The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life as we know it - and it can definitely be a lot to adjust to. From worldwide travel restrictions to facing an oncoming global economic crisis, many of us have had to rethink not just our daily lives, but even long-term commitments such as weddings, new houses, or planning for that huge once-in-a-lifetime trip. ?
While the going may be rough right now, we can still make the best of our situation by taking this as an opportunity to relook at our finances and see how we can plan ahead. Whether you're building up your emergency fund or putting aside money for a post-pandemic vacation getaway, we hope that these 12 easy tips will help you save up over the next few months. ?
1. Secure your finances first
During a period of uncertainty, your entire life can get shaken up. Saving for a trip can feel like a luxury you don't even have time to think of when you have to balance everyday necessities and emergency savings for a rainy day. ? Some of us may also face unemployment, pay cuts, or stagnant wages that will force us to live more frugally.
Make sure that your income and savings are secure before moving onto bigger dreams - lookout for government initiatives and safety nets that are applicable to you. Singapore and Malaysia have both announced stimulus packages to help individuals, families, and companies tide through this period. Some banks are also lowering their interest rates for savings and deposit accounts, so check with your bank to see if anything's changed!
P.S. If you are financially stable, you can also consider helping others out by donating to any of these community-led initiatives in Malaysia and Singapore. ☺️ Giving back to others is always worth it!
2. Start with everyday savings
Be sure to check-in with necessities such as utilities (e.g. electricity and water) and other regular payments (e.g. car insurance, mobile phone bills, and memberships) to see if there are any rebates or temporary suspension options that will let you pause payments in the case of an emergency, or cancel your account without additional charges. Every small amount counts, especially as we don't know how long this pandemic will last.
Use this time to relook your everyday expenditure too - were you spending too much on taxis or transport before? Or maybe eating out was burning a hole in your pocket. That gym membership that's costing you $75 a month may not seem worth it either when you can buy a pair of weights for $10 that will last you forever! ?️♀️ Scaling back on what we once considered 'essentials' is a necessity at the moment, but it can also help us bring about long-term change by making us consider what we really need in our lives.
#HHWT Tip: Cut down on your gym fees and switch to these 8 easy ways to keep fit while staying indoors!
3. Track your expenditure and expenses
Credit: You Need A Budget
If you haven't been tracking your expenditure and savings before, now's also a good time to start! Find a method that's perfect for you, whether that's a physical journal, a desktop spreadsheet, or apps such as You Need A Budget (34-day free trial available). If you have any debt payments, or credit cards, make sure to keep track of your necessary payments too. Try to prioritize clearing your debts first - there are several approaches to this, but you can look at these methods to find one that suits you.
4. Create a dedicated travel savings account
The clearest way to see how much you've saved is by setting up a separate account solely for your travel fund. That way, you can see what goes in and out of your account and track your progress easily. It's one of the best ways to keep yourself accountable, so you can't sneakily use it for your personal expenses or impulse purchases like getting that new pair of shoes you found online. ?
5. Set realistic and achievable goals
Credit: Santorini Park Cha-Am on Facebook
During a pandemic or economic depression, our goalposts for what is 'realistic' will definitely shift. That 3-week long European honeymoon may be out of reach right now - but how about changing it to nearby destinations that are just as romantic such as these 10 resorts in Janda Baik or European-themed getaways in Southeast Asia? You don't have to travel far to get a meaningful and memorable experience, and this is a great chance to explore your own backyard and see more of the region. ?
If you still want to explore further destinations such as Europe, Central Asia or the Americas then you can definitely find a leaner budget to suit your needs. ? Options such as backpacking or off-season travel can help cut down on expenses, and you can always use budget-friendly itineraries - such as this 6D5N Seoul-Jeju itinerary under RM2500!
#HHWT Tip: Keep an eye on currency prices over the next few months. With a global recession predicted, this might be a good chance to purchase overseas currency for future trips.
6. Set aside money every day
Whether it's 50 cents or 10 dollars, setting aside some spare change from your everyday spending adds up to quite a bit! If you want to be more disciplined about it, set a specific amount to set aside daily - even setting aside $5 a day can get you almost $900 in half a year. It doesn't have to be a lot, but it will eventually add up. Get your travel buddies in on it and see who gets to save up the most after a couple of months - a little competition definitely helps with the motivation to save. ?Who knows, you might even form a new money habit that'll continue after you've taken your trip!
