Ways to Save Money in Malaysia
Saving Money

50 Super Smart Ways to Save Money in Malaysia, From Easy to Impossible

How do you save money in Malaysia? What works? What doesn’t?

I thought it would be fun to show you what I personally did to save money. Some were successful, some were not – I’ve listed what I’ve I tried, and gave them a rank: easy, medium, hard, and impossible.

Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all the ways to save money in Malaysia. I don’t know much about how to save money on home ownership, for example, or how to save money for families. Regardless I think it can be a good start 🙂

Ways to Save Money in Malaysia

1. Pack lunch to work

Level: Easy

Why: Back when I still had my office job, I’d bring packed lunch to work almost every day. This saved me tons of money – assuming lunch is a modest RM6 every day, I saved RM132 per month (22 days x RM6) or RM1584 per year.  

Packing lunch is simple. When cooking (usually dinner), make more than what you need, then turn leftovers as lunch for the next day.

For those of you peer-pressured into going out for lunch, can you do me a favour and share how you say no to invitations? I always feel a bit awkward. 

Related: 5 Things I Did To Reduce My Damn High Groceries Bill

2. Avoid bank fees

Level: Easy

Why: I check my online banking accounts at least weekly for transactions made during the week (to make sure I wasn’t charged anything that I’m not supposed to pay for) and pay off my credit card balance. 

ATM fees sometimes I pay though. If the line is too long. I figure RM1.06 is worth the 10 minutes mindless queue, unless I can multitask during the wait.

3. Switch off unused devices when I don’t use them

Level: Hard

Why: Bad habit. To be fair I don’t have too many electrical appliances. Thank goodness I don’t have a TV, but if I do it’ll probably be on all the time.

4. Use cashback products

Level: Medium

Why: Sometimes a bit hard to keep track of them, but here’s all cashback products that I have: Shopback (note: referral; for Lazada and travel purchases mostly), credit card (5% off online purchases), loyalty cards (AEON, Tesco), and points card (BCARD). It’s hard to calculate exactly how much money I saved with cashback products, but I’ve earned at least RM2000 via Shopback alone.

I’ve used Shopback for my travels too. See how I used it for my Krabi and Osaka+Kyoto trips.

5. Use menstrual cup

Level: Medium

Why: People with uteruses, hear me out. You can save so much money if you switch to a menstrual cup. I buy maybe one pack of 10 pads every year, just for ‘in case’, but otherwise my menstrual cup paid for itself a long time ago.

Mine was about RM80 (please get the quality one not the China one), made of medical-grade silicone and pretty comfortable once used to it. In Lazada, you can find OrganiCup and MeLuna brands. 

Assuming you spend RM15 a month for pads/tampons, and the menstrual cups lasting 10 years, you’ll save at least RM5000. 

Image credit: fleurcup.com
Image credit: fleurcup.com

6. Delay purchases

Level: Medium

Why: My impulse purchases are quite rare, unless its food and groceries. For non-food items, if I really like something, I allow myself to buy them if I still remember it months later (usually I forget though).

I can credit to the 30-day rule, which I heard about some time ago. According to this rule, if you want something bad enough, you’ll remember it 30 days later. If it’s a big purchase, you can extend this to a few months. So far, it works.

7. Small wardrobe

Level: Easy

Why: When you grew up fat, you tend to not like looking for clothes so much. I also don’t care much for fashion tbh :/ If you’re a fashionista, you can still have this hobby – just make sure that you make extra effort in other money-saving areas.

Related: Save Money on Fashion: 5 Steps I Use to Optimise My Clothing Budget

8. Thrifted clothing

Level: Easy

Why: I love Mr Musashi <3 I wrote about my hauls here. Mr Musashi is a franchise thrift shop, mostly available in Perak. The addresses are in the first link. They have the rare winning combo: clean+cheap+dressing room to try stuff.

Now that I’m back in Klang Valley, I love Jalan Jalan Japan.

9. Repairing clothes

Level: Hard

Why: Don’t particularly enjoy sewing..

10. Bring water bottle everywhere

Level: Easy

Why: Already become habit. This is one of the best things you can do for your wallet, skin, health and environment.

11. Quit smoking

Level: Damn hard

Why: Nicotine dependence. But I have to, because it made my teeth ugly! UPDATE: Clean for 1 year now baby

12. Low-cost entertainment

Level: Medium

Why: I like free/almost free entertainment. Being online is fun and cheap. Free content is amazing.

