From getting rid of the car to sleeping sans air-conditioning, seven women share with Azlinda Said how they are cutting down on their big expenses to save more.

How to free up your funds
Watch your spending: 7 women share how they’ve cut back on their expenses. Image: Getty Images

 

1. TRANSPORT EXPENSES: USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT INSTEAD
“I recently sold my car as it was becoming a liability. I was spending at least $1,000 a month on the instalments, parking, petrol, ERP, road tax, insurance … But now that I’ve started taking the bus and MRT, and the occasional taxi when I’m out with my son, or on rainy days, my transportation costs have shrunk to about $65 a month.” – Anusha Raj, 35, researcher

 

2. PHONE BILLS: MAKE THE BEST OF FREE INCOMING CALLS
“I used to talk and text a lot on my mobile phone – my bill was about $200 a month. When I quit my part-time job last year, I realised I needed to save more. Now, I’ve reduced my texting and I try not to make too many outgoing calls; I ask my friends and family to call me instead, since I get free incoming calls on my plan. If I get unimportant missed calls, I return them only when I get home – from my land line. My phone bills don’t go beyond $80 now.” – Corrine Ji, 25, freelance photographer

 
3. GYM MEMBERSHIPS: GO JOGGING INSTEAD
“I joined a gym two years back to stay in shape but it was a big investment; I put down $2,000 for a two-year membership. I tried to keep up a thrice-weekly routine, but sometimes I could only manage a weekly visit because of my busy schedule. So when my contract ended recently, I decided to jog in the park near my house instead. I’ve been exercising every day this way and enjoying the fresh air and scenery as well. Best of all, it’s free!” – Kat Chen, 30, freelancer

 
4. TRAVELLING
“I love travelling – the further, the better. I can spend up to $5,000 each time for a two-week trip and I travel twice a year. But I’m trying to save up for a rainy day, and have restricted myself to weekend getaways in Bali, Bintan, or Malaysia. I never spend beyond $1,000 a trip now. I spend even less if I stick to three-star hotels or resorts. And I still get my nice breaks from work.” – Vanessa Jalleh, 28, research analyst

 

5. UTILITIES
“I’ve stopped switching on the air-conditioner when I sleep. I rely on the fan instead. It was uncomfortable at first, but I got used to it after two months. I only use the air-con when it’s too hot. Even then, I keep it on a timer, so it switches off after five hours. My utilities bill has been slashed by almost half since – I now pay about $140 a month.” – Fairuz Aloweni, 35, educator

 
6. SHOPPING: SET A BUDGET

“Shopping used to be my favourite pastime – I would spend at least $600 on clothes, bags, shoes or jewellery every month. But I made a resolution to be thriftier, so now I limit my spending to $200 a month. Even then, I make sure it’s for something I need, not want. If I can help it, I only shop every two to three months, and try not to spend beyond $300. So far, it’s working.” – Sue Rasi, 45, secretary

 

7. DINING OUT: MAKE IT AN OCCASIONAL TREAT
“My friends and I are foodies, and weekly buffets are our indulgence. These can cost anywhere from $40 to almost $200 a person. I recently consulted a financial manager to whip my finances into shape and he suggested I cut out some frills. I decided to eat to live, instead of living to eat. Buffets have become a once-a-month treat, and even then, I try to go for those on promotion, so I won’t spend beyond $100 for a meal.” – Sharan Kaur, 34, business development manager

 

This article was originally published in Simply Her June 2012.