Want to lose weight? Then don’t leave Kitkat bars and bags of M&Ms all over your desk at work. Wish you were smarter and more knowledgable? Then stop watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians reruns all day long. Want to finish your work on time and leave the office early? Then you really don’t need to keep 10 browser windows displaying every social media site known to man on your desktop at you work.
Clearly, you need more than willpower to achieve a goal—you need to create an environment that helps and encourages you to do what you need to.
If your goal is to cut your spending and save more, you’re setting yourself up for failure if you spend all your spare time browsing online shops, continue to worry about people seeing you in the same outfit twice and hang out with the sort of people who wouldn’t hesitate to ask you how much your shirt cost. Here are four ways to make your environment more conducive to money-saving.
Block your favourite online shopping sites
Peep at the smartphone screen of a bored OL on the MRT or peer over your colleague’s shoulder when he or she is zoning out at work, and there’s a high chance you’ll see some online store or other. Browsing online stores is a very common way to kill time (and souls) in Singapore.
Whether you’re checking out metrosexual menswear on Sixth Empire, reading book reviews on Amazon or trawling for dirt cheap deals on Taobao, just having these websites on your screen often results in the temptation to buy, or at least a longing for new stuff.
One solution is to block these sites on your computer using the app Freedom. Sure, you might feel like a three year old being banned from viewing NSFW content, but if you make lots of purchases online, this might actually curb your shopping addiction.
Display cookbooks prominently and keep your fridge stocked
Many Singaporeans have the bad habit of eating out way too often than they can afford. Sometime between 2006 and 2016, it became acceptable for people to regularly spend 1.5% of their salary on a single meal. Spending $30 on pasta is no longer unusual, even for more well-off students.
Those who have decided to start cooking at home more in order to save money should realise that when your fridge is as empty as Kim Kardashian’s head, there’s a monumental pile of unwashed dishes in the sink and you need to spend half an hour googling a decent recipe before you can even get started, the odds are stacked against you.
Encourage yourself to cook by prominently displaying your cookbook collection, keeping your fridge stocked with ingredients you know how to work with and making sure you’re not coming home to a pile of filthy dishes covered in flies. I find that so long as I can satisfy the latter two conditions, I almost always manage to muster the motivation to cook.
Stick your savings goals and your monthly budget up on your wall
We all experience those moments of panic when we realise just how expensive it is to live in Singapore and we swear that this is the year we’ll work on attaining our savings goals.
But the motivation fades as soon as the next sale. If you don’t constantly remind yourself of why exactly you want to save money, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep going.
When you were a kid, there’s a high chance your parents made you stick your weekly and exam timetables up on your wall so you wouldn’t forget when you had to pack your PE attire or prepare for a test.
In a similar vein, stick your monthly budget up on your wall to remind yourself that you cannot afford to buy that Rolex watch just yet, because your monthly shopping budget is just $300. Remind yourself that you’re working towards the goals of purchasing your first home or retiring in 10 years.
Declutter and downsize your storage space
Those people who convert one room of their apartment into a walk-in closet are just asking for trouble. With that much storage room, you’ll feel obliged to buy enough clothes and shoes to fill up the empty spaces.
If you’re looking to downsize your life and stop accumulating so much junk, keeping the amount of storage space you have in your living quarters minimal and throwing away stuff you don’t need just might help.
If you’re moving into a new place, you’ll be able to plan exactly how much space to allocate to storage. Otherwise, you’ll have to get rid of the clutter in your home and then pack everything that’s left into cupboards and onto shelves.
With your home decluttered, you’ll know exactly how much you can buy before stuff starts spilling out into the common areas, and that can help you resist the temptation of buying more.
As someone who currently lives in a micro-sized studio, I can vouch for the fact that having very little storage space definitely discourages me from buying more. I have exactly one shelf for my clothes, and when that runs out I’ll be sleeping in all those new clothes.
Changing your environment to help you fufil your savings goals takes time. You need to analyse your bad habits and what’s causing them, and then fight them by changing things in ways that encourage behaviour that helps you save instead of spend.
Does your current home environment encourage you to save or spend? Tell us in the comments!
Keep updated with all the news!
Get the latest personal finance tips and tricks delivered to your inbox!
We promise never to spam you!