If you’re like me, growing up in an Asian household meant memorizing multiplication tables, learning the value of hard work (by doing chores for free), and listening to relatives provide updates on where to get the best deals on gas and oranges.
Nothing feels as good as buying something on sale, and you must always eat that last grain of rice in your bowl. We grew up in a culture where wastefulness is a crime and saving money is an Olympic Sport.
As I’ve grown up and gone through new seasons of school, work, relationships, and everything in between, I’ve attempted to make this saving culture my own — by finding effective ways to flex those saving muscles. Maybe you have too.
It’s not about being cheap, but rather about making sure you’re using what you have well.
So whether you’re saving for a new purse, big vacation, the latest gadget, or to pay off loans, we have five tips to help you save even more money:
1. On sale doesn’t mean you need it
You didn’t need that orange polka-dot jacket when it was $500 and you still don’t need it when it’s $350.
We have a tendency to compromise for sales — settling for the wrong size, forgoing our preferred colour, buying produce we don’t know how to cook, and purchasing things we didn’t (and still don’t) need.
The thrill of the sale can easily lead to unnecessary spending. Check yourself before every purchase, especially if it’s spontaneous. Will you really use it, wear it, eat it, or enjoy it as if it were full price?
In the end, that unused jacket is worth $0.
2. Track your spending
You think you know, but you have no idea. Bank and budget apps exist to help you understand where your money is actually going. We typically remember big purchases like furniture and recurring costs like phone bills, but neglect those nagging small-value high-volume transactions.
Tracking your spending, even if for a month, will give you valuable insight on your habits and help you make adjustments — even if it means drinking less bubble tea.
3. Make it auto
Out of sight, out of mind, right? Setting up auto-deposits into a savings or investment account will help keep discretionary funds from getting tangled in your savings. Build the habit of formal saving at regular intervals to help you stay on track with your goals and learn how to operate with a smaller, needs-based budget.
After setting up the amount and intervals, it’s hassle-free, stress-free and pain-free. You’ll be surprised by how quickly small deposits add up.
4. Buy differently
Given much of our world is in crisis mode over resources like water, precious metals, lumber, and oil, we need to rethink the status quo and assess alternatives.
Rather than buying cheap no-name Ziploc bags, consider a small Tupperware, or a glass or bamboo container. What about buying from local, organic, ethical, and sustainable brands?
Having fewer quality-made products might just pay off. Remember that buying cheap isn’t always cheaper in the long run.
5. B.Y.O …
Going to the gym? Bring a towel. Going for a potluck? Cook at home instead of take-out. Need a Halloween costume? Borrow one.
Bring your own, do your own, and make your own — whenever possible. Sometimes it’s easier to take out “buying” from the equation; not to mention it can be a win-win for your wallet and the planet.
Remember that saving isn’t just about bragging to your parents about the latest cheap deal you find. It’s about balancing what works for you and your budget goals, however you choose to define them.
So if you’re looking to embrace your inner-overachieving Asian with better saving goals, this list should get you off to a good start!
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