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:
- Switch To Cash: leave your debit or credit card at home in order to not overspend; practicing this trick will help you learn how to budget, too! If you’re a frequent Grab user, then gentle reminder that you can switch to cash. When ordering food via the app, use your Grab Wallet as opposed to your card, so that you limit your spending and don’t give into cravings.
- Hold Yourself Accountable: Find someone (a friend, family member etc.) with similar financial goals as you, then support each other in smashing those goals. Knowing someone else will check in on you and your spending means you will feel more inclined to perform according to your goals.
- Prepare An Exit Strategy: If you know you’re meeting someone who will tempt you to overspend, prepare your exit strategy. Your exit strategy can even include your financial goal buddy! Alternatively, it can be as simple as saying that you need to leave without disclosing why.
- Cook More: Eating out or ordering takeaway is usually more expensive than cooking at home; not only that, but your gratitude for what you’re eating diminishes, too. When you prepare an entire meal for yourself, you will appreciate the meal more as you know the effort that went into creating the dish. You will know what each ingredient is as well and can use that knowledge to cultivate a healthy relationship with food. Bonus: here is a list of 7 quick recipe ideas courtesy of TikTok.
- Get Organised: Find time to organise your closet – you just may be surprised at what fashionable items you (re)discover. By sorting through your belongings, you will be able to appreciate just how much you already have. If what you (re)discover is not your vibe anymore, then set up a swap session with your gal pals. Leftover items can be donated to orphanages, refugee centres, or Uniqlo if that’s easier for you. The brand collects and distributes unwanted clothes to the underprivileged.
- Make Your Spa Treatments Less Frequent: By reducing your number of visits to the beauty parlour, you will start to genuinely cherish each visit as opposed to visiting out of habit. Switching up the frequency will ensure that whenever you do visit, you really feel like you’re treating yourself, too – not just getting another thing checked off your to-do list.
Find Budget-friendly Alternatives
- Utilise Lunch-sets: Most restaurants will provide set meals that typically include a drink or dessert with a main meal – especially if you visit during lunch hour or dinner time. Remember to utilise these promotions by taking time to check what’s on offer. If you don’t like what you see, just find a restaurant that offers what you do like. It’s as easy as that!
- Go Thrifting: By visiting thrift stores, you will not only support the local economy, but also slow fashion. Plus, by buying thrifted clothes, your outfit will 100% be more unique unlike fast fashion, every item is (usually) one-off. OkGo in Subang is known for its hip selection, although it’s on the pricier side of the thrifting spectrum.
- Treat Yourself, At Home: Most of what is on offer at a beauty parlour can be replicated at home. After learning how to perfect an at-home manicure and/ or pedicure, you will be shocked at how much you can save! If you prefer massages, then you need to try an Ayuverdic abhyanga massage which incorporates warm oil.
- Host A Potluck: Visiting aesthetic cafes and restaurants can be fun, but gathering at home over a potluck is always more intimate. Pro tip: if you and your friends drink, make it a ‘bring your own booze’ (BYOB) potluck.
- Go To Events: Free events, even during the CMCO, exist. Better yet, viewing art can help your mental health. Pro tip: follow The Art Seni on Instagram for updates on free art exhibitions.
- Explore Nature: If you haven’t explored the jungles of Malaysia, then the fact that it’s a free activity may incentivise you. Pro tip: Taman Tugu is ideal for beginners and most importantly, extremely Instagramable.
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:
- 50% of after-tax income on needs (groceries, transportation, housing, utilities, insurance)
- 30% of after-tax income on wants (eating out, hobbies, shopping)
- 20% of after-tax income on savings and investments
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.
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
- Being aware of what you have can truly empower you. Knowing how much money you have in your bank account can help you better manage what goes towards your expenses, such as bills, spend (your wants and desires) and savings – this can ultimately help you monitor your finances and identify how to improve it.
- Decide what your goal targets are for each category and stick to it – it’s better to be realistic in your targets, than idealistic, to make it more achievable.
- Create a yearly budget to track your expenses – there are a lot of tools that can help you with that, which we’ll share in future stories.
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”.