Since I’ve announced to the entire world that I aim to save my first RM15k as an emergency fund, let me be transparent all the way lah regarding the current status of my emergency fund goal. And here’s my first update, tadaaaa~
RM8k say whaaat? Yeay!! To see that I’ve managed to put aside RM8,101.00 in 4 months, haaa it feels surreal! Because I still remember few months back thinking that there’s no way I could ever save such amount of money. Heck, I even feel impossible now to save the balance RM6,899.00. But the figure speaks for itself, I did it! And I will do it more.
[Update: Yes I did more! The Day I Saved My First RM10,000]
If there’s anyone like me here who’s just starting out and feels the way I feel now, hang in there. We can do this. I would love to share the practical ways that have worked for me so far, and also some ways that I’ve tried but just didn’t work.
Ways to save money that work for me
1. The cliche but oh-so-true pay yourself first
Before this, everytime I read a financial article recommending me to pay myself first, I’d sigh “Ahh not this one again“. But it’s true though. Very true. So now as cliche as it sounds, once I get my salary, I’ll put aside a portion of money for emergency fund the same way I allocate money for other expenses.
I admit it’s easier said than done. My initial efforts to apply this failed miserably because I tend to use or take out the money halfway for some hanky panky purposes. What started as a hopeful month tumbled into a downward spiral of self frustration and regret.
Now I think I’ve figured it out. Here’s the methods that I adopt to stop myself from touching those savings.
- First, have a proper budget plan so you know what your expenses throughout the month are.
- Secondly, be realistic with the amount that you want to save. So as not to discourage myself month after month, I no longer set aside a huge sum too early in the month. I only save a portion that I think is reasonable so I can stick to it.
- Thirdly and finally, don’t forget to set aside some fun money too so you’re not inclined to touch your savings.
It’s not easy, but it’s possible. Trust me.
2. 52-week savings challenge
So I made a list of the amount of money to save every week for 2020; the lowest sum being RM2 which keeps increasing by RM2 every week until it comes up to RM104 by the 52nd week. Instead of following the standard challenge to save by week in sequence, I save according to my means on that particular week. For example, if I have extra money this week, I’d save more. If I spend too much, perhaps for any activity of the week, I’d save less.
It has personally became a fun weekly routine for me. This challenge works great in combination with my methods of paying myself first because this way, I’m being realistic with my expenses and savings. I can constantly assess my money state and save some. No more self disappointment in the middle of the month. Instead, dopamine gets released each time I highlight the weekly sum saved. Win win.
3. No buy challenge
If there’s one way that really skyrockets my savings progress – it’s my no buy year journey. Like seriously. It cuts a lot of unnecessary expenses and most importantly, I no longer dig into my savings just to shop.
Please give no buy challenge a try. Perhaps you can’t commit for a whole year, so try it for a month. Or a week. Whatever works for you. I promise you can see the difference, especially if you’re a shopaholic. Extra money every month, who don’t want that? Ka-ching!
4. Put aside work claims and bonuses
If your line of work involves travelling, outstation or site work, pretty sure you’ll have weekly or monthly work claims. This is a precious way to save money for me – I don’t touch my claims money (started this year lah, all this while I spent kaw kaw)!
Most times, I would get repaid more than my actual expenses due to a higher milleage rate and allowance for interstate business trips. Usually, around RM150+ per month and during the good times (which are also tiring because that means I travel more), I can get up to RM700+. All into savings!
Well as for bonus, it is a bonus. Especially if you manage to get one this year, be super grateful – money falling from sky! It’s nice to get ourselves gifts and treat others with it but don’t forget to save some for rainy days.
Ways to save money that don’t work for me
1. Save the green notes
It’s simple, put aside RM5 everytime you get it. I did this before but I don’t fancy it. Granted, I did get to save money. In fact, I managed to use the RM5 saved last year (in total around RM500 over a year or less) as duit raya and raya related expenses.
But oh man, the headache and the mini anxiety I got every time I was on cash transactions with the cashiers. Please don’t give me five ringgit, please no five ringgit. That’s the internal prayer I had throughout the year. Not fun! So I’m ditching this for good.
But perhaps, this may work for you. Depends. Also, it’s not just RM5. It can be RM1 or RM10 or RM20 or even coins, no problem.
2. Daily saving challenge
Same as above, too much headache. I had to think about it every day, some days I missed which caused distress. Some days especially near salary time, I just couldn’t save. Naturally after awhile, I gave up. Hard to keep track every day, I prefer the weekly saving challenge.
The bottom line is…
Find what works (and what don’t) for you. There are so many practical ways and tips out there, we just have to find out what works for us. Personally, I realised that I don’t like any rigid and tedious plans to save money. I don’t want to think about it every single day. So I apply what works for me which mostly don’t feel much like a chore.
Here are some articles on ways and tips to save money:
- 7-step plan to building an emergency fund, even if you’re starting from scratch – Business Insider Malaysia
- 50 Ways to Save Money in Malaysia, From Easy to Impossible – Ringgit Oh Ringgit
- 8 Creative Ways for Malaysians to Save Money in 2019 – gobear
- Fun Ways to Save Money – RinggitPlus
- 11 Money Saving Challenges (The Quick & Painless Way to Save Money) – Living Lowkey
Truth is it can be intimidating to take the first step in building our emergency fund. I’ve to remind myself so many times to not be discouraged seeing other people’s milestones, to just follow my own pace. So that’s what I’m doing. One step at a time to figuringgitout.