UPDATE: I subscribe to both Spotify and Netflix now. Combined, they cost me less than RM15 per MONTH. 

Related: 3 Ways to Get Cheaper Spotify Premium in Malaysia

13. Sell stuff I no longer use

Level: Easy

Why: I had a lot of success selling unused stuff. Once, I bought a secondhand Wii, played it to my heart’s content, then managed to sell it for more than what I bought it for.

14. Not having a car

Level: Hard

Why: When I had a car, there were so many things to pay for: maintenance, petrol, tolls, parking. It also broke down a couple of times (once, on the way to Genting, I had to pay RM500 for towing!), screen shattered due to stray brick on the highway, flat tires… I don’t miss those times.

Now I mainly depend on public transport like LRT and Grab. If I use LRT more often I’d get MyRapid’s MY100 pass for unlimited monthly rail and bus – so worth it!

Update: Now, between e-hailing and car-sharing services, it’s not so hard anymore. I just book a car whenever I need it. Read: SOCAR Review: 7 Tips to Get Cheap Car Rental in KL, Penang and Johor

15. Plan meals around sales

Level: Medium

Why: I love using HappyFresh, the grocery delivery service for this. After you pick a hypermarket you want to buy from (Tesco, Mydin, Cold Storage etc), you can go to ‘Best Deals’ section and look at all the items currently on discount easily! Go to HappyFresh and use my code ‘suraya63’ to get RM25 off your first order. 

Related: HappyFresh Review: 10 Tips to Save Money and Time!

16. Have a herb/vegetable garden

Level: Impossible

Why: Not lucky enough to have green thumb, and not motivated enough to learn at the moment.

I like the idea of aquaponics, though. It’s a garden on top of an aquarium – the waste produced by the fishes becomes the nutrients that the plants need. 

17. Extremely picky about annual memberships

Level: Medium

Why: The only memberships I pay for is AEON card and Malaysian Writers Society membership fee. The former is for the free points and sales (not sure if worth it tbh) while the latter is for my writing business.

Edit: I have more subscriptions now, reflecting my current lifestyle. See: What Subscriptions I Pay For And Why

18. Limit automatic monthly recurring payments

Level: Medium

Why: Current monthly recurring payments: ASB loan (RM300+), Medical card (RM120+), PA insurance (RM30+). Used to donate to UNICEF but I got turned off by their aggressive requests for more donations so I cancelled it.

This is something that I’d love to hear from you. What’s your monthly recurring payments? You can read my updated list here: What Subscriptions I Pay For And Why

19. Only use prepaid phone plans

Level: Hard

Why: I get tempted to upgrade to postpaid all the time. It can be worth the money, I agree. However I love the idea of only paying for what I use, and my usage is not consistent enough to warrant this commitment. Some months I barely use my data quota, so it’s just RM30 or less. Other months I use more. It balances out.

Edit: I switched to postpaid because using more data. Using Yoodo now, that choose-your-own-plan under Celcom. You can adjust how much data, call minutes and SMS you want to get. My 40GB data with 50 call minutes plan is just RM85 per month, much lower than 40GB plan with unlimited calls and SMS for RM128 under Maxis last time.

It’s easy to switch – just download Yoodo app and you can order SIM card and do porting (to keep old number) from there. Use my code ‘zwbai7716’ to get RM20 in your wallet.

20. Not really into festivities or holidays

Level: Easy

Why: I’ve never really been a Valentine’s Day person, or Hari Raya person, or any other special day really. Not being in celebratory mood saves me money on decoration costs, clothes, single-use props, and other stuff that makes the day special. This has tons of downside (i.e. being a killjoy), but this is my natural state.

21. Buy generic brands

Level: Hard

Why: For some reason, generic brands in Malaysia is both expensive and disappointing. In my experience the Giant ones are just sad. The Tesco ones are a bit better, but not by much. It’s much more satisfying for me to get the good quality stuff and use it sparingly.

For example, my small bottle of eco-friendly clothes detergent ended up lasting much longer than the huge bottles of generic ones. The only acceptable generic product that I buy is Tesco’s canned tuna.

22. The more advertisements they have, the less likely I purchase it

Level: Easy

Why: It’s a simple way of determining which brands have ridiculous jacked-up prices. I don’t buy Dove, Milo, Calpis and the majority of food and beauty products advertised on TV/YouTube.

