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Simple Habit Changes to Save Money Before the Year Ends

by Jean Lee. |

Sticking to a New Year’s resolution has always been a challenge for me to begin with and hence, I told myself that 2019 was the year of personal growth. Having my first full-time job after graduating meant having to be independent in most aspects, especially when it comes to managing my own savings. Things started off a little bumpy, however with some of my tried and tested habits, I was able to keep the dents away from my bank account.

So, here are some of the habits for you to kickstart your game plan.

1. Use a Spending Tracker App & Be Consistent with it.

Image: Spendee

Spending Tracker Apps are a great tool to get an overview of how you’ve spent your money. You no longer need to question yourself, “Where did all that money go?”. By inputting your daily expenses, you’ll be able to understand what your spending patterns are, what you are splurging unnecessarily on (hint: like that Bubble Milk Tea you drink at least three times a week) and how to improve gradually with time.

The Spending Tracker Apps that I would recommend using is Spendee and Wally, which are available for both iOS and Android users. I personally prefer Spendee due to it’s easy-to-use app interface and its overall view of my monthly expenditures. However, do look around at Wally or even other spending tracker apps to see which suits your style and choose the one that boosts your motivation to save.

2. Start using Cash Back and Reward Mobile Apps.

I get this question often: “What’s the good of collecting rewards and cash back?”

These apps may have your doubts but they make a big difference when accumulated slowly. Though these cash backs and rewards are gifted in small amounts, sometimes earning small is better than nothing at all.

Image: Pexels

My go-to cash back apps are ShopBack and Fave. ShopBack provides you with cash back when you shop on online stores such as Sephora, Lazada, and even travel websites like Agoda, Bookings.com and others whereas Fave allows you to purchase coupons to get some discounts while offering discount codes and cash back. You can get cash back from Fave when you link your account to their e-wallet, FavePay, which allows you to spend online or in-stores. Both apps gives up to 30% cash back rewards and vouchers when you shop at their participating merchants, be it online or in-stores.

For reward apps, I’d recommend the Grab app and BigPay as they both allow you to redeem all sorts of benefits from participating merchants. Grab showers you with reward points when you use GrabCar, GrabFood, and GrabPay. You can redeem these points while climbing up their member tiers to gain more benefits from merchants such as Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Zalora, JuiceWorks and many more. However, BigPay works as a debit card and it collects a point for every RM 20 spent. Points earned from BigPay can be used to redeem cheaper flights from AirAsia and helps you avoid processing fees when booking flights. I know all of these sounds confusing but as quoted by William Blake, “The true method of knowledge is experiment.''

3. Allocate an Amount to Save

One of the best advice I received was, “Keep a certain percentage of your salary into your savings.” Start small by saving at least 10% or 15% from your salary saved each month. For example, a 10% cut out of a RM 2,000 salary would be RM 200, that makes RM 1,200 for the first 6 months and RM 2,400 for the year. As your salary grows, your 10% amount will grow with time and effort. Can you imagine how much you’ll have in your savings?

Image: Pixabay

Or, if there is something that you’ve been wanting to purchase, instead of spending the moment you receive your salary, allocate a certain amount from your salary each month as well and once you hit the target, you can buy it without breaking the bank. If you're really desperado to get it, make sure to pay off all the necessary bills like your monthly utility bills, phone, internet etc beforehand.

The end-goal here is to build a habit that will make you financially competent and have some money saved for your rainy days.

As, T.T. Munger once said, “The habit of saving is itself an education; it fosters every virtue, teachers self-denial, cultivates the sense of order, train to forethought, and so broadens the mind.”

5. Meal Prep or Eat Out for Less

As cliche as it sounds, it does a little magic in making sure you eat right, and keep your purse away from spending more. Food that is served at cafes and restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, would easily cost you between a range of RM15 to RM30 per meal.

At work, I used to order food from food delivering services and the least I would spend begins from a range of RM 17 to RM 30 including taxes and delivery fees. Not only does it take awhile for my meal to arrive, it is also less healthy since it may contain more salt, sugar, and other unnatural flavourings. Hence, I decided to give meal prepping a try after receiving some influence from my colleagues since they prove that it helps them save up while keeping a healthier lifestyle.

There are so many meal prep recipes that can be found online depending on your food preferences, from making cauliflower rice to baking sweet potatoes. Personally, I like going on Pinterest or Tasty to search for meal prepping recipes. Meal prepping doesn’t have to be a chore if you cook up some really easy yet delicious meals. It takes about an hour or two, depending on your prepping speed, but it’s better to take your time and enjoy the process.

Meal prepping doesn’t stop me from eating out or having a social life either. I am still able to spend time with my friends, maybe a little less but I am still able to maintain a work life balance and have more savings in my bank account. As Allison Schaff once said, “Don’t be intimated to try.”

Give these recommended tips a try and watch your bank balance rise! There's still time to save for that dream vacation of yours during Christmas season. It's never too late!

You can find out more about Jean on her Instagram too.

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