Money Saving Tips (And Apps) for the Frugal Malaysian

Frugality [Source:]

Are you consciously trying to save money these days? Do you find that you’re watching your expenses like a hawk? Or are you looking for ways to spend less while enjoying a holiday with the family?

I don’t know about you, but for us, raising a family in Malaysia is becoming more and more expensive, and with the economic slowdown, it’s always wise to watch our budget these days.

If you have a smartphone and internet connection, watching a budget and curbing your spending is easy. Here are some money saving tips in the form of mobile apps and websites that make frugal living simple and dare I say it, fun.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links.

For the Online Shopper

Compare Grocery Prices with Hargapedia

Save on Groceries with Hargapedia
Save on Groceries with Hargapedia [Source: Hargapedia]

You have price compare apps for everything these days – insurance policies, bank loans, homes, etc. Considering how a big portion of our salary goes to buying groceries, Hargapedia goes a long way in helping us budget our expenses.

Hargapedia is a price compare app for grocery shopping. It works on both iOS and Android, and allows users to compare prices from more than 6300 local retailers including Tesco, Giant, even Watsons.

Items are categorised for easy navigation, and the app also includes promotional leaflets for ongoing offers.

Link: Hargapedia

Buy Online at Lazada/Shopee

Lazada Malaysia
Lazada Malaysia

Amazon isn’t big in Malaysia – but you know what is? Lazada and Shopee. Compare prices easily, buy, and just wait for your item to be delivered.

Items generally take around 3 days to be delivered (if sourced locally), and a week if they come from other places like China.

Lazada Mobile App
Lazada Mobile App

Always read the reviews before deciding on a product. Nothing beats first hand experiences from other shoppers.

At the time of writing this article, both platforms offer free shipping (with minimum purchase and on certain items only).

Very Important Note: Before you actually buy anything on Lazada and Shoppee, read about ShopBack first!

Links: Lazada, Shopee

Buy Online Directly from Suppliers on AliExpress

If you can wait for a month or more for something you want, get it directly from manufacturers in China, without having to buy in bulk. You can find practically anything you want on AliExpress.

To compare, things can be 10 times cheaper (or even more). That’s a lot of money saved.

Plus, everything is in English which makes things a lot easier for those of us who are not educated in Chinese.

Very Important Note: Before you actually buy anything on AliExpress, read about ShopBack first!

Tip: Get additional discounts by shopping via their app.

Link: AliExpress

Use ShopBack for Cash Returns When You Shop Online

Earn Cash Returns Using Shopback

ShopBack is an e-commerce site (also available as an app) that gives you a percentage of your money back (also known as cashback) as you shop online. We’re talking about between 1% to a whopping 30% back depending on retailer.

Choose from their list of over 500 merchants which include Lazada, Zalora, Shopee, Grab, Expedia, Food Panda, Agoda and Kinokuniya – just to name a few.

ShopBack also offers a wide range of promo codes and online vouchers from a variety of merchants – fashion, food, travel, and so on. It’s available across Asia Pacific.

Tip: Add the Cashback Buddy Chrome Extension to simplify shopping via your Chrome browser.

Link: Shopback (Both you and I get RM5 when you register via this link)

Hunt for Bargains Using Fave (Formerly Groupon)

Fave – Also available on iOS and Android

When you’re searching for the best bargains for a weekend away, or for restaurants around you, or the best offers for facials, Fave should be one of your first reference points.

You do not need to purchase in groups (unlike Groupon – its predecessor), and you’ll be able to find offers in most cities in Malaysia, not just in Kuala Lumpur.

Very Important Note: Get up to 4.5% CashBack when you shop from Fave via ShopBack.

Link: Fave (Both you and I get RM5 off our purchases when you register via this link)

For Those Who Have Too Many Things

Sell What You Don’t Need on Carousell

Carousell – Also Available on iOS and Android

Hop on the craze of #KonMari and declutter your life. Get rid of things you don’t need by selling them. This way, you get some money in your pocket for spending on more things – Haha. KIDDING.

Carousell is an online community marketplace where selling an item is as simple as snapping a photo, and buying as easy as starting a chat. It enables searches based on location, and provides a platform for all sorts of items, from baby stuff, to even houses and cars!

Don’t limit yourself to selling. Find great deals on preloved (and new) items and thus save more than you would getting them by new. Carousell operates within Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Australia.

Link: Carousell Malaysia

For the Fitness Enthusiast

Use Workout Apps Instead of Paying For Gym Membership

Gym memberships in Malaysia cost about RM150-200 a month. If you have the discipline, and have a gym in your condo, consider getting in shape using a workout app instead.

