Are you checking your bank balance, and wondering why after a few years of earning a rather decent paycheque, your stash in the bank doesn’t seem to be growing? Assuming you’re not putting a sizeable sum every month into investments or paying off your student loans, a stagnant bank account is a sign that you may be spending above your means.
Here are some money guzzlers to be aware of, from the biggest and most obvious, to the smaller insidious ones.
While it’s still uncommon in Singapore, renting is something that some young adults think about (and do) when they start earning a decent paycheque. The independence, privacy, and even convenience can be so alluring.
But, renting costs at least $500 a month and above for a single room in a shared flat far from the city centre, so you may not have the privacy you crave for, much less convenience. And, renting a small apartment by yourself, or shared, in a more central location can set you back anywhere form $1500 to $3000.
It makes more economic sense to put aside more than a thousand dollars a month as savings or investment and contribute to owning your very own property in future. You can always choose to rent eventually when your salary allows you more breathing space.
The car is probably the highest expense you can ever incur as a young adult. It’s not just paying for the car, but also the petrol, taxes, maintenance, ridiculous parking charges, and ERP. Let’s not even go into how you’re still late because you were stuck in traffic and couldn’t find a parking spot.
Taking all that into consideration, your total cost of owning a car is a lot scarier than you think, especially when you compare to the alternatives. To put things into perspective, parking you car in the CBD area for half a day could easily make you $20 poorer, and that’s the cost of about 10 MRT rides.
But if you must absolutely drive, you can reduce your petrol costs significantly if you pay with a credit card with good petrol promotions, such as the HSBC Visa Platinum Credit Card.
Designer, Bespoke, Artisanal
Think you’re not spending too much on designer garb just because you’re not cashing out on Chanel and Prada?
It’s not just the top-end brands that are taking away your hard-earned money. These days, it’s anything with the words “niche”, “artisanal” or “bespoke”. You may think that you’re standing out from the crowd without shelling out thousands, but it’d quickly rake up if you decide on that $250 tie from a bespoke tailor $300 for a bottle of artisanal fragrance, and the list goes on.
“Investing” in your work wardrobe
This is a rather common trap and it isn’t unheard of for young adults to spend a fortune on the work wardrobe, some even before their first paycheque.
Fake it till you make it?
We beg to differ. Frankly, unless you’re in a profession that places a ton of weight on how you dress (in this case you better hope your salary justifies it), the truth is… nobody cares.
You don’t have to make it through weeks without repeating your outfit, and chances are you can still make it in life with a limited wardrobe.
For the best example, look at Steve Jobs. Not convinced? Check out Steve Job’s work wardrobe over a decade.
Set a limit to either the number of new pieces of clothing you can buy, or a budget. And when you do shop, make sure you use a credit card that gives you a cash rebate or rewards points, such as the Citibank Rewards Credit Card that allows you to earn 10X rewards at the same time when you shop. Also, tell your friends about your issue and do spot checks on each other. There’s a good chance that you have a friend that needs some help too.
Expensive, or one too many vacations
Made it through the list and gloating about how none of these applies so far? Are you, perhaps, the experiential spender?
Travelling is great and enriches your mind and spirit. But if you haven’t been saving much money, then perhaps a week off to see the ruins of Angkor Wat is a lot more feasible than two weeks in the Greek Islands.
If travelling is your poison, then get a credit card that earns you miles so you may eventually earn yourself a free ticket. For example, the American Express KrisFlyer Gold Card, it welcomes new cardholders with a 5,000 bonus miles! Plus other fringe like a complimentary Gold Changi Rewards Membership, and travel insurance can absolutely save a chunk of your budget significantly. Also, explore cheaper accommodation options on sites like AirBnB so you’re burning less cash than on a hotel.
Ultimately, strike a deal with yourself. If you plan to travel a lot, then travel cheap.
Almost every young professional falls for the cab trap. Working late? Cab. Heading home after a night out? Cab.
Five late night cab rides could easily set you back by more than $100, that’s about 20 lunches at the food court. Take your work home if you need to work late, and take a cab only when you absolutely need to.
Set a small “emergency cab fund” and once you’ve used it all, there’s no replenishing till the next month.
Food and the “occasional” after-work drinks
We get it that you’ve worked hard and don’t see anything wrong with the occasional drinks and fancy meal. But making this a weekly habit (or even more) can easily mean hundreds of dollars going down the drain.
What’s more insidious is checking out that new ramen place for lunch with your colleagues, so every day is a day of indulgence, whether big or small.
Don’t be embarrassed to say that you’re on a budget and suggest a place you’re comfortable with. True friends understand.
Remember how keeping fit meant going for a jog and doing sit-ups? The good news is, running around your neighbourhood is still free.
If you’re lazy, the only exercise you’re getting for paying close to $200 a month is an exercise in coming up with excuses not to go. If you’re really serious about your exercise, check out the community centres, which have good gyms too.
Or, another way to hack it is to check out whether your credit cards do provide such benefits. For instance the DBS Woman MasterCard® Card gives its cardholders complimentary access to selected True Fitness and True Yoga. The only downside of this is that it’s an exclusive card for ladies.
If you’re serious about cutting down your expenses and want to find out the evil little culprits that are quietly guzzling your money, track your expenses diligently with a free mobile app and generate a report at the end of the month.
Good luck and happy saving!
For more financial tips and tricks to optimise your financial lifestyle, visit imoney.sg and learn all the best moves to make with your money.
Want the best financial deals in town delivered to your inbox once a month? Sign up for iMoney’s Monthly Round-Up today!