5 realistic, quick changes you can make now to save more for travelling
Like most people I struggle with keeping my finances in check. I've known some people with very elaborate spreadsheets tracking everything they spend on, and I'm really not that person. I realised that I needed to hack my lifestyle with simple enough changes I could actually implement if I wanted to travel the way I wanted to and not scrimp on food or shopping while I was in Paris or say no to a more luxurious hotel in Bangkok. Tips like carrying cash only around doesn't work for me. Rather than struggle with the idea of "I have to save every cent!" I changed my perspective instead to "I'd rather buy something else". There's no better feeling than that of having enough credit to purchase a flight ticket or a hotel stay instead of what you're otherwise forking money out for - convenience and treats.
1. Focus on your bank balance
A small perspective change, this, and was a life changer for me. I used to think yearly about how much I wanted to save up to and then fail miserably after 12 months. Or I'd tell myself I HAD TO save X amount of money every month. Then I'd take more money out some months and then "make up for it" but putting in more money other months. Nope, doesn't work. So I did the reverse. I focused on how much I wanted to see in my bank balance every month after my pay check was credited in. Of course, this doesn't work for everyone. Some people would just be too tempted to put in a low number and before you know it you're spending a lot more than you're saving. However, committing to how much I wanted to have in my bank balance at the end of every month drove me to grow my monthly savings in the long run than if I had forced myself to save a standard sum every month.
2. Make your own lunch
Eating out is a pain. Having food delivered is painful on the wallet. I've stopped 'splurging' (call a spade a spade, it really isn't regular) on SGD15 salad lunches at work and instead make my own. I save up to SGD300 a month on lunch alone. Now, I spend about SGD50 a week on groceries to make my own salad. You can do the same for dinner, maybe eat out once a week, and still save money in the long run.
3. Give yourself shopping cheat months
Unfortunately I do love a bit of shopping. Instead of buying things on the fly, I shop on alternate months. So 6 months out of 12 I hold off on buying anything not considered a necessity like groceries. I can wait 30 days before seeing if I want that new MAC lipstick - you can too! 30 days is long enough to see if you still want something non-impulsively. If you do, get it without beating yourself up about it. Chances are if you still have a voice in your head saying you shouldn't, then you're going to have to live with that voice if you spend that money.
4. Cut down on taxis
It's really uncomfortable trying to read during rush hour when you're packed shoulder to shoulder with the next guy, and I used to get bored taking the train or bus to work, so I spend a lot on taxis and write off that cost as a necessity. It's more convenient, it's sometimes faster, it's a blessing in the heat. But it's so unkind on the wallet. Imagine, a SGD10 taxi ride + a SGD15 salad a day, I was spending SGD500 every month. This year I invested in a good pair of bluetooth headphones to listen to podcasts on the way to work. Keeping my time occupied instead of just listening to music makes me less tempted to jump on a taxi.
5. Be the host
Shawn and I buy bottles at DFS on our way home, so we have a decent cache of alcohol at home. We have friends over for home-cooked meals instead of spending on brunches, we make drinks for ourselves when we have Netflix movie nights, and we don't pay exorbitantly dining out. If we have meet ups with friends, we have a favourite bar where we hang out often and there, buy a bottle. On average, a gin & tonic is SGD14 (non-happy hour prices). A 1L bottle of gin gives you about 22 shots. 22 single shot GTs x SGD14 = SGD308. If I can buy a bottle at the establishment for way less than that, it's an excellent deal.
As I've grown in my career, the more I earn the more I spend. However because I'm not making extraordinary life changes to try and save money, get bored and then eventually give up, I've managed to save enough to prioritise the spending that does matter.
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