I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of early retirement.
Perhaps it’s my idealistic brain speaking but I’ve always imagined my life to be more than just a building block of the rat race, flowing along the rest and chasing after things that might not matter to me.
And realising after 40 years that I’m doing what I’m expected to, and not what I wanted.
This is why when I came across this table by Mr Money Moustache, it definitely piqued my interest.
Of course, this was based on a few assumptions, namely:
- Earning 5 per cent investment returns after inflation during your saving years
- Living off 4 per cent safe withdrawal rate after retirement, with some flexibility in spending during recessions
- Only touching the gains and retaining the savings pot
Regardless, this showed the importance of our savings rate and how it might correlate to the number of years we have to work.
6 things I did to save 60 per cent of my entry-level salary
- Open Separate Bank Accounts and Challenge the Allocation Rule
- Cut My Food Expenses
- Remove Anything Tempting From Social Media
- Replacing My Tech Devices Only When Needed
- Earn Money From Low-Effort Sources
- Buy Quality Items
- See Saving Money as a Motivation or Challenge
Let me just put it out there – I didn’t have a high-paying job.
And as we all know, the higher your income, the higher your savings rates can be.
Like how it is easier to save half of your income when it’s $20,000 than when it’s $2,000.
When I first started, I was getting waaay lesser than the median salary of Singaporeans, which meant I had to stretch my dollars a bit further.
While having a bigger paycheck would definitely help, wealth is actually not defined by how much you earn, but how much you can save and grow your money.
And if I managed to do it, so can you too! 😉
1) Open separate bank accounts and challenge the allocation rule
The first thing I did sounds pretty duh, kudos to you if you’re already doing it!
But I know of people who find it very tedious to manage different bank accounts and rather not do so.
This worked well for me because I enjoyed the automation of the segregation of my salary whenever it comes in.
By using this allocation rule, I was able to focus solely on my expenses account whenever I wanted to purchase something.
It helped me greatly because as a budget-conscious person, I used to struggle with that slight guilt whenever I buy something more expensive.
With this, I know that whatever I spend is well within my spending budget.
After getting familiar with my spending habits, I decided to challenge the conventional 50-30-20, doing minor tweaks along the way to increase the proportion I allocate to my savings account .
I felt that little changes along the way felt more bearable, and each little push felt like a tiny goal that I was excited to achieve.
Instead of halving my expenses straight away which might feel unrealistic and unachievable, these little goals created a type of momentum as well.
You’ll be surprised how much these little changes can do over a period of time!
2) Cut my food expenses
Being mindful of my expenses meant that I was fully aware of where my money went to.
And being just like any other food-loving being out there, most of my money gets processed as carbs in my tummy.
Saving money doesn’t mean having zero gatherings and meetups with my friends, and it doesn’t mean sticking to a $2 food budget everyday.
Given that many of such meetups are enjoyed over good food and company, restaurant meals are unavoidable.
But given how many apps and promotions, there are these days, it is relatively easy to get a meal at a discounted price.
If you are someone who frequents such F&B establishments, you can consider paid apps such as Burpple Beyond and the Entertainer.
(Pro Tip: You can share it among your loved ones to reduce the cost of your subscription, just like your Netflix subscription 😉)
If not, there are free apps like Eatigo offering amazing discounts, and there are Telegram channels that regularly sends out the latest food deals and promotions.
It does take a bit of effort as compared to just walking into any restaurant that you like, but this effort has saved me quite a bit of money.
Why have a buffet at full price when you can have it 1-for-1 , amirite?
3) Remove anything tempting from social media
I love looking at pretty things.
And with smart algorithms around knowing exactly what we want (The Social Dilemma, yikes!), I ended up following many gorgeous influencers, clothing labels and random whatnots.
Which opened a river of temptation, of course.
There were just endless things to buy, and there was always something newer, better, trendier, or prettier.
And so I decided that I needed a social media purge.
I unfollowed 90 per cent of these pages and unsubscribed from MANY newsletters.
While it initially felt weird, I was surprised at how fast it took for me to forget about this difference.
Without these temptations, I was able to spend less money and time with these new launches.
Instead of having these new items screaming for my attention during every launch, I also became more intentional with my purchases as well.
4) Replacing my tech devices only when needed
There are just so many new releases when it comes to tech products.
And boy, do they get expensive.
Given the production value of live events featuring new launches and marketing campaigns, it is no wonder that there is a cult following for the biggest brands.
I must say that the new functions and added features are sometimes pretty tempting…
But the practical side of me would usually remind me that it is more of a want and not a need.
Instead of chasing after the latest tech products , I replace my devices only when they start getting wonky.
I’m currently using my five-year old iPhone which I still treasure as much, and keeping my fingers crossed that it will last a little while more.
Imagine if I were to shell out $1,000 per year for a new phone… That’s $5,000 in five years!
I did, however, purchase an entirely new tech product – which is my lovely iPad Pro which I have been utilising since the day of purchase.
This is giving me a very high Return on Investment (ROI), because it gave me the opportunity to create adorable characters like this:
5) Earn money from low-effort sources
The most obvious way to save more is to… earn more.
And if we can’t get it from a pay raise , the next most efficient method is to pick up a side hustle .
However, having a side hustle can sometimes be tiring.
And for people who are already half-dead from their day jobs, that might just not be an appealing idea.
For me, I decided to depend on sources that require low effort to earn some extra money.
For instance, I enjoy using free mobile apps to earn money – from doing surveys to posting on Instagram stories.
While they might not fetch good money as compared to a stable side hustle project, they can be rather substantial over time.
Another thing I enjoy doing is to list my items on Carousell – it clears my wardrobe and room and I get to earn from it!
(Carousell sent me a notification previously telling me that I’ve earned more than $1,700 from their app itself… It DOES accumulate!)
6) Buy quality items
When I was a student, the cost of an item was what mattered the most to me.
My eyes would sparkle whenever something was dirt cheap, and I preferred having quantity over quality.
As a result, I often end up with items that spoiled easily, which resulted in me having to replace them more often than I should.
After I started having my own income, I realised the beauty of owning quality items that give me more mileage.
This is especially for items that are frequently used, such as shoes, clothes and bags.
While the upfront cost might be a little more, the cost required to replace my items is a lot lower.
Which ultimately translated into savings instead!
A good place to start will be our piece on 9 Things That Are Definitely Worth Spending More Money On :
This practice also helps with my quest in shifting towards a minimalistic lifestyle .
Bonus: See saving money as a motivation or challenge
With the lack of a structural system to learn about money matters, it is easy to feel embarrassed about our money management skills.
If your finances cause you stress and worry, it is natural to ignore your financial situation and goals, which might be detrimental in the long run.
What really helped me get started was browsing personal finance websites or even YouTube channels or podcasts.
Gaining financial literacy made me more confident about taking control of my own finances and making solid financial plans for my future.
Personally, I also love to gamify my financial goals, with challenges such as ‘no-spend’ weeks or 30-day challenges.
It makes me feel good when I’m making progress and this helps me to build my long-term money habits.
And it also makes the whole saving game a lot less intimidating and a lot more fun!
All of us have different priorities and financial commitments in life.
But many of us would be going through financial milestones along the way and they would need huge sums of money.
And having high savings and wealth accumulation in your early years would definitely help in this process.
Start challenging yourself early and you’ll be amazed by how much you can push yourself.
This article was first published in Seedly.