Thursday, June 19, 2008

Surviving Fuel Price Hike: 3 Easy Ways To Drive Less & Save Money

Accept it, we are living in the era of expensive fuel. But not all should be bleak and moody in view of the recent fuel price hiked (and there’s already a speculation of another hike in the near future. Yikes!). Here are 3 simple, basic tips that will help you cut down on your expenses and in the long run, save money.

3-in-1s Are Really Not That Bad
If you are like me, who cannot for the life of you, kick off the habit of having a cuppa in the morning or for tea breaks, then think of buying / tapau-ing coffee from your neighbourhood kopitiam as a luxury and stop indulging already. Instead, buy 3-in-1s beverage mix if you're for convenience, or better yet, make your own instant coffee/tea from scratch (i.e mix 1 tbp of instant coffee powder with 2 tsp of sugar, add hot water, stir well, blah blah… Oh! A box of 100-teabags will only cost you like what, a few ringgits only! That’s a hundred day of tea there man)!

Consider this:
A cup of Nescafé from the coffee shop is $1.80. If I were to have my cuppa say, 5 times a week, and this will add up to $9.00. In a month, just my coffee alone will leave a small but significant dent of $36.00 in my wallet, and in a year, $432.00.

Now compare this with a pack of 30-sachets 3-in-1 NescafĂ© coffee mix - that’s a full one month supply - which will cost me nothing more than $10.00 a pack in the hypermarkets currently and all I need is hot water. That’s a saving of at least $26.00 a month, and $312.00 a year compare to buying from the coffee shops!

Couple that with simple home-made breakfast, i.e bread with butter and jam, wheat biscuits, or simple egg sandwich instead of nasi lemak (trans fat!) or wanton mee, you’ll be saving big time and living healthier in the long run!

Eating-In The Hawker Way
Admittedly, I still find it difficult to juggle marketing, cooking, and working at one go. Of course ideally it’ll be me whipping out a piping hot meal at the end of a work day for dinner, that way I’ll save and have healthy food that is good for my body. But come on, let’s face it, not all of us are born with the Nigella Lawson gene and I do think cooking for 1 or 2 pax is at times, more expensive than eating out. Here’s one way you can consider adopting: chap farn dishes!

For those non-Malaysians, chap farn simply means “mix rice” where you’ll be given rice and have at least 10 types of dishes to choose from at the neighbourhood hawker stalls. It’s almost like home-cooked food minus the benefit of MSG-free factor. Mix rice is the most common hawker offering very much loved by students or working young adults who are living away from mom’s home-cooked meals, for the simple fact of wide variety and it’s relatively cheap - generally $3.50 and up per meal of rice, 2 veges/tofu/egg, 1 meat, and normally soup are complimentary, but I won’t usually take the soup because it’s laden with MSG and salt.

To take it a step cheaper, you can always just buy 2-3 dishes in per-person portion without the rice (this normally feeds 2 persons well), which will not cost you more than $4.00 (depending on the dishes: normally fish and seafood dishes are more expensive), on your way back form work; and cook rice at home! You’ll be feeding 2 persons for just a small fraction of the cost of eating-out!

Here’s a tip: instead of packing the dishes in separate containers (usually charges more), simply take and line your dishes in one container neatly. And if possible, bring your own container to save the environment from Styrofoam and plastic pollution!

Online, Off-road
Everything is going online these days, inclusive of bill payments. So why congest the road, waste your time, energy, and join the crowd at the banks/post offices/counters to pay bills? Compile your bills monthly and make arrangements to either pay online, or a standing instruction to auto-debit from your account.

That way, you not just save time and petrol; you also save from paying late charges and interests when your payment is over-due. Trust me, late charges may not be much. Even if it’s just a $10.00 fee, it can very well add up to a whopping $120.00 per year, and that does not include interests yet. Now you do the math!

Unfortunately, there’s no changing how the world changes so quickly, especially in terms of costs of living. However, we do have a choice to adapt to changes and make adjustments to live frugally. So open up your mind, be creative, and pay attention to the tiny details in your daily living. Cutting small costs here and there may seem petty, but it’ll definitely pay off in the long haul.


essie-chan said...

Excellent advice! =D

Packing food from home helps too. Over carefree weekends, you could make batches of lasagna and a great variety of energy bars and bring them to work/save for dinner!

And maybe limit yourself to one splurge per month - starbucks coffee/tabloid magazine/shoes/bag under a certain budget.

Calculate expenses, bring water from home. If you're stuck in front of the computer all day long, maybe invest in one of those cool gadgets like a USB mug heater, so you can have tea/coffee. XP

There should be more books on how to live cheap and cookbooks on how to cook fast, cheap and easy too! ...That is not from overseas that has products that we have no inkling what they are and where we can get them.

leishia said...

O___O i like me a UBS mug heater! awesome!

ok next time i write and publish books on how to live cheap and cookbooks on how to cook fast, cheap, and easy, i'll let u know where to get them ok! xD