5 Money Tips I Picked Up In Asia That Changed My Life

If you have a university degree, sell your car and leave the country. Bold statement? Well, consider this: Living in North America could actually be making you broke. I exaggerate only slightly. When I lived in Canada, I owned an online translation firm. (You can read up on how I went broke over here.) I found myself in dire need of money tips!  I researched how to make money outside of Canada and stumbled upon teaching abroad. I’m so happy that I took the leap to move to Asia and teach. My financial situation completely changed for the betterand perhaps, this article will help yours change too.

Here are 5 money tips I picked up in Asia that changed my life.

money tips

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1. Give yourself an allowance

Before moving abroad, my finances weren’t organized at all. I had money in my account, and I would swipe my debit card or credit card like no woman’s business. To make matters worse, I hardly ever looked at my bank statements. Don’t be like that. Giving yourself an allowance can save you thousands a year. For example, after you tally up your recurring monthly bills, determine the money you need to get by until your next pay. Then, determine what to transfer into a secondary account as savings (at a second bank, so you’re less tempted to withdraw it).

So, if you’re paid $3000 a month (after taxes), and your bills come up to $1500, you have $1500 of disposable income. Your allowance could be $500. With this money, you could buy clothes, go out to eat with your friends, go see a movie, etc. That means you’d be building an emergency fund with $1000 a month, or you could split that amount between your savings account and ETFs (or whatever investment asset you’re interested in). This strategy helped me save USD$20,000 in a year. I’m Canadian, so that was a lot for me. Do the math for yourself! If you take my free course, you receive a free worksheet to enter in all your information.

2. Use cash instead of cards

Back when I worked at a coffee shop, I typically used my change to make purchases because my generous (but oftentimes annoying) customers would give me great tips. I’d make approximately $20 in tips a day, on top of my hourly wage. That may not seem like a lot, but that was an extra $100 a day, which is an extra $400 a month. Plus, I got promoted to Team Captain, so I got free food.

The lesson: Work hard even if you hate the job—you just might get free food.

All that to say, using change pays off. Ba dum tss. You won’t lose track of your funds that way. Take out the money you need for the month, split that amount in half or fourths if you want, and use that. I got into the habit of doing that again when I moved to Macau, because some places didn’t accept card payments if the total was under a certain amount. Save money by using cash instead of your card. Out of all the money tips shared in this article, I believe this one is the easiest to implement. 

3. Develop a money mindset

Imagine getting paid the same amount every month without fail. Okay, it’s not that hard to imagine. But, as someone who was self-employed for years before that, it was nice to experience a steady income. Although I gave myself a $500 allowance, I didn’t deprive myself of anything. I never once said, “I’m broke.” I truly believe in the power of words and how they can shape our reality. Last year, I purchased tickets to Bali, but I wasn’t able to go after all. What’s worse, I wasn’t even able to get a refund. But, I didn’t let it annoy me (too much), because I truly believe money comes easily to me (use this phrase as your daily affirmation!). Using the allowance strategy teaches you that everything you possess (in that one account) can be spent. You’re not telling yourself that you can’t afford a $5 latte, because you really can. Changing your money mindset is one of my favorite money tips.

4. Make concrete plans

Before moving to Asia, I set out to purchase a home. (Thank God, I didn’t!) But, I didn’t have a solid plan to get there. While I was in Macau, I took into consideration my debt, my allowance and my bonuses, and set out to save $20K in a year. And I reached that goal, because I had a concrete strategy. How much money would you like to make next month from self-employment? What are the steps you need to take to get there? Having goals is awesome, but you can’t just wish for them to materialize; you have to do the work to make the dream a reality.

5. Stop using credit (the wrong way)

Since I was a new foreigner in the country, I wasn’t able to apply for a credit card. So, I only used the money I actually had, and I was focused on ridding myself of existing debt. Don’t get me wrong: Using credit cards is  great for racking up travel miles and building creditif you use them the right way; i.e. paying your bills before they are due so you aren’t charged interest.

Check out this list for a few cards with pretty attractive sign-on bonuses.

Here’s another way to use credit: Let’s say you have a maxed-out credit card with an 18% APR. Why not apply for a line of credit that has an interest rate of 11% to pay off that card? You’ll save money in interest that way.

Don’t use credit like this: You pay for a new pair of shoes, and it takes you months to pay it off. Using credit this way costs you more in the end, and that’s never good when you’re trying to build an empire.

These five money tips I learned in Asia changed my life and my money mindset. Do tell: Which money tip did you find most helpful?

money tips


Magda Ayuk is a Huffington Post contributor and a content marketing strategist dedicated to helping her clients make more money. She is also a self-care and financial literacy advocate. After saving $20K in a year, she decided to create "5 Days to 5K," a free 5-day e-mail course that helps millennials and beyond save at least $5 000 in a year (www.magdaayuk.com). For self-care and financial tips (and gorgeous images), follow her on Instagram @magdaayuk

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