We’re all aware of the sad fact that money simply doesn’t come easily - and when it does, most of us find ourselves spending it before long. Whether it’s debts, rent payments, or a low salary, perennial financial problems are an issue we all have to contend with from time-to-time.
Savings rates are plummeting, student loans aren’t getting any cheaper and more and more people are looking for work. It makes sense that we start making the most out of the money we have already - but how?
1. Start Getting Good at Tracking Your Spending
If you’re anything like me, you probably have a mini panic attack every time you type in your pin code and check your bank balance. It’s scary. It’s scary because you never really have any idea how much is going to be left in there - and therein lies the problem.
Failing to keep tabs on how much money you’re spending can be an issue in itself. Planning your income and expenses (even if you’re not filing a tax return at the end of the year) is an easy way to ensure that you aren’t overspending.
There are plenty of online budgeting tools, too, such as Mint and You Need a Budget, which make it pretty easy to track your spending. When you’re able to see all of your earnings and outgoings in one space, you can properly decide whether or not you can afford to buy another cappuccino or go out for cocktails this weekend without beating yourself up.
2. Start Using the 10% Rule
Anybody earning money should, really, be storing some of their income in a savings account. Having savings means that you’ll always have a decent sum of money to fall back on should things get rough.
Knowing how much to save, however, can be difficult. For years I found myself receiving £300 from a freelance client and instantly putting half of it into savings, only having to dip back into that pot when I ran out of money after a few weeks.
Clearly, that isn’t an ideal strategy. Instead, saving 10% of your earnings every month is a great way to ensure that you’re putting away enough money without cutting too much into your budget monthly funds. That way, no matter how much you earn, you’ll always have the confidence that you’re living within your means.
3. Decide on Something to Save For
Nothing quite motivates you to save money than having something concrete to save for. Perhaps it’s a holiday, a new car or funds to start your business. Whatever it is, deciding on how much money you’ll need to save each month to reach your goals will inspire you to limit your spending and continue to save.
It can help to devise short-term and long-term goals, too. In the next 1-2 years, you might wish to reserve enough money for an emergency fund. In the next 3-5 years, perhaps you’ll be looking at moving out. In 5-10 years, maybe you’ll be saving money to send your children to college.
Whatever it is, be sure to put a savings plan in place, deciding how much money you’ll need to accumulate and when.
Saving money can be difficult. With so many things to pay for, it doesn’t take long before your monthly earnings have gone down the drain and you have little to show for it.
The biggest issue is that most of us just aren’t all that good at tracking our income and expenses. By keeping on top of what’s going in and out, we stand better able to make monetary decisions without feeling guilty and anxious about them.
Furthermore, creating a monthly savings plan and having a goal to work towards will ensure that you’re on track, allowing you to meet friends for coffee and treat yourself from time-to-time without feeling awful about yourself.