So, what were your New Year’s Resolutions for 2014?

As usual, I’m sure we all made the usual ones, such as, losing weight, giving up unhealthy eating habits, exercising more, etc…and these are great resolutions to make.

However, we should also include in our list, a resolution to save more each month.

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    5 Proven Money-saving Hacks

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Being able to put aside some money every month in an account especially for emergencies or for the purposes of having liquid funds available for investment if an opportunity arises, is a wonderful discipline to acquire. Many have retired wealthy using only this method of accumulating wealth. Of course, they were regular savers, and saved consistently over a long period of time. There are no short-cuts if this method is used.

With the onslaught of rising prices all around us, it is difficult to imagine being able to save any money at all, let alone increasing our savings year on year. The majority of us have way too many bills and loan repayments burdening us, to even entertain the thought! How, we may ask ourselves, could we possibly manage to save more?

How could you save more?

Let’s face it, salaries are not increasing in tandem with the cost of living. The answer, as with all things, lies in careful planning and implementation of strategies designed to assist you overcome the challenge of saving more out of your existing paycheck.

Here are a couple of ideas and tips to get you thinking along the right lines.

1. Revisit your monthly bills

bills
Bills, Bills, Bills

First, gather up all your regular monthly bills and note down each bill and the amount. For “fixed” fees from service providers such as Astro, think about how you can shave money off your monthly bill, by reducing your packages or better still, cancelling your subscription all together and devoting the time spent watching TV, to reading, spending time with your family, exercising or networking.

For variable amounts contained in bills such as your handphone bill, electricity bill and others, think about steps that you and your family could take to reduce the amounts. For example, stop making phone calls and use only SMS or free Instant Messaging services such as WhatsApp or Viber, and train your kids to ensure save electricity where possible by switching off lights, fans, air cons and other appliances that are not in use and better still, not using the air con at all.

2. Revisit your current residence

Are you optimizing your living arrangements? Would it make more financial sense to move out of your current home and rent it out, while you move in with your parents? Or vice versa – would it make more financial sense to have your parents live with you, and rent out their home?

Often, these are difficult questions to think about because the answer that makes the most financial sense may not be the most feasible course of action for you and your family owing to a a variety of reasons. However, it is still worth thinking about and it is worth working out the numbers, at least so that you know whether such a change would make financial sense or not. It is always advisable to have all the relevant data on hand, so that you can weigh the pros and cons more efficiently.

3. Revisit your car insurance, road tax, maintenance and fuel budget

We rarely pay attention to how much our vehicles truly cost us. It is worth your while to sit down and calculate the monthly burn rate for your vehicle. Costs that should be reflected in the calculation include your annual road tax fee, your annual insurance premium, your car repair/maintenance bills over the preceding 12 month period/calendar year, and your weekly or monthly petrol bills. Add these up and divide by 12, to get your monthly vehicle burn rate.

From this amount, think about ways you could reduce any one of the sub-totals that make up the total. For example, could you minimize your fuel bill by eliminating non-essential driving? Could you switch to an insurer offering more competitive rates? If you are spending a lot of money maintaining an old car, would it make more financial sense in the long run, to upgrade your car?

4. Revisit your entertainment budget

As Malaysians, we love to eat out and “lepak” around town…at any hour of the day or night, you will see people eating at food outlets, and the roads will be jammed with cars, all heading to the nearest shopping mall. The thing is, eating out and spending time out of your home, tends to increase overall expenditure in the long run.

It’s a simple mathematical fact – you end up paying for petrol, parking, dining, shopping etc, when you would not need to spend anything if you remained at home. Why not plan weekends in such a way that you have your meals at home, your friends and relatives come to visit you at home (it is much cheaper to entertain them at home than in a restaurant), and your kids have enough activities to keep them occupied and entertained at home. That way, your trips out of the home could be to more healthy and cost-effective places such as the local park or hiking trail, instead of a shopping mall.

travel Malaysia
Travel Malaysia

5. Revisit your travel plans

Travelling overseas is expensive. By the time you include the transport costs to and from the airport, the cost of the return ticket, hotels, day-to-day expenditure and shopping while on holiday, it can all really add up – especially if you are travelling to a destination with a stronger currency than ours.

Instead, why not consider travelling within Malaysia with your family. After all, Malaysia is a beautiful country with a range of travel experiences available to cater to the tastes of just about any kind of traveler. Why not combine the joys of travel, with the opportunity to explore our home country from north to south, east to west – a different destination each time. You’ll be amazed at the wealth of experiences that await for a very reasonable sum.

Hopefully, these tips and ideas will help you to get started on successfully saving a little more out of your paycheck, and guide you further along the road to long-term wealth! ?


KCLau
KCLau

Personal finance author and trainer

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