The old adage a penny saved is a penny earned has never rung truer during these trying times. With Covid-19 radically redefining the job landscape, many of us will need to re-evaluate how we spend our money. Don't get this wrong. Being thrifty doesn't mean cheap.
Think of the moment when Po in DreamWorks' wuxia comedy animation Kung Fu Panda gives up the dumpling. He discovers he is in control of himself and does not have to be consumed by his desire for the morsel.
Similarly, the moment you realize you don't have to be consumed by the need to spend is when you are finally in control of your wealth.
The following 10 tips may not be extensive but should put you on the path to growing your income.
1. Turn Clutter into Cash
Getting rid of stuff that no longer sparks joy can be liberating and bring balance back into your #WFH (Work From Home) life. That doesn't mean you need to junk your old items. Reselling your stuff is a cinch today with online platforms like eBay and Facebook Marketplace, to name a few.
2. Join the Free(bies) Movement
Who says nothing in life is free? Thanks to the Internet, there are plenty of websites and blogs dedicated to finding free stuff out there. You'll be amazed at the number of freebies you can take advantage of – from free samples to free food, to free attractions. If you're not sure where to look, check out Time Out. The magazine regularly collates the "Best Free Things To Do", wherever you are in the world.
3. Embrace Your Entitlements
The freebies get even better if you're a citizen or permanent resident. Provided you are eligible, there are government schemes to help you, be it living expenses (e.g. food stamps), medical (e.g. free or low-cost medical and dental care), or unemployment benefits.
4. Get Hungry for Food Deals
Today, we can get anything to eat with just a few taps of our phone. That means tonnes of food apps – all jostling for your dollar with promotions. This can range from huge discounts on off-peak dining to discounted food deals. You can even score free meals by downloading food apps such as McDonald's which throws in freebies with its promotions.
5. Eliminate Non-Essential Expenses
With the financial impact of Covid-19 likely to be felt for some time, you need to prioritize what is essential for survival (e.g. food and utilities) versus what you can do without (e.g. that gym membership).
You don't have to give up your little pleasures. Just swap them with more bang-for-buck choices. For instance, get your daily caffeine fix by making your own coffee over that US$5 barista-brewed latte. Just think: in a month, that's US$150 saved; in a year, that's a sweet US$1,800 in your pocket.
6. Power Down Your Electricity Usage
Electricity is one of those essentials you can't do without. You can keep your electricity usage low by making some lifestyle changes, such as switching off unused lights or using the fan in place of air-conditioning.
If you can't do without your blast of cold air, consider switching your gas and electricity supplier for a better deal. Your actual savings will depend on where you live.
7. Avoid High-Interest Debts
Credit card interests, in particular, are notoriously high. Say you've splurged for that massage chair and are paying a monthly minimum on your bill. Online financial blog The New Savvy says it will take you over a decade to pay off your debt. By the end of that, you would have forked out more than what you originally owed.
8. Shop Smart
Here's sound advice: Never pay the full price. There are plenty of ways to achieve that. One tip is to buy house brand foods over name brands which add on the cost of advertising and marketing.
Watch out also for good deals online. Most stores offer promotions on their website, especially during “double-digit" dates like 11.11 (Singles Day) and special sales periods such as Black Friday (following Thanksgiving Day in the US) and Christmas.
9. Stack Your Vouchers and Credit Cards
This is next-level kung fu. If you're ready for greater discounts, e-commerce platforms like Shopee and Lazada allow customers to stack in a single order. This means shoppers can combine cashback options, seller vouchers, credit card deals and free delivery to potentially save more money.
10. Consider Developing a Side Hustle
If this isn't an issue with your employer, a little side hustle can help pay the bills. Options range from monetizing an existing skill (e.g. program coding) to trying on new opportunities such as forex trading. If you're interested, one of the better-regulated forex trading platforms, Forex4you, offers a Demo account. This is easy to open and is a great opportunity for traders to get a feel of the setup and platform, without risking any real money.
Keeping to a budget can seem joyless at times, with little instant gratification to be had. However, prudence and persistence will soon see you become a Dragon Master in the art of scrimping and stretching your dollar to build more wealth!