Workout apps are great simply because they’re cheap (or free), and can be even be used in the comfort of your own home.

We like the FreeLetics app as it caters to all needs, whether you’re a beginner or advanced athlete. Choose between workouts that go from 10 to 30 minutes long, or one that focuses on abs one day, and one for leg day the next – never skip leg day. It also offers nutrition and community support, and workouts can all be done at home, without the need of fancy equipment.

If you’re the busy type who needs a quickie workout in between rushing for work and taking care of the kids, give the Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout App a go. They say that it’s scientifically proven to work. I say let’s set some realistic expectations. It probably helps if you do more than 1 set.

Links: FreeLetics, Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout App (WHAT a mouthful)

Buy or Sell Your Gym Membership From Other Members

GymKaki Buy and Sell Gym Memberships
GymKaki – Buy and Sell Gym Memberships

If you are the type that cannot workout with an app, then you would be interested in a website called GymKaki – it offers a platform where you can buy over and sell existing gym memberships from other users for a lower price.

What you can do on GymKaki:

  • Sell your existing gym membership
  • Buy or takeover existing gym membership
  • Look for a workout buddy
  • Look for a witness instructor

Use JomRun to Earn Rewards While You Run

JomRun – Available on iOS and Android

With the rising rates of obesity among Malaysians, JomRun was developed with the intention of rewarding Malaysians for running. It can be linked to existing running apps like Runkeeper. (Linking with Strava has issues at the time of writing this article)

Rewards include discounted meals and chances to win sponsored products. JomRun also provides a list of upcoming runs – especially around the Klang Valley.

Not convinced? It’s also FREE.

Link: JomRun

For Drivers and Commuters

Plan Journeys With Waze

Waze - Available on iOS and Android
Waze – Available on iOS and Android

Minimise getting stuck in traffic jams or getting summonses by using Waze. Waze gives you up to date traffic reports so you can avoid jams due to police checkpoints, accidents, and construction.

It gives you estimated travel times for different routes to your destination and even alerts you when a speed camera is nearby.

Waze differs from Google Maps in a sense that it is more community based, whereas Google Maps is data driven. Google Maps caters to travelers of various modes of transportation, while Waze caters mainly to drivers.

Link: Waze, Google Maps

Use Grab To Get Around

Grab - Available on iOS and Android
Grab – Available on iOS and Android

Grab is this region’s Uber. In addition to ride hailing services, it also provides food delivery, logistic and cashless payment services. Ride hailing beats having to search and pay for a parking space, and you have so much more free time now when you’re not stuck behind a wheel.

Cheaper and with much better service compared to taxis, Grab is a godsend to Malaysia. Our days of haggling and begging cab drivers to ikut meter are long gone.

Take advantage of their loyalty program, called GrabRewards – and use points earned to offset up to 100% of your bills at participating merchants. Paying using GrabPay, their e-wallet system encourages you to go cashless by offering up even more points than if you were to pay by cash.

Very Important Note: Get CashBack when you ride with Grab via ShopBack.

Link: Grab

Plan Your Commute With MyRapid

If you happen to live in a city with reasonably good public transportation, then take advantage of it – you’ll be able to save quite a bit of money, plus you’re gaining time to read a book or watch a movie while on board.

KL’s public transportation system has seen a mass improvement especially with the completion of the Sungai Buloh – Kajang MRT Line.

Plan Your Commute With MyRapid
Plan Your Commute With MyRapid

Plan your journey using MyRapid which gives you the best route with shortest times or least transfers whether by bus, rail or both.

Sadly, I have found no app which reports the real time location of buses and their arrival times – which I found really useful when I lived in Singapore.

Link: MyRapid

Take Advantage of Free Bus Services

If you live in Kuala Lumpur, don’t forget to take advantage of the new GoKL free bus service that operates within Kuala Lumpur CBD. Bus frequencies range from 5 minutes at peak hours to 10 minutes during off-peak hours.

For those who are in Penang, there is a free bus service too, named PenangCAT.

Links: GoKL, PenangCAT

For Those Who Travel

Use the CurrenSeek App to Exchange Foreign Currency

CurrenSeek - Available on iOS and Android
CurrenSeek – Available on iOS and Android

If you are an avid traveler, you will love this app. CurrenSeek provides a platform for you to locate the money changer around you with the best rate to exchange money.

And that’s not all. If you are short of time and are unable to make it to that money changer, simply order your currency online, and collect it from their collection point conveniently located at KLIA2.

