6 Ways to Save Money When You're a Malaysian Young Adult

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Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle against the ringgit (Malaysian currency) when it comes to fulfilling my dreams of travelling overseas for at least 15 days each year.

Wanting to rest, relax, and take in the sights of another country in 15 out of 356 days isn't such a big deal, right?

Right?

While my salary has gone up in the past few years since I started working (thank you Universe), the ringgit has also taken quite the beating. This is how the ringgit currently stacks up against 5 other countries.



*deep sigh*

The worsening ringgit is good for Malaysian tourism, but it's not so good for my preferred kind of travelling. While my username may say michxwanderlust, it's only because michxfirstworldcountries isn't as easy to type.

So, what do first world countries have in common? Well, mainly currency that is much stronger than the Malaysian ringgit.

Some say the solution to this is to prefer travelling in countries that are much more affordable, for example, such as my own country, Malaysia, or the surrounding South-East Asian countries (apart from Singapore, because if I'm going to go to Singapore, I might as well pay a bit more to go to Australia instead).


Others say this is a millennial whining and why, back in the day, they didn't even get to travel to the next state in Malaysia at my age, and so on.

Me, I say that I am determined to overcome this ringgit problem to STILL be able to afford to travel to countries like Japan, and so this year I've come up with EVEN more ways to save money than I used to before.

Here are 6 of those ways, and may you, dear reader, find this useful.

1. Consume Less (Outside) Food and Non-Water Drinks



Apart from Writing, Reading, Sleeping, and Travelling, Eating is one of my Five Greatest Loves.

Yet out of all the five, food is the one that takes the least importance, if I have to budget my time and money that way.

Since 2017 began, my weekday meals have been, in the middle-class sense, quite sad. I'm not starving or anything, but I have been eating the same weekday late tea meal for almost three weeks now.

You see, I decided to invest in a sandwich press last month. I've been making full use of that sandwich press almost every weekday now, to make myself a late tea/ dinner meal.

I've basically cut down my food expenses to less than RM10.00 per week (sometimes I am weak and crave snacks ahem) on average thanks to the sandwich press, so yes, it's done its part in helping me save money.

Of course, this means I'm having a sandwich for dinner from Monday to Friday with no changes, but beggars can't be choosers.

I'll just munch on my sandwich and pretend it's this, or some other similar coping mechanism.


T_____________T

This whole having a sandwich for dinner on weekdays makes me really look forward to the weekends. Even if I'm just cooking at home to save money (and to be healthy!), at least it's something different to a sandwich for dinner, two evenings a week.

It is lucky I like sandwiches, and do not mind eating them daily (if a bit wistfully while thinking of other food products).

Then there is my preferred beverage of choice, which is usually water, or tea. Lucky I like these two too. Water is the best. Ain't nobody got too much extra cash (or metabolism) to spend on soda, alcohol, milkshakes, and the like right now, because THE GOAL IS TO TRAVEL!!!

Alternatively I suppose you can still have nice food if you have someone who is willing to pay for you, but apart from being a money-saving measure, this money-saving tip number one is also a weight-maintaining measure.

Win-win for me, I guess...?


2. Get Experiences, Not Things 

This tip was also mentioned in my resolutions I made for this year, but it's being repeated here now in a money-saving sense.

Naturally, I think, some experiences are way more expensive than the things you buy. A trip to a good hair salon can set you back by a good RM300 - RM500. You could get three quality outfits out of that!

In the money-saving sense, however, I am referring to experiences that are free, or at least cheap-ish.

Yes, people, there are experiences to be had for free! It's what all those "free things to do in *insert city here*" guides are for, after all.

In my personal life, the kind of experiences I give myself on the weekends doesn't usually involve going out. Instead, I tend to stay at home to stream dramas, read books, clean, exercise, listen to Spotify, play games, blog, write, and so on.



And you know what? I love my weekends indoors, and don't think I'm depriving myself of anything this way just to be able to travel to the countries I want to travel to. Perhaps this is related to tip three?

3. Be an Introvert

If I have to force myself to be extroverted in order to move up the social/ career ladder, people can definitely learn to be more introverted for the sake of their wallets.

I have had people asking me if I ever get bored not having anything to do on Friday nights, because my answers to the "what are you doing on Friday night?" question are usually around the same theme.

"I AM GOING HOME TO SLEEP." 


I say this with as much excitement as someone saying "I'm going out on a date!" or "I'm going to go clubbing with my friends!".


