Missniao recently wrote a post on how she managed to save about 50% of her take home pay.
It was pretty inspiring, and quite a fun read to see how a 27 year old millennial managed to do so. Of course, we could all start pointing out stuff like how she still stays with her parents, not paying for rental, single, no commitment, etc. Yes, in fact, there are many out there with profiles similar to her, but how many are able to achieve that?
Do you earn more than her, but save less than her (supposedly if all the other parameters stay the same, ie. single, living with parents, no kids, etc.)?
Having said that, I thought I would share my spending habits as well.
To be honest, I would go so far to say that my spending habits haven’t differ very much from 10 years ago or rather, when I started working then, which is more than 10 years back (don’t have to start guessing my age!). However, having said that, I have reached a few milestones over the years, getting married, having a kid, mortgage, running a household, so definitely, things will start to be a bit more costly and also an overall increase in expenditure.
Although I only started tracking my expenses in recent years, my spending habits have stayed relatively the same, so I reckon there hasn’t been a lot of difference over the last decade or so. In terms of personal expenses, that is. If there are any, it’s probably more so due to inflation.
I remember when I first started working, I had a take home pay of around $2000. Of this amount, I gave $800 to my mum. Therefore, I was left with just $1,200 to survive monthly, and I had to set aside some for savings. Of course, during then, I was single, not married, so I didn’t really need to pay for rent, etc. I dined home most of the time, and so didn’t really need to spend much on food outside, except perhaps lunch at work and maybe meeting up with friends and some entertainment costs incurred here and then periodically. Also, as my dad was still working then, I didn’t really have to pay for the household stuff either.
Transport wasn’t a big deal too, since I didn’t really have a habit of cabbing around (although things have changed nowadays with the proliferation of private hires such as grab and uber), and handphone bills then were probably 50% of what our telcos charged us today. Even though I did enjoy shopping then, most of the stuff that I purchased were sale items and for cosmetics and skincare, I only purchase drugstore brands, so they were never quite extravagant purchases. I have never been a brand conscious person so I never really go for branded items, but affordable, quality ones.
These probably helped me to control my expenditure and prevent them from blowing out of control.
Having said that, there have been changes as well. With inflation, things are more expensive. Even though I have tried to stay frugal, I do not deny that I do gravitate to certain “luxury purchase” sometimes. For instance, buying slightly more expensive skincare products now (I chanced upon a brand which I liked a lot but unfortunately, caused 50% more than the drugstore brands) and my haul of Samantha Thavasa bags (specifically a hangbag for work, a backpack for casual and wallet) when I went travelling to Japan.
Some of these luxurious purchases are once-off purchases, that is, I try to buy them only when I am using them and need them. They are not items that I will buy on a monthly basis (although for skincare and cosmestics I probably need to restock them every couple of months). After all, as minimalists, we want to try to live with just the essentials and not in excess.
Dave and I published our monthly expense report to chronicle our expenses as a family unit. As a family of 3, we have set ourselves a target of around $5,000 a month. Excluding the $1,200 that I give to my parents monthly, essentially, we are just trying to work within a budget of $3,800 between the 3 of us. Some months, we were able to live below the $5k limit, whereas in others, the expenditure tends to be higher (for instance, in January, we had to spend more for ang bao money, and in March, we went on an overseas family trip).
Spending habit is a very personal thing, and it varies with individual. But for us, I guess the key is to live within our means, frugally but yet at the same time, not compromising much on our lifestyle.