Link: CurrenSeek

Compare Prices Before Booking Tickets and Hotels

When you book accommodation for trips, what is your go-to site for the best rates online? Lucky for us, comparisons have already been done.

Comparing TripAdvisor, Trivago, and HotelsCombined
Which hotel search site finds the best price: TripAdvisor, Trivago or HotelsCombined?

And the verdict is – HotelsCombined gives us the lowest rates.

Hotels Combined - Also Available on iOS and Android
Hotels Combined – Also Available on iOS and Android

Trivago is also a favourite – mainly because of it’s minimally designed interface – which might not cater to all. It focuses on the bare minimum (read: price) and directs you to booking links for more details.

Very Important Note: Get up to 4.5% CashBack when you book a hotel on HotelsCombined via ShopBack.

Links: HotelsCombined, Trivago

Airbnb Your Place Out

Airbnb - Also Available on iOS and Android
Airbnb – Also Available on iOS and Android

While this isn’t for everyone, it’s still a great way to earn some extra cash, especially if you do quite a bit of traveling yourself. Just beware of the risks involved, as travelers might not treat your home with as much love as you’d hope.

Airbnb is also a great way to save on hotels, as you would often be able to book a place for less than a price of a hotel room.

Whether you are renting a room out, or finding a place to stay, always check on reviews.

Tip: Book via ShopBack for cash rewards.

Travel with CouchSurfing

Couchsurfing - Also Available on iOS and Android
Couchsurfing – Also Available on iOS and Android

Couchsurfing is one of the coolest sharing-economy travel websites out there. It is one of the best ways to connect with the locals, travel off the beaten tourist path, make new friends — and save money by getting free accommodation.

You can play host and/or guest, and you are not limited to connecting with people by living in their homes – you can simply meet up for coffee or have them show you around.

Tip: As with most of these recommendations I’ve made on this post, always read the reviews. This helps ensure your safety when traveling, and ward off any unwanted attention from anyone.

Link: Couchsurfing

For Those Who Always Manage to Overspend

Use GoodBudget or Pocket Expense to Record Expenses

A proper frugal person in this digital age uses their phone to keep track of everything they spend – which makes a lot of sense. Your phone is always with you these days, so it’s really easy to just whip out your phone to key a transaction in the moment you pay for something.

Pocket Expense 6 on iOS, Also Available on Android
Pocket Expense 6 on iOS, Also Available on Android
GoodBudget on iOS - Also Available on Android
GoodBudget on iOS – Also Available on Android

Both GoodBudget and Pocket Expense work more or less the same way – by setting a budget for different categories of spending, this way you get to see how much you have left for the month for eating out, etc.

Both are free and offer in-app purchases. Personally, I prefer the interface and user experience for Pocket Expense.

Links: Pocket Expense on iOS, Pocket Expense on Android, GoodBudget

For Everyone

Communicate For Free Using Whatsapp or Skype

To be honest I wasn’t sure if this warranted a section, but I still know of people communicating via SMS, so I thought I’d just throw it out there.

Whatsapp - Available on iOS and Android
Whatsapp – Available on iOS and Android
Skype - Available on iOS and Android
Skype – Available on iOS and Android

Call and send messages using both Whatsapp or Skype if you have a data connection – which most of us do these days. You can perform a decent video call with most 4g connected networks from most urban locations, to anywhere in the world – for free.

Both WhatsApp and Skype have a desktop/web version, therefore making it really simple to communicate on any device you own, as everything is synced real-time.

Links: WhatsApp, Skype

Consider Other Entertainment Options and Ditch Your Astro Subscription

I do not know anyone who still subscribes to Astro these days, but that’s just who I roll with.

To get our fix of entertainment, we use our broadband service and subscribe to Netflix. You can also watch news from practically any news outlet you prefer. For sports, this gets a little tricky – you can find live broadcasts (which are delayed a few seconds) on websites, but you might have to sacrifice a little in terms of quality, and listen to commentary in Arabic or Finnish – which we actually find to be fun.

Netflix - Also Available on iOS and Android
Netflix – Also Available on iOS and Android

A cheaper option to Netflix is iFlix. iFlix costs RM96 annually whereas Netflix costs at least RM396 annually. The types of shows differ on both platforms. iFlix caters more to the local market and you get more US and European based shows on Netflix. For a rough comparison, an Astro subscription would set you back around RM130 (depending on your selected package).

iFlix - Also Available on iOS and Android
iFlix – Also Available on iOS and Android

Links: Netflix, iFlix

That’s All For Now, Folks!

Here’s a ‘go get-em, tiger’ from me to you.

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