From ignoring your bills to neglecting your MediShield Life, here are 7 ways laziness makes Singaporeans lose money.
Laziness is a divisive topic. While some judge the younger generation’s (read: millennials) seeming lack of ambition, others exhort us to slow down, praising the virtues of an afternoon spent doing nothing.
Well, laziness, like everything else, has its place. We certainly aren’t going to deny the therapeutic effects of doing nothing every once in a while.
However, when it comes to personal finance, being lazy does nothing for you or your bank account. Here are 7 ways laziness makes Singaporeans lose money.
1. Not Automating Your Savings
We’re not going to riff on you for not saving money; you’ve heard more than enough admonishments by now.
Instead, we’re going to nag you to set up an automatic savings transfer on your bank account.
You see, saving money is a habit. Like any habit, doing it regularly is the key to seeing success. Having results provides the necessary motivation to carry on, but getting them requires diligence.
Hence, automating your savings is important. It enforces diligence, which produces results that you will want to continue to build upon.
Believe us, automating your savings takes just minutes to do, and you only need to do it once. You can even open a bank account online in minutes, so what’s your excuse?
2. Not Opening Your Bills
Opening and paying your bills is tedious and annoying. And the way it makes you feel poorer with every envelope you open certainly doesn’t help.
But, with credit card late payments reaching the S$100 mark now, being too lazy to open your bills is a costly mistake that could jeopardise your budget.
Bank late fees are one of the worst ways to waste money - you’re paying money for the privilege of owing money! It makes zero sense to throw good money away like that, especially when it can be easily prevented by dealing with your mail more regularly.
We recommend clearing your mailbox and paying your bills on a weekly basis. Yes, we realise we’re asking you to add a chore to your no doubt already punishing list, but this one will save you substantial money, and keep your credit rating healthy to boot.
3. Not Packing Your Own Lunch
Remember all those S$20 lunches you splurged on because you were bored, stressed, cajoled by your evil colleagues, or some combination of the three? Now recall how you lost your appetite after seeing your credit card bill.
Packing your own lunch is a great personal finance tip because it gives you control. Try making a habit of packing your own lunch 4 times a week, leaving yourself 1 free day to join your colleagues. With the money you’ll save from home-cooked meals, you're able to afford expensive lunches that spontaneously come your way.
If you don’t know how to cook, you might feel daunted by the prospect. Try starting with simple one-pot meals you can literally throw together.
4. Not Tracking Your Expenses
If you don't know where your money goes, you’re likely to also come up short each month. This means you’re not meeting your savings goals, or you’re lagging behind on payments, risking wasteful late fees.
The simple solution is to track your expenses. With so many free, easy-to-use personal finance apps, there really is no excuse to stay in the dark about your spending.
Whether it's a meticulous daily record or an approximate weekly sum-up, tracking your expenses will help you spend within your means.
More importantly, it will signal when to stop spending money, which goes a long way in avoiding high credit card interest payments.
5. Not Keeping A Discretionary Fund
You’re familiar with an emergency fund, but have you heard of a discretionary fund?
Like the former, a discretionary fund is a pool of money that you accumulate and set aside for a specified purpose. While an emergency fund is for emergencies, a discretionary fund is for you to spend at your discretion. (You can also call it “fun money”.)
A discretionary fund helps you prevent overspending by setting a concrete limit on how much you can spend. Conversely, not having a clear number in your head makes it easy to bust that limit.
When you have a pool of money you can spend any which way you please, you’ll stop experiencing that burning anxiety of wanting something you cannot quite afford right now.
Instead, you know you can always buy that thing when you top up your discretionary fund. This makes it easier to rein in impulse buys. You now have a certainty to owning the thing you want, which turns it into a planned purchase for the future.
And that’s where the magic happens - given some time to think it over, you may discover you no longer want to buy it!
6. Not Upgrading Your Medishield Life
When is your next Medishield Life premium due? How much do you have to pay? What’s the no claim bonus? Have you even upgraded your Medishield Life plan?
Look, you may never fully understand your insurance policies, but that’s ok, that what your financial planner is for.
Insurance offers the masses an affordable way to gain critical coverage, which is crucial, given Singapore’s healthcare prices. The basic Medishield Life plan offered to all Singaporeans by default (via CPF Medisave) is just that, basic.
You’re restricted in where you may stay, and more importantly, still have to pay part of the hospital bills out of pocket (aka co-insurance). Depending on the reason for your hospitalisation, you could find yourself several thousand dollars poorer.
However, if you upgrade your plan to a private Medishield Life plan, you can get 100% coverage. Yep, no out-of-pocket expenses! Some plans even include perks such as an allowance for each day you stay in the hospital, or your choice of private hospitals in Singapore.
So, maybe, drop your financial planner a text? While you’re at it, you should probably take the chance to review your existing insurance portfolio and beef up any areas you’re lacking in.
7. Not Using The Right Credit Cards
Stop rolling your eyes. We’re not including this just because we have a credit card comparison tool you can easily and quickly use to find the best credit cards for you (for free!)
You may already have credit cards that give you savings, but staying up-to-date on new features and credit card sign-up promotions can save you hundreds of dollars more a year.
For example, the OCBC 365 Card gives (among other things) 6% cashback on weekend dining, with maximum total cashback of S$80 monthly. You can save up to S$960 a year this way.
However, the HSBC Advance Credit Card gives you up to 3.5% cashback on all spends, with maximum total cashback of S$125 per month. This card could save you up to S$1,500 per year.
That’s a S$540 difference - enough for a family weekend staycation!
Which would you rather do? Spend the weekend indulging in a hotel staycation cum buffet dinner courtesy of your credit card, or snore away at home by the old, creaky fan?
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By Alevin Chan
A Certified Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin's mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He's also on an ongoing quest to optimize happiness and enjoyment in his life.
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