5 Spending Habits I Decided To Cut Out To Manage My Expenses Better
I remember looking forward to the first day of my first job upon completing my studies on the 18th of November in 2019. Exactly 4 months later, the first Movement Control Order took place. The financial panic during the pandemic was real and is still real because I had limited savings as a fresh graduate.
Here are 5 spending habits that I have cut out to have better money management that helped me survive 2020 and hopefully they can help all of us to thrive in the following years to come!
1. Procrastinating on paying my bills and other expenses.
I used to pay my bills right before the due dates and just spend whenever I feel like spending on my basic expenditures. This habit made me feel anxious especially before my next salary payment, where I wonder whether I have saved enough or completed my fixed expenses for the month. Hence, I find it extremely helpful when I started to develop the habit of paying for my mobile data subscription, facial products and basic expenditures during the first two weeks of every month.
This practice eventually helped me to prepare better for unexpected medical charges a few months ago when I suddenly suffered from a severe acne infection which required me to take a month of prescribed antibiotics. It was an extremely difficult situation but I am grateful that I did not need to worry about my fixed expenses when I was paying for my medical bills.
I find it useful to mark a specific date on the planner under my to-do list section for the week. You can also use the Reminder function on Google Calendar for the day you plan to clear your fixed expenses. Allocate some time to do the necessary bank ins/ transfers on that day and mark the Reminder as done once you complete that task.
Tip: You will experience less stress and might even enjoy some discounts and freebies upon early payment of your bills!
2. Impulse online shopping.
One way to curb impulse online shopping is to be intentional when you are spending. Before the 11.11 sales last year, I took the time to list down the items that I plan to buy, and break down the intended purchases according to my desires and needs. This means researching and comparing the items way before the intended date of actually buying them. One method that helped me to decide is the cost per use formula. For instance, if you are planning to buy a juicer blender and it costs around RM120, you need to calculate objectively how many times you will be using it. If you are a person who only drinks juice once a month, then RM120 divide by 12 is RM10 per use. On the other hand, if you are certain to use the juicer every day, then you can see that RM120 divided by 365 is RM0.32 per use. This will give you a level- headed understanding on whether the item is a great buy in the long run!
3. Buying more items to enjoy free shipping/free delivery.
I will be very honest. I have fallen many times into the trap of free shipping with a minimum purchase of RMXX when I really do not need to buy that many things at that point in time. There are times when I just need to buy two items, but because of free shipping, I sometimes spend more time browsing for things that I think I might need and end up spending more than I initially planned to. Of course, I am not saying that you cannot buy items above the minimum purchase, but be sure to actually ask yourself whether it is worth buying the item(s) to cover your shipping fee. Do not buy for the sake of buying as you might end up buying things that are way more expensive than the intended shipping fee!
4. Continue with unnecessary paid membership/subscriptions.
I used to hold several paid memberships for a few bookstores and health and beauty retail stores. Believe it or not, the nearest physical store of one of my favourite book stores closed down due to MCO. So, I eventually decided to discontinue my membership with that store and chose another one.
If you take MCO out of the picture, there were other practical reasons as well. Upon comparison, the other store which I eventually chose to renew my membership had a cheaper annual renewal membership fee, and the EXISTING physical store is closer to my place (which means I could actually go there and enjoy my membership privileges) and the bonus point is that they have a self -pick up service for online orders, which means I will not be charged for shipping fees regardless of my minimum purchase!
Perhaps now is the right time to review your many (unread) emails under the promotions tab and click the unsubscribe button or turn off the auto- renewal function for the services that you have subscribed to. Some companies may require you to go their official websites to cancel the membership for good, so read through the terms and conditions and check if there is any refund available and a confirmation email for your cancelled membership.
Tip: For mobile shoppers, one way to not fall into temptation is to avoid temptation. Maybe it is time to uninstall certain apps on your phone. Remember, out of sight, out of mind!
5. Ordering set meals and separate drinks all the time when eating out/food delivery
Don’t be quick to judge me on this, but I view à la carte as a better option when ordering as I can save money on drinks and other side dishes that may not be my cup of tea. I also remember the times when I ended up ordering drinks that I can’t finish and the drinks end up being costlier than the dish that I ordered.
Given the current situation where dine-ins are limited, I find it more comfortable with takeaways or delivery without ordering drinks as I spend most of the time at home and at the office, with an abundance of unlimited water. If you are going out with a group of friends, you can opt to order a shared beverage like a pot of tea or water so that you can share the expenses of drinks.
To be honest, it was really difficult to let go of these habits initially. However, once I started replacing them with newly formed habits (which is the opposite of them!), I can see how much I can save and also manage my money in a more systematic and less stressful manner. I hope these tips will help you as you navigate your financial journey!