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Living More Comfortably On A Fixed Income

Not everyone is lucky enough to be enjoying side incomes apart from their fixed ones. In these financially demanding times, many families are trying to make do and live decently on limited means. If you happen to be one of them, you’d probably know all too well of the struggles faced in doing so. Read on…

Naturally, the main factor of living well with a fixed income is to live within your means. That way, no matter what you do not have, you’ll also not be in debts. With that in mind, here are some pointers which we hope will leave you encouraged and enlightened on how to live better with what you have.

Determine your monthly expenses

Everything that you have to pay for each month, such as house payments, utilities, Internet, phone plans, groceries, vehicle loans and credit cards, are essentially fixed monthly expenses. They are also known as monthly overhead expenses and you will have to put aside the total amount required to cover them. Provided that you are living within your means, determining these expenses and seeing to them helps you to manage your monthly income more wisely.

If your expenses outweigh your income, a good budget can help you reach a more comfortable position. Also, refinancing a loan for a better rate, cutting back on utility usage, and even negotiating for reduced interest on credit cards will help you enjoy a more manageable life.

Watching out for sales and making good use of discount coupons can help save more money on groceries and other essential items. You might or might not realize this, but ultimately, all these add up to a considerable amount of savings if you keep practicing them.

Be realistic with yourself

Take some time to sit down and make a list of each of your expenses, and set them all against your income. You’ll then have a much clearer picture of where you can relax on your expenses and also where you’ll need to cut down.

For example, is anybody at home even watching TV on a regular basis? If the answer is no, then borrowing or downloading movies would be so much cheaper than having to pay for premium channels each month. The same goes for the habit of watching movies at pricey cinemas on a regular basis.

Little steps that go a long way

There are things we do almost everyday without thinking too much about it. Sometimes it’s for convenience and at other times, it’s to be in the same path with others around you. For example, if you can manage to fix a lunch-box to take to work instead of going out, there’s loads of cash saved right there on the long run. The question is though, are you willing to make that change?

Other money-saving habits you can start to form include unplugging appliances when not in use, such as your cell phone chargers, fans, washing machine and microwave; car-pooling to work and back, switching from disposables to reusables, (e.g. from pricey tissues to handkerchiefs), etc. You may be surprised at how much you can save by taking these seemingly small steps.

Change the way you move around

Unless you live in a rural area where you depend on driving to commute, consider making full use of our ever-advancing public transport system. Trains, LRTs and buses will take you almost everywhere within the city! If you’re not comfortable being around too many commuters, or if you’re trying to move around with a child or two, you could always use the service of a cab, Uber or GrabCar! The latter two have become popular modes of transport for people who do not fancy getting behind the wheel on high-traffic roads and also, they save you from having to pay hefty parking fees. We won’t go so far as to advise you to sell your car unless you are really convinced that it will enlighten your financial burden, but we will point out the facts that you might be saving quite a bundle on maintenance, repairs and insurance, as well as the aforementioned parking fees. If you already have a car that’s fully paid for, by all means keep it, provided you don’t pay too much for petrol and parking and you use it only when neccessary.

Make better food choices

Here’s a fact: Unless you live on a farm in a fully sustainable manner, (e.g. growing your own food, milking your own cow and collecting your own chicken’s eggs, etc.), food costs money. Everything from groceries to fast food, to eating out have price tags attached to them, hence how much you pay for your food will affect your finances in one way or another.

On that same note, it’s high time to consider a reduction or better still, elimination of junk food, for it’ll never do to be financially stable but unhealthy! You can start by identifying nearby stores that sell reasonably-priced produce, which you can easily prepare yourself for your family’s meals. Just a simple change in this area could mean: big savings on dining out, consuming more wholesomely prepared meals, going off unhealthy food (which includes the habit of ordering home-delivery fast-foods).

Plan weekly meals

First and foremost, take a look at all the present ingredients you have in your kitchen. Identify all that needs to be used up soon before they meet their expiry dates or go bad. Place these aside and plan a few good meals which will use them up to avoid wastage of both money and goods.

Once that’s done, you can proceed to a weekly meal plan. This will help in more ways than one!

Firstly, determine the dishes you’ll be having for each day of the week. Next, identify the ingredients needed for them all and compare those against what you already have stocked that are still good to use. From there, you’ll know what else you will need to get on your next grocery shopping trip. As you follow through with this clever plan week after week, you’ll soon be avoiding a lot of wastage, plus there will be less impromptu spending on last-minute decisions on meals.

