With 2021 still fraught with uncertainty – the world is dealing with a major economic recession and many industries will continue to shed jobs – it’s wise to be prudent with your finances. Lunar New Year is just over, and you’ve probably spent a fair bit feasting with family and friends, sprucing up your home and shopping for new clothes. To further save money in the year of the diligent Ox, try to limit your meals out or organise potluck lunches and dinners; find inexpensive ways to freshen up your home using potted plants, flowers and homemade decorations; and wear outfits you already own instead of spending money on new ones (or seek out the season’s sales and get up to 70% off items).
Victor Tang, a personal wealth manager, shares more tips to save big bucks and boost your wealth this year.
Q: What are some inexpensive, or even free, ways to have fun and bond with my family outside the home?
Victor: Going to the zoo or cinema can come up to quite a bit over the years, especially if you have a big family. Besides having picnics at the park and barbecues on the beach, you may want to introduce your family to a new sport or hobby. Basketball, for example, only requires you to purchase a ball, and if you use a public court, you can play for free. Taking up a new sport is also an excellent way to keep fit and stay healthy together. Challenge your family to try a new sport every few months.
Here are some sporting activities which the whole family can enjoy together, click here to read more.
Q: I’m interested in advancing my professional skills this year, but I don’t want to spend a small fortune on a full-time course. Is there a more affordable way to give myself an upgrade?
Victor: Make full use of SkillsFuture’s subsidised courses. This government initiative has options for everyone, from students to early-career and mid-career employees, and even employers. There are many programmes available, designed to help you uncover your passion and strengths, give you a firm job foundation, future-proof your career, and more.
Find out more ways to upskill yourself and diversify your career here.
Q: We can’t holiday overseas just yet, but how can I save money on travel now, ahead of a possible trip next year?
Victor: One way to save is by not renewing your annual travel insurance just yet. Also, in the middle of the year or during sales, look for discounts on good-quality luggage – some brands may offer up to two-thirds off the retail price on certain designs. Finally, many hotels and travel agencies are already offering great deals for future trips. You may want to consider booking one now, so long as you are allowed to cancel or postpone it at a later stage.
Q: Since the pandemic, we hardly go out to eat, which means cooking more meals at home. How can I make family mealtimes more economical?
Victor: Look for weekly specials on pantry staples and create dishes from these. If you plan your meals ahead of time, you could save quite a bit. When you’re at the supermarket, check out the “reduced to clear” section for bargains. Many of these items may be nearing their “sell by” or “use by” date but are still fresh and edible.
Q: How can I make my savings work harder this year?
Victor: You could invest the money in a relatively lower-risk instrument, such as a cash management account or certificates of deposit, with a zero or short lock-in period. If you want higher overall returns, opt for asset allocation. This involves dividing your investment portfolio among different asset categories, such as stocks, bonds and cash.
Q: Do you have any ideas for extra tax savings?
Victor: If you and your spouse contribute up to $15,300 each to the Supplementary Retirement Scheme, you could potentially achieve 100% tax savings on the contributed amount. You could also make voluntary Central Provident Fund contributions – $7,000 to your account, and another $7,000 to your spouse or aged parent – to get a tax relief of up to $14,000.
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