23. Avoid the mall

Level: Impossible

Why: Enjoy window-shopping too much to quit. This is easier with delay gratification habit (See No 6).

When I was younger – like primary school younger – I remember feeling dissatisfied if I ever go to the mall without getting anything. I was a brat.

24. Check every receipt and change received, and scan the register

Level: Easy

Why: Habit – highly recommended. Once this ice cream guy stiffed RM10 from my change and only gave it back after I confronted him. Made me realise that people and machines can make mistakes or be downright unethical.

25. No magazine subscriptions

Level: Easy

Why: Most content I want to read is free anyway

26. Make rent cheap/affordable

Level: Medium

Why: When I lived in KL, I used this strategy to strategically reduce my monthly rent. In Ipoh, I live in a flat. I have housemates/ people to share bills with. Rent shouldn’t take more than 30% of your income. For me I try to make it less than 10%.

I’m terrified of mortgages. 30 years is a long, looooong time. Plus you end up paying more interest payments than the actual price; what’s up with that?

27. Live with family

Level: Hard

Why: Love my independence too much. But if push comes to shove, I will. For you guys out there who always dream of moving out, I will be blunt here. Living by yourself is significantly more expensive.

28. Use free methods of communication whenever possible

Level: Easy

Why: Thank you, Whatsapp and Skype.

29. Eat out pantry

Level: Easy

Why: This is a great tip I hope you’ll find useful. More often than not, ‘there’s no food in the house’ is a myth. If you’re open to experimenting, you can be creative with odds and ends and try new combinations of flavours.  

I am a big fan of SuperCook – enter your ingredients, and it’ll churn out recipes that you can make with those leftover ingredients. I wrote about how I use this tip to keep my healthy-ish meals costing RM2.86 per person. Much less kitchen waste this way.

30. Choose low-cost investments

Level: Easy

Why: Investments with high fees, in my opinion, are an unnecessary waste of money. Feel free to provide data to disprove this if you don’t agree. Check your investments – how much do they take out for fund manager fees, maintenance fees and admin fees? Aim for 1% fee. 

Related: 6 Things to Know When You’re Investing for the First Time

31. Buy from bargain bins

Level: Easy

Why: I’d argue this is my favourite way to save money, even if I sometimes buy stuff I shouldn’t! My favourite bargain bins are from Ben’s Grocers, Cold Storage and Tesco 😀

32. Exercise on the cheap

Level: Hard

Why: Can’t lie – I want to be the kind of girl who has gym memberships and personal trainers. I think their guidance can be worth the money, but it’s hard for me to shell out more than RM100/month for them :/ My Crossfit classes were RM120 per month, but I quit because I’m a cheapo.

Now I go to the RM5/entry gym instead. On average, I visit them 5 times a month, so that’s like RM25 per month. I have good workouts there… but I still dream about those Crossfit classes.

How much do you spend on fitness per month? I wonder if I’m the only one who picked fitness activities based on how cheap they are.

Related: Everything I Paid For During My 10-Year Weight Loss Journey

33. Use cash

Level: Medium

Why: If you have problem with controlling your spending, then using cash is recommended. A crisp RM50 is more painful to hand over than a credit card. When money is abstract and you can’t see it, you will spend more… 56% more. It’s psychology.

I use cash when I can, unless there are obvious financial benefits in using digital payments (see #43).

34. Use generic medicines where possible

Level: Easy

Why: I am lucky enough to be healthy, but when I need the odd paracetamol, I take the no-brand ones instead of overpriced Panadol. Find it in Giant or Watson. Big price difference.

35. ‘Shop the perimeters’

Level: Medium

Why: In grocery stores, I try to shop around the edges and not in the middle. The middle is where they put most of the processed foods. Delicious, expensive marked-up processed food.

I’m not a saint. I like bad-food-for-me too. Thankfully bargain bins (Tip 31) has helped me to eat some of the weirdest shit.

36. Don’t shop when hungry

Level: Medium

Why: It’s harder to impulse-shop food when you work from home and have a fridge full of food lol

37. Don’t be brand loyal

Level: Impossible

Why: I say impossible because I do prefer some brands over the other. Kicap Kipas Udang > other kicap. Ayam brand sardines > other canned sardines. Kewpie mayonnaise > every other mayo. Do not argue with me on this. My mind is set.

Thankfully the majority of items in the produce section – where I spend most of my time – is not branded haha. Aside from a select few, the rest I just pick whatever’s cheaper and on sale. I like to think it balances out.