P.S. If you're planning a group trip, set your financial expectations early so that everyone understands what budget you're working with. Check out more tips for travelling with friends here to help you avoid any unnecessary conflicts or arguments!
7. Sell your stuff
Clothing, books, accessories, home decor - if you're planning on decluttering your home why not make some money out of it too. ? Carousell is a good place to start for all kinds of items, or if you're looking to unload pre-loved clothes specifically you can look for local brands such as Refash. As a general rule, items are suitable to be resold if they are still in good condition with little to no stains, tears, or weird odours. If your item has some minor discolouration, stains, or other imperfections do state these in the description and be honest with potential buyers.
8. Switch to home cooking
It seems like everyone's decided to take up cooking and baking while they're stuck at home. ? Not only are these helpful (and tasty!) life skills, but in the long run, it can save you money to cook your own meals. Whether you're making a cup of your own coffee or doing meal prep for the week ahead, you might find yourself saving $10 a meal by deciding not to eat out! Cooking your meals for the week can also help you reevaluate your grocery spending by planning ahead.
If you're a complete beginner, these 10 essential cooking tips will help you get started on your culinary journey. Don't worry if you don't have fancy equipment such as bread or pasta makers, or standing mixers - these 6 easy bread recipes are a good starting point, as well as these 10 easy recipes your family will love! You can also try out these 10 easy Korean recipes if you're craving some japchae noodles or kimchi fried rice. ?
#HHWT Tip: If you can't or don't want to cook for every meal, try to stagger your delivery throughout the week so that you don't get into a habit of ordering in. Delivery costs can be pricey and they can add up over time without realizing! Check out more recipes here to start building your meal plan depository so you can aim for that delivery-free life. ?
9. Ask for travel gift cards
Get your friends and family in on your travel saving adventure before your next birthday or a big celebration, and don't be shy to ask for travel gift cards, discount vouchers or even, cash to contribute to your travel fund! Day tours on sites such as Klook or Kkday are more affordable now, and small amounts can quickly add up to help you create the trip of your dreams. ?
10. Look for travel deals and promo codes
Many of us have love-hate relationships with e-newsletter subscriptions - we love the promo codes they include, but they can be annoying if they fill up your inbox! Still, most airlines, travel agencies, and tour/activity providers sometimes have exclusive codes for newsletter subscribers. ? So click that subscribe button, and to avoid being spammed all day you can direct these newsletters into a separate folder in your inbox for some dedicated bargain hunting. Look out for more ways to save up on trip essentials here!
Make sure to get those offline offers too - ranging from travel fairs to credit card deals! Major airlines such as Singapore Airlines, AirAsia, and Malaysia Airlines often have tie-in's with credit card companies in both Singapore and Malaysia so you can earn air miles as you spend. Hotel chains may also have similar offers so if you have a favourite hotel brand you can lookout for ways to earn more membership points as you travel.
P.S. These points/rewards systems are usually a more long-term reward as you'll have to earn them as you spend or travel - but the sweet success of redeeming a business-class upgrade can be worth the wait. ?
11. Do odd jobs or freelance (if you can)
If you have training in skills such as cooking, writing, or video editing (and some extra time) you can look out for small jobs to help supplement your main income. Instagram has become a popular place for freelancers to showcase their craft and find new clients, but you can also look for short-term or contract jobs on regular job sites. Gig economy jobs such as Grab food are also super flexible but you might not be earning a substantial amount through them.
12. Develop your skills long-term
If you can, take this chance to sign up for free online classes to upgrade your skills or learn something new! Not only can this open up new side avenues for income (e.g. freelance writing) but it'll help keep you relevant to the job market in the long run which is especially important during an economic crisis. Plan ahead and strengthen your skillset and it'll help you tide through the oncoming tough times!
The next few months are sure to be uncertain for many of us, but by planning ahead and keeping a careful eye on our spending, we can try our best to weather through the storm. ? Hopefully, in time to come, we'll be able to start travelling again and crossing new destinations off our bucket list!