By Ong Hock Siong
Senior Lecturer at QIU’s School of Accounting and Finance
Since the Movement Control Order was initiated on March 18, we have seen the resulting financial fallout impacting all levels of society. With numerous sectors gradually recovering from this pandemic around the world, many parents and guardians are facing financial pressure – and this includes their children’s education expenses.
But if you’re a student yourself, you can make minor changes to slash your expenditure and reduce the pinch. Here are some financial tips for students and parents alike.
Focus on Essential Spending
It sounds obvious, but if you’re in a tough spot, you have to narrow down your expenditure to spending on essential items only. In other words, spending habits should be based on needs rather than wants.
It helps to sit down and track your spending patterns using some nifty budgeting apps or a simple pen and paper. Jot down what you’re spending on so you can identify expenses that can be reduced or cut. By doing this, you get a better overview of what costs you can forego paying and which ones are integral to keep.
Develop short-term, intermediate and long term goals. How much do you want to save? What do you need to buy or spend? This will help you differentiate your needs from your wants.
Students can also look for substitute products and services that cost lower yet provide the same outcome.
Do Your Homework Before You Spend
Everything is online now, and you can make some big savings if you conduct some research before spending. All the major hypermarket chains are online, and you can compare prices of your daily necessities by checking out their websites. Apps like Hargapedia also allow you to check prices on what you want to buy. You’ll also know when big sales are coming.
At the same time, avoid buying luxury branded goods when you can. Look for substitute products and services that cost lower that provide the same outcome.
Avoid emotional spending
Everyone goes through difficult emotional times, and this can cause impulsive or emotional spending. You’re feeling a bit down and suddenly an ad pops up offering an awesome gadget or accessory that you may not actually need. Before you know it, it arrives and you regret burning another hole in your account.
One solution is to make it harder for you to access your money. Have an account that doesn’t link to any possible shopping and payment platform (online shopping, e-wallet, debit card). This gives you that crucial extra time to rethink the purchase.
Control your spending by using an e-wallet
On that note, you can control your spending by channelling a specific amount of money into your e-wallet and your spending will be on the available balance in your e-wallet. You can check on rebates, discounts, and coupons offered by e-wallet providers to save money.
Learn to Cook
Learning to cook has never been easier. The internet is full of amazingly delicious and easy recipes that can be made by even the most clueless beginner.
Cooking at home will slash your food expenditure and trim your waistline as well, because it’s healthier. And when you do eat out, look for meals that give you great value for money. Once you’ve figured out how to cook, it actually helps if you make a large meal that you can spread out for the whole week. Monday’s roasted chicken can be Tuesday’s chicken sandwich or chicken salad.
Spend with Less While Going Out
There are cheaper ways to go out as well. Take advantage of campus activities instead of expensive outings. Also, check social media and the local papers for free or cheap events that are going on in your city. The Ipoh Echo is a great place to start!