Unless you have been living under a coconut shell – or you are wealthy enough to not have to think about money matters any more – you would know that many Malaysians are preparing themselves for challenging times in 2017.
While a modest economic growth rate of 4-5% is still expected this year, depreciating Ringgit, rising cost of living, volatile financial markets and political turbulences abroad make for uncertain financial times.
Life goes on, of course, and here are our three helpful money saving tips to help you make ends meet in 2017:
1. Cut back on the non-essentials
Thanks to non-stop advertising and a globalised consumerist culture, most of us dream of living in the ‘fast lane’ and a luxurious life.
On a daily basis, this usually involves some or all of the following: buying and wearing on-trend clothing, getting branded coffee in the morning, splurging on entertainment and alcohol, signing up for exclusive gym memberships, and eating out regularly at upscale restaurants.
Eating out and buying a Starbucks latte may seem like a small purchase, but these habits add up in the long run. In a Bustle article, Gabrielle Moss notes that the difference between buying a latte from a café each day and making it yourself at home amounts to US$45 vs US$1,200 each year.
You can still exercise (running and working out in a public park is free), entertain yourself and get your daily nutritional requirements by choosing cheaper (but nevertheless effective) alternatives. Besides making your own food and coffee at home, you can also save money by keeping an eye out for discounts and good bargains. Services like Groupon and company email newsletters can also help you enjoy the occasional luxury without burning a hole through your wallet
2.Try to trim your expenditures on essentials
While it is more difficult to cut back on spending on essentials like water, rent, electricity and fuel, it is possible to find some ways of doing so.
You might want to downsize your home, relocate to a more affordable but still comfortable apartment, or work out a carpool schedule with your colleagues, housemates or family members to cut back on fuel. Given that Malaysia’s public transportation system is currently expanding (with the new MRT lines becoming fully operational soon), you might also want to start relying more on public transportation if the logistics work out for you.
It’s also often cheaper – and possibly better for your health – to cook your own food instead of eating out all the time. Healthy, nutritious and delicious recipes are easily available online and you can even make cooking a daily affair with your family and friends. Apart from saving money and eating healthy food, you can also spend meaningful time with your loved ones.
3. Think long term
In these uncertain economic times, some individuals might endanger their lives by becoming too frugal, and go too far in cutting down on all types of expenditures without giving much thoughts to the future.
This is especially true when making important financial decisions that will have long term implications, such as deciding on your child’s tertiary education choices, buying medical insurance, and choosing where to relocate to. When it comes to these kinds of financial decisions, choosing the cheapest alternative (in the short run) may actually end up costing you in the long run.
An obvious example would be choosing to eat instant noodles every day to save money on food. You might have a larger bank balance at the end of the month, but you may suffer from additional health expenses, lost time and lost productivity in the future due to its negative effects on your health.
Other choices are more complex and less clear cut, obviously. But you will have to weigh the short term and long term costs and benefits of other types of purchases, and figure what’s best for the long run. Discuss with your spouse and family on how you can make informed decisions and collectively work together to make ends meet.
Can you think of other helpful money-saving tips that will allow you to live life within your means? What are the money saving tips that you practice? Share with us!
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