Quit smoking and alcohol consumption

Cigarettes and alcoholic drinks or beverages are not cheap! These items have seen steady rises in their prices and if you habitually drink over three glasses of beer, wine or spirits or smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, not only will your health suffer, but your wallet will too.

Walk more – it enhances more than your health

This is a special piece of advice to those who prefer to drive everywhere, even if it’s to the next block. Every time you walk to a destination and back, you’re enhancing your health and at the same time, saving money on fuel and parking fees. Go ahead, try it – the next time you need to go to the grocery store, if it’s within a 15-30 minute walking distance, put on a comfy pair of shoes, leave the car keys where they are, and walk it out! For safety reasons though, avoid carrying a purse or handbag. Instead, put your money/credit cards/ ID/cell phone into your pocket. Also, do be alert as you walk to your destination and be aware of your surroundings.

Take charge of your family’s health

The costs of medical treatments have spiralled since the days of our ancestors. While the need to visit a doctor will inevitable arise at some point or another, you can always do your part by taking good care of your family’s health and well being.

  • Home hygiene and ventilation. Ensure that your home is clean, acceptably free from dangerous germs and has good ventilation, even in the bedrooms
  • Nutrition. Plan simple yet nutritious meals for your family. Always ensure that they have regular meals, including lunch boxes for school, office, etc. Consider appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements that may help close up possible nutritional gaps in their diet.
  • Exercise. Getting everyone to get up and move about is easier said than done but the fact is, regular exercises can do wonders to improve the health of both the young and old. Encourage your whole family to walk, cycle or simply have fun at a playground or park together, and to some degree, you’ll be keeping the doctor’s appointments to a minimum.

Master the art of getting thrifty!

There are always stuff in the house which you buy on a regular basis. These can be either non-food stuff such as tissue paper, toilet rolls, cleaning products and toiletries, or, non-perishable food stuff such as coffee, tea, sugar, canned food, condiments, dried noodles, etc. Whenever possible, buy your basics when they are on sale and make large purchases at a go. This saves money in several ways including the petrol and parking fees involved in getting you to the store and back.

It’s time to face the reality that prices of practically any foodstuff vary (sometimes quite drastically!) from store to store. For example, the price of a milk carton (1 liter) can cost as much as RM8.90 or more at an upscale grocery store, especially if that store is situated in a high-end shopping complex. That same brand of milk of the same carton size however, can be as low as RM4.45 at stores such as TMC, and that’s just one example! Hypermarkets such as Giant and Tesco also tend to have regular, value-for money offers on various grocery items.

Prices of goods at supermarkets and hypermarkets themselves tend to vary from one store to another, so knowing the pricing trends of stores that are accessible to you will help immensely when you’re trying to cut down on your budget while still enjoying a quality, plentiful life.

When it comes to getting thrifty, sometimes all it takes is a shift in one’s mindset. If you’re serious about saving money, you will not ever walk out of the house without a list of stuff you need to buy. Also, you’ll stick to that list unless you genuinely did forget something important and happened upon it whilst shopping.

Do away with compulsive spending

Enticement is everywhere you look – From items on sale at the entrance of a fashion outlet to the tempting menus placed strategically outside a restaurant. So it’s no surprise if you always find yourself spending over and above your comfortable means.

Try this little experiment or self-evaluation, if you will: Walk into your kitchen and take a look into your refrigerator or kitchen cabinets. Or… walk into your bedroom and check out your vanity cupboard or your stock of toiletries. Do you genuinely feel that every single item you see is being put to good use, or will be put to good use before it’s expired?

The fact is, if you walk into any given store with some cash and no shopping list, you’ll somehow end up with bags full of stuff you don’t really, genuinely need. These stuff, at the end of the day, cost money that you could have easily saved.

Hence, whenever you need to go to the grocery store, restaurant, or drug store, go with a plan, and then stick to that plan!

Crucial Tips!

Set Up An Emergency Fund

Try setting aside an amount each month for unforeseen incidences that may require you to spend extra money. Earmark this special fund exclusively for emergencies. That way, possible incidences such as plumbing problems, car repairs, or extra medical expenses will less likely devastate a well-planned budget, as you already have some money kept aside to cover these costs.

There’s more to a Kedai RM2 than meets the eye!

Many of us don’t think much of the various RM2 shops we pass by on the way to our regular shopping outlets. You’d be genuinely surprised at how extensive some of them have grown in terms of product varieties and choices. Don’t take our word for it though, for it wouldn’t hurt to walk into one of these stores and check out the stuff they have there. Compare them to what you have on your shopping list, including the price tags, and decide if it’ll save you a bundle or not!

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