12 radical ways to save money to buy dream home
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The Ultimate Asset

You may already know it, which is why you’re reading this in the first place, but whether we agree or not, property is one of the most valuable assets a person could have. The land hardly depreciates, gets passed from one generation to another, and grows in value with the economy and population growth. Property is the main reason certain families get richer and richer, while some families can barely get by. That’s because property prices have been increasing a lot faster than most of our salaries, and this trend may continue.

But Property is Expensive

Most people believe property prices in Malaysia are (still) in a bubble, artificially inflated by insider trading, investment clubs and politically-connected people. Foreigners also (through proxies) buy huge chunks of our property because to them its dirt cheap (because their currencies have appreciated much more compared to the shrinking ringgit). With inflation, property is becoming more and more unattainable to us.

How to Afford Property

Obviously, one of the prerequisites of owning a home is money. From the down payment and legal fees, to monthly instalments and maintenance fees, there’s no question that money is important. On top of saving extra change, here are 12 radical ways to save money that you probably have not considered. As challenging as they may seem, these steps may help to push your savings just far enough to comfortably afford your dream home.

1. Go Minimalist

For most people, their largest expenditure is rent or the monthly mortgage payment. But have you considered living more simply? Minimalistic living is a growing trend in advanced countries like Japan and Scandinavian countries, where people own few possessions in order to live more comfortably in smaller spaces and thus, cut down on rent in increasingly crowded cities. One famous minimalist “guru” is Marie Kondo who travels the world teaching people how to declutter their lives.

Nowadays, we can store massive amounts of data on hard disk drives and on the cloud, and no longer need physical space for books, CDs, magazines and photo albums. Embrace the digital age, free yourself from most physical possessions, and you can then move into a much smaller rented home or room. Savings from downsizing your dwelling could help you save hundreds a month!

Estimated savings per month from downsizing your rented dwelling: RM200 - RM1,000

Read also: 8 Ways to Recycle Your Clutter

2. Stop Buying (Most) Skincare Products

The skin is our body’s protective layer. That means it prevents the entry of most foreign substances. If any skincare product claims it can “penetrate deeply” into the skin, you should ask the manufacturer for proof since most substances that “penetrate deeply” into your skin would be treated as pathogens (i.e. germs) by your immune system.

Before any skincare product is allowed for sale, the distributor has to get approval from the health authorities. This is known as the “claims” and distributors usually make great efforts to assure the authorities that their product does nothing at all, otherwise they would need to be registered as medicines which has far more stringent safety requirements.

Many dermatologists state that most skincare products are unnecessary and may even cause harm (to your skin, and not just to your wallet). As such, only use what is basic or necessary.

Estimated savings per month from avoiding the purchase of excess skincare products: RM100-200

3. Stop Buying (Most) Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional supplements like multivitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants have come under tremendous fire in the last few years. Studies have shown that most supplements are unnecessary and can even cause harm to your health. You can easily and much more cheaply get the same nutrients from real food.

Estimated savings per month from cutting down on buying unnecessary nutritional supplements: RM100-200

4. Stop Buying Soap, Shampoo and Toothpaste

We did say radical didn’t we? Try the way of the Paleo Diet, where followers say that soap and shampoo are not just unnecessary, they kill off the friendly bacteria that keep our skin free of acne and eczema. So avoiding the use of soap and shampoo could do wonders for you. Of course, if you use sticky man-made products like BB cream, foundation, hair spray or hair wax, then you do need strong detergents to wash them off. So do keep some soap and shampoo around, just in case.

Toothpaste may taste nice and freshen your breath, but it is really unnecessary to remove plaque. The fluoride in toothpaste has also become highly controversial, and the tap water in many countries around the world (including Malaysia) already contain fluoride. So stop using toothpaste, but continue brushing and flossing.

Estimated savings per month from giving up/minimising use of soap, shampoo, and toothpaste: RM20-40

5. Stop Eating Sugar and Other Obvious Carbs

Sugar here includes all the “big, obvious carbs” like rice, noodles, roti canai, bread and chips. Why? Because research has shown that sugar (i.e. carbs) makes you hungry, so you will want to eat more, and ultimately, spend more money!

Instead, fill your plate with vegetables, meat and oil (best is olive or coconut oil, but almost any other oil is fine except margarine which usually contains trans-fats). You will find that you need to eat less to feel full, and the nutrients actually go to build muscle and improve health.

For coffee or tea, just drink them “neat”. Tell yourself you’re a purist. You’ll taste the real coffee or tea, and save 60 sen to RM1.50 on each cup. Or RM10 per cup, if you’re the Starbucks type of person.

Estimated savings per month from not consuming obvious sugar or carbs: RM50-100

6. Re-evaluate Your Life Insurance

Insurance is of course a brilliant idea, and necessary in most cases. But how much are you paying for it? The big insurance companies are almost always profitable, and that is AFTER they pay the insurance agents about half of the first three years’ premiums. That’s because they have calculated the risk they want to take, excluded people who are likely to claim, and priced in a profit margin.

