Hear ye, hear ye! (Almost) Penniless middle-wage workers of the world, we give you the ultimate list of money saving tips to cure you of the dwindling state of your bank accounts! Could you be an impulsive spend-aholic determined to change your money spending ways? Perhaps you fancy yourself a penny-pincher (“how much for a Wagyu beef?! Scoff!”) and yet still cry at the stagnant state of your savings account.
Worry not ladies and gents, because we’ve got you covered! After days of hard labour and sleepless nights (also known as research), we are proud to present to you Malaysia’s biggest list of money saving tips! In this article, you will find a myriad of tips and pointers segmented into different categories. We ask you to patiently read through all of these tips and jot down the pointers that meet your lifestyle: It will be worth it, we promise!
1. Not a slave to monthly debts? Save at least 10% of your salary every month! Refrain from temptation by opening a separate bank account for this extra stash – and say “no, thank you” to the debit card that comes with it.
2. Burdened by nasty credit card and personal loan debts? Then pay them off instead of saving. Credit card interest rates in Malaysia are approximately 9% to 18% p.a. which is a lot higher than any savings account can offer. It is thus more logical to settle off your debt before increasing the emergency fund in the bank.
3. Switch your bank account for a higher interest rate. There are close to 30 banks available in Malaysia, and most of them offer different rates for their savings accounts. Find an account that gives you the highest rates for your average account balance.
4. Budget, budget, budget! No time to design a proper budget? Just roughly jot down the monthly amount you need for food, petrol, groceries, etc. The remaining balance should go into your emergency fund account. Similarly, download a budget app on your smartphone.
5. Save RM1 every day and put them in a piggy bank. You will have about RM300 at the end of the year.
6. Do online surveys in your spare time and earn money.
7. Keep all the small change you have/ found in a jar.
8. Save your raise. If you’re still working and were lucky enough to get an increment, pretend you didn’t. Bank it or pay off your debt instead.
9. Leave your credit card at home when you’re out shopping. Use cash to avoid overspending, unless your card has other benefits like additional discounts or rebates. And even so; pay off the amount in full at the end of the month.
10. Open up a Fixed Deposit account for a higher interest rate on your savings.
11. Remove your credit card numbers from your online accounts like iTunes and Google Play. This will stop you from purchasing unnecessary apps.
12. Pay your bills on time and avoid late charges.
13. Make full use of the 0% balance transfer in the market. Another credit card trick that will help you lose your credit card debt faster! Apply for a 0% balance transfer credit card to transfer your current debt into a new card at no interest rate. Once you’re done paying off that debt, CANCEL THE CARD.
14. Withdraw money only at your bank’s ATM. MEPS charge RM1, while HOUSe is RM4. Stingy, we know – but money does not grow on trees. The extra walk to your bank’s ATM could also give you a workout and save on gym fees (we’re that stingy).
15. Avoid credit cards with annual fees. Try to waive the fee by calling your bank or ditch them for a cheaper alternative. They are already making money off you in interest.
16. Find low interest credit cards if you can’t afford to pay the full bill.
17. Take control of your own financial future. Instead of relying on others for advice, take charge and read a few basic books on personal finance.
18. Government grants and subsidies – don’t take these for granted. Make sure you are making use of all that you are eligible for.
19. Check if you’re overpaying your income tax. Educate yourself on the available tax rebates and refunds.
20. If your insurance premium is too high, shop around for lower cost insurance policies.
21. Stop smoking. A pack is RM12, so if you buy a pack per week, you’ll be spending RM624 per year. Two packs per week, and you’ll waste RM1,248 per year.
22. Make your own gifts instead of buying stuff from the store.
23. Write a list before you go shopping – and stick to it!
24. Buy video games that have a lot of replay value – and don’t acquire new ones until you’ve mastered what you have.
25. Don’t spend money just to de-stress.
26. Sign up for all free memberships (Example: GSC, MBO, Sephora, BonusLink) to get rewards, free sample and discounts on your birthday and more.
27. When shopping for standard items, start by shopping used. The six things you should always buy used are cars, books and movies, fitness equipment, pet cage and tools. Try websites like mudah.my to get your second-hand journey started.
28. Try generic brands of items you buy regularly. Generic brands (Example: Watson’s own brand of soap / Tesco’s own cereal) are usually much cheaper than branded items and aren’t that bad in quality, so give them a try.
29. Stop buying overpriced cups of coffee!
30. Don’t treat your sweet tooth too kindly. Bubble tea, chocolates, and cakes don’t come cheap.
31. Cancel your TV cable subscription and watch the shows online instead.
32. Spend less on food. Move towards a plant-based diet. Meat is expensive, and there are other less expensive alternative protein foods.
33. Love to read? Wait for the Big Bad Wolf sale or go to second hand bookshops (or book Xcess) to purchase your books.
34. Use cash when paying for electronics. Most shops have an additional charge of at least 2% for credit or debit cards. Or else, try to get it waived whenever possible.
