Urgh! Sometimes the thought of having to save can bring down even the best of moods. The thought of having to go without by choice is enough to make most people keep scrolling. Saving doesn’t have to be a dirty word.
Whether you’re saving for a house, a holiday or to buy that designer handbag you have had your eyes on, here are some tips that certainly got me through without feeling like I was missing out.
It’s all about priorities
I think it’s super important to recognise what is important to you. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice everything in the name of saving. I made a list (I am quite impartial to lists) of the things that mattered most to me…and least.
At the top of my important list were family, food and clothes. Family – I feel like this is self-explanatory. Food – I love eating out and trying exciting, new options. I mean who doesn’t love catching up with friend’s over coffee or some deliciousness. Clothes – retail therapy is probably the best way I know to make myself feel better. With this in mind, I decided that these were the things I would allow myself to splurge on a little.
On the flip side, this meant that I did need to make little sacrifices. Alcohol, for example, was on my unimportant list. This probably has something to do with my low tolerance for pretty much any intoxicating substance. When I go out with friends, I tend to stick to 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks or steer clear altogether. To me, it actually doesn’t feel like much of a sacrifice since it wasn’t that important to me anyway. You can probably imagine that this has saved me quite a lot over the years!
Have a think about what does and doesn’t matter to you and adjust your spending accordingly – you may be surprised at the results.
Budgets are over-rated
I don’t know about you, but I have certainly tried many a time to budget. These attempts always fail miserably. In theory they may perfect sense. It makes sense to keep a track of your spending. It makes sense to monitor it to make sure you spend less than you earn. It makes sense to figure out where your money is going. It just didn’t work for me.
The idea of a budget makes me so anxious. It makes me worry about everything I spend. It makes me dread going shopping or basically leaving the house to do anything that might involve spending money.
What has worked for me, is just being conscious about what I spend money on. It’s ok to splurge now and then – I just make up for it elsewhere. So it probably wasn’t the best idea to agree to so many dinner/lunch dates this week and my bank account is feeling it. The following week maybe I would make coffee at home before work instead of buying it in the city, or maybe I would be more organised and do a cook up for the week at home. As long as this is balanced, it doesn’t matter all that much where you spend your money. It’s better that you are happy and enjoying life.
For me (please tell me I’m not the only one), money can really stress me out. The feeling of not knowing what could happen tomorrow, next week or next year. It can be a huge source of stress: if something happened and I needed some money fast, what would I do?
Having a separate account with some emergency savings has been the best gift to myself. By having it in a different account (I prefer with a different bank altogether) I can’t see the funds every time I log into internet banking (limit the temptation!) and then if I do need to delve into the funds, I just transfer them across – easy. Being with a different bank, it does take a couple of business days to clear, which was a perfect deterrent to stop me from using the money to splurge.
I saved about $4000 in this account – but how much you keep will depend on your income, spending habits and how keen you are to keep those savings locked away. I built this up by saving a little each week.
Saving without thinking
While I didn’t work out a budget per se, I did a rough estimate of how much I wanted to spend on essentials (rent, bills, transport), food (including eating out), and fun stuff each week. At the time my weekly income varied as I was working a couple of casual jobs while at uni. So what I would do is have all of my paychecks deposited into my savings account. Then I set up an auto-transfer payment for the amount of my weekly spending to go to my everyday account with the other bank. I would just go about my life with the money in my everyday account. I didn’t have to think about saving money – I didn’t have that option. It worked well for me.
In the past I had tried to transfer money each week to a savings account, but would always find myself making deals with myself. “Yeah I could transfer those savings, but you know I really want XYZ”. And so it would go that the savings wouldn’t build up at all. Does that sound familiar?
I always found saving easier when I was working towards something I wanted. Saving doesn’t have to be dreaded or difficult or a party-pooper. Let me know what your favourite saving tips are. Happy saving!