MANILA, Philippines - We all realize the need to save money, whether to build up an emergency fund, take that vacation we’ve always wanted, make that dream purchase, or invest in something that will appreciate in value.
But whenever people talk about having to save money, the first thing that comes to mind is the need to sacrifice something, sometimes at great pain. While it is true that saving does entail discipline and a measure of self-sacrifice, saving also means doing things smartly or efficiently.
By being aware of how you conduct your everyday spending activities, you may discover areas where you can realize some savings. A good way to do this would be to review your expenses in detail for the past month. Your credit card bills and some receipts you have stored could give you a clue as to what you had spent on and what your spending patterns are. If you do not have these available, start logging your spending now. You might discover areas where you are spending more than you want to.
Here are some areas that you might want to look at:
1. Avoid penalties.
Are you habitually paying bills after the due date? Most companies either cut off your service or charge a late payment penalty to consumers to encourage early or on time payment. Check out your bills and find out how much penalties you’vd had to pay in the last three months. Late tax payments and filings – whether for income tax or property, tuition fee payments, and loan payments – also come with corresponding penalties. By paying attention to payment deadlines and planning your cash flow so that you can make these payments on time, you may avoid an unnecessary expense.
2. Take advantage of early payment discounts.
Conversely, are there early payment discounts that you can avail of and that will allow you to realize some savings? Real property tax payments are a good example, allowing you to save as much as 20% if you pay before the deadline. Even some utilities such as cable companies provide discounts on prompt or early payments. Do some research to find out which among the merchants and financial institutions you deal with offer these discounts and take advantage of these.
3. Make use of rebates.
You can save a fortune by taking advantage of rebates. Credit cards and utilities are good examples of organizations that often extend rebates to loyal customers. Note that many organizations will not automatically give you the rebate if you do not ask for it. Check out the rebate offers of the credit card and utility companies and other merchants that you regularly deal with and make good use of these.
4. Use coupons.
Don’t ignore savings that can be had from using coupons. Those sales people that meet you at the lobby of the malls? Don’t ignore their flyers that can carry limited offer coupons, which also means the discounts tend to be more generous. Also check out online sites that offer coupons . Most of these offer big discounts on deals covering different products and services—restaurants, travel packages, clothes, household furnishings, hair and skin treatments, gadgets, among others. Having said that, make sure you do not go overboard buying things or services that you do not really need.
5. Buy online.
Some services are cheaper when bought online. Hotel bookings and airline tickets are two common examples. That being said, note that there are also some online stores that charge more than traditional stores. The beauty of the internet is that it allows you to compare prices among sellers. Before making a big purchase, try to compare prices between the brick-and-mortar store and the online store to make sure you realize the most savings.
6. Buy during sales.
Sales are great money savers if you buy something that you need. Wait for seasonal sales and schedule your wardrobe shopping or supplies shopping around these times. However, if you buy items that have no real purpose from sales simply because they happen to be cheap, then you are not really saving.
7. Buy in bulk.
Take note of what you and your family consume in large quantities and buy this in the largest packaging possible. Buying in bulk would allow you to realize big savings as opposed to buying items in smaller packaging, which may come out more expensive in the long run. Toiletries and food items are good examples of items that come out much cheaper when bought in bigger packs. Make sure, however, that you buy in quantities that you and your family can consume. Going beyond this would result in wastage.
8. Plan your entertainment and travel schedules.
Eating out during weekends is fun, but do you realize that some restaurants charge higher fees during weekends and holidays? Buffet rates in most popular restaurants are 30-40% more expensive on weekends than on weekdays. If you are planning a vacation, try to schedule it during the low seasons or on weekdays, when hotel and airplane ticket prices are much lower than peak seasons and weekends or holidays.
Grow Your Money is an editorial partnership between ABS-CBNnews.com and Citi Philippines to promote financial education and provide helpful information to Filipinos on how to better manage their personal finances.
Visit www.citibank.com.ph for more information.