Have you ever looked at your bank balance and thought that there was some fraudulent activity on your card or some erroneous transactions, only to realise it was a result of your latest shopping spree?
We get it. Expenses can pile up unknowingly, and somehow it’s hard to grow the balance in our accounts. There is great value in saving, and here are some habits you can start implementing now to help you do so better.
Track your expenses
Too often, we make purchases without putting too much thought into it. After all, it’s just a cuppa a day or a bubble tea once in a while, right? But what we don’t realise is that the cuppas — which a friend of mine humorously terms ‘executive coffees’ — add up. These $5s are actually sizable amounts that are leaking through our wallets because we’re not paying close enough attention to what we are spending on.
Conscientiously noting down what you’re spending on may sound tedious, but this habit will give you great insight into your spending habits. You’ll be able to quickly identify purchases that are emotional, unnecessary or excessive that you can cut down on. Besides, there are now plenty of free apps that allow you to keep a record without much effort.
Tracking your expenditure doesn’t equate to being a complete scrooge and leading a miserable life. But it will make a notable difference in knowing what you’re spending on, and help you take a step back and really examine needs versus wants before whipping out your wallet.
Buying Gifts in Advance During Sales
Scrambling for gifts at the last minute, be it on Christmas Eve or scouring for same-day gift deliveries, often means paying a premium. Doing so often means making purchases that are neither ideal nor budget-friendly, and leaving yourself with little choice but to foot prices that are hiked up.
But buying gifts that are suitable without paying through your nose is possible with a simple “hack”: planning well in advance for them. Got a couple of January to March birthdays that you celebrate each year? You’d be better off getting these gifts during the post-Christmas sales with significantly reduced prices across stores. In fact, you can start shopping for your Christmas gifts even earlier, coinciding with major shopping festivals such as 11.11, 12.12, or Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, or during the summer sales. Prices are often significantly slashed during these events, and you would be able tobenefit from the savings.
Let’s be real. Last-minute gifts tend to almost always miss the mark. The reality is, you’re going to buy these gifts anyway, so why not get them ahead of time and not only benefit from the discounts but also get a more suitable gift for your loved ones)?
Planning ahead even works if your loved one is a foodie. You can purchase vouchers or book reservations at restaurants with the various food apps. There are also subscription schemes out there that, for an annual fee, include 1-for-1 dining privileges and significant discounts. These could contribute significantly to overall savings when dining out. You could even look through promotions for your credit or debit cards and save a little while lavishing on your loved ones.
Of course, it’s probably best not to go too far with this. If your future fiancée expects a proposal at an expensive restaurant, then we’d highly advise that you temporarily ditch this plan to save yourself any potential heartache or an unhappy fiancée (both outcomes are just as bad).
There are several shopping tips to avoid overspending, and one of them is the age-old method of comparison. Thanks to technology and the availability of information at our fingertips, we no longer have to shuffle from store to store today to compare prices. It can all be done right from the comfort of our couches.
Sure, Watsons and Guardian may seem to have similar price tags, but if you do a quick check, you’ll realise that their promotions differ from time to time. If you’re purchasing 10 items and save $3 per item, you’d save $30, a sum that can fetch you a nice dinner, or help to grow your savings.With apps like Lazada, Taobao, Qoo10, you can always search for alternatives that meet your needs too. There are many overseas alternatives that could be cheaper, even with shipping included. Platforms such as Carousell often offer products, even brand new ones, at prices lower than what retail shops ask for.
Just be sure to look at the customer reviews, as well as reviews of the seller, and make sure that the item meets your standards and that you don’t get into a deal with a fraudulent or unreliable person.
Set Money Aside for Annual Expenses
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy — nor is it healthy for our mental wellbeing. We all need and deserve a little break every now and then, preferably while checking a location off our bucket lists. You can definitely set aside your annual travel costs on a monthly basis, or as often as when your salary comes in.
That enjoyment doesn’t have to come at the expense of your bank balance, though. Instead of digging into your savings and watching your bank balance deplete, you can instead set aside the amount you need for your travels. This can mean saving a certain sum on a monthly basis, or as often as when your salary comes in.
For instance, if you plan to spend $6,000/year on holidays, you can build a systematic way of setting aside those funds. You could decide to save $500 a month for 12 months, or you could set aside $2,000 from your annual bonus and $334 a month to reach this $6,000.
Do what works for you, but more importantly do this intentionally so that you can be more aware of how much you need to save and avoid unnecessary shopping sprees. Your reward at the end of such effort: You get to enjoy your next holiday without feeling like all your savings are being depleted.
Save Before You Spend
Yes, this is common sense and we know you’ve probably heard this before, but it’s about time you actually started doing it. If you want to avoid any unnecessary debt or avoid feeling like your account is depleting, start making saving a conscientious and non-negotiable effort. Even if all you can save is $100, that’s a good start.
Setting aside savings each month before spending is probably the best habit that savers benefit from. One way you can save purposefully is to put this money in a separate account, knowing that money there is meant to be savings, and not to be withdrawn from and used.
It creates an illusion that you have a smaller paycheck, which then helps you to start spending less each month. You’ll be more aware and conscious of what your limits are, and also have peace of mind knowing that you’re planning for the future.
These small habits will go a long way. Start implementing them, and you’ll see a bank balance that’ll leave you smiling.