Do you have a hard time sticking to a budget? As recommended as it is, the 50:30:20 rule doesn’t work for everyone. In order to successfully manage your personal finances, you must make sure that your budget is specifically designed for your income and expenses. If you’ve noticed that you’re unable to save 20% of your salary because of your spending habits, try paying yourself first.

 

What is paying yourself first?

Paying yourself first puts the focus on saving first and then spending. With your savings contribution for the month moved out of the way, you’ll be able to spend what’s left without feeling guilty or worrying about eating into your savings. If this method works for you, it can be an extremely effective way to reach your savings goals each month. These consistent contributions can help you build long-term wealth!

 

Why should we pay ourselves first?

Of course, you can’t withdraw money from your savings account – unless it’s an emergency. The more you save, the more prepared you’ll be for financial emergencies, such as pay cuts, car repairs or hospital stays. If you’re unable to save because of your income, try reducing your expenses. Please don’t be ashamed of seeking financial assistance if downsizing still doesn’t work for you – there is nothing wrong with needing support.

 

How do we pay ourselves first?

Once your salary comes in, start by moving 10% of your income to a savings account. Don’t get too comfortable with that rate – observe your spending habits for the month and see how you can save more. Slowly increase the percentage each month until you find one that’s right for you and your financial goals. You can then automate this savings rate for more efficiency!

 

Paying yourself first takes away the burden of constantly having to track your expenses, which is a habit that many of us have trouble sticking to. Instead, it helps us build the more inviting habit of accumulating wealth. Keep experimenting with budgeting and saving, and remember not to be too hard on yourself. At least once you pay yourself first, you’ll feel a sense of reward and won’t feel guilty about spending money later that month.

As we go through another total lockdown, we can’t help but to feel anxious about our finances. Many jobs, hours and wages have been lost with thousands of businesses having to pause operations or permanently close. When facing uncertain situations like these, it is only natural to have an anxiety response, but if your fear has become overwhelming and disruptive, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. 

 

Money-related anxiety can cause your stress to reach unhealthy levels. Like other forms of anxiety, it can affect your physical health and daily life, causing insomnia, loss of appetite or inability to focus. If left untreated, anxiety can also develop into depression. Below are some signs often related to financial anxiety:

 

Overspending

 

Fear Of Spending

 

Financial Denial

 

Compulsive Behaviour 

 

Whether you find yourself engaging in these behaviours, or are looking to develop a more positive mindset towards money, here are healthier ways for you to cope with financial anxiety:

 

Manage your debt

 

Automate important payments

 

Create a budget

 

Track your spending

 

Develop an emergency fund

 

Seek help 

Lately, we’ve been experiencing information overload and consistent bad news, so scrolling through social media isn’t the best way to relax and unwind after a stressful day. Reading can help you relieve stress and escape from the anxieties of the real world. Some self-help books feel hard to read, they’re either too practical or too spiritual, and forcing yourself to focus will be more exhausting than relaxing. 

 

We’ve found five entertaining books that you can add to your self-care ritual! They’re inspiring, fun to read, and will help you improve your life. These books are written as if the author is right next to you, guiding you and cheering you on. Remember to choose the right book for you, one that you can benefit from, and apply what you read to your life. Reading can make you happier and healthier!

 

The pandemic has reminded us of what is truly important in life, which is also the foundation of a minimalist lifestyle. This book shares how to find happiness in simplicity, and use minimalism to improve your health and relationships. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately, this book can help you eliminate unnecessary commitments and stress from your life, as well as bring more joy by celebrating the small things.

 

Self-care books can be cheesy, but this relatable read offers a refreshing and engaging experience. Written by a fellow millennial, the author is honest, and hilarious, as she guides you on a journey of self-love and acceptance with simple self-care rituals that have worked for her. For realistic advice to help you refine your daily routine, pick up this book and put her self-care practices to play!

