Money matters are usually very delicate. Many people don’t have enough of it and see no need to dwell on it. Others have it but it always seems to ‘leave’ their hands.
If you’re working or you own a business, savings should be a priority.
According to Consumer News And Business Channel, CNBC, 65 per cent of Americans save little to nothing. The data if compiled in Nigeria would not be anything better. Many people struggle with saving money.
So, how do you know if you have a saving problem?
• You like to have a good time but you are always late on paying your bills
• If you live a good life, shop for clothes you like, eat out more than thrice a week and yet when it’s time to pay your rent, monthly bills, etc you are scrambling, it’s most likely you have a savings problem.
• You’re over indulging yourself, living in the moment and not thinking of the future.
• You don’t pay attention to savings. Saving money has to be intentional. You can’t just say, “I’ll save 20 per cent of my salary” and you don’t put plans in motion to ensure that. It can’t be left to chance. Pay attention to saving especially automated saving.
• “I don’t even have enough, how can I save?” If you belong to the group who say the above, you have a saving problem. This means you don’t have a budget so you don’t know your excesses or where you can make a change and save that money. If something, anything is coming in, there’s always room to put a little away.
• When your income increases, your spending increases. Are you the type that when ‘awoof’ comes in, you find the nearest boutique? You have a saving problem. If you spend higher as you earn higher or you get gifted some unexpected cash, you have a major saving problem. This is not to say your quality of life shouldn’t change if you earn more but it has to change within reason. You don’t move out of your affordable flat to a more flamboyant one the minute you get a pay raise. You remain there and save more, invest more. Financial independence comes with the ability to live on less. If you are earning more money, you should be saving more, not spending more.
READ ALSO: Bad Habits That are Good for You
Then how does one save? You can do so by taking simple steps. Being intentional and taking a decision to save and sticking to it.
Here’s how to go about it:
• Establish your budget.
Start by calculating your expenses one month. Keep receipts of everything including the miscellaneous. Take note and write down every time you ate out, have drinks, see a movie, etc. At the end of the month, look at it all and then you will know where your money is going to. This allows you figure out what to cut out and how much you need to spend each month so you establish a budget.
• Nothing is too small
If you’re not faithful with little, you can’t be trusted with much. Nothing is too little. In your own capacity, save what you can. If you earn N40,000, plan your budget, tighten it up and make plans to put away something. Even if it’s 2000, 5000; It’s better to have a meager saving than have nothing because you thought you couldn’t scrimp away some cash.
• Get Creative
Make it a game with yourself to always find ways to save more. Do you use an Uber to work everyday? Challenge yourself to take public transport one week. Do you buy lunch at work everyday? Make your meals, invest in a cooler/food flask and start packing your meals to work. You pay for Dstv and Netflix every month? Choose a month or two to pay for only one service. Make it a challenge to find the cheapest stores to get your groceries. Some Instagram pages do a price comparison on the major outlets in Lagos. Find that and explore it. If your friends love eating out, have them contribute some cash and make something and have everyone over. You will find that most times the cost of two people eating out at a high end restaurant can feed six people if you cook at home. It may not be the same setting, but you will have leftovers.
• Go automated with your savings
Some Nigerian banks will take out a stipulated amount from your spending/salary account and put it elsewhere every month if you give that instruction. That makes it easier and you don’t have to think about it. Another great way to save automatically is PiggyVest. An app that has become quite popular in Nigeria. They always save a stipulated amount for you everyday and you can do as little as N100 a day. All you need do is be sure to fund the account they take the money from.
• Aim for short-term savings goals.
Start with short term goals. Decide to save N1000 this week. You must not wait for bulk money to save. Before you move to a long term savings plan, try a short term one. A goal that’s more in view. “I want to have N20,000 I don’t want to use at the end of this month.” Work on goals like that and work your way up.
• Tell yourself the Truth
Be honest about what and how you spend. There’s no need to pretend like you aren’t spending unnecessarily. Look closely at what you spend so you can figure out how to save.
• Tackle your debt
You can’t save when you are owing someone or people. Make a plan to pay your debts so you are free to save. There’s no point in saving if your debtor is going to come and collect it. Tackle your debt first.
• Try a ‘no spend’ month
Once you’ve set your budget you know the things that are needs and wants. Try a month where you don’t treat yourself to a meal outside, no clothes shopping, no movies, no social outing, etc. This month you spend only on the basics. What you don’t spend, add that to your savings.
• Keep your money safe
Do your research on how best to save. Some people don’t like fixed deposits because of the percentage. Look into money market. You’re saving and investing at the same time. Your money is not safe under your bed. It is not safe in your home-made piggy bank. It will serve it’s purpose but one day someone can take it or you can break it. Be sure what you are putting away is safe.
• Build an emergency fund
This can also be the ‘Miscellaneous fun.’ It can make all the difference. This is for unexpected expenses like having to go to the hospital, etc. Building this protects your core savings.
• Try the ‘Envelope method’
At the start of the week, put some money in an envelope. This will be an amount that you know ( based on your earlier budgeting ) should take care of your basic needs. If you run out, that’s it. This method prevents you from dipping into other monies.
• Don’t just save money, SAVE.
There’s a difference between saving money and saving money for your future. The money you save to pay your rent is different from the money you’re saving for a time you can’t work anymore. So don’t just spend less assuming what’s left equates to you saving, put the money you save into a savings account to plan for these major expenses.
• Start saving for your retirement as early as possible.
You don’t start planning your retirement when you’re 40. You don’t start after you’ve worked at your company for five years. Start immediately you start earning. Make a plan to grow your earning. Have a side business. Few people get rich through their salaries alone.
It’s the miracle of compound interest, or earning interest on your interest over many years, that builds wealth. The earlier you start as a young person the better. If you haven’t started, NOW is the time. It’s not too late.
• Save your loose change
That N100, N600 can become something. Start putting it away in an envelope. At the end of the week, see what you have. You would be surprised. That loose change can even become your spending money for the next week if you’re using the Envelope method.
• Use the 24 hour rule.
DO NOT BUY that purse as soon as you see it online! Think over every potential excessive purchase for a day. If after a day it still makes sense, then go for it. This rules helps you avoid purchasing expensive or unnecessary items on impulse. When trying to save more, impulse buying has no place in your plan.
• Treat yourself, but use it as an opportunity to save.
Saving shouldn’t mean depriving yourself. Match every amount you spend on something nonessential with your savings. Say you went out and saw a movie and it cost you N4,000, add that same amount to your saving. If you’re using PiggyVest, do a quick save of that amount. That way you save that amount plus your stipulated daily amount. If you can’t afford to save the matching amount at that moment, then you shouldn’t be treating yourself.
The above will go a long way in improving your saving habit.
Tell us how you save and which method you will be adopting in our comment box.