How To Make Savings A Habit
Many of us know what saving is but for the sake of this post, saving is simply setting aside money bit by bit for future use. It is preserving a part of your income you decided not to spend now, so you can spend it on a goal in the future. Saving is considered a low-risk way of preserving money. Money can usually be put aside in a deposit account, a pension account, investment fund etc
Saving shouldn’t be a difficult thing to do after all it’s a good for us. Yet, just like exercising for the first time, saving for the first time can take some getting used to and sometimes for that to happen, we need to trick ourselves into the habit.
One might tend to feel childish, having to trick themselves into doing something that’s good for them. Like telling your kids they can watch TV if they finish their chores on time. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter what you did to save; what matters is that you saved.
HOW TO GET STARTED
1. TRACK YOUR SPENDING:
It is incredibly important to be aware of how much you are spending and what you are spending it on. Not tracking your expenses is like creating a financial black hole. A place where money disappears without trace. No matter how seemingly insignificant the expense was, keep a record of it. Dedicate a book as your financial journal or download any secure financial app; whatever works for you, and separate your expenses in categories.
2. PAY YOURSELF FIRST
Paying yourself does not mean splurging and making countless extravagant expenses once you receive a pay-check and then saving the leftover, if there’s any. Paying yourself is deliberately setting aside and saving a percentage of your income as soon you get it. You’ve worked hard to earn that pay-check, it’s only fair that you pay yourself.
3. SET A FIANCIAL GOAL:
It is important to have a clear reason for your saving. One of the most effective ways to save is by setting a financial goal. It gives you the necessary drive you need to keep saving. Save towards something that is relevant to you; whether it’s new car, the children’s school fees, a vacation or a safety fund.
It is advised that the most important thing one should save for are emergencies. Financial emergencies are generally unexpected events that you did not foresee and had no control over such as a job loss, the ceiling collapsing, a major illness etc. A Safety fund as I like to call it is there to cushion the effect of the unexpected.
Apart from saving for emergencies, learn to save towards your goals/targets. Target-saving is one of the most effective ways of saving, it keeps your head in the game. Whether it is a new laptop or a holiday experience, save towards something. Banks and other financial institutions offer interest bearing and automated target savings accounts with limited or no access for the period you plan on saving for e.g. 6months
AUTOMATE YOUR SAVINGS
It is important that you open a separate account just for your savings. It sounds like a no-brainer but it’s easy to start the unsustainable arrangement of using your business account as your savings account.
That said, when you open an account dedicated to your savings, an effective way to trick yourself is to not attach any debit card to it. Don’t even subscribe to bank services like regular SMS alerts except maybe monthly bank statements to your email. This way, your account remains not just out-of-sight-out-of-mind, but you would have to make a discouraging effort of waiting in long queues at the banking hall just to make withdrawals. It is also advisable to save in an automated investment account e.g a mutual fund so as to make returns on your money.
CREATE ARTIFICIAL BROKE-NESS
Have you ever been broke or been on the verge? Remember how that felt and the way you managed yourself until the next pay-check arrived? To trick yourself into saving, you can artificially create the frugal living that comes with being broke. How does it work?
So, imagine you just received your pay; depending on your budget, you settle the bills, send a percentage to your savings account and calculate how much you absolutely ‘need’ for living (food, transport etc.). Whatever is left after this calculation, goes straight to your savings account via direct deposit. This way, you have created an illusion that the only money withdraw-able is for your living expenses. For this to work, you must be unable to easily access that savings account.