 

Written by a psychotherapist, who is also a New York Times best-selling author, this book is for those who are curious about giving therapy a go. It gives you a behind-the-scenes look of what it’s like to be a therapist, and at the same time, places the therapist in the patient’s chair, opening you up to the process and importance of therapy. The book demystifies therapy, de-stigmatises mental health and humanises therapists in a witty and wonderful way.

 

Although this book is written for those who live in the US, the financial wellness advice from most chapters can be helpful for everyone and applied everywhere. It offers a friendly approach to finance, which can be a tough and intimidating topic, but this book manages to make the complex ideas easier to understand. Grab yourself a copy and you’ll be well on your way to financial literacy!

 

This anti-diet book dismantles diet culture and helps you reclaim your health. The author highlights how harmful diets are for our mental and physical health, and shares how to stop feeling guilty about eating, allowing us to enjoy food better. It promotes intuitive eating, which is when you listen to your body instead of society, and aims to heal unhealthy relationships with food for a healthier version of yourself!

FOMO.

A word that was trending several years ago, but is still more relevant than ever. How? It’s the reason why 40% of millennials overspend – literally just to keep up with trends, friends, and for instant gratifications. 

So a hard but necessary question would be: what is your current financial situation like? And is it creating financial anxiety? Nearly 30% of millennials from that same study said they feel uncomfortable saying ‘no’ when someone suggests something unaffordable.

But you don’t have to feel that way. Know that you can always regain control of your finances and that it can be as easy as listed below:

Set Boundaries

 

Practice Gratitude

 

Find Budget-friendly Alternatives

 

Pro Tips

Budgeting app, HeyAlfred, is here to help with this article!

 

Here’s a scary fact: did you know that more than 50% of Malaysians find it hard to raise RM 1,000 for emergencies? We all know we need to save money, but with rent, bills and day-to-day spending, saving money can sometimes take a back seat. However, it should be non-negotiable! Despite our financial commitments, having money set aside for emergencies and our future should be prioritised the same way as paying a bill – it HAS to be paid, on time, every month. If you’ve found yourself with some paltry sum in your bank account, scratching your head wondering where it all went this month, consider these steps:

 

Most financial advice will tell you to save 20% of your paycheck, but if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck and struggling to save – start with 5%. One way to do this is by automatically setting up a direct deposit of 5% every time your paycheck comes in. This way, you’re building the habit first and can increase the amount once you’re in a more comfortable position. You can automate your savings at the bank or through saving platforms like Pod (via the HeyAlfred app). You can also consider increasing your EPF contribution, which could help you get your employer to match it. 

 

If you don’t know how much money you CAN save, you need to create a monthly budget – it’s not as scary as it sounds! Most of the time, our inability to save comes from the habit of overspending. With a budget, you can determine your monthly fixed expenses and variable expenses. From there, you’ll be able to see where most of your money goes, and what you can cut down on. Start by making a list of what you’ve spent on last month, then based on those numbers, set a budget for next month. For example: if you spent RM800 on food last month, try to reduce next month’s food budget by a little, say, RM750. If that was doable, try reducing it a bit more next month. Your budget will take trial and error – keep on tweaking it until you get it right. You can read more about how to create a budget here.

 

When you separate the money you’re saving from the money you spend everyday, you won’t be tempted to spend it all. This makes sticking to your budget more fool-proof too! Put the amount you’re allowed to spend into a spending account and monitor it closely – if it’s dipping low, it’s a sign that you need to reel back on spending not reach into your savings. At the end of each month, transfer any extra money leftover from your spending or checking account into your savings account.

 

Anytime you have a little bit of money left, SAVE IT. Even if it’s just RM 1 or 50 sen – put it into your savings because believe it or not, it counts! Each increase in your savings will bring you closer to financial independence, and the younger you are, the MORE these little amounts count. Because of compound interest, the longer your money has to grow, the larger your returns will get.

 

Remember to put your money in a savings account that has a good interest rate (check out rates here). You can also look into property or other ways to invest your money and grow your savings. If you’re looking for a fun way to save, with accountability buddies, join HeyAlfred’s Simpan Challenge! Save RM 1,000 in a month and WIN cash rewards for a job well done. Join the challenge now.

