Saving might not come naturally to you, but the good news is you can change this with a few simple tips. With the right strategy in place, you will be able to build positive habits to save your money.
Why Start Saving?
The act of saving simply means to set aside money for future use. There are a number of reasons for doing this including:
- Saving for a big ticket item
- Having extra money to seize potential opportunities
- Child’s College fund
- Emergency fund
- For retirement
How Do I Start Saving?
Saving your money comes down to managing three things: Your goals, income and expenses.
- Goals – Setting a clear goal to aim for helps you feel more motivated. You will save more when you measure your progress.
- Income – All incoming money
- Expenses – All outgoing money
By increasing your income and minimizing your expenses, you can maximize the amount you can save each month.
The best way to track these three things is by creating a budget.
How To Create A Budget
The fastest way to start creating a budget is to use a spreadsheet and input your income, expenses and goals. However, nowadays there are apps and software that can automatically do this for you.
Here are the items to include on your budget spreadsheet:
- Goals – Set an amount that you would like to save, and then break that down into a yearly, monthly, and weekly amount. This way you will now much you need to save every week.
- Income – This includes your pay from work, investment income and any windfalls.
- Expenses – This includes necessities like rent, groceries, electricity and water, as well as discretionary items such as entertainment, eating out, travel, etc.
Once you have worked out the monthly total of each of these three items, you can figure out how much you are able to save each month by using this formula:
Income – Expenses = Savings
To increase your monthly savings, you will need to find ways to either:
- Increase your income
- Minimize your expenses
Ways to Cut Down Your Expenses
- Plan your meals – work out what food you will eat for the week ahead so that you don’t overspend
- Budget – bring the exact money to your supermarket in cash, and leave all credit cards at home. This will prevent you from being tempted to make impulse buys
- Buy in bulk – buy items when they are on sale and use them all up before going to the supermarket again
- Generic brands – substitute name brands for generic goods
- Specials – replace an item on your list with an item on special if possible
- Stop buying new clothes. Generally, you don’t need new clothes unless they are falling apart
- Buy clothes that don’t require dry cleaning, to save on expenses
- Look for bargains at op shops and local markets
- Buy only when things are on sale (clearance sales, discount sales and the like)
- Spend less time in the shower
- Use a shower head that is water-saving
- Install a dual flush on your toilet
- Don’t leave the tap running while brushing your teeth
- Switch off and unplug any unused appliances. Even when on ‘standby mode” appliances can consume electricity
- Dress according to the temperature – add a layer of clothing and warm socks if it is cold instead of turning up the heater.
- Try not to use the dryer – hang clothes up on the clothesline where possible
- Turn off lighting – if possible, open the blinds and use natural light instead. At night, turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms.
- Use energy efficient appliances – appliances that use less electricity could save you money in the long run
- Cut back on alcohol or your coffee
- Cancel your gym membership. Find alternatives for exercise such as running
- Bring a homemade lunch to work
- Instead of going out, have a dinner party at home. Ask guests to bring a plate each
Ways to Increase Your Savings
- Maximize Tax Return
- Setup an automatic payment schedule
- Start a side business
- Take up a part time job
- Save any windfalls such as bonuses
By taking control of your savings habits, you will start to feel empowered with your finances. With a savings fund you will have the confidence of knowing your future is secure no matter what happens.