Can't be bothered to track your spending or follow a budget? Here are 7 money-saving tips even the laziest person can do.
“Lazy” isn’t a word I would use to describe myself, but it’s tough to make changes in the name of spending less. It can also be difficult to follow conventional advice like sticking to a budget or tracking my expenses. But when you have mid- and long-term financial goals to aim for (i.e. build an emergency fund and not retire poor), you need to be more disciplined with your personal finances.
Fortunately, I live a fairly simple life. I’m not much of a foodie, I spend huge swaths of alone time in my flat, and I’m mostly immune to marketing gimmicks and status symbols. Equipped with this self-awareness, it was easy to develop money-saving habits without altering my lifestyle. Here they are:
1. Sign Up for an Automatic Savings Plan
The number one money saving tip in the lazy person’s book is to sign up for an automatic savings plan. This is when the bank transfers a portion of your money to a separate savings account--and it’s up to you to determine the amount to be transferred or the frequency of the transfer. It literally requires zero effort from your part as soon as it’s approved by the bank.
Every month, 10% of my salary is automatically debited from my savings account and ferreted away to a balanced fund. So even if I’m reckless with the rest of my paycheque, I know that at least some of it will go to a mid-term financial goal.
2. Spend Money Where You Spend Your Time
For impulsive and emotional shoppers like myself, it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying things you’ll ignore once you’re over the thrill of owning something new. Following the Comfort Principle--or spending money where you spend your time--helps you become more mindful about your purchases and spend less in the long run.
As an example: if you love shoes and spend 10-12 hours in the office, it makes more sense to indulge in work-friendly leather ballet flats than trendy party heels. I did this 6 months ago and never regretted it; they make my morning commute more comfortable, they’re built to last, and they’ll never go out of style. Because these shoes are so great, I haven't felt the need to buy a new pair since.
3. Bring Coffee to Work
Mornings are only good when there’s a delicious cup of coffee to start your day with. Bringing my own beans and French press to the office helped me avoid coffee shops altogether, saving me an extra S$60 a month.
4. Avoid Malls
Whenever possible, meet friends at restaurants or coffee shops away from malls. This makes it near impossible to “window shop” and buy unnecessary things on the way to meet them.
5. Find Ways to Exercise for Free
Exercise is an important part of my lifestyle, and I’m fortunate to live in a condo building that has a gym and a swimming pool. Taking advantage of these amenities keeps me in shape while avoiding pricey gym membership fees. If your building doesn’t have these things, using running tracks or walking around parks is a great way to get free exercise.
6. Count Calories
Saving money was an accidental byproduct of using MyFitnessPal to lose weight by counting calories. Because I could only consume 1,200 calories a day (the recommended amount for those with sedentary lifestyles), I had to stop snacking and cut down on my alcohol consumption. After my first month, I realized you can save extra S$100 a month by being more mindful of what you eat or drink.
7. Unsubscribe to Marketing Newsletters
It can be difficult to unsubscribe to brand newsletters, but getting sale alerts wasn’t helping me save. On the contrary, I ended up spending on clothes and shoes I don’t need and would never have bought if I didn’t get the newsletter in the first place. Removing these sale alerts helped me save several hundreds on clothes each month.
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