 

NOTE: If you are struggling to follow these steps due to a low-paying job, or any unfortunate circumstances, saving money may take more work than what is listed here. This could involve taking on another side gig, or talking to the people at AKPK when facing serious debt.

Your self-care routine may currently look like curling up on the couch, after a long day of work, with a soothing scented candle on the side, a hearty cup of tea in one hand and a hilarious self-help book in the other. It could also involve a checklist of good habits you’re trying to incorporate into your daily routine, like not checking your phone right after you wake up or focusing on the rich flavours of the food you’re eating. What we tend to overlook when it comes to wellness is financial self-care – although we are well-aware of the stress and anxiety that stems from our finances.

Wellness focuses on our overall health and wellbeing, and that definitely includes our financial health. Having a financial self-care routine will not only benefit our finances, but it will also contribute to our happiness and overall wellbeing. After all, real self-care helps us reframe the situations we’re in to get to the root of our problems. It goes beyond feeling comfortable and digs deeper into healing in order to feel better afterwards.

It can be intimidating, and even embarrassing to confront our own finances, but by adding these good money habits to your self-care routines and checklists, you’ll be able to develop a better understanding of your finances and a healthier money mindset:

 

Write down the first few things that come to mind when you think about your finances. Ask yourself why you feel the way you do – it could come from a childhood experience, having student loan debt or recently seeing others lose their jobs. These fears can prevent us from taking control of our finances, so once you’re able to understand your limiting beliefs – you’ll know how to move forward and start organizing your finances.

 

Make it a habit to check your bank accounts often. Not being aware of where your money goes can cause a lot of frustration. By physically seeing your bank balance, and keeping track of your transactions, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions when it comes to spending. This habit will also allow you to catch any unusual transactions or unauthorized purchases before it’s too late. 

 

We all have financial goals. What do you aim to do with your money? You could want to repair one of your devices, pay off credit card debt, or save for a car. Note down these goals and break them into smaller steps that can be achieved daily or weekly – i.e. saving RM50 a week for 6 months. By constantly reviewing your progress, you’ll be able to ensure that you’re on the right track and be aware of any obstacles that could set you back.

 

Set boundaries when it comes to your money. With shopping being just an app away, it’s become much easier to spend money – ‘retail therapy’ now consists of browsing when we’re sad or happy. Either delete the apps or add the items to your wishlist (instead of your cart) and sleep on it. As with any impulse, see if you still want it badly the next day or in the following days.

 

We’re not saying you shouldn’t spend any money at all, you should always treat yourself – responsibly that is. Reward yourself for reaching your financial goals, but make sure you’ve made space in your budget for treats. This can motivate you to save more. Remember, wellness is all about balance – don’t feel bad about tending to your differing needs.

 

Unfortunately, since we didn’t learn financial literacy in school, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves. Most of us are actually clueless about money, not even receiving honest advice from our parents because it is a taboo topic. Make the effort to read, join free courses, and listen to podcasts – no, not to ‘get rich’, but to get a better understanding of how to manage your finances.

The longer we ignore our limiting money mindset and beliefs, the harder it’ll be for us to become financially stable, secure or free. You can avoid further stress and anxiety by finally stepping up and taking control of your finances.

 

We’ve connected with HeyAlfred to get the 411 on finance!

You know that feeling, when it’s almost the end of the month, but payday still seems so far away – you start mentally calculating how much you’ve spent and begin regretting that Friday night out or the time you #treatedyourself a bit too much during an online shopping spree. Some may even find it hard to sleep because their bills keep piling up, but believe it or not – for most of our adulthood, our anxiety surrounds our finances.

This is where budgeting helps.

Does the word ‘budget’ make you clench your teeth like that Chrissy Teigen GIF? You’re not alone. It does seem quite restrictive and requires too much commitment, like, “I’m just not looking for a relationship right now”.

