Saving is one of the most critical but underrated habits. While we wish to and think of saving money often, unless we incorporate it into our lifestyle and habits, it’s unlikely to become a reality.
Our intent in writing this article is to share the best saving practices for beginners. Let’s take a look at some practical life-hacks and approaches that can be game changing for our personal finances.
The biggest tip for saving is to create shifts in our mindset regarding saving. This set of tips is all about re-training our minds so that we are able to cultivate the habit of saving more easily.
Figure out ‘why’ you want to save
Our motivation to do anything hits the roof once we know the ‘why’. The same goes for saving money as well.
Figuring out your personal and unique reasons for what is important to you in life, the kind of life you want to build for yourself, and why you should be saving money to create it, is the foundational mindset shift that is needed before you do anything else.
Spending mindlessly or not giving importance to saving are the result of not knowing what is important to us.
If you spend some time with yourself and think of your goals and consider how you need to be placed financially in order to achieve them, you may be far less keen to spend your hard-earned money on a cup of coffee that costs way more than it should.
Save NOW! Don’t wait for ANYTHING
Are you waiting to earn more? Or to turn a certain age? Or to do a course in personal finances and then start saving?
You don’t need to wait for anything at all to save. Whatever amount you’re earning, you should be saving a certain percentage of it.
The younger you start, the more headway you have in terms of the sheer number of years to work on your financial destiny.
So avoid making excuses (because that’s what they are) and start saving right away.
Treat saving like an expense
Treat the act of saving like an expense, by putting money aside upfront. If we look at it as an after-thought, the saving isn’t going to happen.
In the words of the great Warren Buffett, “Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.”
So ideally your saving has to feature in your budget. Allocate an amount for saving (which later becomes your investment fund) and then think of spending any amount that remains.
Think long-term and consistency is key
Working towards financial freedom or building wealth takes time.
They say, wealth creation is not a sprint, but a marathon.
So it might seem that you won’t get anywhere far with your current meagre savings, however every drop makes the ocean. What is a small amount today can turn into a massive amount over time, if you keep up with your saving habit consistently.
Take pride in your saving habit, adopt a long-term mentality, and rest assured knowing that these small efforts and sacrifices to save will add up in the long run.
Take advantage of financial windfalls to save more money
A ‘windfall’ is money that you receive unexpectedly. It could be a gift, an inheritance, a bonus or something similar. What you choose to do with windfalls can make a huge difference.
Blowing it up on a fancy vacation or a gadget you’ve been craving is one way. But the better mindset would be to not use it for short-term pleasures. Delaying your gratification and choosing to save it (even partially), or to repay a loan are great ways of utilizing such strokes of luck.
Basically think of how you can use the windfall to maximize your satisfaction, instead of using it impulsively.
Make adjustments to your lifestyle to save more
What would you rather, look rich or be rich?
As young adults who’ve recently started exploring and experiencing life, the temptation to live it up and splurge on the good life is always there. However, partying every weekend or wanting to own the latest gadgets can lead to you very soon living from paycheck-to-paycheck to pay off credit card bills.
Instead of letting your lifestyle expenses spiral out of control choose to continue living like a college student a little longer and actively look for free or inexpensive ways to have fun. Chilling at home with friends, cooking together, movie nights at home, going for hikes or treks are great ways of spending meaningful time that don’t cost much.
Finding inexpensive ways to entertain yourself is an invaluable life skill.
So set a budget for entertainment and stay within it. Having an enviable life on social media, mostly comes at a high cost. It is less glamorous to save money but that way you’re working towards financial freedom in the future.
(Financial freedom is basically the freedom to live the kind of life you wish to so that you can take up the kind of job or work that truly makes you happy. This is possible when you’re not under the pressure of financial liabilities or a lifestyle that you have to constantly work for.)
Your lifestyle should work for you, you shouldn’t be working for your lifestyle. Learn to live with less right now.
This is also the moment in time that minimalism as a movement is also gathering momentum. It’s great for the planet and super for your pocket, so jump into it!
Beware of the consumerist economy
Related to our previous point is that the world today is driven by huge corporations that spend massively on advertising. All, so that you buy what they want to sell you. Understanding this truth and making it a part of our mindset can help us stick to our saving plan.
