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Happiness in life with less unnecessary stuffs

Published on: 24th April 2018

It's always a good idea to manage how you spend your money in order to achieve a better quality of life.

There are lots of things in our life that we should take care of. Mostly related to the money matter. I mean, who will be able to survive without money. Right? For myself, I have been tracking my expenses since teenage and I'm going to say this is very helpful. I never had an emergency money issue.

Updated on 23th Feb 2021

This article was written before COVID-19 pandemic and no one has foreseen the damage that it has brought to us. The pandemic is a big disruption to our lives as a result of reduced income or even loss of lives. It's not too late to review how you spend your income and develop a habit of tracking your expenses.

Table of contents

Objectives of expenses tracking

Classifications of usage on our income

We are not going to discuss the source of the income in this article. We simply define "income" as the money that you received from your parents, employer or customer.

Basically, there are three main classification of usage on our income:

  1. Daily expenses - this includes the money that we are spending everyday such as on food, transport, etc.
  2. Fixed installment/expenses - this happened when we signed an agreement on something or some services on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis.
  3. Saving - lastly, we save the money that we did not spend and we hope that it is sufficient for us to survive whenever we don't have any income. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daily expenses

We may divide the daily expenses into two categories:

  1. Regular/planned expenses - the spending on the basic needs that keep us alive. Nothing much we can do to avoid these expenses if you are living in a city where you don't have any land to plant your vegetables. For example,

    1. Food/drinks for breakfast, lunch & dinner excluding the luxury food/drinks.
    2. Petrol, bus/taxi fare.
  2. Non-regular/unplanned expenses - the spending on things other than the basic need. We will still be able to live without having any of the following things (except for medical fees but we can stay healthy by having more exercise). For example,

    1. Luxury food/drinks.
    2. Happy hour.
    3. Buy clothes.
    4. Birthday party.
    5. Wedding party.
    6. Medical fee.
    7. Surprise traveling.
    8. Movie.
    9. Entertainment with friends in an expensive restaurant.

Repeating/recurring expenses

Think thoroughly before you sign any agreement on paying weekly/monthly/yearly basis especially on the long term contract. Don’t be optimistic and expect that your income will be increasing yearly.

The fixed installment/expenses can be divided into two categories:

  1. Short term installment/expenses (< 1 year), for example,

    1. Mobile phone contract where you will get the latest phone by signing up X year of contract.
    2. Personal loan.
    3. Phone bill (fixed amount)
    4. Monthly maintenance/service for the apartment.
    5. House rental.
    6. Water/electricity bill.
  2. Long term installment/expenses (>= 1 year), for example,

    1. Car loan.
    2. Housing loan.
    3. Life/medical insurance.
    4. House insurance.
    5. Car insurance.


Most of the time, saving is the last thing that most people think about. In fact, everyone should have a proper saving plan!

The saving serves the following purposes,

  1. For long term planning - such as you want to have a family, buying a car, buying a house, etc.
  2. Save money for the hard time without any income, not capable of work, economic crisis, health problems, etc. Something that we are not sure what will happen.

Actions to reduce our expenses

  1. Whenever possible, reduce or avoid any fixed installment. Most of the time, this is the killing part to our income. By right, the total fixed monthly installment should not exceed 33% of our monthly income. Imagine that someone who is spending 80% of their income on a housing loan installment and they will live like a zombie, work like a zombie. That’s not fun! 😦
  2. If you can find a cheap mobile service subscription, please change the plan to use the cheaper one.
  3. Not everyone required to have an unlimited 3G/4G data plan on their mobile phone. Free WIFI and free internet access can be found in many places such as restaurants and some public areas.
  4. Reduce the unplanned or non-regular expenses, cut down the unnecessary things. For example, eating an expensive croissant or coffee everyday is just a waste of your money.
  5. Giving up luxury things will make you richer (by saving more) and it’s not the other way round.
  6. Get healthier by doing exercise regularly. You should be able to reduce the medical fee.
  7. Eat what you need but not what you can. There are many restaurants around us but it does not mean that we should keep feeding ourselves even though we are not hungry. Overeating is bad for health in the long run and it requires paying for medical fees to fix the problem.
  8. If possible, use a credit card to earn the cash rebate. It will help a bit in reducing the overall spending. It also helps in monitoring where you have spent your money by reviewing the monthly statement.
  9. Try to buy discounted products such as clothes. Lots of shops are offering season sales or carnival sales. The discount will have a great impact on the non-regular category.

Benefit of reducing expenses

  1. More healthier and happier - we eat only what we need. We don’t have to worry about the fixed installment. Hence reduce the mental pressure.
  2. More confident - yeah... we save more and more money to make ourselves feel more "confident" (and keep your savings a secret 😂).
  3. More freedom - we will get more time to pursue what we want instead of spending time looking for more money to support our lifestyle.


We hope that you have learned more about how to spend your money and to have a better saving plan.

In case you are looking for an app that helps you to track your expenses, check out our app

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Lau Hon Wan, software developer.