But when you budget the right way, and customise it to your own personal choices, a budget can actually give you the freedom to spend without guilt – you won’t have to constantly worry about how the money you splurge on iced coffee could have gone to your credit card loans instead.

It’s a simple guideline for where your money goes every month, so you can enjoy your life even more. Woo!

What is a budget?

A budget is essentially a spending plan for your money – for whatever goal you have (saving for a holiday, paying off debt, early retirement etc), a budget can help you achieve it.

Having a plan will ensure that you have enough money to cover the things that you need, and are important to you. 

Note: never think you don’t have enough money for a budget! If you start budgeting the second you get your first pay check, you’ll be able to build a habit that will last your entire career. 

How do I create a budget?

One of the most popular ways to budget is the 50/30/20 method:

However, personal finance should always be personal – like skincare, the most common method may not work for you as an individual. So, if you can’t currently save 20% of your income, try starting with 10% or 5% and grow it from there.

The best thing to do when developing your budget is to test out different ways and then tweak them to suit your own lifestyle and goals.

How do I implement my budget?

First, start by tracking all of your expenses for the previous month – write down everything you’ve spent on or use an app like HeyAlfred to help with the tracking.

This will provide you with a better understanding of your spending patterns and habits: are you spending too much on something you don’t need? Are you putting aside money for savings every month? Don’t be afraid to look at your own spending – the more aware you are, the faster you’ll be able to make better decisions for your future. 

Next, set an amount for each category of spending (food, transport, bills, rent, gifts, subscriptions, entertainment) and from there, pinpoint the expenses you can do without.

Try out your new budget and don’t stress if it doesn’t work out the first few times! Maybe you find yourself constantly overspending on groceries (we, too, get carried away in the snack aisle) – is there anywhere else you can cut down on so your grocery budget can be increased? Adjust it accordingly.

How do I stick to my budget?

Consistency is key. Don’t set a budget that is too strict – start small and be kind to yourself. If you’re used to spending RM500 on eating out every month, it would be unrealistic to cut it down to RM0. While it’s good to challenge yourself, don’t set yourself up for failure either. 

To be consistent, you also have to enjoy the process, so put aside a budget for the things you like too!

Tip: Automate things like paying your bills – you can also automate your weekly savings via the HeyAlfred app.

How can HeyAlfred help?

HeyAlfred is a personalised financial tracking app that helps you save, budget and track your spendings.

It automatically tracks all of your spendings (across different bank accounts) and displays it on the dashboard – allowing you to see what you spend on by category. From viewing all your spending categories in one chart, you’ll be able to identify your habits and notice when you over spend.

HeyAlfred also dishes out budgeting and saving tips to help you stay on track of your financial wellness journey. From the data based on your personal spending, the chatbot Alfie will let you know when you’re close to going a little over budget. 

The latest version of the app lets you automate your savings (via their partner Pod), so you can easily save for any goal you have – there’s nothing like a well-planned savings goal for your next big adventure (or purchase) to reward yourself with.

Download HeyAlfred on the App Store or Google Play and take control of your finances today!

 

The COVID-19 crisis has caused an economic downturn with businesses being forced to either shut down or implement cost cutting measures that include pay cuts and layoffs. This has many employees living with the fear and anxiety of losing their jobs.

By creating an emergency fund, you’ll be able to financially prepare for any emergencies, such as unemployment, with a safety net to fall back on. Emergency funds can keep you covered during a time of need without having to depend on credit cards or high-interest loans. If you already have debt, this can help prevent you from accumulating more.

Ideally, an emergency fund should cover 6 months of your expenses, but during pressings times like these – here’s how you can start saving right away:

1. Calculate your expenses

It’s important to know where your money is going rather than wondering where every time you check your bank balance. Go through your recent account statements and create a spreadsheet that shows your daily, weekly and monthly expenses. This will help you understand your financial situation better.

2. See what you can cut out

As we’re not encouraged to eat out and saving travel costs by working from home – put aside what you would usually spend instead of using it to shop online (we know how tempting it is!). Find and cancel any unused paid subscriptions, as well as review your current plans, such as cellphone and insurance, to see if there’s a more cost-effective alternative.