Advertising is so seductive that we often buy things we don’t need or never even wanted in the first place.
Besides advertising, the whole sales and discounts culture is also a big trap to make us buy more than we need at present. Tricks such as countdown timers, the use of ‘999’ instead of ‘1000’ and the like, product pairings, multiple deals, fancy displays, attractive adverts, clearance sales, coupons to name a few, are ways of making us buy more than we need.
It’s hence extremely crucial to think through your purchases before you make them. (Read the Shop Smart section below for some great tips on shopping hacks).
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
Many of us want to lead impulsive, spontaneous lives especially when we are young. However, thoughtful decisions and planning are needed if we want to lead more comfortable lives as we grow older.
The common notion that saving is for older folks is quite a dangerous one as it leads to us delaying starting with the critical life and personal finance skill of saving. Saving is not uncool or for older people alone; it’s for everyone.
Here are some tips that’ll help you with the planning aspect so that you are more encouraged to save.
Set financial goals
Saving without setting goals is equivalent to hoarding. Mindlessly saving money without knowing how much you need and what you need it for really isn’t the best way to go about life.
Each one of us is different and have our own unique visions for our lives. Money of course plays a hugely important role there. So based on the kind of life you envision for yourself, create your financial goals in alignment with them.
While your goals may change and evolve over time, remember that not having financial goals in the first place can cost you in the future.
It’s better to have financial goals and be working towards them. That way even if the goalpost changes, you still have progressed financially and are in a position to chase a new goal.
(If you have trouble settling on financial goals, think about the kind of life you want to live, and why. The bigger questions will help you frame your life goals and subsequently your financial goals).
Setting up a retirement fund, becoming debt-free, and creating an emergency fund are some universal financial goals.
Hone the art of budgeting and alter your lifestyle
Budgeting is one of the most critical skills that ideally should be taught in school. In case you haven’t already learnt it, it’s never too late.
However, making a budget is only 10 percent of the task. The real objective of budgeting to mould our expenditure in accordance with our income flow.
We can achieve this by observing our spending patterns and inculcating more discipline in our spending habits. Distinguishing between our needs and wants is a big one here. We have discussed budgeting in one of our previous articles.
Lower your big three expenses: housing, transportation, and food
Our three biggest expenses tend to be housing, transportation, and food. Thinking of ways to reduce these expenses is a great way of ensuring you are in a better position to save.
Looking for a house close to your workplace, cooking meals at home as opposed to ordering in or eating out are simple ways of lowering these basic and major expenses.
Setting budgets for each of these categories and spending within them is a great way of ensuring you meet your saving targets.
One of the most effective ways to avoid overspending is to always shop with a calculator. This way you can ensure that you stay within your allocated budget for shopping.
Did you know that people mostly overspend while grocery shopping? All those fancy labels and jars can overwhelm us, and we may end up wanting to buy stuff that we don’t even need. Making a grocery shopping list and stick to it.
Another great tip is to carry only cash of the designated amount. If you avoid carrying plastic money, and have only a certain amount, there’s no way that you can overspend!
Online shopping can also be a big trap. A good habit to cultivate is to add items to your cart, but not check out. Sleep over things and think if you really need/want those items and then only buy them.
Using such hacks can help you up your saving game.
Calculate your real hourly wage
A great trick to improve your savings by keeping an eye on expenditure is to calculate your hourly wage using the formula below.
Divide your salary by 2000 work hours in a year (40 hours/week * 50 weeks, considering 2 weeks of vacation). You may want to deduct your taxes from this amount (you can look at your pay slip for that information).
Once you know this amount, you can get a sense of how much of your life energy you devote to your work and for what returns. Now you can be in a better position to assess if going to that concert is really worth the money, or getting your nails done at the spa is something you should be truly spending on.
Use these saving tips to help you turn a new leaf in your financial journey. Young adults especially should pay attention to all these tips since they can have a powerful impact on their personal finances and financial destiny.
But apart from the tips listed above, there is one more important tip that you should always consider: invest in yourself!
Never shy away from investing in your knowledge and learning. Embrace the fact that the journey of learning doesn’t end with the college. And that’s where Lokyatha also comes in, to help you in your journey of learning essential life skills that can positively impact the quality of your life.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered financial or legal advice. Please consult a financial professional before making any significant financial decisions.