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You’ve just come back from a long holiday with your family. You’ve spent on treats and toys for the kids, massages, theme park tickets, taxi rides, zoos, and most importantly shopping! It was a well deserved break too and you came back refreshed and ready to take on the new year, albeit with a slightly thicker waistline and a slightly thinner wallet!

Second day back in Brunei and after buying school uniforms, the stress of expensive textbooks (not all available in one shop), exercise books, and the all important self adhesive book covers, you still have school fees! You recognize this is important so, you charge it to the card.

When the credit card bills come, you realized you don’t really know where your hard earned money went, you still have the usual monthly bills to pay, your finances are in a bit of a disarray and you’re not too sure if you have enough money to last you the month.

Overwhelming.

In times like these, we recommend a financial detox.

1. Get organized

Map your finances. Get a calendar and mark down important dates.
When does your Gaji (salary) come in every month?
What bills do you need to pay? When is the deadline?
Are there ways where you can save on time and money? Are you paying unnecessary interest by paying a bill later than its due date?
Map out times over the year when you may be spending more money – due date of the insurance premium, Hari Raya time, birthdays, renewal of roadtax and car insurance, time to change tyres.
Scary things, such as bills, are less daunting, the more you understand about them, and the more you prepare to face them.

2. Streamline your process

Set up standing instructions for bills – save time and keep everything simpler. Schedule them monthly so payment is easy and painless.
Set a date for bills payment – pay what you can online.
Check you’re on the best phone, internet and mobile phone package for your needs
Keep a budget in check .

3. Declutter your house

This is a great time to see all the things you need or don’t need. Those old textbooks your kids used last year? Sell or donate them to a family in need rather than just leaving them in the store room.  Those appliances you think you need, a dehumidifier, a waffle maker, or do u need hot water round the clock? Unplug them to save energy, and money! Do a garage sale or online pop up sale on your Instagram or Facebook and sell off all those things that you don’t really need.

4. Eat and Drink Clean

Eat at home.  Pack lunch. Buying groceries and cooking at home is tons more wallet friendly than eating out. Plan your meals, so everyone chips in and do their share of work.
Cut down on soda and expensive gourmet coffee. Water is so much more healthier, and most of the time, free.
Try and plant frequently used spices and herbs like chilli, coriander, parsley, spring onions, and lime, at home. They’re cheap, but they’re not free. Like any cheap item, their amount can accumulate to a big amount.

5. Shop smarter

Since you’ve just gone on an all out shopping spree, slow down on the spending for now. Don’t confuse your wants and needs. Be strict on yourself. Ensure you get the best deals, and take advantage of ecoupons and discounts available all year round.

A detox is very helpful, and this is where you can see how you can simplify and reduce your debts, while at the same time, increase your savings. But the most important thing is to take control of your finances, before they spin way out of control.

Take comfort that you are showing your kids a good example – there are times that you can spend and splurge, but there are many times we have to hold back and save for that rainy day.

Have a great 2015!

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