You have probably seen plenty of money management articles, but how many of them actually sound like fun? Indeed, too many of them throw up mind-boggling figures and concepts that usually involve self-deprivation, and promise to eventually lead to that dream house or retirement at the age of 60.
The good news is that there is a simpler way to build your personal stash – no working through complicated figures, or hunkering down and denying yourself basic pleasures. Making simple changes to your mindset and lifestyle can still set you on that saving path. So here is our little cheat sheet.
Shop smart and shop well. Consolidate your beauty, fashion and gifting purchases, and wait for major sales – the ones to look out for are Black Friday, 10.10 (Oct 10), and 11.11 (Nov 11). Remember to use cashback credit cards and shop via cash rebate apps such as Shopback. For designer items, think off-season or pre-loved designer items from curated sources such as The Fifth Collection, Style Tribute or Reebonz.
Instead of shelling out top- dollar when you have a big event, consider renting from Rentadella, paying a monthly subscription for access to a stylish wardrobe at Style Theory or The Treasure Collective, or swopping items at Swapaholic.
Consider buying in bulk or sharing purchases. NTUC Fairprice Cooperative’s Warehouse Club, for instance, offers good discounts on bulk purchases of everyday items such as snacks, beverages and household essentials. Don’t have the storage space? Gather your besties and split your purchases. Piggybacking products with family and friends can also save you delivery costs when buying items from online retailers such as iHerb. The same goes for subscriptions. Netflix, for example, charges $11.98 a month for one screen, but only $19.98 for four screens – that’s almost 60 per cent less.
An average meal costs $15 to $30 per person in a restaurant – and that doesn’t include alcoholic drinks, which can cost anywhere from $12 per glass. A party of five could ring up $200. On the other hand, a party with home- cooked food and wine might cost less than $100. So why not take turns hosting at home, or do more potlucks?
You can adapt some of your best dietary plans to saving money. Going on a one-month spending diet, where you only purchase essentials, can help you save a substantial amount, and may even help break toxic spending patterns.
You could also allow yourself a controlled “cheat day” every month when it comes to indulgences. This delayed gratification will give you enough time to reconsider impulse buys.
“Laziness could be a virtue for investors,” says Tan Siew Lee, head of Wealth Management Singapore, OCBC Bank. “Nobel laureate and the father of behavioural finance Richard Thaler often advocates a ‘buy and forget’ strategy. After all, it is the tendency to speculate and time trades that tend to mess up long-term returns.”
What this means is taking a long-term approach to investments – one that is independent of your savings, emergency funds, debts or insurance coverage.
“Monthly investment plans are your best friend as they take ‘market timing’ out of the equation. These can be used to invest in a variety of asset classes, from funds to single equity counters. The whole idea is to let the plan run in the background and accumulate assets. Such a disciplined investment programme works especially well in a volatile market, as you will buy less units when prices are high and more units when prices are low, helping you to lower the average price of your investment,” explains Siew Lee.
Replace some of your gym or yoga classes with digital resources. “A typical gym or yoga membership can set you back anywhere between $100 and $200 a month. Digital resources, on the other hand, range from free to about $30 a month for subscriptions,” says Karen Tee, a freelance writer and yoga instructor.
Karen recommends Nike Training Club, an app that offers a wide range of free workouts, including fitness and yoga sessions of different lengths, and for different targets and fitness levels. Another two of her recommendations are the free dance-inspired workouts choreographed on Youtube channel Madfit, as well as Chris Hemsworth’s all-in-one fitness and wellness app Centr that comes with a free trial for seven days.
“Before you invest in the equipment, such as weights, blocks and blankets, you can always make do with various items you have at home like plastic bottles filled with water as weights, a bag of rice in a duffel bag as a kettlebell, or thick books as a block,” she adds.