7 Easy Money Tips To Get In Shape Financially In 2024

new year resolutions

2023 seems to have just flown by. The year has had its ups and downs as the world continues to trudge through the challenges that arose since the end of the global pandemic.

Add to that the global geopolitical tensions and persistent tightening of monetary policies to address inflation, and we have increased the risk of a worldwide slowdown.

To recap, 2023 has not been particularly (positively) eventful for Malaysians as many wrestle with the rising living cost and inflation. On the economic front, the ringgit continues to weaken against the US dollar, reaching a historic low in October.

With all this bad news around, people might be looking into ways to hang on to more money in the coming years. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you keep your finances in shape to tackle the challenges to come.

1. Bring your budget up to date

The first step to saving cash is to always do a full review of your budget. Unless you are already scraping by on the bare minimum, a budget review can always find something for you to cut.

One of the most common things to cut from a budget are unused subscriptions. The ease and convenience of the internet has made it easy to forget about those pesky online services that we subscribe to but rarely use at all.

Read More: Busted! 10 Reasons Why You Fail At Your Budget

You could also opt to switch to alternative products that are cheaper to get more bank for your buck. Another thing to note is that you should start preparing for things that may come in 2024. Getting married later in the year? Start planning out the cost of the ceremony now and research projected expenses. Continue to check in with your budget quarterly to make adjustments wherever necessary. Not all expenses are expected, but you can pre-empt them with enough planning.

You can also try using our FREE Budget Planner and Expense Tracker to get you started on your new year resolutions right away!

2. Pay more than the minimum on your credit card

By now you should know that the term “minimum payment” is not an excuse to take your time to clear off that outstanding credit card bill.

Let’s break it down. Say, you greet 2024 with RM10,000 in debt and you are comfortable with paying the minimum, hoping you could still afford more of what life has to offer. Here’s how much interest you incur after paying off your debt:

Total outstanding balance on your credit card: RM10,000
Interest rate: 15% p.a.
Paying just the minimum payment of 5%Paying a fixed amount of RM800 every month
First payment:RM500RM800
Subsequent payment:5% of outstanding balanceRM800
Total interest incurred:RM3,157.92RM943
Time to pay off:6 years 11 months1 year 2 months

Besides clearing debt quicker, you save RM2,214.92 in interest just by paying a higher fixed amount every month.

Remember: When it comes to paying your credit card, settling for the bare minimum makes you a slave to interest. It will also very quickly negate any investment returns you may be getting elsewhere.

3. Ask for a raise (or find a higher paying job)

Have you been meaning to ask your boss for higher remuneration but never worked up the courage to do so? Well, 2024 is the time to do it, especially if it has been some time since your last big raise.

Read More: Should You Expect A Salary Increase In 2024?

Sure, the conversation surrounding this can be a little awkward, and asking for a salary increase during the current unstable economic climate can be tricky, but even if your employer says no, you’ve opened the door to the conversation, and your employers will be fully aware that you want more for your service.

The other side of the coin is to find a higher paying job. The beginning of the year often brings thoughts of looking for a new job for many employees. The effort you put into preparing for asking for a raise can also open the door to new job opportunities. Check out the top industries that are paying the highest salaries this year.

4. Kick-off that side gig

Have you been putting off making money with your side-gig? Then 2024 may be the best time to start. With the state the economy is currently in, the extra income your side-gig brings in can be a life-saver.

If you are a baker, you can take some time off on your weekend to make homemade cakes or biscuits. Start small by advertising on social media or to your community. After slowly building your rapport, you can then start growing your business or services offered.

Read More: How To Get Your Side Hustle Off The Ground With Limited Funds

If you like writing, you could probably open up commissions to do freelance work. There are plenty of companies out there, both big and small, who are looking to outsource their content writing. Just remember to align your side-gig with your interests. If you are not passionate about it, you will find yourself unwilling to spend your free time on these ventures.

5. Shop smarter

One good thing about a digitalised and always-online society is that you can now score some great deals on the fly with credit cards and eWallets.

These alternative payment methods often come with some fantastic perks, be it in the form of cashbacks or discounts with certain stores and retailers. As such, it has become increasingly easier to not pay full price for something. As such, you should take advantage of these perks as much as possible.

In some cases, it might also be possible to stack value by enrolling in a retailer’s loyalty program to get additional perks or discounts. Reward cards are very much worth the effort of signing up as you can earn more value and earn points, especially if you are a regular customer at said stores. If you are using a rewards credit card, don’t forget to pay back your balance in full to avoid incurring any additional interest charges.

Read More: 5 Credit Card Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes

6. Establish a no-spend week (or weekend)

Incorporating a spending freeze into your budget is healthy on your finances. Do this by adding a no-spend week – it is a super way to save a little cash.

For example, this is John’s spending in a week excluding petrol and daily parking fees.

Groceries + dining outRM500
Starbucks latteRM48 (RM16 x 3)
Movie ticketRM20

Establish a no-spend week once a month, and John saves RM9,216 in a year. With that amount, he can easily channel that money to unit trusts or even stocks and leverage on compounding to grow his savings.

Creative tips during a no-spend week

  • Use up whatever that is left in your pantry.
  • Download a podcast instead of going to the movies.
  • Borrow a book from the library.
  • Go for a walk or to the park with your loved ones instead of the happy hour.
  • Clean your house and sell items online.
  • Learn how to travel for cheap or even do a volunteer trip where you get free lodging and food.

Read More: How To Stop Overspending On Weekends

7. Be intentional with your spending

Intentional living is a trend that is growing in popularity. People want to do work that has meaning and purpose. This mind set can also be put towards managing your money with great effect. Being intentional with your money not only helps prevent lifestyle inflation, but it is also tied in with creating the perfect budget that works for you.

Concentrate on buying the things you need and the things that bring you joy. If you find something you want, but hesitate to buy, then you should probably let that item go. After all, if you are second guessing yourself, then you probably do not need it right now.

Read More: 5 Ways To Avoid Impulse Shopping

To help you make those decisions, keep track of the money that you are spending on your favourite retail sites and in those impulse-buy categories. By staying on top of your finances, you will know what you need to do to make ends meet.

And it all begins here and now

Reality is, most of us will usher 2024 with either some burden or debt to finance. While you can’t melt away the money tension with mere wishful thinking, there are and always will be ways to lessen its impact.

Start off by coming up with a plan that transforms your sources of stress into goals that can be achieved, step by step.  Commit to them and be disciplined.

Always seek to clear off debt as quickly as possible and make surplus cash work hard for you. These require some sacrifice, but nothing worthwhile in life comes easy.

To do this, don’t wait after recovering from the New Year after party, get started now and keep track of your spending and progress.

Good luck and Happy New Year, y’all.

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