6 Easy Steps To Start Saving More Money
If you have little or no savings… you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the majority: while financial experts talk about having an emergency fund worth at least 3 months’ living expenses, 75% of Malaysians find it difficult to come up with RM1,000 cash in times of emergency.
If you’re in this group, the good thing is becoming a ‘saver’ isn’t as hard as you think. In fact, more often than not, the hardest thing about saving money is getting yourself to start. Especially in these times of uncertainty, the need to save money has never been so strong or apparent.
SIDE NOTE: If you’d rather have all the planning done for you and do without the headache… join the Simpan Challenge where you can save RM1,000 in 30 days. Local fintech startups HeyAlfred and Pod have created this foolproof challenge where you’ll get daily practical money-saving tips, AND get rewarded with cash prizes when you reach that RM1,000 goal. Click here to join.
For those of you who would rather DIY, read on! This easy step-by-step guide below will help you in creating a simple and realistic strategy to start saving more money.
1. List down your expenses.
The first easy step to start saving more money is figuring out how much you’re actually spending. This includes every bill, takeaway and even that pack of gum you love buying every lunchtime.
Go through your bank and credit card statements and organise your expenses according to different categories, such as:
This may seem tedious at first, but once you do it for a couple of months, you’ll be able to estimate your monthly spending pretty accurately. You’ll also get some clarity knowing where your money is going each month!
2. Budget for savings.
Once you know how much you spend in a month, you can match that against your income to gauge where you are in terms of being able to save some money. Remember this simple equation:
INCOME – EXPENSES = NET SAVINGS
If your income is more than your expenses, then congratulations, you’re on the right track! Congratulations! Even though you’re doing good in this aspect, you can still look for ways to further reduce expenses so that you increase your savings and aim for a 20% of after-tax income benchmark. After all, there’s no harm in saving more money for the future, right?
TIP: A good way to always budget for savings is to put it down as an ‘expense’ in your money manager or tracking app. That way, you’ll ‘pay yourself’ just like you would any other bill! Easy step to save a bit more money, isn’t it?
3. Cut down expenses.
If your expenses are more than your income, or if you’re not saving as much as you’d like, now is your chance to really drill down on your spending.
Identify which of your expenses is essential (a ‘need’) and which is non-essential (a ‘want’). Start by trimming down your wants, like:
- Cancel subscriptions and memberships you’re no longer using, especially if they renew automatically
- Learn to meal-prep so you can avoid eating out and getting take-away
- Give yourself a ‘rethink purchase’ period—before buying a non-essential item, wait for a week first. A lot of the times, the temptation to purchase goes away after a few days. Only buy it if you still feel you need to buy it after a period of time!
TIP: Don’t think of this as a miserable, permanent solution. Taking these steps are necessary, at least temporarily until you’ve managed to build a ‘safety net’ of savings or until you get to increase your income.
4. Set savings goals.
One of the best ways to do anything is to set goals. Saving goals help give you better clarity and focus on what you are trying to achieve when you start saving. Maybe you’re planning on buying a house, or going on a much-needed vacation, or maybe you want nothing more than to be able to retire in peace. Calculate how much money you’ll need and how much time it will take for you to save it. Then, you can focus on the small, micro-actions (like meal-prepping or rethinking purchase decisions) that will eventually bring you to that goal!
These are some short-term and long-term goals you can consider:
SHORT-TERM (1-3 years)
- Emergency fund (at least 3-6 months’ of living expenses)
- Down payment for a car
- New phone
LONG-TERM (3+ years)
- Down payment for a home
- Saving for your children’s education
While these goals may seem daunting to some, they are not impossible to save for. Just follow along these easy steps and we’ll get you started on your journey to save more money soon!
5. Automate it!
Let’s be real: it can be easy to forget to do simple things like set up a doctor’s appointment or transfer some of our money into our savings account, right? We’re human, and it’s normal to be forgetful. But, the easiest way you can start saving is when you don’t have to constantly think about doing it. Almost all banks offer automated transfers between your checking and savings account. So, make sure to schedule monthly automated transfers into your savings account a day or two after you get your paycheck so that you’ll already set aside a portion of your money at the start of the month! Way to set yourself up for success!
TIP: If you want to save for different goals, make use of apps like Pod. You can create different savings goals and automate payments easily into these goals. Use technology to your advantage!
6. Adjust as you go along.
Review your budget every month—this will help you to identify any stumbling blocks in your savings plan and figure out the best way to overcome them. It always helps to reflect on your progress at the end of each month and realign yourself to your goals if you find yourself losing focus on them. If you are still struggling to save, try reducing the amount you set out to save monthly too! After all, the point is to first grow the habit of savings, no matter how small you may start off with. Once you start hitting your savings goals consistently, it will inspire you to keep on going and discover new ways to save money.
While finding the right ways to save money can be challenging, the key is to switch up your habits, at least temporarily until you fix the lack of savings in your life. Trust us, this shift in focus will pay off tenfold in the future!
Think you’re ready to up your game? Try saving RM1,000 in 30 days, and win MORE MONEY when you join the Simpan Challenge.
This article was written by the HeyAlfred team and edited by the Crunch team.