The reason you find saving money difficult? It may be because you are unknowingly giving yourself reasons to spend, says Keith Lim.
Perhaps you share the woes I used to have. Every pay cheque used to vanish almost as quickly as it was credited to my bank account. It was only when it came to deciding on an insurance plan, that I realised I had no more money now than when I entered the workforce.
To help me save, I needed to better understand the excuses fuelling my convenience purchases. If you, too, recognise yourself in my story, try the tips I devised to counter these problems. Over time, you can own your choices, and restock that empty piggy bank!
"I Need It."
Saying “I need it” gave me a ready excuse for multiple "sins". I’d set out to buy smart casual shoes for work, only to end up going on a spree, distracted from my original purchase intent by online promotion cues reading "Suggested Items" or "20% off".
My Tip: No matter how "worth it" the price may be, mentally go through items in your wardrobe first. Check that you don’t already own something similar. Then unless you saved up for that leather bag, walk away from it. You’ll ultimately feel better for resisting temptation.
"I Love Good Food."
It was not the good old chicken rice that burned my pockets — it was the concept cafés, serving pricey handcrafted grub. When I was café hopping once a week, I spent over S$80 a month on them. All this for “good food” that I could find cheaper if I looked hard enough.
Tip: What’s not to like about affordable, delicious and widespread hawker food? Even the 2016 Michelin Guide Singapore seems to agree: it recently awarded many hawker stalls with a one-star award and a "Bib Gourmand". And for me, rich and tasty nasi lemak can be every bit as satisfying as gourmet eggs Benedict.
"I’m Spending for My Health."
The result? My overpriced, under-utilised gym membership. I realised it wasn’t the fault of the persuasive salesman at my fitness clubs I signed up to, for a lifestyle I dreamt about but couldn’t commit to. And the nearer the gym was to my office, the easier it became to put off going until next week.
Tip: Jump on your bicycle, or pull on your jogging shoes to tackle Singapore’s free-to-use 150km Park Connector Network. And why not practise yoga from free YouTube videos instead of paying for monthly gym membership? Or, you know, just walk to the MRT!
"I Can’t be Late for this Meeting."
Whether it’s for work or social commitments, it is too easy to book that taxi. The most heinous of commuting crimes — this bad habit costs me numerous fares over S$20, thanks to the insidious peak-hour surcharges.
Tip: Plan your day. Sleep earlier, and set five annoying alarms at one-or-two-minute intervals to make sure you make the bus. If you must take a cab, pay in cash rather than by card, and try carpooling.
"I Still Have Time."
This anti-saving attitude, I realised, had repercussions on my other life goals. I wasn’t going to remain in my 20s forever, and some day, I would need to spend money on getting hitched or buying a house instead of on those weekly pub-crawls.
Tip: You don’t have to live in a hole forever to save money. Set aside a comfortable monthly amount, preferably in a separate savings account, and transfer it on payday. Next, pay your bills. What’s left after that becomes your actual disposable income for the month.
About Keith Lim
Keith is on the FRANK team at OCBC. He enjoys taking long walks, watching movies in bed, and instagramming every now and then. You can find him @fivefreeminutes.