I was really inspired by A Story of a Fuck Off Fund, which I read last year. I, too, believe in the amazing power that you have when you create and sustain your financial independence. Unfortunately, that story didn’t tell you exactly how to build said fund, but here’s some tips that worked for me! Hopefully some of them will work for you too.
I know it’s impossible to do things like save half your salary and completely ban yourself from touching it, much less even navigate the world of financial planning and insurance, but I do hope that you will be able to build up enough savings to feel comforted in times of need. Needing to worry about money is honestly one of the worst feelings to have, more so when you have ten thousand more things to worry about. So build your Fuck Off Fund up, watch it grow, and don’t forget to be kind to yourself.
Just to be clear, I ain’t no financial advisor. I’m a normal human bean, just like you. I have a degree in English literature with a minor in creative writing which means I know shit about money, probably like you. So this won’t be your ‘how to invest’ post or ‘how to save $200k in two years’ post. This also won’t be a ‘I’m gonna show off how much I’ve saved in two years because I’m so good at managing my money wow me yay me’ post.
This is a ‘I am a graduate with an extremely meh salary trying to save up and anticipate grand dangerous things in life like job changes, preparing to move out of the house, health changes, etc, without having to resort to extremes like saving half my salary and talking to pushy finance/insurance/investment people’ post.
Phew, that was a long sentence.
Anyway, my monthly cycle of money looks like this:
- Day 25ish – I peek at my bank account, hoping it is not a 0. Usually at this point I take out what I need for the next few days, then toss whatever I have left into my savings account
- Day 28 – Salary goes in. I pay my bills – phone and credit card – and give my parents a wee bit and/or top up my dad’s car haha
- Day 1 of the next month – POSB automatically shifts some money to my savings
- Rest of days – I spend my money, try mostly to put it on my credit card, sleep on things that I wanna buy when it’s over $50, hide random amounts of money in random pouches and diaries, occasionally peek at my bank account balances and hope that I’m still safe, occasionally peek at my credit card spending, try not to cry at how little I earn (post-graduate employment surveys are a lie, I tell you)
I do get quite a decent amount saved every month. I scrimp where I can, but I’m honestly not the tapau food from home every day just to save kind of girl. I’m the lowkey worries about money almost every day because I want to move out despite living in asswipe Singapore kind of girl, yet also the lowkey buys into the slightly capitalist new age idea of ‘self-care’ when I feel like I need a pick me up kind of girl.
So if you’re like me, I hope these tips will help you!
1) Determine your monthly cycle of money
When does your pay come in? Mark it in your Google calendar and set up notifications for it. What about your bills? What bills are you paying for? Phone? Credit cards? Netflix? Spotify? Put them all on your calendar so you know exactly what you need to pay and when. Doesn’t matter if it’s automatic. You gotta know what’s sucking your money every month.
2) Get a job, then get a credit card
I know this might go against every instinct you probably have about money and savings, because this is a one way road to debt, but hear me out. Credit cards come with a whole bunch of rewards, like rebates and points. Do your research on what cards there are, and see which one you’d like the most. If you’re aiming for more savings, pick a card that gives you the most rebates. Mine gives me back about $50 every month, though I have to shop at certain stores and spend at least $500 a month on it to get maximum rebates.
Put everything on it – groceries, food, Grab and Uber, etc – and keep an eye on how much you have spent. Being a child of the 21st century, I trust that you already have iBanking. If you don’t, please go get it now. Having iBanking means that you can keep an eye on how much you are spending on your credit cards, so that you won’t get a shock at the end of the month.
And here’s the most important part – Pay your bills on time every month. Don’t ever miss it. Put a recurring reminder on your calendar at least a week before the due date and make sure you pay it by then. Having a credit card is not a one way road to debt, but missing your bills’ due date is, because you’ll be slapped with a late fee and interest, which both will amount to a lot.
3) Set up automated transactions from your current to your savings account
I use POSB, which allows me to make multiple personal accounts under my name. I’m pretty sure other banks do too. Anyway, have two, and don’t touch the one you’ve made to be your savings.
If your bank allows it, set up automated transactions every month from your current to your savings, so you save without having to put in effort at all.
4) In addition to 3), stash bits of money in random places
This is my second-most helpful trick. Whenever I have more than 1 $50 note in my wallet I’ll shove the extra into my diary. Sometimes when I feel like it I’ll shove $10 and $5 notes in there too. I also like to shove money into my passport cover, makeup pouch, pouch that holds pads and pantyliners, and pencilcase.
The best part about this is that I completely forget that I have all this cash hidden and yet, still with me. And when I really need it, like when I queued for 20 mins for really good bergedil and sambal goreng and realise this isn’t MacDonalds, I need to pay cash that I don’t have in my wallet, but oh look! I can just pull out one of my wee lil hidden things.
You can definitely set up a proper system for this, like set aside a special pouch or jar for emergency cash, but that will take out the fun of rediscovering your money. But you do you!!
5) Set a spending limit for each item or shopping session
And we’ve arrived at my most favourite trick!
My spending limit is $50. This means that anything under $50 I’m okay with buying on the spot, and anything that is over $50 I force myself to sleep on before buying. If I wake up the next day still thinking about it, I’ll buy it. If I don’t, then it’s bye-bye.
This of course has its pros and cons. One month I was really lazy, and Uber-ed everywhere because, meh, $5-$15 per ride who cares. Because it was also on my credit card the expenses were hidden, and I didn’t realise how much I’d spent on Uber until the end of the month when my credit card bill went about $200 more than my usual.
Basically, moral of the story is, just because you have a spending limit doesn’t mean that you can anyhow spend when the thing is less than that limit. Yes, definitely take time to think on big ticket items (I pause for a week when it comes to things that cost more than $100), but also remember that every small thing also adds up.
6) If you’re aiming for a thing that burns money, save up for that on top of your savings
When I was planning to go on birth control, I knew it was gonna be about $30+ a month. Doesn’t sound like a lot, right? Why not add consultation fees to the mix, and also the fact that you’ll have to buy a few months’ worth of pills at a time? Basically, each time I go to the clinic I’ve had to spend about $150 for three months of pills. I didn’t want to pay so much for consultation, especially since I have nothing to consult about now that I’m stable, so I set aside money, then blew all $270 of it on 6 months worth of pills.
It could come out of my savings, but I always feel icky every time I have to touch it. So if it’s for something I can anticipate, that doesn’t cost hundreds of hundreds of dollars, like birth control or a staycation or new bras, I’ll just set aside money (I stuff $50 notes in an envelope lol, in addition to all my hiding places in 4)) and then go get it.
7) Don’t ever feel guilty for having to withdraw money from your savings
That being said, don’t ever feel guilty for taking money out of savings! Life sucks, and it always throws these horrible curveballs at you. Like telling you to leave your job. Or making someone in the family fall sick. Or making your laptop fuck up in front of your very eyes. Or letting your phone screen crack when you drop it. Or making you so stressed you just need to yolo off to KL or Bangkok or whatever.
Take the money out, put yourself in a better place, then just build it up again. No problem.
Ultimately, your Fuck Off Fund/savings/whatever you want to call it is there to be your cushion when you fall. It is the wind beneath your wings. It is the spring in your step. Knowing that you have money in the bank that you earned and saved by yourself is incredibly empowering and validating. It gives you the confidence to take risks, to be brave in the face of change, to be able to help out others without worrying too much about yourself.
I wish you all the best!