This^ over clubs any day for me... and I don't have to pay a cover charge, pay for drinks, or pay for the Uber to take me home when I'm too tipsy to drive.

Money-saving win? Money-saving win.

I honestly don't get people who say they get "soooooooooooooo bored" just staying at home. I love staying at home. I pay rent, I SHOULD utilise that rent as much as I can in person.

4. Have Less "Friends"

It seems like my tips to saving money means being an asocial, misanthropic, and homebound nerd, also an alternative title for my blog name. Being all those things can certainly be kind to your wallet (unless you order a lot of things online for the things you nerd out for, then good luck to you), but I don't mean that you should purge ALL your friends.

I don't have a lot of friends. 

I say this not with sadness, but as a statement.

No, the friends I choose to keep company with ARE ~friends~, the kind that I already know would be willing to support my dreams, are not judgmental of my lifestyle behaviour or choices (but will totally offer much-needed advice without beating around the bush), and would be willing to text me past their bedtime if I really need them to.

Bedtime is really important, so I appreciate those who do.


Most of all, have the kind of friends who do not judge you for not going out to meet them every week (once a month are how often my friends and I actually meet each other), who do not judge you for being "poor", who do not laugh at your phone that is now three years old, who do not ask you why you always wear the same clothes, and who understand that you are saving money for something that is important to you.

These... are friends.

5. Use Electronic Devices for as Long as You Can 


I feel like some people cannot see that constantly upgrading their electronic devices will take a major toll on their wallet. Maybe they're just so financially fabulous that they don't have to worry about changing their phones/ laptops/ cameras every year or so, but... the people I know who like to upgrade every year or so aren't actually that financially fabulous.

My current phone is 3 years old, the laptop I am typing this on is 7 years old, and my camera is also 3 years old.

I have no intention of changing my phone, no matter how fast the battery drains. My home laptop is extremely slow, but also useable. My camera still works; it may not take the best pictures compared to, say, the Sony A7, but it serves its purpose.

I mean, I won the camera in a lucky draw, so no complaints there.

Of course, if you must have the best equipment due to work purposes, this is unavoidable. However, for the average person, there is really no need to upgrade your phone. Even if you decide to join one of those annual upgrade programs to get a new phone every year, you're still paying more to get a mildly better version of a device that was working perfectly in the first place.

I'm quite fond of my iPhone 5s, and will probably use it until it is complete obsolete. One of my friends used an iPhone 3Gs for almost 6 years - I guess we're the sort to be attached to our devices once we get them.

This, as you can tell, has been doing wonders in terms of saving money, and I intend to continue. To me, travelling triumphs over acquiring new electronic devices anytime, but if it's the opposite for you, feel free to continue (and cut back on travelling instead).

6. Before You Buy Anything, Ask Yourself: "Will I Use This a Year (*insert other appropriate time amount*) From Now?"



Nowadays, I try to maximise value out of the products I buy. Let's take makeup as an example. For makeup, I just wear the same brands over and over again, making sure I buy the ones that I know I will use constantly.

As a result, I guess I am not adventurous in terms of makeup at all, but hey, I don't have to be adventurous. I'm not a beauty blogger or writer.

In the past year or two, every time I've been attracted to buy something,  I've tried asking myself if the product will see continued usage for a long amount of time. I'm happy to report that what I bought is still being used, whether it's bags, accessories, clothes, and whatnot.

This style of asking myself several times if I really do ~need~ something has probably helped me survived through the brief four months of unemployment I went through last year. I was forced to use whatever was left of my savings to pay for bills, and luckily, I did not have to ask anyone to lend me cash for my commitments.

It is also the uncertain economic times that necessitates this sort of behaviour in young adults earning the ringgit. For someone who magically lost a job last year just because the company decided it did not need a writer anymore, it has only pointed out to me the necessity of being more prudent in my spending, and to prioritise exactly what I want to spend most on.

This year, I have decided travelling is my first priority out of my Five Greatest Loves, tying with Writing at first spot (since it is Writing that gets me an income). I can buy less books, sleep less in order to write more, and even starve myself to save on money, if it means that I can travel to the places I want to go to.


I guess there'll be no more Kobe beef-like meals purchased by myself for a while...

I don't recommend totally depriving yourself in your day-to-day life just to save money(I certainly don't), but if you have something to save up for, these 6 tips may come in handy, just as practicing them have been useful for me.

Here's to being able to travel overseas safely and securely (physically, financially, and otherwise) in the countries I want to go to for at least 15 days this year.

x
Mich

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