Let’s face it. The majority of us salaried people live paycheck-to-paycheck. What this means is that after paying our rents and bills, and buying groceries and other items of bare necessity, there’s only so much left to make the ends meet for the rest of the month. Saving money, in such a tight budget, appears to be a very remote possibility.
But, that doesn’t make savings any less crucial. Quite the opposite, for that matter. For a salaried person who doesn’t have a second income, saving money can mean the difference between life and death when it comes to life’s critical lows. And interestingly, it’s not just the crisis that the savings are for; they’re your only savior when it comes to life’s biggest and happiest occasions, like marriage or education of a child, purchase of property, or even simple home renovation.
Surprisingly, building a nest egg that would support you on all major occasions of your life is not that tough. All it takes is some minor sacrifices on part of your lifestyle, and some getting used to spending less on non-essential things in life. It’s tough, for sure, but if you think of saving as mandatory a ritual as paying your utility bills, you’ll become used to it faster than you think.
Here, we have listed down some top tips that will help you save today for a better tomorrow.
Record your spending
First things first. Make a clear record of what you’re spending on. Create a list of recurring expenses, like utility bills, groceries, rental payments etc. Then create a list of expenditures you made on the surprise expenses and overheads that you did not see coming. Do it on a spreadsheet, in the notes of your smartphone, or with a simple pen and paper.
Chances are you’ll find it hard in the beginning. Keeping close tabs on all your expenses might come as a challenge. If not that, you’ll find the task straight up boring. You may also be embarrassed or displeased to see some stupid things that you have spent generously but needlessly. This is all natural and the sooner you start recording your expenses, the quicker you’ll get over these initial hurdles. So, make a note today.
Separate what you ‘want’ from what you ‘need’
If your spending outweighs your earnings, the only way your finances will go in the future is downhill. So, make a list of what you need vs what you want. Surely, there are some things you cannot cut down on, e.g., your house rent. But believe us, in almost all other things you can!
For example, take a look at your air-conditioning or heating needs and rationalize usage accordingly. Similarly, if you can do with a cheaper internet connection, you do not need that hefty connectivity package at all. In groceries too, you can go for more affordable items. And do we even need to mention how eating out frequently makes a huge dent in your feeble monthly budget? Start cooking at home more!
Also, look at your commute and traveling expenses. You can always carpool and share fuel expenses with others. And if you travel a lot, we would recommend holding back on that as traveling too often will drain your hard-earned money faster.
Work with your family to set goals
Work with your spouse, and maybe kids too, to set goals of savings for bigger things. This way, they’ll be happily prepared to lend their support by making do with a little less. They’ll be okay with just two outings a month instead of four if they know that the saved money will help them move to a better neighborhood in a few years to come.
The key is to work hard towards achieving the goals you have set. There will, for sure, be some instances of cheat indulgences; we won’t stop you from satisfying that sudden late-night craving for a pizza, or embarking on an unplanned trip to the hills with your guests from another city. But we’re sure you can find a way to make up for the additional expenses in the budgets for the next few months.
Do not hide the financial hardships from the family. Instead, take them into confidence and share your goals behind savings with them. They’ll understand they don’t need to buy an expensive iPhone when there are equally good Android options available. Similarly, those Nike sneakers can wait until your short- and long-term savings goals are met.
Pay your debts off before saving
If you have debt, pay it off first as it would be extremely tough to simultaneously use your disposable income to pay off debts and save money. As it’s impossible to make any headway with either one if you are indebted; your primary focus should be ridding yourself of the debt first.
Pay as much every month as you can, even if it means lowering your lifestyle temporarily. Doing this will not be easy, but it will also prepare you for the savings habit that you aim to adopt. Once your debts are paid off, you’ll be able to focus on saving, and you can use the income that you had been putting toward payments to actually pay yourself and save toward your goal.
Remember that the purpose of saving is to secure the future for yourself and your family, not to ruin the present and make matters tougher than you can handle. That’s why we advise against repaying your loans and saving money at the same time.
Start now, not tomorrow or the next month!
There’s no ‘some other time’ when it comes to making important decisions such as saving money for a more secure, better future. Before you know it, your kids will be of school- or college-going age, or you’ll come across a lucrative investment opportunity that you just can’t skip.
The nest egg that you have built over the years through life’s little sacrifices will be there to support you then. Even when it comes to switching careers, your savings will help you make decisions that are right, wise, and not desperate. Otherwise, the fear of being behind in your rental or utility payments even with one month’s salary missing will always keep you from making important career decisions.
So, make that note now! Begin with step 1 today, ideally right now, and change things for the better for yourself and your family. Remember: a penny saved is worth two pennies earned.