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Save with a system

I enjoyed reading Tan Keng Yao's column (My Son Was In Debt And He Is Only Seven, Nov 5, Sunday Times). I am a volunteer financial counsellor helping those in financial distress to get back to financial wellness.

I hear these stories regularly. I would like to share a simple system that I created and tried on my counsellees and children.

I call this system "Project 5-5-5".

Stage 1: 1. Draw five columns in a notebook and label them Date, Time, Transaction, Amount and Need/Want. 2. It does not take more than five minutes to write down what is spent on that day. For example, " Nov 6, 12.34pm, chicken rice, $4.50, need" or "Nov 6, 4.36pm, fidget spinner, want" 3. Do this for five weeks and it becomes a lifetime habit.

Stage 2: 1. After the first week, decide on a reasonable amount that you want to set aside as savings each day, week or month depending on how often your pocket money or income comes in. 2. This amount goes into the piggy bank or into a separate account (without an ATM card or cheque book) via standing instructions.

We did this as part of our social service work at family service centres for children who receive aid from The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund. Some students saved as much as 40 per cent of their pocket money after five weeks. Then we ran it for their parents.

Bernard Lim


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2017, with the headline 'Save with a system'. Print Edition | Subscribe