Let me begin by telling you I don’t have a lot of money in any bank account. My family is not rich, and I don’t have any business or even a dependable secondary income yet. However, I am proud to say I’m able to save enough for the rainy day.
I am not saying this to brag. Instead, I want to show you anyone can save even a very small amount. The following ideas have worked for me, and I believe they will for you too:
1. Make it an expense.
Rather than using the old formula, income less expenses equals savings, I go for income less savings equals expenses. Sometimes my monthly expenses are high, and I need to reduce my potential savings. But I try my best to keep at least 8 to 10 percent of my total income.
2. Keep jars around.
I actually still have my piggy bank since I was in first year high school. There are also a couple of “coin jars” all around the home. Bernard and I tend to place coins anywhere, unfortunately. These jars ensure we can easily account them later on.
3. Plan ahead.
I don’t like surprises, especially if they are in the form of bills. That’s why I plan well ahead of time. I keep track of my budget using the traditional method: a spreadsheet.
4. Pay things in cash.
I’ve been credit card free for the past 3 years, and I don’t miss it a bit. It also pushes me to spend things using cash. If I can’t afford it, then it may not be meant for me, or perhaps I save until I can pay for it. Sometimes I just wait for its price to go down. If I definitely need to pay something other than cash, I use a debit card or my PayPal account.
5. Keep a “real” savings account.
A lot of us have a savings account, yet we still draw money from it. What I did is to keep a separate card for all my savings. I don’t carry it everywhere so I won’t be tempted to spend it.
6. Control yourself.
Lately, I’ve been wishing for a Kinect because I want to play Dance Central. But the technology will cost me a lot of money, and I’m not willing to spend that much for a plaything. I admit it takes intense control, knowing how impulsive I sometimes get.
7. Stay out of debt as much as possible.
This closely relates to tip no. 4. Because I pay for things in cash, I am able to avoid piling up debts. In the process, I don’t spend for interest or late repayments.
Do I fall short with some of these? Oh yes! Sometimes I allow myself to give in to bad investments, wrong financial decisions, and complacency. But I learn from them and become more empowered financially.