I don’t exactly know how it came to be – perhaps I developed it over the years subconsciously – but saving money is something I enjoy doing. Here are some things that I do which are hopefully less obvious than the usual tips floating around, and could perhaps inspire you if you’re looking for ways to trim your expenses.
Prepaying bills and expenses
Bringing forward expenses is a great way to save money and I do it every now and then to take advantage of certain promos and/or to meet minimum spending for some of my credit cards.
Most people don’t spend nearly enough to meet the minimum spend of some excellent cashback cards. Citi Cash Back, for instance, gives a really high 8% cashback on groceries, but requires a minimum spend of $800. This can be easily addressed by purchasing $1,000 supermarket vouchers/gift card within a month to achieve the maximum cashback for the card, then rationing the spend over the next few months. For telco spend, Maybank FnF card gives the same 8% (though it’d be more difficult to achieve come 1st April), and most telcos I know allow you to pay your bills in advance.
During certain promos, it also makes sense to spend ahead of time to lock in savings. It’s been a few years now, but back when Citibank finally launched on Apple Pay and gave 8 mpd on practically everything, I spent some $20,000 on various vouchers that I know I’d have a use for. Even liquidating the miles at the bank’s poor conversion rate gave 5.3% cashback without any worry about category restrictions or maximum spend limits.
More recently, during an 11/11 sale a few months ago, the mall which my gym was situated in was giving points equivalent to 22% rebate, and I prepaid a few months of gym membership. Couple of weeks ago, I also bought hundreds of dollars worth of Capitaland vouchers with 26% in rebates with the Amex CapitaCard. Score.
“Investing” in cheaper
I asked a friend once why he wasted so much money on a particular MMORPG, and his simple answer was that his addiction to his game actually saved him money. With his free time consumed by the game, he was spending way less on dining out and other social engagements.
I have been finding myself practising a similar thing by spending quite a bit on alcohol and hosting drinking nights for my friends at home. Alcohol is pretty expensive in Singapore, of course, but it helps me save on dining out, as well as avoiding pricey cab rides. It’s definitely cheaper than drinking at night establishments too, so everyone saves.
Buying consoles and karaoke boxes, and subscribing to multiple video streaming services also make staying at home more attractive, and that saves money in the long run even if these things aren’t cheap.
Finding lower cost options
Talking about cheaper stuff, I am always on the lookout for cheaper options that can replace things I spend on a regular basis. I used to get $25 haircuts, until one day I tried a $4 one which surprised me with how well it turned out. From then on, I never got a haircut for more than $4 again, and I even bought a prepaid card from the salon which pushed the price down to $3… before finding another salon that does $2 haircuts.
It’s not just money that I’m saving too. Because the haircuts are cheaper, I do it way more often and feel much happier about my hair compared to the past where I push 3 weeks before going for my pricey $25 option.
I don’t think pricier options are necessarily better too. When I bought a TV, I did quite a bit of research and ended up with a 65-inch Xiaomi TV. Possibly the lowest cost TV for its size and functionality, the picture quality is also awesome, and I’m glad I didn’t go for other brands that easily cost a few multiples of the amount I paid.
It goes without saying that trying to find cheaper options is even more important when it comes to big-ticket items, but it boggles my mind how many people buy expensive stuff without even a cursory check whether it’s sold at a better price elsewhere. One of the biggest recurring expenses we have is insurance, and too few people do a proper comparison to get a better product and save on premiums.
For a start, you could avoid long-term endowments and investment-linked policies and look at cheaper alternatives like roboadvisers and term policies. You are likelier to get better investment returns and more coverage when you seek out cheaper options.
A checklist of things I think you can do if you want to trim your budget:
- Look at things you can prepay with a good cashback card
- Identify and invest in hobbies you enjoy that are lower cost than others
- Find cheaper alternatives when you buy things
If you find these too difficult, I wouldn’t recommend trying to deny yourself all of life’s pleasures just to save a buck or two. Perhaps more worthwhile would be finding ways to increase your income instead, and that’s an upcoming article that I intend to write. Subscribe to my Telegram to stay tuned!
What are some things you do to save money? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or the Telegram group!
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