There are times when one has to spend money even when there is little to go around. Arguably, there are three areas where money has to be spent. The areas are: Parents’ Allowance, Education and Giving Back to Community. Even though this may eat into existing funds, with Smart Spending Techniques and Money Allocation, the situation can be managed.
Must Spend Money
In one’s life, ‘Must Spend Money’ falls into three possible categories:
1. Parent’s Allowance
No matter how wealthy or poor the family may be, taking care of one’s parents – whether financially or physically − is part of a child’s obligation, at least in eastern culture. After all, we have enjoyed the great sacrifice, financial support and care of our parents and when we start to work, we should contribute a portion of our money to our parents as a token of appreciation.
The parent, in turn, should accept the child’s money even when it is not needed. This can help to shape the child into a more grateful and responsible human being. This, however, doesn’t mean that we should depend on our children’s financial support, if the situation allows it, we should be fully responsible for our own daily expenses.
A psychology counselor once told me that a lot of family crises arise from financial problems (or a lack thereof) caused by the husband’s failure or patial failure to fulfil his financial obligations to the wife or family. Tracking the root cause behind each case, she found that many of the individuals were not educated on the responsibility of giving money to the parents when they were single. It explains why they do not contribute to their families when they got married.
2. Learning Fund
Learning is life-long. Always allocate a portion of your money (plus time and effort) to learning, travelling and exploring as this will help you grow and acquire knowledge. If you want to have a better life and wisdom, or upgrade from your current level, you should always continue to improve your mindset, knowledge and soft and hard skills, no matter what age.
3. Community Give Back or Charity
Open your eyes and you will see so many people living far below their basic means and opportunities. When compared to them, we feel blessed about what we have and don’t have (such as bad weather, environment, natural disaster, lack of opportunity and so on). We are a part of community, enjoying its benefits and effort so never forget to lend your helping hand to give back to those who need money, effort, time and knowledge. If you agree with the concept of the power of giving, you will understand that the more you give, the more you will receive. The rich know this concept and that is why they keep on giving out and yet, still remain very rich. Warren Buffet once said he became what he is today (Super Rich) and is able to do what he wants, because he was born at the right time in the USA. His fate would have been very different if he had been born in another country.
When it comes to spending wisely, how do you do that? Here are some cost-saving pointers:
Compare, Research, Make Informed Choices
Perform two to three comparisons before purchasing. Only buy when there is a promotion or large discount and only purchase necessities. Purchase items that have been re-packaged under the departmental store or supermarket label as they are usually 20 − 30% cheaper buit just as good.
Has anyone purchased their own engine oil instead of letting the car workshop decide everything for you? You might be interested in my experience about buying engine oil. A normal brand of fully synthetic engine oil can cost above RM200 (at promotional prices, it can be around RM170++). After reading many positive comments on an online forum, I purchased a departmental store brand engine oil (imported and repackaged locally) that only cost RM80-RM100 during the promotion period. I have been using this oil for several years now and it has, to date, not caused problems. You can apply the same technique too, to almost any other item to save money (but of course, you must also take the risk).
Let me share with you one of my uncommon practises. Normally, I will purchase another set of shoes or clothes or necessities (during offer periods) to prevent having to purchase a replacement at the normal price when the item is worn out/broken/lost.
Another way to save cost is to skip the intermediaries like a supermarket and deal directly with the factory where you can get the items at distributor’s price. Of course, some factories don’t deal with retail or the public. However, I have purchased baby diapers from the factory where I enjoyed more savings than even the supermarket promotional prices. Of course I needed to purchase 12 packs in three boxes but I knew the items would be fully utilised within nine months. I also enjoyed the free delivery that came with the bulk order.
For daily and heavy use items, you can do the same but do not over purchase until you need to keep the items in store for a few years; you will be losing your purchasing power by storing the goods over so many years.
Purchase Pre-Owned Items
Yet another way of saving is to purchase branded second hand but in good shape items. A statistical survey on self-made millionaires in the US during 80s and 90s (The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko) showed that a majority of them preferred to buy branded, high-quality but second hand cars. Their methods can be replicated, but when applying it here, add another requirement of low mileage. (Generally speaking, the second-hand car that gives the best value is aged between three to six years).
Here are some money allocation techniques according to the book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T.Harv.Eker. It advises you to adjust according to your situation. As a rule of thumb, we should maintain 50% of our money on necessities, 10% on investment to work towards financial freedom, 10% on Long Term Savings which you can use for future big spending like house renovation, car and so on, 10% on education-life long learning, 10% on recreation, play or any self-rewarding activities and the last 10% on giving back to community or charity.
The other guideline is to maintain a healthy cash flow by making sure our monthly debts servicing ratio (DSR) for housing, car, education, personal and credit card loans over monthly income is kept below 40%, while 10% of the positive surplus is used for savings and investment in order to grow your wealth. The money spent on purchasing insurance should be within 15% of your monthly salary.
Yong Chu Eu is a Licensed Financial Advisor/ Head of Education Division of Fin Freedom Sdn Bhd (CFP, FAR, CMSRL, HRDF Certified & SIDC CPE Training Provider). He can be reached at email@example.com