If you are going insane trying to make ends meet, you are not alone, and it is not surprising. Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
However, don’t give up just yet. You may have been wasting your money in these 10 ways last year, but you can turn things around this year. Taking Einstein’s advice into consideration, the key is to do things differently. This includes spend differently or on different things.
Here are 6 ways you can stop wasting money this year:
1. Identify non-essential spending
Yes, we know, you really need that coffee to start off your day without stabbing someone in the eye with your Kilometrico pen. You can still get one without bleeding your wallet every day. Make your own.
Let the numbers do the talking:
|1 cup of black coffee (Tall): RM7.95 (inclusive of 6% GST)
50 cups: RM397.50
|1 cup of Nescafe Gold Blend: RM0.52
Jar (Yields at least 50 cups): RM26.00
The point of this exercise is not to stop spending but to control unnecessary spending.
Examples of other non-essential expenses that you should (and must) cut from your finances are – the 16thpair of shoes just because they are on sale, the latest smartphone just because it is from Apple, or that set of rims for your car just because they would make you look cooler than other cars stuck in the traffic jam.
Every time you are about to spend your money, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this absolutely necessary?
- What are the benefits of buying it?
- Will I be saving money in the long-run?
If your answers are negative to the above questions, move along.
2. Stop paying interest (whenever possible)
Every time you pay minimum payment only for your credit card balance, you are incurring interest charges that can snowball into insurmountable debt (if it hasn’t already).
For revolving credit like credit card, always try your best to clear your balance as soon as possible because for every month your balance is carried forward, you will be charged interest of at least 15%.
One way of cutting down on exorbitant interest charges is to transfer your debt to a low or 0% balance transfer credit card. A balance transfer is when you move debt from one credit card with high interest to another one that’s offering a low-interest special for new customers.
Some credit cards offer balance transfer facility of 0% interest for the first 12 months. However, do read the fine prints as some cards come with an upfront fee of about 3%.
Interest rate: 15% p.a.
Minimum payment: 5% of balance
First payment: RM250
Time to pay off using minimum payment: 5 years 5 monthsTotal interest paid: RM1,491
Interest rate: 15% p.a.
Monthly payment: RM400
Time to pay off using fixed payment: 1 year 2 monthsTotal interest paid: RM471
Interest rate: 0% p.a. for 12 months
Monthly payment: RM400
Time to pay off using fixed payment: 1 year
Total interest paid: RM0
To make the most of a balance transfer, make sure you can pay off your entire balance during the intro period before interest kicks in.
3. Set goals instead of resolutions
If you are like most people, you would have your list of New Year’s resolutions and are determine to stick to them, but the reality is, these resolutions would likely become a distant memory by March.
The worst part of resolutions is not our inability to stick to them, but its costs. One of the most popular resolutions is getting fit, which is why you see a surge of members in your neighbourhood gym. But signing up for a 12-month gym membership on your credit card costs money. And if you don’t utilise the membership, you will be wasting that money.
This year, skip resolutions and set specific money goals. Unlike resolutions, goals are realistic, measurable and include an action plan that will lead you to success.
Instead of staying fit, change it to “losing 5kg by end of the year” and you don’t have to sign up for an expensive gym membership to achieve it. Instead of saving to buy a house, change it to “saving 15% of RM500,000.” Instead of saving money, change it to “save 3-month worth of your salary by end of the year”.
By keeping your goals measurable, you can easily track your progress and make the necessary changes to fast-track it.
4. Review your insurance coverage
According to the Malaysian Insurance Institute (MII) CEO Syed Moheeb Syed Kamaruzaman on Insurance Asia News, the life insurance penetration rate in Malaysia grew from 41% in 2014 to 56% in 2015. By 2020, 75% of the population will have life insurance coverage.
Getting more Malaysians to buy life insurance protection is a remarkable effort. If you already have coverage, it pays to review your coverage periodically. If you are one of those who own a life insurance, a full mortgage life assurance, an investment-linked life plan and also other insurance plans like personal accident and medical, it is time to ask yourself – do you need all of them?
By over-insuring yourself, you are putting your money into protection that you do not need, which could be earning you better returns if invested it elsewhere. If you do not have any dependent, is not the sole breadwinner of the family and have other assets, chances are you need to review your insurance policies to ensure you are not over insured.
Optimise your finances by avoiding under or over insurance. Know what’s your required or ideal coverage for each insurance plan, and also if you need the plan in the first place.
5. Compare everything
As Malaysian consumers mature, they become more discerning towards what they are buying and the value they get in return. The best way to ensure you get the best value of your money is not merely checking the price but to compare similar products or services before making any financial decision.
We’ve advocated product and services comparison for years, and we even allow our users to compare financial products easily through our various smart searches, from credit card to personal loan. Only by doing your necessary due diligence will you be able to make smart decisions.
Getting the wrong credit card can hurt your finances, but the right one can easily help you manage your expenses and also save you some money. And this applies for almost everything that you purchase.
Find out which are the best credit cards according to your lifestyle and spending pattern.
6. Think long-term
Being penny-wise, pound-foolish is the greatest downfall of many people. It is a common mistake to make especially when one decides to take control of their finances.
Yes, saving money is a good habit, but not to the point that it will incur more money in the long-run.
Imagine this scenario: You are given the choice to take up a flexi home loan that allows you to save money if you regularly pay more than your monthly repayment, or a conventional home loan that does not come with all the flexibility to save money – which should you choose?
A flexi home loan is best for those who earn irregular income that can be higher in certain months, and also those who have the discipline to sock away any additional money they have in their home loan. If your answer is no to the above two criteria, go for the conventional loan as you will be saving more without paying for the flexi facilities, such as the additional fees to maintain the current account that is linked to your flexi home loan.
By keeping in mind your financial objectives and goals, you will be better equipped to make long-term financial decisions.
If last year has not been kind to your wallet, make these 6 changes in your finances to ensure a better financial year for yourself.