Well, 2020 got weird quickly. One minute I was planning my next holiday and the next we were all put under the Movement Control Order (MCO)!
These are scary and uncertain times. For some lucky people, it’s just a case of working from home with a guaranteed salary at the end of the month. For others, there may be a salary cut, unpaid leave or worse, retrenchment. Those that still have jobs may also worry if they’ll get to keep it.
Whatever your situation, everyone needs to have a plan to face this new world. Now is the best time to take a long hard look at your spending and see where you can save money.
Here are 5 tips to make your money last longer:
- Create a budget and cut out things you don’t need
In times of great uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to have and stick to a budget. This helps you avoid buying things you don’t need and saving your money instead, which you could put towards an emergency fund.
Make a list of your monthly spending and think about what you can remove. This could include media subscriptions (look for free alternatives or options to share with friends and family) or choosing supermarket brand groceries instead of pricier, big-brand items.
- Plan weekly meals
During these movement restrictions, you may not be spending as much money on extras like holidays, meals with friends, or going to the movies. However, other expenses may have increased, such as groceries. (Anyone else suffering from stress-eating syndrome? Sometimes I feel the only exercise I get is walking from the couch to the fridge every 10 minutes!)
Try to plan your meals in advance and budget for the week. Go grocery shopping with a list – and stick to it! This ensures you do not make impulse buys since you are working with a budget. And step away from the expensive chocolate – Try local and more affordable chocolate instead!
- Minimise online shopping
With entertainment cut out of our lives for now, some of us might be passing our time with online shopping. Besides, shopping online is safer to avoid the COVID-19 virus. Oh, how easy to just click BUY. And surely, I need a few treats to cheer myself up during the lockdown? But seriously, do you really need 7 new office shirts or new lipstick right now? (No, Zoom calls are not an excuse to melaram!) Use online shopping for your necessities only.
- Look for discounts
While we’re on the topic of extras and online shopping, do look out for deals and discounts. Some supermarkets have discount shelves, where you can get usually expensive items up to 50% off – They’re not always close to their expiry date either, as some are still good for 1-2 months.
Customer loyalty programmes are also a good way to collect points which you could convert into discounts to help you save money. As we go cashless to avoid catching Covid-19 from paper money and coins, you could also check out discounts from e-wallet providers. However, don’t go overboard with discounts and end up spending too much.
- Learn some new skills
Being under MCO has taken some of our usual comforts, like nasi lemak bungkus or pisang goreng out of reach – you may now have to pay an additional RM5 or more to get these delivered to you. Why not try cooking your favourite foods instead? There are many free recipes online, not to mention YouTube tutorials. And with so much time at home, what better way to learn some practical skills?
Hope you’ve found these tips useful. While you’re trying to save your money, don’t forget to stay home, and stay safe! For more information on planning and budgeting, do read our Guide.