35. Cancel paid memberships you’re not using. Magazines, online, and gym memberships, we’re looking at you.
36. Make a separate e-mail for your online shopping addiction. So you won’t be tempted to purchase anything while browsing through your main e-mail! Also, always browse these websites using the incognito browser. This will hopefully stop the ads from popping up everywhere.
37. Learn how to cook. Cooking and packing your meal is usually cheaper than eating out, so pack your lunch!
38. Plan your meals around your grocery store’s flyer. Instead of just planning your meals based on a cookbook or the latest food show on TLC, plan all your meals around what’s on sale in your grocery store’s flyer. Look at the biggest sales, then plan meals based on those ingredients and what you have on hand, and you’ll find yourself with a much smaller food bill than you’re used to.
39. Do a price comparison – and find a cheaper grocery store near you. Distance is also a factor here; there’s no point driving halfway across town for cheaper eggs.
40. Use a basket and leave the trolley when grocery shopping. You’ll be less inclined to stuff unrelated items into your stash.
41. Do holiday shopping right after the holidays. You will find prices for holiday themed items to be significantly reduced and discounted.
42. Don’t go to stores or shopping centres for entertainment.
43. Look for a cheaper place to live that’s closer to your office.
44. Find out about all of the benefits of your job. Most people aren’t even aware of all of the benefits available to them. Spend some time with an HR person finding out about all the benefits you’re entitled to at work – you might be surprised at what you might find.
45. Trim your own hair (for the ladies). And save RM50 for a ½ inch snip!
46. Buy birthday, holiday, and special gifts when you see them on sale, not at the last minute.
47. Compare prices at several stores (including online) before buying something expensive. For items that are expensive (laptop, car, electronic) do a price check before buying the item. If you can wait for a while you can track the prices and grab a great deal when it comes along.
48. Bottle your own water and stop buying mineral water.
49. Sell your old mobile phones, DVDs, CDs and clothes.
50. Ditch the mamak and opt to lepak at someone’s house instead.
51. Drink less alcohol – and cut down on the weekend parties.
52. Haggle for a lower price – whenever, wherever.
53. Recycle everything. From wrapping paper to grocery bags, recycle them all!
54. Need water at home? Be the ultimate cheapskate and refill your water tank from the office pantry.
55. Don’t buy newspaper, magazines, etc and get the information online instead!
56. Cravings for desserts? Most eateries have discounts and offers after 9pm. Example: 50% off on desserts at Delicious. 50% on bread at Komugi, Buy 2 free 1 at Delifrance, and many more.
57. Have kids? Visit restaurants where kids get to eat for free. Example: Tony Roma’s.
58. BYOB (bring your own beverage). Bring your own beverage when eating out, or ask for a glass of water if it’s free.
59. Share your food with your SO / friend. And split the bill!
60. When dining out, skip the dessert and grab cheaper snacks elsewhere. RM15 for a slice of cake? No, thanks. Unless of course, it's you know, 50% off.
61. Visit during the “Happy Hour promotion” for cheaper meals – for example Sushi King, Tony Roma’s and plenty of other restaurants have Happy Hour specials. Drawback: The promotion is usually during the hectic lunchtime hours.
62. Look around the web for food deals and dining vouchers. Online dealsites have plenty of them, but remember to read the terms and conditions thoroughly before making a purchase.
63. Treat hunger pangs at the office by eating the free supply of food and drinks from the pantry (yes, we know this looks awfully stingy but hey, you’re dedicated office manager did go shopping for a reason).
Make-Up & Shopping
64. Make mascara last longer: Add 4 – 5 drop of saline solution into your dried up mascara to make it lasts for at least a month (although don’t keep your mascara for too long to avoid any risky eye infection)
65. Save your old mascara wand for other uses. As an eyebrow brush, removing clumpy mascara from lashes, to comb your hamster…you get the drift.
66. Cut open nearly empty bottles to get all the product you might be missing otherwise. This includes your facial cleanser, toothpaste, and moisturiser.
67. Need a new perfume? Shamelessly ask your travelling friend to purchase the perfume at the duty free shop.
68. Rent a dress or buy from thrift stores rather than buying a new one. Try rentadress.com.my and bundle shops for starters.
69. Take a break from the mall and find cheaper stuff online or at vintage stores. Websites like Shopping Roll review and select affordable online shops for you.
70. Collect Samples. Most makeup counters have samples available upon request. You can stockpile free makeup and toiletries by collecting samples.
71. Make Your Own. Face mask, shampoo, or laundry detergent, nothing is off-limits to DIY lovers. Places like Pinterest should help you find the best recipes for everything DIY.
72. Go for reliability and fuel efficiency when buying a car.
73. Air up your tires. For every two PSI that all of your tires are below the recommended level, you lose 1% on your petrol mileage.
