Brain-damaging Habits


5-Minute Ways to Save Money in 2015

U.S.News & World Report
By Jon Lal | U.S.News & World Report – Thu, Jan 15, 2015 10:27 PM PHT

After the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, it’s easy to get swept up in the ritual of making resolutions. The year stretches out before you like a clean slate, making anything seem possible. But when the party dies down and it comes time to get started on your new healthy, frugal or charitable goals, actually doing so might seem easier said than done.
If one of your resolutions this year is to save money, spend less or start contributing to a new fund, don’t get overwhelmed by thinking you bit off more than you can chew. Make a number of small changes in your life and you’ll be surprised to see a big impact by the end of the year. Then you can take your saved cash and put it towards a bigger goal.
Make it easier on yourself. Here are things you can do to save money this year that take five minutes or less:
Evaluate your budget once a month.
Take five minutes once a month and evaluate your spending. Make sure every expense on your list is something you are actively using or consider valuable. Automatic payments for gym memberships, music or movie streaming and other services you might have forgotten about can add up quickly. By doing a quick sweep of your expenses, you can eliminate some of these costs throughout the year.
Keep your credit cards at home.
Maintaining a few credit cards and accounts is important for a healthy credit score. However, if you always have your credit cards within arm’s reach it can be way too easy to rack up a high balance. Unless you know you are making a specific purchase or need it for emergencies, leave the credit cards at home most days and rely on your debit card or even better, cash.
Stick to your own ATM.
When you do need cash, try to exclusively use your bank’s ATM. Plan ahead so that you’re able to withdraw cash (even if it takes five extra minutes), and you’ll avoid steep fees as well as potential charges from your own bank.
Prep for the grocery store.
Take five minutes to prepare before you head out on your grocery shopping trip. Make a list of everything you need (and take note of those things you already have, so you don’t double up). Then search for any coupons you have around the house, as well as on your favorite coupon website. You can easily search by brand and print specific coupons, or look at your grocery store’s circular online to see what is on sale that week. It only takes five minutes, but you’ll walk in much more prepared and less likely to stray from your shopping list.
Sign up for a cash back and coupon website.
It takes less than five minutes to sign up for a free coupon and cash back website, and if you’re an online shopper this can add up to big savings. Always look for a coupon code before you buy anything online, and click through the cash back site first to earn back a percentage of your total. Bonus if you can stack these rewards together!
Sign up for a free budgeting tool.
If keeping a budget or managing a spreadsheet doesn’t come naturally to you, there are plenty of free tools that make budgeting a breeze. is one website that will keep track of all your accounts and assets in one place. You can easily set up a detailed budget and receive alerts when bills are coming due or your spending in a certain category is nearing its limit.
Get a library card.
Many libraries still offer free membership to give you access to thousands of books, magazines and movies. Head into your local library and sign up for a card and you’ll have instant access to unlimited resources. If you prefer to read your books electronically, you can rent eBooks at the library too. Don’t forget to check out the movies — though you might have to join a waiting list for new releases, this is a much cheaper alternative to subscription services or DVD rentals.
Jon Lal is the founder and CEO of coupons and cash back website, which saves shoppers an average of $27 per order thanks to coupons plus an average of 7 percent cash back at more than 4,000 stores.

Golden Rules for Aging Gracefully.


This 2015, learn how to start saving – for real
Posted at 01/12/2015 10:11 AM | Updated as of 01/12/2015 12:45 PM

MANILA, Philippines – One of the most common New Year’s resolutions made by people is to start saving up.

To set aside more funds for a rainy day or to be able to make a major purchase such as a car or a house in the future is something we all aspire to, but we can just as easily succumb to the temptation of spending—and then regret it when we realize that we don’t have much left in our wallets or bank account.

How, then, should you teach yourself to start saving?

Cementing your decision to save money is the first real step to saving, and this resolution should be backed by action. Deciding you want to save means that you will take a direct hand in your money matters instead of allowing circumstances to dictate how much you will spend and save. This may sound difficult but it is something you can set your mind to do. By knowing your needs and understanding your financial situation, you will be able to save effectively.

There are two important things that you have to know to help you get started on the saving route:

First, how much you make and spend. It’s quite amazing how many people could not account for how they spend their money on a regular basis. At most, what they have is a general idea of the amount that goes into their payrolls and the amount that they’ve spent, without a breakdown of their actual spending. Having this information will be your starting point. It will allow you to make a realistic savings plan that you can actually implement and adhere to.

To know this information, get hold of your most recent financial records – your pay slip, credit card statement, utility bills, bank account, etc. List what you spend on individually and as a family to give you a better idea. You may be in for a surprise!

Second, think of how much you want to save. Be realistic about your targets. To illustrate, you cannot realistically plan to save 100% of your earnings if you are the breadwinner in your family. You may want to save a percentage of your earnings—say 20%—or you may want to save a set amount like P1,000 per payday. The choice is yours, and will depend on your circumstances.

Based on the information above, design your individualized saving plan.

Here are some points to consider to help you start saving.

Savings first.

Instead of saving what is left of your salary or earnings at the end of a given period, make sure you save a pre-set amount first then spend what is left. This ensures that you can build up your savings and sets your spending boundaries.

Put your savings in a separate account.

Having a separate savings account keeps you from touching your savings unnecessarily. You can open a separate savings account and transfer the pre-set amount from your usual payroll account to this account.

Look at areas where you can make cuts.

Sometimes, you can be spending so much on unnecessary items that somehow add up: a daily latte at the coffee shop instead of brewed coffee from the cafeteria; taking the cab when the MRT provides a faster and cheaper option; paying for internet data charges when there is free wi-fi. Think of how your usual day and week goes to identify those things that you may want to cut.

List down your expenses.

Recording your expenses is a good way to monitor your spending. Keep this list and compare your expenses in the past few months to see your spending patterns. You may discover that you have already spent a small fortune on gadgets in the last six months, or that you’ve been shopping too frequently for shoes and clothes that are just crowding your closet.

Have a budget.

This is a good way to control your spending. For instance, you can set a budget of P1,000 per payday for your personal entertainment expenses. Having this limit ensures that you choose entertainment options that suit your cash flow and will not hinder you from reaching your financial goals.

Keep your eyes on the prize.

Your savings should contribute to your long-term financial goals. Whenever the itch to spend beyond your budget hits you, start visualizing that dream home, start-up business, or new car, and that should encourage you to stay within your means.

Make 2015 a game changing year for you, and for your savings. Good luck!

Grow Your Money is an editorial partnership between and Citi Philippines to promote financial education and provide helpful information to Filipinos on how to better manage their personal finances.

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