Broke before payday? Try these 7 money-saving life hacks

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Jul 15 2019 09:52 AM

For most of the 42 million workers in the country, payday comes on the 15th and 30th of the month. Lining up in the grocery over the weekend, I overheard two friends complaining to each other how much they hate it when the payday falls on a Monday, as is the case today.

For them, this means the weekend dragged by and they had to skip Friday night hangout with friends, stayed in for most of Saturday and Sunday too, and judging by their grocery items, will be having instant noodles for dinner.

It’s not so bad when you’re single and only missing out on a fun evening with friends. But if you’re married with children, every day waiting for your salary can feel like an eternity.

How to break the cycle of being broke until payday? The simple answer is to check if you are spending more than what you make.

If you are, and those expenses are for “needs” not “wants," time to ask for a raise or find a better-paying job. Don’t feel bad about asking for a raise – your employer needs to know what you need and if you are a valued member of the team, they will find a way to make things better for you. If they cannot, at least you will get an answer and that can help you decide where to go next.

While this is a simple answer, I know this is not a simple solution. Even if you find the courage to ask for one, and are given a raise, it could take months or a year depending on when salary increases are given in your company. Until then, what can you do? Or how about if you did check and found that you are spending for too many “wants” that’s why you always fall short? Can you break free of the payday poverty cycle?

The answer is yes, and below are some simple life hacks to help you get started.

#1 Check for money “drains”.

We all have them – big or small life luxuries that “drain” our wallet. With me, I confess I spend too much on notebooks and pens and then worry about where to put them after purchase (because I only use 5 percent of my personal inventory). You may think these are small items, and you are right, they were when I started. But I have since discovered acid-free notebooks and their prices are way higher.

Find your money “drain” and cut them out until things get better. Is it gourmet coffee? Artisanal ice cream? Signature milk teas? Mobile data plans? Track your spending and discover all these money “vampires." Knowing what they are is the first step to freeing up your wallet.

#2 No amount is too small.

I used to reason with myself that this is just one notebook, that is just one pen. But these all add up. When it comes to saving, no amount is too small so discipline is essential. So that milk tea you had yesterday and the unique ice cream flavor you will buy later? Along with my notebooks and pens, they all fall into the money “suckers” list that we need to avoid.

If you carry your mobile phone with your everyday, make a list of “want” things you bought and write how much it cost next to it. Do this for a week or a month and you will be surprised at the tally. Knowledge is power so use it to cure yourself in time for the next payday.

#3 Discover prepaid cards and e-wallets.

They say there’s no better substitute to curbing spending than paying with cash and locking away your credit cards. I suppose that’s true because when you have to count out money to pay for something, the expense is more real. Plus with no cash, you cannot buy things – period.

But I do not like to carry cash so I have discovered something just as effective – prepaid cards and e-wallets. If you take Grab to and from work, set a monthly budget and park that amount in GrabPay. You will earn more rewards points too – and can monitor how much you are spending. When your budget runs out, time to switch to cheaper modes of transport, or asking for free rides from friends. If you like gourmet coffee, one offers a prepaid card which you can load and then set a budget for monthly use. There are also prepaid cards for bus rides, train rides, mobile loads and many more.

But be careful of electronic wallets and prepaid cards that have wide acceptance. They can make it easy to spend because you can just swipe or scan QR codes anywhere. Note there are usually fees when you load or cash in.

#4 Treat your credit card as debt cards.

If you enjoy the convenience of paying with credit cards, you’re not alone. Many households rely on credit cards to purchase groceries, fill up their gas tank, even pay for tuition. But credit cards do not come free – there’s an annual fee for the privilege of using it, and a long list of fees that include interest charges if you miss a payment.

That interest charge can do a world of hurt on your wallet so if you are looking to cut back, think twice before you swipe. Consider your credit card as debt weapons, that is you only pull them out when you are ready to go into debt. That change of perspective may not make you so quick to flash that plastic currency next time.

#5 Make coupons your new BBF (best buy finds).

You don’t have to walk around with coupons to enjoy exclusive discounts these days. With the right App, you can get cash back and rebates on “wants," not just “needs” purchases.

The trick is to always check for coupon codes and exclusive deals before making any purchase. If you have to eat out, do it at restaurants with 50 percent off deals. Buying new school uniforms? Find interest-free installment offers where payments start three months later and comes with a discount or rebate. Seek and the bargain shopper in you shall find.

#6 Tire yourself out of online shopping

I read about this trick online and realized this is so effective. If you’re shopping for an item that you want but don’t really need, search for the specific product (e.g. men’s sneakers) instead of the general product category (e.g. shoes). A study showed that online shoppers who search by the category were three times more likely to keep browsing after they found the item they wanted. That means less likelihood of buying.

#7 Try the 50/20/30 budget.

In her book “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan,” United States Senator Elizabeth Warren popularized the 50/20/30 budget rule. She suggests that you divide your income after taxes: spend 50 percent on “needs," 30 percent on “wants” and park 20 percent for savings.

If you are still in the poverty payday cycle, this may seem impossible to you right now. But we all need to be motivated so this is a good one. Remember that you can live on half your pay – and this money plan can break you from the cycle and put you on the

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.