Tiny Living and Money Matters

3 Proven Effective ways to Save Money

Jay and I have always joked about how we don’t really feel inflation that much in the past years because we don’t really have the money for more than the basics, but this time around, we actually experience the consequences of the global economic crisis because even the basics are so expensive.

Our three sons have also grown. I find that it was easier to fix the budget for our expenses when they were younger and smaller, and had simpler joys. Their needs have changed. Nowadays, their expenses are more than just spending for a token or two at the arcade, or a combo meal at their favourite fast food restaurant; now there are bus trips to their trainings to pay for, as well as paying for the training sessions, themselves, not to mention food allowances and clothing expenses. They need expensive computers and programs as part of their education, and don’t get me started on how much they eat!


Image source: Sasun Bughdaryan

We also found out that because of the pandemic, we now have to occupy two rooms in hotels when we book as a family. Just a couple of months ago, we intended to use a gift certificate at a hotel to celebrate our eldest’s 17th birthday, but we had to pay for another room because COVID protocols are still in place and family rooms for 5 heads have ceased to exist because of it.

A lot of people said that they managed to save some money during the two years of lockdown, but our experience is the total opposite. I found that it was easier for us to splurge more during the lockdown to manage boredom.

We’ve been tiny living for 7 years and while it’s a great lifestyle for people who have access to great places outdoors, it’s not ideal when you cannot go anywhere and your version of tiny living is a 21-square feet, single BR unit on top of a building that sits on a hill and has no yard.

To us, the two lockdown years were chaos! Everyone had to do what they had to do simultaneously in our tiny space. Jay and I were on our laptops, working, the kids were attending their academic classes and would have to reorganise the living room and set it up for their dance classes while me, their dad, and youngest brother would either tuck ourselves away in the tiny bedroom or the narrow balcony for three hours trying to find something to do to bide time.  Because they occupied most of the space of our tiny home, often, meals had to be ordered because we can’t cook while they were dancing!

We also bought art materials, books, boardgames, and food (yep, we got fat during the lockdown!) so we had things to do while we sardined in our little abode other than binge on Netflix and YouTube, and Social Media.

Having said all that, I found that there were three very practical, very effective ways to continue saving at any season you’re in, lockdown, inflations or otherwise.

3 Proven Effective ways to save money 

1. Set aside money for savings as soon you receive a pay check.

I heard this from many financial gurus, but it’s only been recently that I’ve proven that they were right about this. People tend to save after they’ve paid their bills, but the wise ones say you must set aside money for savings first before you pay your bills. It doesn’t matter how much you’re earning or if you’re a freelancer or an employee who receives your pay fortnightly, decide on an amount and transfer it to your savings account right away!

My husband’s salary has been automated to transfer a small percentage of it to another one of his accounts every month, while I have to manually transfer the same amount to my other bank whenever my employer wires it. And because we’ve made a habit of this, we were able to save despite our increase in expenses and the strong urge to splurge in the last two years.

But did you know that you can actually set goals doing this?

I found this really useful goal calculator that helps me figure out how much I need to set aside each month to reach a financial goal and how long before I achieve it.

Now, take note that the calculator is using USD as the default currency, but as long as you put in the correct figures, like how much you have in your savings now to start, how much your financial goal is, the APR% in your country (you can google this!) and how many years you plan to invest,  it will calculate accordingly and show you how much you need to set aside each month and the date when you can finally fulfil this goal.

Check this out:

The first image tells me how much I need to set aside per month to achieve my goal amount in three years; the second image shows me that I will reach my goal by May 2026 if I only plan to deposit  that much monthly.

Simple, right? It gives me a clearer picture of how I should plan out and manage my finances.

The goal calculator is only one of the many savings calculator on the site, savingscalculator.org. There is one for education goals and another for retirement goals, and there is the CD investment, all of which are some of the most important financial goals people have.

2. Spend money on good quality products

I used to think that people are just being extravagant when they buy expensive products, but I realise that I can learn something from my more wealthy friends. They don’t buy cheap products, they buy quality ones which usually cost more, but also last longer.

During the lockdown, I started shopping at this popular online store and bought clothing and shoes because they were OH-MY-GOSH-SO-AFFORDABLE! I found out later on that it cost me more because they had to be discarded after a few weeks use, or that they well ill-fitted and uncomfortable. How can a dress fit you perfectly on all parts of your body but your chest??

Now I know to be willing to spend more and buy from trusted online stores instead. One good buy is better than 3 bad purchases.

3. Practice Delayed Gratification

Resist the urge to spend on the spot. What I do is add to my cart first and wait for a week or two, or even a month before deciding to buy it. Sometimes, after delaying a purchase, I find the item less appealing to buy. This gives me the option to set aside and save money for something better.

This goes for anything!

My new bank has an app that gives me the option to set goals such as financial investments, education, real estate, travel, emergency fund and personal goals. Each one has an amount set but that’s more like a guide, you can customise the amount as you please.  You won’t be able to touch your money until you’ve reached the goal you’ve set which I think is great because if you apply #1, then, #3 will keep you from withdrawing your money, haha!

I’ve set mine to personal goal for now because I just want a certain amount for savings and I’m still learning how to navigate the app, I’m fairly new to it. But I do plan to set up financial goals to save for emergencies and travel.

The truth of the matter is…!

You don’t really have to start big. You can even start with just $50 as long as you are consistent. Of course, the bigger the money you set aside, the bigger the savings will be, especially if you don’t just keep them in the banks, but to grow them through investments, like in stocks or bonds.

Or you can go for safer investment options like Mutual or Index Funds. The truth of the matter is, if you want to save more, you must aim to earn more. Ideally, earn more with less work. Increasing your income is the best way to save more because how much you save will also depend on how much you’re earning.

What about you, do you have any other ideas on how to save more effectively? Tell me!