The cost of day-to-day living can be stressful. Housing, utilities, and essential expenses add up quickly but there are ways and means to handle your living costs better and make your finances more manageable. We approached Petra Ellul Mercer, Financial Capability Executive at GEMMA to explore practical options and tools needed to achieve financial stability.
Petra, what are your current living expenses and how do you track them?
Petra: I found the best tracking tool is a budget app. It made me realise where I was spending my money but it also helped me to understand my spending patterns especially my impulse buys. Current living expenses are high, so I have had to become more disciplined with my income and expenses.
You mentioned being more disciplined – in what ways? And how do you recognize which expenses you can do without?
Petra: My Achilles heel is impulse buying on clothes! So now I’m writing my expenses down to help me dig deeper into things like subscriptions. And I ask myself, do I really need to have them all? I’m also looking more at what companies are offering in plans instead of just letting payment come out of direct debit.
Ok, let’s move on to daily essentials like food and transport. Do you have any strategies to save money on those costs?
Petra: I compared the cost of using my car to using a taxi and investigated the efficiency of doing that. I have also opened separate accounts for my such expenses to stick to monthly amounts – this way, I could budget and plan better.
What about entertainment? How can you cut back on entertainment expenses?
Petra: I usually look for events and activities we can do for free – things we can enjoy as a family. Also, instead of leaving things to the last minute (which is a bad habit of mine), I try to make use of early bird prices.
Let’s say something unexpected comes up, an emergency. How do you handle such expenses?
Petra: I do have a separate account for emergencies and put a set percentage of my income every month in that account so that I am covered and don’t feel the stress of having that additional ‘Surprise’ cost!
Last two questions! Do you have a long-term financial goal? And how are you planning on achieving it?
Petra: I would love to travel around India for an extended period. Every month I put aside an amount to my ‘Take Me Away’ travel account. Recently it’s getting harder with prices going up. So I’ve written this goal, along with my other objectives on a notepad and keep it on my bedside table. This way, I see them every morning and that helps me not to lose sight of my original goals.
Thank you, Petra for your insight! Let’s get the conversation going. How do you save on daily expenses and cut on costs? Leave a comment in the box below!