3. Create a savings account

It’s easier to see, and not touch, your savings when it’s kept separately from what you spend. Open a savings account at the same bank or one that has a higher interest rate – it needs to be accessible in case of an emergency.

4. Set a savings goal

Moving forward, set a target for you to save daily, weekly and monthly to get into the habit of saving regularly. You’ll be able to see that even saving RM5 a day can amount to almost RM2,000 at the end of the year! This makes it more encouraging and easier to do.

It’s become more essential to start an emergency fund for both your financial stability and peace of mind. All you need are the right goals and a realistic plan to match!

Payday reminds us that it was worth it – waking up early, dealing with clients, rushing to meet deadlines, getting stuck in rush hour traffic. It has us wanting to celebrate our hard work with an extravagant night out or escape the stress with a relaxing getaway.

There’s nothing wrong with the occasional splurge and enjoying an indulgence that costs more than we’re used to, but when it happens too often – it can be harmful for our financial health. Especially during a global pandemic, financial planning has become crucial to our wellbeing. It requires us to be more mindful of our spending to support our financial goals.

Like we’ve mentioned before, self-care doesn’t only mean adding expensive cosmetics to your cart or booking a massage at a 5-star hotel – you can get the same satisfaction from simpler things like cooking with your partner or going for a hike with your friends. There are many ways to treat yourself after a long month of work, here are a few that won’t bust your budget:

  1. Shopping

Instead of buying new clothes, put on an episode of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo and get inspired to clean out your closet. Find joy in decluttering the rest of your home – donating or recycling the items you’ve chosen to part with it. You’ll feel satisfied and fulfilled, and have a serene space to unwind in.

2. Beach Holiday

With the amount of beautiful islands we have in Malaysia, it is tempting to take a trip out to paradise – but with the rising cases of coronavirus (and this unpleasant weather), it might be better to put plane rides on pause and dedicate a day to unplug and go outdoors. Catch some rays down by the pool or go hiking with your friends, you can get in touch with nature closer to home.

3. Gym Membership

Working out is an important part of self-care, but there are more affordable alternatives if you’re worried about breaking the bank. Get your heart rate up by going for a run around the neighbourhood or following one of the many free workout videos available online. Dancing in your bedroom also counts!

4. Date Night

We always want to spoil our loved ones, but it’s the most simple moments that often become priceless memories. Switch it up by cooking your partner a romantic meal or having them join you in the kitchen as a sous-chef. If you want a change of scenery, pack a lunch basket and head out for a picnic where you two can get some fresh air together.

Learn more about financial wellness here.

Wellness is more than skin deep

One of the biggest myths about self-care is that it’s a luxury. Don’t believe the hype. Wellness has been promoted as lavish spa treatments, expensive facial creams and exotic vacations, when in reality, it’s mundane activities like allowing yourself to sleep in on the weekends and unfollowing social media accounts that make you feel bad. Sure it can be pretty pricey to pay for a therapist, sign up for a gym and stock up on healthy food, but financial wellness isn’t how much you spend on wellness – it’s about the wellbeing of your finances.

It’s hard to feel good when your finances aren’t looking good. The stress can even take a toll on your health and unfortunately, some financial situations might make it hard to get help. Don’t beat yourself up when it comes to things you can’t control, but by being more diligent about money management and mindfully spending within your means – you’ll be able to improve your financial health and prepare for a rainy day or emergencies. This is especially the case in today’s climate as we face the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn to plan better

Contribute meaningfully to others

Once you have yourself and your family covered, it would be great to consider the community and those in need. You can allocate some of your finances for meaningful contributions (one-off or monthly) to charitable causes that you believe in – whether it’s geared to help those who are underprivileged, raise environmental awareness, find a cure or encourage the advancement of creative industries. The opportunities are plentiful and the choice is yours – go for a cause that reflects your passion and champion it! As Sam Smith’s Money On My Mind goes, “do it for the love – of yourself and others”.