38. Periodically list out all annual expenses subscriptions

Level: Medium

Why: It’s just 30 mins of journaling, but so worth it because it helps me plan out my budget for the year, and not be ‘surprised’ when its time to renew whatever needs to be renewed, like passport or diving license. 

Related: All The Annual Expenses I Have to Make Every Year

39. Calculate prices at the store

Level: Medium

Why: Ok, this is slightly embarrassing. I like to make mental calculations at the store. Sometimes I even take out my phone calculator and go, ‘Hmm, Item A is RMx.xx per 300grams, but Item B is RMx.xx per kilo. Which is more worth it?’ *calculates*

40. Know how much common staples cost

Level: Hard

Why: I won’t buy broccoli if it’s more than RM2.50 per piece. Or cauliflower if it’s more than RM6 per kilo.

Having a rough idea of how much things cost takes a lot of mental space. You must also go grocery shopping often enough to know more or less how much things usually cost.

Some people have notebooks and jot down prices there. I think that’s an excellent idea. Must get to that.

Edit: Download Hargapedia app. They list cost of grocery items from major hypermarkets in Malaysia. Makes checking grocery prices so much easier!

41. Bring notebook everywhere

Level: Easy

Why: I’m forgetful. For my similarly-forgetful friends, keep a notebook in your bag. It’s a pretty big difference. ‘Shit I forgot to get X’ happens so much less nowadays.

I also write down reminders to:

  • Pay off credit cards
  • Check if I’m paid by clients or not
  • Reply back to potential buyers when I sell stuff online
  • Reply back clients
  • Update budget
  • Stop spending on some categories, if I go overboard that month
  • Transfer money to investment accounts

Related: 17 Things to Include in Your Money Journal

42. Unsubscribe/Uninstall shopping platforms

Level: Medium

Why: I have a junk email address so all the Lazada and Zalora promos go there. Barely open those emails.

Uninstalled Shopee for the annoying ‘reminders’.

If you tend to make purchases after these ‘reminders’, unsubscribe and uninstall them today.

43. Use e-wallets for discounts

Level: Easy 

Why: I love e-wallets! Saved a fair bit of money from them. See: Reviews of All The Ewallets in Malaysia I’ve Tried

44. Use Pasar Percuma to get free stuff

Level: Hard

Why: Never got around to actually going. See upcoming Pasar Percuma events in this FB group.

45. Cycle

Level: Hard

Why: Look, I like cycling and everything, but it’s not realistic to depend on them. I used cycle when I lived in Ipoh and I used it to go to the gym, but stray dogs and road bullies scare the crap out of me.

Please, if you see cyclists on the road, can you be extra nice to them? Don’t drive too near to them, and let them go first.

46. Don’t order drinks/ Order cheap drinks

Level: Medium

Why: Water bottle (Tip 10) saved me hundreds of ringgit when dining out. If you must, get Ais Kosong, Teh O, Teh Cina, and similar. Well whatever’s under RM2.

Not immune to peer-pressure, though. I relax this rule when going out with friends.

Some people order multiple drinks. I don’t get it. Can you like, sip slower? So it lasts the whole meal?

47. Have a manual water filter at home

Level: Medium

Why: I love the idea of hot/cold dispensers, but why do they cost hundreds of ringgit every month? 0_0

My drinking water system for 4 years and counting, ladies and gentlemen.

Image credit: aliexpress
Image credit: aliexpress

They need replacing and occasional maintenance, but at least I don’t have to get water delivered or buy water filters every month.

48. Quit using shampoo

Level: Impossible

Why: A couple of years back I read about the no-poo movement. People were swearing by it – healthier hair and scalp, they say. Just wash your hair with water, and use baking soda as ‘shampoo’ and apple cider vinegar as ‘conditioner’.

I tried it and didn’t even last a week. It was so greasy and smells like vinegar (not nice, FYI). My hair even fell out wtf.

No, I’m happy with my current shampoo. It makes me check out myself in the mirror, instead of recoiling in horror.

49. Cut own hair

Level: Impossible

Why: After 5 or so tries, I have to finally admit that I am not talented in this.

50. Use company benefits

Level: Medium

Why: Check your company manual for hidden goodies. For my previous employment, I got reimbursed for dental work, transportation and internet subsidies, and more.

Read: Malaysians Share Their Best Employee Benefits!


