It’s one of those eternal financial questions with no easy answer — is it better to focus on earning more or prioritise spending less?
While most personal finance advice focuses on cutting expenses, it’s also a good financial strategy to find ways to boost your earnings. Or, ideally, do both at the same time.
There’s no reason to wait on cutting your spending back — you can spend less immediately. It doesn’t take any special financial knowledge and you can start right now.
For instance, think about scaling back your discretionary spending. This will look different for different people, but it could include cutting back on buying takeaway lunches, cancelling unused subscriptions or returning those fancy sneakers you just bought online.
If you’re serious, it also helps to distinguish what you need from what you want, especially in a society that suffers from so-called “affluenza”. By taking a good look at this, you may also be able to significantly reduce your weekly and monthly outgoings.
However, there is a limit, especially for Malaysians living in an urban centre like Kuala Lumpur, where the cost of living is high. If this is you, it’s likely your fixed costs — things like rent and transport — could be tough to dramatically reduce.
The benefit of earning more isn’t hard to see — the more you earn, the more financial options you have, which potentially puts you on a path to financial security and abundance. However, one downside of aiming to earn more is that it involves risk.
Often, looking to earn more involves stepping out of your comfort zone, whether that means retraining, changing jobs, starting your own company, or going out solo as a freelancer in the gig economy.
Also, just because you earn more doesn’t mean you’ll have more money at the end of the day. Sometimes it’s the case that you end up spending more when your earnings increase, making fiscal discipline all the more important as you climb the ladder of wealth.
Why not spend less and earn more?
Remember, there’s always the danger that you end up having less time — and inferior quality of life — if your increased earnings mean you end up working around the clock.
Ultimately, it’s about balance. Aim to get to a point where you have enough money to spend on the things you love to do while working at a healthy and sustainable level.
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