailand at 3.64 tonnes and higher than the densely-populated China at 6.59 tonnes (this data is as of 2015).
Malaysians’ heavy reliance on privately owned vehicles - 13.8 million cars and 13 million motorcycles on the road - was cited as the main reason behind the high figures.
Save up by travelling smart (Source: MyRapid)
If you live near a Monorail, LRT, MRT, BRT, Rapid KL buses and MRT feeder buses, sign up for MyRapid’s special unlimited travel pass for 30 days for cheaper ticket prices.
With the MY100 pass, you get to take all forms of travel options unlimited for 30 days for just RM100, while the MY50 pass offers unlimited rides (for 30 days) on Rapid KL buses and MRT feeder buses, excluding BRT, for just RM50. Imagine the amount of petrol and parking costs you can reduce from taking public transportation.
Your turn - let’s put these hacks into practice!
No one will be stuck in a bad financial situation forever. With proper money management and being more mindful of your spending, you too, will eventually have a better hang of your finances and increase your savings.
Hopefully these simple solutions to your financial problems will help you manage your finances better and lead to a more anxious-free life, which will hopefully improve your overall state of mind and quality of life.