There you go! 50 ways to save money in Malaysia. Again, not comprehensive, so I invite you to list your own ways to save money in the comments section below.

If you tried any of the above, I want to hear from you – do you agree with my ranking? Do you find them easier or more difficult?

As you can see, you don’t have to be good at all of them. But you can try some of them, for sure 🙂

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  1. Found your website while browsing thru jobless.my(?) website (I’m trying to make extra money to clear off my study loan asap!). Love your posts on personal finance. Keep it up!

      1. Its been 3 months and I still have difficulties inserting them T_T
        How long did you took to get used to it?

        1. I got used to it within days? Can’t remember…

          May I suggest a smaller size? It might be more comfortable for you. A suggestion anyway, everyone’s anatomy is a bit different

  2. Hi there

    I found about you in an article at BI M’sia..and undoubtedly your blog is amazing… informative and hilarious too =).

    All the best and keep writing interesting stuff!

  3. Hello there!! Stumbled upon your blog (or is it a website?) while googling for stuffs. I gotta admit that what you said is true “The problem is that the Malaysian personal finance blog scene is pretty much nonexistent oklah got lah but very sikit and not appealing to me”. But I believe you have filled that gap to reach out to millennial like me by sharing information and your opinion on how we can better manage our finance. Millennial have been plague with many financial problems and some of them doesn’t have the chance to start on their live yet! Needless to say you are doing a great job and I hope that you can continue this far into the future!

    P/s: I’m relived that I’m not the only one doing this LOL
    “Hmm, Item A is RMx.xx per 300grams, but Item B is RMx.xx per kilo. Which is more worth it?’ *calculates*”

    1. Hello Hafiz Amzar,

      Thanks for the kind words 🙂 Glad to hear you liked what you read, and even related to some of them!

      You’d be surprised, there are more people like us, people who look for the best value for our money. I always smile when I see other people calculating in between the aisles 🙂

  4. #17
    Aeon memberships are worth it if you often park in the mall for the parking discount (and sometimes free!) The accumulative parking charges far exceed the membership fees. 🙂

    Good guide. I think the most impossible one is #48 haha

    1. My AEON card paid for itself hurray! Coincidentally received voucher upon a purchase sometime back. You just reminded me to check my points, hmm.

  5. For packing lunch to work thing – schedule one day a week for lunch with your colleagues. It’s good bonding time and it’s something to look forward to!

  6. Hi Suraya,

    Awesome website you have there. I have been looking for Malaysia-specific financial blog for quite some time. Glad I stumbled across RinggitOhRinggit!

    About #47 Manual water filter system, do you mind sharing what is the brand and model you are using? I have been looking for one myself. Considering the fact you have been using it for 4 years, I imagine it must be good enough.

    1. Hey Eric,
      Glad to have you here!
      On the water system, I like the Panasonic brand over the rest. It doesn’t last me 4 years, maybe 1 at the most? I have to keep replacing them due to moss, accidental cracks etc

  7. Use prepaid card / debit card. Some bank allow you to lock certain amount of money like OCBC so u can’t overspend. And i open up a SC bank acc just for their 0 charges for MEPS / House transaction. No more google map search for ATM

  8. Hi Suraya (and all readers),

    My personal tip for #1…you don’t necessarily have to say ‘no’ to going out for lunch with friends, you can bring your packed lunch along with you and still eat with them. I had a lot of (unneeded) anxiety surrounding this when I started out years ago. And then I realised…I’m not saying ‘no’ to lunch/hanging out with my friends, I’m just saying ‘no’ to buying cooked food when I can prepare it myself. On top of that, I think I’m quite lucky to be in a department with colleagues who LOVE cooking and we’d have ‘no lunch outside’ and ‘gym for lunch’ challenges from time to time.

    When joining friends in places with strict ‘no outside food’ policy…I make sure I prepare my own lunch/dinner(or whatever meal) and eat it first before going out. And when I join my friends, I order a drink or an appetiser (since it’s far cheaper than ordering main meals anyway).

    I’m personally a socially anxious person and it took me AGES of worrying so much about socially pleasing everyone, especially when it comes to saying ‘no, thank you’. Hope the tip above helps everyone here, regardless of whether you have social anxiety or not.

    1. Hi MMB,

      That’s an amazing tip, thanks for sharing! I’ve hung out with friends and only ordered drinks. When they asked, I say I’m full and just there for the company (which flatters them a lot hehe).

      Btw I envy your circle of friends, they seem dope!

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