If you have no dependents, you may not even need insurance! Term insurance is much cheaper and only covers death and total permanent disability, not the whole shebang of insurance plus riders plus investment which the insurance companies try to sell you. Do your research first though, as this is a major decision.

Estimated savings per month if you switch to term insurance: RM150-300

7. Go for the Cheapest Phone Plan

Unless you need to keep talking to people on the move, you don’t need an expensive phone plan. Go for the cheapest plans which cost only RM20-30 per month. Use WiFi and talk on WhatsApp voice call, Skype or just text.

Estimated savings per month: RM30-100

8. Save Money on Your Car

If you have not bought a car yet, you can save a lot of money buying a second-hand car. If you already have a car, make sure it’s an economical car. Always check the route before going anywhere, so you don’t waste time and money getting lost.

Keeping your tires fully inflated, and driving smoothly with your engine running at around 2,000 rpm’s (i.e. revolutions per minute, you can see this from your dashboard) can easily give you about 20-30% more kilometres per litre. And of course, drive carefully as accidents are hugely expensive and can easily cost several months’ salary in repairs.

Estimated savings per month if you buy a second hand car without a loan: RM300 - RM500

Search for cheap cars at the largest used car database at www.wheelspine.com 

9. Save on Air-conditioning

Air-conditioning is usually the most expensive item on the electricity bill. Instead of turning on the air-conditioner, take frequent quick, no-fuss showers without soap or shampoo. This form of cooling down is known fondly to Malaysians as “mandi kerbau” (buffalo bath), will refresh you, improve your immunity and cool down your core temperature so you don’t need to hit the a.c.

If living in a multi-storey home, you can also consider moving your bed and study table downstairs as it’s much cooler. Blocking out sunlight with curtains, rugs or even cardboard is also another way to cool down your room or house. Instead of the air-conditioner, use fans instead which consume only about 10-15% the electricity and use the air-conditioner only for exceptionally hot days, or just turn it on just for a few minutes to cool down.

Estimated savings per month from minimal to no air-con usage: RM50-100

Read also: Can You Save Electricity When Using the Air Conditioner?

10. Reconsider Refrigeration

The next item which eats up energy is the refrigerator. This appliance not only consumes electricity 24-hours a day, it also generates a lot of heat which may contribute to you turning on the air-conditioner more often without realising.

A medium-sized refrigerator consumes about 400-600 kWh (kilowatt-hours) per year. Using Malaysia’s electricity tariffs, on the cheapest rate of 21.8 cents per kWh, this would be RM87.20 to RM130.80 per year. Of course, if your home uses more electricity the rate per kWh will go up substantially.

Many food items like eggs, spices, etc. do not need refrigeration, while fruits can last 2-3 days without refrigeration. In any case, they should also be eaten as soon as possible, so the nutrients don’t degrade. If you don’t cook at home, there is a good chance you can do without a refrigerator.

Estimated savings per month: RM7-11

11. Buy Nothing

Have a pile of books you’ve bought but never read, bottles of skincare or perfume that sit idle in front of your mirror, or even a rack full of clothes and shoes you’ve never worn? Then stop buying more of these items that you already have! Make it your mission to read, use or wear all these things before you give yourself permission to buy new ones. This could take a few months.

Estimated savings per month from avoiding impulsive and unnecessary purchases: RM100-200

12. Eat Nothing

For one day a week, go on a 24-hour fast. Scientists have discovered that real fasting (not the kind you feast before and after) greatly strengthens the immune system, helps regulate your sugar levels, slows down ageing and even helps prevent cancer!

Assuming you spend RM20-30 on food a day, that’s a saving of RM80-120 per month if you fast one day every week. Do get some medical advice before you do this as fasting may not be suitable if you have specific medical conditions.

Estimated savings per month: RM80 - RM120


If we total up the estimated savings, you could potentially save between RM1,000-2,000 per month! Add that to your existing savings per month, and you’ll soon have enough for the down payment and extra cash to fork out when you buy a home. This great commitment could also open up the possible range of properties you can afford to buy! Are you radical enough to try the above?

Of course, when you are ready, PropSocial is here to make your search for the perfect property easy! Just Post Requirements of your budget, type of property, number of rooms etc., and we’ll do all the work for you!

(Written by: Russell Tan, 4th May 2017)


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Credit Card usage may aid or break you in the long run... depending on how you see it.

I see it as spending "future money" which we do not have on hand.

Kate chew small

@domng  Well if we don't abuse the financial freedom that credit card can relief us from and let it control our lives instead, then I think it's fine :)

Like what you mentioned, many people don't realised that they are spending money they do not actually have. And if not under control, you can get in trouble and can ruin a person.

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Well, on the other hand. I mean the retailers and restaurants who provide Credit Card payment facility... most of them are absorbing the certain percentage service fee charged by the banks... 

That is why you see that they impose a minimum payment for Credit Card usage... There are still retailers who don't enforce this, and you can technically pay for a bottle of mineral water with your credit card!

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@admin_ps thanks for sharing