*contributed collaborative post
As many people have observed throughout history, it’s really difficult to imagine ever having “too much money.”
No matter what your particular situation is in life, whether you’re single, or have a family who depends on you, it’s inevitable that you will find yourself feeling – at least sometimes – that it would really be great if you’d have a bit more income, and a few less expenses.
When all is said and done, there are things in life which are “nice,” or “good” but that don’t really matter in any significant way, in the grand scheme of things. Then, on the other hand, there are those things which really do matter, and which will have a major impact on the course and quality of your life as a whole.
There are many things that you can do to try and free up money in your life, or find new sources of income. You could look at HDB resale transaction prices, and involve yourself in property trading, for example. Or, you could pick up a second job, or angle for a promotion.
Ultimately, though, the money you earn should serve a purpose, and shouldn’t just all go towards aimless entertainment.
Here are some tips for freeing up more money for the things that matter most.
Get “zero-based” with your budget, and follow an “envelopes” system
There are more or less as many different budgeting systems and techniques out there, as there are stars in the night sky.
Some of these are based around you dedicating a certain percentage of your monthly income to particular categories (such as 50% to essential living expenses, 30% to future savings, and 20% to pleasurable expenses), some are based on more nuanced formulae, and just about all of them are mind-numbingly irritating to follow.
A “zero-based” budget is also, unfortunately, very difficult to follow if you’re using an old-fashioned pen and paper budgeting system. However, thanks to some of the cutting-edge new budgeting tools out there today, such as You Need A Budget, a zero-based budgeting system can be surprisingly straightforward to implement.
To cut a long story short, a zero-based budgeting system is a system where you “assign every dollar a job” (in the words of the creators of YNAB), and where all of your income is accounted for. In other words, a zero-based budgeting system is a system where you only budget once you actually have money in your bank accounts, and then you ensure that all of that money is committed to some purpose or another.
Using a zero-based budgeting system can work like magic in terms of helping you to free up some money for the things that really matter in life. For one thing, a zero-based budgeting system keeps you completely aware of what’s happening with absolutely all of your money, and forces you to mindfully assign each penny to a particular budget category.
This, in turn, forces you to reflect on what those “meaningful” categories really are, and also ensures that your budget is always practical and current, rather than hypothetical.
To really get the most out of your zero-based budgeting system, combine it with an “envelopes” method of budgeting. This is a budgeting technique where money is assigned to different specific categories, as if it were being put in envelopes to be used later. Common “envelopes” might include things like groceries, family road trip, saving for that new jacket, et cetera.
Engage in some “traditional” family pastimes
the advertising industry is very powerful today, and if we’re not careful, it can easily convince us that we need to spend a lot more money than we really do in order to have a happy and fulfilling time with our loved ones.
Listen to the hype, and you might well find yourself believing that the only way to enjoy an evening at home with your partner and kids, is to invest in the latest and most expensive new digital home entertainment system, complete with plush new sofas featuring inbuilt seat heaters.
It doesn’t hurt to have some luxuries in life, but if you’re trying to cut back on the gratuitous spending, it’s generally a very good idea to go easy on the leisure time activities that come with a high pricetag, and to engage more often in some “traditional” family pastimes instead.
For example – if the weather is good, and the kids are filled with energy, why not pack a picnic hamper and go out to a beautiful local park, or area of woodland? You can play frisbee, run around and improvise your own games, can read in the sun, and enjoy snacks in the fresh air.
Or, if the weather is not so good, and you don’t feel like going outdoors, what about getting out some board games and competing at those?
People sometimes fall into the mistaken belief that boardgames are a thing of the past, and that nothing new has really hit the boardgame scene since the heady days of Monopoly.
As a matter of fact, however, boardgames are enjoying something of a renaissance right now, with new games such as Codenames and Exploding Kittens taking the industry by storm, and giving plenty of families (and individuals, too) hours of fun and entertainment.
Force yourself to reflect on your big expenses, and plan for them
It’s often extremely tempting, when you see some tool or gadget that seems like it could really improve your quality of life, to just dive forward and buy it on sight.
Occasionally, this may be a reasonable course of action (depending on your budget, among other things.) More often, however, you’ll find that if you just force yourself to reflect on that big expense before going through with it – and if you just spend a bit of time planning and saving for it – your finances might end up in much better condition.
As humans, we’re all drawn towards novelty, to one degree or another. We see new, shiny, and exciting things, and we feel compelled to get our hands on them. Of course, advertisers and marketers know this, and do a very good job of promoting the exciting and practical benefits of their products accordingly.
Whenever you’re tempted to splash out on a large expense of any type, see what you can do to create a bit of a “buffer” between the moment you’re inspired to buy the product, and the moment you actually do. Simply having a bit of time to reflect, can help you to make more thoughtful, and less emotional decisions.
Consider looking into working from home
More and more people these days are working from home, or are working remotely in a more general sense as telecommuters, or “digital nomads.”
There are many potential benefits to this kind of lifestyle, not least of all the fact that you are the master of your own environment and working hours – at least, to a large degree.
Working from home could also help you to increase your earnings per hour, depending on how you do it.
If your average working day involves a long commute to the office, seeing whether your employer would be open to allowing you to work from home could save you significant amount of time. It could let you get your work done more easily, and could also open up opportunities for doing more remote work on the side for a bit of extra income.