If you haven't already noticed the "Gong xi, gong xi, gong xi niiiiiii~" blaring from every shopping mall sound system, Chinese New Year is upon us this week. There will be the moments that you secretly hate doing, such as visiting relatives you suspect also secretly hate having everyone over at their houses. There will also be moments that you look forward to, such as stuffing your face with all-you-can-eat bak kwa and counting all the ang bao cash you're going to be receiving.

However much you might wish it wasn't necessary, this is also the best time to be putting aside most of the ang bao money as savings. In fact, in order to make cultivating the habit of saving and investing relatively painless, here are 3 ways you can save your money this festive season: 

1. Keep your cash in a savings account that cannot be accessed easily

One of the common mistakes that many Singaporeans make is to store their long-term or "rainy days" cash savings in the same bank account that they withdraw daily cash from. if you do that, you’ll be relying 100% on sheer willpower and discipline to prevent yourself from spending that extra cash.

It's a lot more effective to stash your extra savings (such as all that sweet red packet dollars) in a separate account. Even more effective if it's an account that you do not have an ATM card for. With an ATM practically located in every MRT station, this will prevent you from withdrawing cash easily.

2. Track your finances regularly

Remember just three weeks ago how it felt like to start a brand new year? You swore that 2017 was going to be different. You'd finally get your act together and study harder, score better and spend lesser. Everything was under control. 

Fast forward three weeks later, after spending four nights in a row playing Call of Duty instead of keeping up with your school work. Before long, that feeling will start to seep in of "aiyah, I'll study harder when exams are nearer", and that's when everything will start to spiral out of control. 

It’s just as easy to lose control when it comes to your finances. Just like how it’s practically impossible to score well if you only cram the night before, it's hard to come up with a savings plan if you have no idea how much you spend each week or month. By monitoring how much and often you spend, the more you know about how much you save each month, and the better control you will have over your money. 

Download an expense tracking app like Wally that will help you track your expenses. A good tip is to break your expenses down into various categories like food, shopping, movies, etc to help you have a better overview of where your money is going each month. Once you pinpoint the areas that you spend the most in, you’ll be able to see where you can start cutting back on.

3. Know your annual savings goals 

Stop doing what is easy. Start doing what is right.
— Roy T. Bennett

This applies in all aspects of life, including for saving money. In order to motivate yourself to save more, you should know exactly why you’re doing so. Maybe you’re saving up for your very first branded bag to carry to your first job, or to treat your parents to a cruise trip for their 25th wedding anniversary. Or maybe you just hate the feeling of constantly seeing only two-digits in your account balance and want to attain some financial edge so that you can buy whatever you want, whenever you want. 

If these goals aren’t enough to motivate you, try to define them even more specifically. Come up with an exact figure you wish to save up by the end of this year. If your goal is that branded bag, calculate how much you need to set aside every month and start achieving that goal for yourself. The more specific your goals are, the more you can understand exactly how much that ang bao from your favourite auntie is going to contribute to your success.