6 things I did to instantly increase my savings rate by 40%

Photo by PiggyBank Canada on Unsplash

1. Cancel or lower any unused subscription

Subscriptions might not come off as a big expense to you when you’re performing your monthly budgeting but it could come off as a pretty big sum if you were to add it all up to a year. For example, I had previously subscribed to Netflix, and most of the time, it’s often being unused unless there is a movie date night with my partner. Since it was only used once a week between the both of us, we’ve managed to source an alternative option to watch movies online.

2. Make full use of employee benefits

Another great way to increase your savings rate or reduce your expenses is to make full use of the benefits your full-time job employer provides. For most US citizens, maximizing your 401(k) matching immediately provides you with a double on your savings rate! This means that your employer is able to contribute a certain amount to your retirement savings plan based on the amount of your annual contribution. It’s literally free money! Hence, likewise for Malaysians here, making regular contributions of the standard 11% of your income to your Employees Provident Fund (EPF) while your employer equally contributes an additional 12% to 13% of your income to your EPF helps to increase your savings rate as well! With the recent option to decrease your contribution to 9% since January 2021, it would be an unwise decision to opt for it if you’re able to cover your basic expenses. Don’t neglect it even if you’re a part-timer on the side. Employers are also required to make their contributions to part-timers as well.

3. Utilizing your credit card benefits

Not knowing how to fully utilize your credit card benefits is what I think is highly underrated. But of course, it comes with a disclosure that you are a responsible person with your debts. Have you ever wondered how some travel bloggers or Youtubers can literally travel for free just by utilizing their credit cards? A more common term used would be travel hacking. It does not involve hacking into computers or data servers. It means making the most of the rewards that credit cards, airlines, and hotels have to offer. The end goal however remains the same — saving money. However, what if you could use the same method but for daily use expenses to keep costs low?

4. Learning how to cook

My guess is, most people in one way or another have learned how to cook ever since the pandemic hit and lockdowns were implemented worldwide. Why not continue this habit and avoid dining out or ordering in as it would cost you much more? Increasing your savings rate by learning simple recipes on how to cook in 5 to 10 minutes are considerable ways you can use to prep a meal. Usually, healthy options such as oatmeal, salad, and vegetarian spaghetti are solutions that do not cost you much while providing most of the nutrients you need. Since I don’t work from home, eating at home for lunch was definitely not a sensible thing but taking home-cooked food to work is definitely an option that is a lot more viable. So, I bought an electric lunch box where I was able to keep my food warm and reheat it before having it. By doing so, it could help you to save at least an additional 10% of your income.

5. Carpool or “rent”

A significant portion of expenses one usually has is transportation. I’ve made it clear in my early 20s that I would not own a car as I knew that owning a new car would have required me to forgo the opportunity cost of investing and compounding it for another 30 years which comes up to 7 times the initial cost of owning a car! You’re probably thinking. “But how do I get about?”. If you’re currently staying in a huge city area with efficient public transportation, then that’s the way to go. Another way would be to car pool. If you have friends or colleagues that are heading towards the same location, ask to carpool. Another way would be to “rent” from family or friends who has an extra car if they’re willing to. That’s where your negotiating skills comes to play. Since the pandemic, my brother has been working from home and has not used his car since except for some weekends. So I offered to pay for the maintenance of his car and to upkeep his car in return for using his car during the weekdays to travel to work knowingly that he rarely uses his car.

6. Living with family/outside the city

This might be uncomfortable or egoistic for some, but I don’t think that there is anything to be ashamed of for living with your family. Well, unless it gets too crowded or it might not be ideal for a couple with a growing family. Apart from that, if there aren’t any significant reason to stay alone or rent an entire place to yourself, the added benefits of living with family would be shared expenses. The same applies to rental whereby if you were to rent a smaller bedroom from a 3 bedroom house, rental cost can shared among 3 people. An additional tip to consider if you are blessed to be able to work from home, consider moving to lower cost of living areas or areas outside of the city.

Conclusion

Although these are only ways of how to decrease your expenses, I’ll share later on, how you can also increase your savings rate by increasing your income. Don’t forget that the sole purpose for you to decrease your expenses is not to splurge on other unnecessary things but to invest for the long-term or to save up for an emergency fund. But do remember to reward yourself with something nice (a fixed intentional saving) for small milestones you’ve achieved that doesn’t make a huge blow on your savings rate. An additional reminder, don’t be penny wise but pound foolish. For example, I don’t save on insurance. While some might not like to purchase insurance (medical card) or paying additional premium for the coverage you need, the last situation you want to be in is to have all of your savings you have accumulated to be wiped out or spent on medical emergencies or high cost surgical fees where your life is on the line. Hope you’ve find these tips useful and on your way to achieve Financial Independence!

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Financial journey to a $100K

Financial journey to a $100K

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Writes about my personal journey towards reaching my first 100k, lessons learnt & what newbies that are getting started with their finances can learn about.