Sunday 25 July 2021

Living paycheck to paycheck | How to break free from that

Living pay-check to pay-check is the life of many especially so for lower and middle income families where bill payments, food and necessities can empty the pay check the moment it comes. Living pay-check to pay-check is a problem if you are spending unnecessarily or just have the urge to empty your account the moment money comes in, for those who are living pay check to pay-check but know that you can afford to save from it, here are some tips that I have been using.

Of course, every individual has different situation but like to share on some tips on how I save almost 50% of my take home pay every month with some conditions that not everyone might have started out with example I did not have any education debt and I am currently staying with my family at the ripe old age of 26 years old so my monthly expenses are usually kept to a minimal. All right so let's get to it.

Automate your money and to an account that is not easily seen or accessible + Build an emergency fund

Automating my funds really helped me a lot to segregate what I want to save and what I spend. In the beginning few months of receiving my salary, I wasn't aware that you were able to set up standing instructions on the account that receives your salary and I was manually transferring it monthly. It was really tedious having to keep track and log in to do the transfer. Automating it has helped a lot and the money just disappears at a certain time that you set Poof!

Beside automating the funds, I also saw a difference in how the accessibility of the account affects if you will spend the funds that you are trying to save. In Singapore, a DBS/POSB account is what everyone has and it is really accessible with ATMs and even ibanking login + paynow connected to it. When I first started receiving my salary, I saved my money in a DBS account and I was able to easily see the amount as it was together with my paynow account and made me spend easily. I decided to then automate the money to a Standard Chartered account where I would put the app all the way at the last page of my apps and also since Standard Chartered was not connected to my paynow account and has few ATMs in Singapore, I was able to build up my emergency funds at a faster rate as the money was out of sight practically.

Living to pay-check to pay-check can be frightening when you realise you have sudden expenses where you will need a sum of money but you do not have it, for example if you got into an accident and have to pay the medical bills first or if your phone gets damaged and you need a new one for communication, this can be scary hence to prevent that, you should build up an emergency fund. This allows you to have a buffer in case of any unexpected expenses like if you feel unwell and need to visit the doctor urgently.

Ask yourself before spending each time, try to make your own if possible + make a budget

For the above habit, I think it takes awhile to cultivate it because even at times I am not able to control my impulses or urge. For example, we tend to get attracted to time limited offers or promotions but if we actually sit down and think about if we really need that item, I wouldn't think we would go ahead and buy it. There will be times when you need them then that's great! But most of the time, I ask myself if it is a want or a need before purchasing it.

Having a budget helps for some whereas it doesn't help like for me. If I do set a budget, I find myself trying to hit that budget and it's crazy because I might spend lesser but due to having that budget in mind, I will spend to hit it. Sounds crazy but if you need a guide or a budget to work with your spending habits, go ahead and set a budget.

Rewards and treats are all right especially if it's the weekend, just don't make these spending become too frequent. A cup of bubble tea per week, I guess it's fine.

Look through your monthly expenses and look for areas to cut

This is a really important point, if you have your credit card bills, look through them and see where your largest spending is at? Food or entertainment? For me, it is food because I do not spend much during weekdays and so the weekends, if I do go out, food is usually what I spend on. There could be some recurring purchases you have that you do not need for example, I previously had an free one year Apple TV subscription as I bought a Apple product. In the end, I didn't find the subscription to be worth it if I were to continue as I was not watching any of the shows in it. It is important to check your bills as most subscription requires you to manually cancel it before the trial period is up otherwise they will auto charge you the subscription fees. Some people might tend to forget to cancel such subscription after the trial period and in the long run it can build up to be a substantial amount if you do not look through your bills.

If you tend to spend a lot on Grab for both their ride-hailing and food delivery services, you can adopt methods to reduce spending on them. Grab fees adds up because of the various charges involved. I do not use Grab often but I do know that they have a small order charge, delivery fees and platform fee which will build up after some time. It is going to be difficult to cut it off suddenly so maybe you can limit yourself to ordering it Monday, Wednesday and Fridays (eg 3X a week) and slowly cut down from there.

Stay with your parents or rent a place with your friends to incur lower costs

This is a huge factor on why I can save so much, being able to live with your parents can really reduce your expenses by a whole lot. I give allowances to my mother but I am sure it is not enough right now to cover the expenses completely but I give what I can. Staying with your parents has a lot of benefits and so does not staying with them. It really depends on your family's circumstances and interaction. My family tends to cook at home rather than buy food outside so in a way that really saves a huge part because groceries shopping is usually done weekly and doesn't really add up to much.

If you do prefer having your own space, consider renting with your friend or try splitting the cost rather than covering it all by yourself. In this way, you will be able to cook and save as cooking one portion can be rather difficult at times.


Of course, having said so much, there are many ways you can cut down on your expenses but ultimately, you want to find sustainable ways that does not trade your health just to save a small sum eg eating processed cheap food for the long term which will incur health issues and break the bank in the long run. Everyone definitely has different methods and hope you guys enjoyed my sharing of the ways I save more. Do you guys have any other tips as well? You can share them with me in the comments section below.

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