74. Wait until there’s a promotion (Example: Raya or Year End promotion) before purchasing a car.
75. Check your air filter. A clean air filter can improve petrol mileage by as much as 10%.
76. Don’t fill your petrol tank to full. Every litre of petrol is approximately 0.7kg. In a 50 litre petrol tank this equates to an extra 35kg. If you live near a petrol station or have a petrol station along your daily / weekly commute, then topping up to half-tank or one third-tank will reduce your weight and increase your fuel economy.
77. Choose the appropriate fuel. Most cars require only RON95 to operate efficiently.
78. Straighten Up. Poor alignment not only causes tires to wear out more quickly, but also forces your engine to work harder.
79. Slow Down. Speed will kill your petrol budget.
80. Drive More Smoothly. Avoiding jack-rabbit starts and stops and herky-jerky driving to further improve your fuel economy.
81. Lay off the Brakes. Riding with your foot on the brake pedal will not only wear out brake pads (which will cost you at the maintenance shop) but can also increase petrol consumption. So slow down gradually!
82. Lighten Up. Too much junk in the trunk will cost you an extra 1 to 2% in fuel efficiency.
83. Turn off your engine when idle (Except when you’re in a traffic jam, of course).
84. If you can handle a credit card, get one that gives a rebate on your petrol spend.
85. Drive during non-peak hours, outside of 7am-9am and 5.30pm-7.30pm on Weekdays. Not everyone has the luxury to get to work later or leave earlier from work, but traffic in major cities and highways in Malaysia can be a nightmare at those times.
86. Save money on accommodation with websites like Airbnb and Couchsurfing. Additionally, opt to stay at budget hotels or hostels.
87. Shop for flight tickets early, but don’t always buy early! Fact: Airline makes money from anticipating our buying habits. They typically start offering cheaper seats about 3 - 4 months before departure (domestic flights) and 5 months in advance (international).
88. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is usually the most expensive day to fly.
89. Sign up for email alerts about low-fare deals.
90. Know when airfare prices are typically the lowest. Airlines generally release sales for specific routes Monday night because they want travel agencies to catch wind of sales early in the week. Therefore, your best shot at these deals is by searching for flights Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon or evening.
91. Use aggregator sites to search for fares. There are simply too many different airline and travel websites for you to make individual queries in each one, so use websites like skyscanner.com to find the cheapest flights.
92. Clear out your cache and cookies in between airline searches, especially on different days or weeks. Otherwise, old prices will sometimes display in lieu of new ones, and you may miss out on the best price.
93. For advanced airfare sleuths, consider piecing together flights by hand with cost-saving characteristics. Instead of searching for round-trip tickets, search for two one-way tickets separately. Sometimes purchasing separate tickets on unaffiliated carriers will save you money.
94. If you prefer flying first class, you can save money by purchasing a business class ticket instead if available. Both first-class and business class sit in the same front section, eat the same meals and are treated exactly the same, yet business class is often half the fare of first-class -- go figure!
95. Pack a meal for your AirAsia flight. Airplane and airport food are so overpriced. Always prepare your own meal or at least bring a snack (like Maggie in cup!).
96. Sign Up. If you travel often, always join the hotel and airline loyalty programs which will give you a much better chance for a free upgrade or discounts.
97. Travel Off-Peak. It’s cheaper and the traffic will be significantly better (especially if you’re travelling within Malaysia).
Phone & Utility
98. Get a cheaper smartphone and refrain from picking up the contract. Yes, the phone will be cheaper, but you will be forking out more money in the long run due to the usually expensive monthly postpaid fee.
99. Go through your cell phone bill, look for services you don’t use, and ditch them. Sometimes, Telcos will automatically subscribe services without
you knowing it.
100. Turn off the television. Why? Financial benefits include less electrical use and less exposure to guilt-inducing ads.
101. Increase the temperature on your air-conditioner. Or refrain from turning on the air-conditioner during the day.
102. Use electrical appliances with 5-stars Energy Efficiency Label. These will give you better savings in the long run.
103. Unplug your appliances like coffee pots, toasters, hair dryers, laptop and computer cords when you leave the house. "Vampire" appliances use electricity even when not in use. So unplug and save money!
104. Install CFL (or, even better, LED) bulbs wherever it makes sense.
105. Subscribe to e-billing. Some Telcos offer a one-time rebate for those who do.
106. Forgo your love for looking cool and purchase more affordable brands. Choose a gadget based on it’s performance and function – not on how cool it looks in the ad or your friend’s table. Not purchasing the latest iPad won’t kill you.
107. Tips to make your fridge more energy efficient: place your fridge away from your cooker and make sure it isn't in direct sunlight; it will operate more efficiently if it's in a cool spot. Also, Keep your fridge and freezer filled, otherwise you're just cooling down air and making your fridge work much harder.
108. Clean your appliances. A regular scrub will ensure optimal performance from your appliances.
109. Consider installing Solar Panels for your home.
110. Sell your television for extra cash. Watch your favourite shows online using a tablet or laptop instead.
Got anymore tips to add? Let us know and grow this list, baby!