In the journey towards financial freedom, the first step — mastering the art of saving money — is often the most crucial. In our comprehensive guide, we will look at empowering you with practical strategies that can help you save, and subsequently grow your wealth amidst a challenging economic climate.
From budgeting basics and streamlining everyday expenses, making informed savings and investments, enjoying leisure on a budget, to the art of cutting unnecessary subscriptions, here are some important ways in which you can be smart and savvy with your cash.
Nailing down your budgeting basics
1. Set a budget and define your goals
With financial goals, it’s always important to create a comprehensive budget. After all, you can’t start your process without a destination in mind. You can kick start this process by listing your income sources and categorising all your expenses. Your budget should take into consideration both short-term and long-term financial goals, be it saving for an emergency fund, a dream vacation, or retirement. Having clear objectives ultimately guides your budgeting process.
2. Evaluate your wants and needs
Do you really need that designer bag or watch? Probably not. Apart from transport fees, bills and groceries, a significant chunk of our expenses can turn out to be desires more than necessities. Distinguish between your wants and needs to help you spend effectively. Simply put, needs are essential for daily living, whereas wants are discretionary. By understanding this distinction, you can allocate more resources to necessities, making it easier to identify areas where you can potentially save more on.
Trimming down everyday living expenses
1. Prepare your meals at home
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore is the most expensive city in the world. Ten years ago, a plate of chicken rice could cost as low as S$3. Today, most start at S$4, if not even more. Evidently, one of the most effective ways to cut down on expenses is to cook at home, with fresh ingredients bought from the wet market to save cost. To maximise your savings, embrace the art of meal prepping. By planning your meals for the week and purchasing ingredients in bulk, you can both save money and adopt healthier eating habits.
2. Cut energy costs
Going green is an often overlooked and underestimated way of cutting costs. Reduce your environmental footprint while saving money by adopting simple energy-efficient practices. Turn off lights and electronics when they’re not in use. Better yet, turn off the power when you go to bed or head out of the house for an extended period of time. It also helps to invest in energy-efficient appliances. For those of us who can’t live without air-conditioning, this means opting for a model with more ticks.
3. Limit impulse shopping
Impulse shopping can wreak havoc on your budget without you realising it. Include implementing a waiting period before making non-essential purchases. If you see something you like, take a week or so to evaluate the pros and cons of purchasing that item you want. Consider lower-cost alternatives, like thrift shops, if you want to shop. If you’re getting groceries, create a shopping list and stick to it, so as to avoid unnecessary spending on items that don’t align with your needs or goals.
Read more: Smart Shopping Tips that Reduce Overspending
4. Tap on existing loyalty or cashback programmes
Maximise your savings by tapping into loyalty or cashback programmes offered by retailers and banks. If you’ve already got a cashback card, use it for more rebates on your expenses. Google Pay and Shopback are also some examples of payment methods that provide rebates and rewards. When you’re out shopping, remember to tap on your loyalty programmes if you have them. Every little bit adds up and contributes to significant savings over time.
Savings and investments
1. Automated savings
Savings should be a non-negotiable part of your financial routine. To make this process more seamless, set up automated transfers to a dedicated savings account. This ensures consistent contributions to your savings goals without the need for constant manual intervention. On that note, it would also be useful to read up on the variety of savings accounts you can open, as they each offer different perks.
2. Review and adjust investments
It’s always important to periodically review and adjust your investment portfolio. This ensures it aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance, which may evolve over time. Explore diverse investment options – fixed deposits, ETFs, gold, real estate and more – to find out what suits you more. You should also seek advice from financial professionals if needed. A well-balanced portfolio can weather market fluctuations and contribute to long-term wealth.
Enjoy leisure on a budget
1. Choose low-cost entertainment options
Having fun doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. Explore free or low-cost entertainment options, such as parks and museums. Most museums in Singapore offer free entry for Singapore citizens and PRs. If that’s not your cup of tea, Singapore is generally a place there is usually no lack of free events to attend and places to go. If you’re a social butterfly, you can also consider hosting potluck sessions or board games nights with your friends instead of spending money outside.
2. Use your credit cards responsibly
While credit cards offer convenience, it’s crucial to use them responsibly, especially because you’re spending “future” money. As a general rule, always pay off your credit card balances in full each month to avoid high-interest charges. Leverage rewards and cashback programmes to reap the benefits of your credit card usage, turning it into a tool for savings rather than debt.
Read more: Bad Habits To Avoid With Your Credit Card
Cutting out subscriptions
1. Review and cancel subscriptions
How many of us have subscribed to a streaming service only to realise later that we barely have the time to watch anything? Take a close look at your subscriptions and cancel those that aren’t providing significant value or that you don’t use frequently. Apart from streaming services, evaluate magazines, mystery boxes, premium app features and any other subscriptions that drain your budget in the long run.
2. Look for free or lower-cost alternatives
This is directly related to the point above. Try exploring free or lower-cost alternatives to replace the subscriptions you cancel. Instead of a hefty gym membership, follow free workout videos on YouTube and download free fitness trackers to track your progress. From free trial periods to budget-friendly alternatives, there are numerous alternatives for most of the services you’ll need that don’t compromise on quality.
Holistic money management
Mastering financial freedom requires a holistic approach to money management. By following the tips above, you can better pave your way towards a more secure and fulfilling financial future.
The journey to financial freedom is not about depriving yourself of all enjoyment and indulgences, but about making intentional choices that align with your goals and values. With every thoughtful decision you make, you’ll get one step closer to your goals.
As always, if you need more financial advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com!