Saving money is a crucial step if someone wants to have a shot at financial freedom, because in order to be able to invest your money, first you need to have saved some.
How I took the decision to start saving:
I actually did not care about saving money in the past, mainly because I had no reason to. I had worked a few jobs which mostly paid me well, but I had nothing to save for at the time, no real financial responsibilities and no financial goal to save for, so I did not feel the urge and I did not see the point in saving.
If I see something I like, and I have the money for it then I will buy it; otherwise, why am I even working?–That has been my mentality up until a few months ago.
Then I had a reality check. Several months ago, I became entirely dependent on myself and instead of living with my parents, I was alone for some time. I had a job that paid me well, and had a humble amount of money that was still saved because I hadn’t spent it on anything yet.
From the outside, I may not have seemed like a lavish spender but I did spend a lot of money, most of it was wasted on food, jewelry, books and skincare products (yep, those are my weaknesses!). I can hardly feel bad about books, though, because I feel that is an investment itself, but everything else, not so much.
At that time, for some reason I went through this shopping frenzy where I was making a lot of purchases online and not thinking twice about it. And I had reached to a point where I was eating out/ordering in every single day and, sometimes, multiple times a day.
And because I am not used to paying attention to my spending or caring about money, one day, I was about to make an order for a meal, and just casually checked my wallet before I ordered and I found that I only had 50 pounds left in my pocket (that’s about $3), I tried checking my bank account and that was about zeros. And this was not even the shocking part, but it was when I realized that there was still an entire week left until the salary would come in.
This was a real turning point for me because this was the first time in my life where I literally had no money, not even enough to buy myself a meal; that was a scary moment. (But hey! let’s not get too dramatic. I did have food at home, I was just too lazy to cook it.)
And, even though I did have a credit card available, so I could still have access to money until pay day, that money was not really mine.
So, that was when I realized I needed to change my spending habits and look at money differently (also, when I realized I needed to start cooking!). But even though I started paying attention to how I spend money, still I wasn’t saving much. So I had to figure a better way to save more.
1. Set a Budget
This is probably a technique that is as old as money itself, but still I only started doing that like 2 months ago. Setting a budget is not easy if you don’t know how much money you actually spend every month and what exactly you spend it on.
So, in order to set the right budget for myself, I had to monitor my spendings, document how much I spent and what I spent it on. I did that for 2-3 months just to make sure that whatever amount I set will be an accurate one, so I would not have to go over it at any point.
2. Set a Saving Goal
As I mentioned earlier, the reason I never cared to save money was because I had no reason to save. So, I had to create a reason that would motivate me and push me into saving and keep up with my goal.
Since I started this experiment (as I like to call it) of achieving financial freedom, I set a yearly saving goal for myself.
For now, my saving goal is to save enough money by the end of this year so I can buy an additional fund in the home construction company I discussed in the passive income: 4 real estate investing options post. And to be able to achieve that amount by the end of the year, I broke it down to a monthly saving goal.
It is also better if you have those monthly and yearly goals set in writing and have it somewhere where you can always see it, so it doesn’t slip away from your mind.
3. Think Before You Buy
Now do I really need to buy that one-of-a-kind veggie slicer? Or this never-before-never-again pair of trousers?
I used to buy a lot of things and end up not ever using them. Until this moment, there are pieces of clothing which I bought a couple years back that still have the purchase ticket on.
Things can look tempting at first glance and if you don’t stop yourself for a moment and actually think whether or not you need this, and whether or not you will actually use it, you will end up spending so much money on absolute nonsense (like this one time, several months ago, when I paid $200 on a teeth whitening device that is still in its delivery package wrap till this day).
Now, before I buy anything, I give myself enough time to think it over, again and again, before I decide. Also, if I’m doing an online purchase, I usually wait a day or two and see if I still want it as bad, because sometimes when I wait, I’d no longer be interested in buying it.
You will be surprised how much money you will save by doing just that.
If you buy things you do not need, soon you will have to sell things you need.Warren Buffett
4. Use the Internet
Consider the internet your new, trusted best friend who you need to consult before you do anything.
There is an unimaginable number of things you can learn to do on the internet. So, before you decide to spend your money on something, make sure you can’t find a cheaper way to do it or a DIY replacement for it. (I save about 300-400 pounds per hairdresser visit just by learning how to cut and dye my own hair.)
You can also use the internet to find out about deals and discounts. It is actually interesting how much money you can save by just doing a little bit of research before going shopping for anything.
Real-life example: I was looking to buy a pair of shoes recently, and I found the ones I wanted for about 1,099 pounds in one of the go-to stores that I already know; however, with just a little bit of research, I found the exact same pair for 595 pounds and they even had a free-delivery offer for the month. So, not only have I saved on the shoes itself, but I also had it delivered to my doorstep for FREE. All it took was just some digging online.
One other thing I can totally thank the internet for is that it basically feeds me. As you probably already noticed, I’m a quite lazy person, so cooking was never really my thing. However, thanks to YouTube videos and some cooking websites, I can find a lot of easy and quick (and delicious) recipes to cook at home and from ingredients I already have. Apart from the fact that it is way more healthy, it is a major money saver!
5. Open a Savings Account
Remember that saving goal I mentioned earlier? Well, you’re going to need a place to save that money. One of the options is to open a new savings account that is separate from any account you’re already using.
Beside your saving goal, use this account to save any money left from your current month’s budget. And don’t worry if it’s only just a few pounds. If you have an extra 50 pounds left from your budget every month, that is 600 pounds by the end of the year; not a huge amount, yes, but that’s 600 pounds more in your account for basically doing nothing.
For me, I use an account which I did not get an ATM card for, just to make it harder for myself to withdraw any money from it.
6. Ditch Your Credit Card
The problem with credit cards is that they trick you into thinking you have money, when you really don’t.
Spending money you don’t have is the number one enemy to saving in my opinion. You are, voluntarily, throwing yourself as a victim to debt. If you can’t afford something to pay it off your budget, then you can’t afford it.
The only reason I ever use my credit card is to set a credit score. So, I make small transactions which I already have the money for it cash. But instead of paying it cash, I use the credit card then I pay off that card loan. I never pay an amount with my credit card that I don’t already have its equivalent in cash.
This way, I set a good credit score for myself while staying away from ever being in debt.
7. Eat Your Breakfast
You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for several reasons, but one thing I noticed when I was working a 9-hour day job was that on the days I did not have breakfast at home, I would spend a lot more money at work.
I would buy something to eat when it’s early during my shift and because it usually wasn’t a proper meal or even healthy, I would feel the need to have more snacks throughout the day. And I tend to buy a bigger meal for lunch than what I would normally eat which would be a more expensive meal (and more kilograms on the scale).
However, when I have a proper breakfast at home, I’m never tempted to buy any snacks or junk food during the day. And I’m full till it’s time for lunch.
And since I already started to cook at home, as mentioned in tip #4, I would have a home-made meal to eat for lunch which I prepared the day before. This way I wouldn’t need to spend that extra money on food at work.
Those were the main 7 tips I know that has helped me save more and, hopefully, will help you too!
Till next week, happy days!