It can be scary when we read about how much money we need for retirement and when we should start saving for it. But if you've hit a milestone age like 30 and don't have much money set aside, be it for a house, a car or even for later on in life, there's no need to panic just yet. Follow these simple money-saving tips and you'll soon be on your way to fattening up your bank account.
There's no need to starve or put every single dollar you earn into a savings account. Build up your savings bit by bit, on a monthly basis. Put aside a small sum every month and slowly build this up to a larger amount as the months go by.
So, if you start by saving, say, $100 in the first month, increase this amount by $20 a month and you'll have saved over $2,000 a year without making much of an effort. The amount you want to save each month can be lower, of course, as it'll depend on your income and financial responsibilities.
But if you save in small amounts, you'll soon learn to adjust your budget and won't miss that money, making it easier to save in the long run. Every little bit counts so start with even $20 a month, this number is entirely your decision.
Buy in bulk
It might sound a bit too 'Singaporean aunty' but this is a very easy and useful money-saving tip to learn.
Look out for discounts every time you go grocery shopping and buy in bulk the items that are on sale. Household goods especially like laundry powder and dishwashing liquid last for ages so there's no problem buying a few at a time. Or why not rope in some friends and spread the savings?
Even if you save $10 during each shopping trip, it all adds up to a larger amount in the end. If you want to go a step further, take a note of how much you've saved each month from your new bulk-buying habit and put that amount into a savings account.
Reap the rewards
We mean this literally, of course. Many brands have loyalty programs these days so take advantage of them, be it in the form of monetary discounts or points you can redeem for stuff later. Whether it's Grab points, credit card perks/cashback deals or frequent flyer airmiles, sign up for everything and use them so you get the most out of the benefits.
Also, don't be ashamed to use discount coupons or click on deals online that allow you to save money on your purchases (just make sure these are legit links and not scams).
Write down your plans
It'll be easier to save once you know what you're aiming for and how you're going to get there. Jot down some savings goals and plan how you're going to achieve them.
When you think through things and come up with a list of how to start saving, it'll feel more 'real' and will give you the motivation and discipline to save, save, save, instead of spend, spend, spend.
Do a clothes swap
If you have friends that have the same taste in clothes as you and are the same size too, consider doing a clothes exchange with them.
You'll get new items in your closet without having to spend a single cent. And if you're the kind who's always trying on your BFF's clothes (and vice versa), you could even invest in a shared wardrobe.
Pitch in to buy a few items of clothing and work out a schedule for wearing them. Think of it as a kind of timeshare, but for clothes.
Cut out unnecessary expenses
This might sound like a no-brainer but many people are unwilling to give up their comforts in order to save.
Take the MRT instead of a taxi, cut down dining at restaurants and choose food courts, make a sandwich from home for lunch instead of buying one, and log on to public wifi and save your mobile data when possible.
They are small changes you can make that will slowly but surely enable you to save a significant sum of money at the end of each month.
There are ways to save money without having to sacrifice the simple pleasures in your life; all you have to do is be frugal when you're enjoying them.
Can't kick your caffeine habit? Get your coffee from that place that gives you a card to stamp so every eighth coffee you buy is free. You'll feel less guilty about indulging in the drink. Or invest in a coffee machine; it works out to be cheaper than buying them from your favourite coffee chain.
Love catch-ups with the girls over cocktails? Do this only during happy hour so you'll be paying up to half-price for your drinks.
Pay in cash
Credit cards are useful especially for big purchases and definitely when you can accumulate points to enjoy other perks later. But using cash is the best way to keep track of your expenses as you'll physically see how much you're spending.
Because you'll take note of how many times you're going to the ATM to top-up your supply in your wallet, you'll definitely feel the pinch when you pay in cash so use it as an effective way to curb your spending.
Use money-saving apps
If you can't get yourself organised to monitor your expenses, let an app do the work for you. Try Seedly, a local personal finance app that helps you keep track of your money and even suggests how you can save more.
Alternatively, there's You Need A Budget, which will help you figure out how to clear your debts and even track your progress to your savings goals. Do a Google search for other such apps and pick one that suits you best.