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How to Pave the Road to Financial Freedom Little by Little

How to Pave the Road to Financial Freedom Little by Little

Ah, financial freedom! I believe that there is not a single person in the world who does not have this as one of their life goals. Being economically self-sufficient is one of the quickest ways to happiness. I know “money doesn’t buy happiness”, but debt almost assuredly buys sleepless nights, mental breakdowns, and physical illness.

However, even if you have regular income it might be hard for you to stay out of debt, simply because making it from one paycheck to another is a mission that involves everyday puzzle-solving and navigating a labyrinth of impulse buys, small expenses here and there (which you think are necessary), and basically surviving. To stay on top of it, I will use a metaphor to help me explain.

Imagine if you will, a sieve. It’s a simple vessel with a bunch of little holes that let the water go through. The holes are little but there are so many that the water flows almost freely. The sieve in question is the labyrinth I’ve mentioned and the water is the amount of money you have each month. Now, the point of the sieve is to let the water through but the rate at which it flows can be regulated by plugging some of the holes.

That’s exactly what I will try to show you– how to plug those little holes that keep draining your money away each day.

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Take a strict list to the grocery store

The impulse buys are basically the worst enemy of financial freedom. While I will not advise you to never humor yourself (as I myself am not above it), doing this on a daily basis (or whenever you go to the grocery store) can seriously harm your budget.

I have this problem, too. Whenever I go to the supermarket I want to buy something from each aisle even though I’ve only come in to buy the essentials. However, I’ve started making a list before going (instead of just remembering what I need) by assessing what I really need.

I’ve had to practice self-restraint so I don’t buy that box of Oreos I really don’t need that day. Once I’m out of the supermarket I completely forget about those Oreos. For the sake of my own sanity I put a box on the list every now and then.

Also, everyone knows that you should not go hungry when grocery shopping. It only increases the impulse buys.

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Take care of your teeth

When mentioning small ways to help save big this one always comes to my mind. I can only say it in retrospect because I’ve made the mistake of not looking after my teeth when I was a kid, and have had to pay dearly for it.

We all know how expensive dentists can be. I’ve experienced it recently when I’ve had to go and have my whole lower jaw fixed, tooth by tooth. Several visits to the dentist later and I’ve realized that I’ve paid over $10,000 already, and there are still some upper-jaw teeth to fix. The dentist explained to me that this situation could’ve been avoided by taking daily care of my teeth (which I refused to do when I was young).

Brushing after every meal, removing stuck pieces of food, and getting regular check-ups (which are not expensive) can help you prevent that big expenditure later on. I’m not saying that you will never have to fix your teeth, but fixing them while the problems are small will certainly cost less than having to redo them all from scratch.

Invite your friends over to your place

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    Humans have to socialize. It is rare for people to go on for months or years without seeing another person. We simply have to meet up with friends, as without them life can get pretty boring. This means we have to go out for drinks, a meal, or a cup of coffee.

    What we don’t realize- or we do, we just wish to ignore it- is that having a drink in a club costs at least twice as much as having it at home. Getting a beer can cost upwards to $6, while a visit to the supermarket will have you pay $3 for that same beer. (These are not actual prices. It’s just simplified to make a point.)

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    Next time you want to meet with your friends, why not invite them over for a home-cooked meal and a pair of bruskies? You’ll still socialize but it will not be an expensive endeavor as going to a pub or a restaurant. This does not mean that you should never go out, but think of every night out as one more hole in the sieve. It’s better to plug some of them than none at all.

    Walk more (or use your car less)

    Having a car has become less of a social status symbol and more of a necessity in the 21st century. We take a car to take out the trash or go to a grocery store just around the corner. Each time we start a car we spend gasoline. Although oil prices have been dropping at an alarming rate for the past two years, gasoline is still expensive- just not as much as before.

    Having lived abroad for a year without a car I’ve realized that I don’t really need it as much. I was able to walk everywhere. The places that were more than half-an-hour’s walk were reachable by bike. Both walking and cycling are powered by two things– your legs. Your legs are not burning expensive fuel. They are burning body fat. All you need is to eat something. Aside from saving money you will be able to enjoy the scenery.

    (Note: This paragraph does not count if you are a Venezuelan. The Venezuelan government subsidizes gas prices for the locals and makes it extremely cheap to drive a car.)

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    Save on your mobile phone service

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      Mobile phones have, like cars, become a part of our everyday life. It is great to be able to reach someone, no matter where he or she is, and to be reached. However, providers charge us for whatever they can think of and then there’s the cost of a new phone every now and then (when your old one breaks).

      Saving the money on your phone can include anything from not talking as much over shopping around for deals and not getting a phone with your contract. Actually, the last one is one of the best ways to plug a hole (and this one is actually not so small). Getting a SIM-only contract can reduce monthly fees up to 50% (depending on the provider).

      Also look for loyalty deals and do not be afraid to threaten to leave for another company, if the current one is not giving you something better. There are also numerous other ways to save money on your mobile phone service but for the sake of brevity I am only mentioning a few. Saving a small amount each month will amount to something tangible after a period of time. Your financial well-being largely depends on your everyday decisions. Even those that seem like not much of a harm can make a difference at the end of the month. You do not have to be completely frugal when it comes to spending, but a bit of self-restraint goes a long way. Get informed and don’t just take everything for granted. Chances are you’ll be on your way to financial freedom and no debts without even realizing it’s working.

      Featured photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/money-card-business-credit-card-256319/ via pexels.com

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      Aleksandar Ilic

      Blogger, Social Media Butterfly, Guitarist

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      Published on November 20, 2018

      The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

      The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

      The truth is, there are many “money saving guides” online, but most don’t cover the root issue for not saving.

      Once I’d discovered a few key factors that allowed me to save 10k in one year, I realized why most articles couldn’t help me. The problem is that even with the right strategies you can still fail to save money. You need to have the right systems in place and the right mindset.

      In this guide, I’ll cover the best ways to save money — practical yet powerful steps you can take to start saving more. It won’t be easy but with hard work, I’m confident you’ll be able to save more money–even if you’re an impulsive spender.

      Why Your Past Prevents You from Saving Money

      Are you constantly thinking about your financial mistakes?

      If so, these thoughts are holding you back from saving.

      I get it, you wish you could go back in time to avoid your financial downfalls. But dwelling over your past will only rob you from your future. Instead, reflect on your mistakes and ask yourself what lessons you can learn from them.

      It wasn’t easy for me to accept that I had accumulated thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Once I did, I started heading in the right direction. Embrace your past failures and use them as an opportunity to set new financial goals.

      For example, after accepting that you’re thousands of dollars in debt create a plan to be debt free in a year or two. This way when you’ll be at peace even when you get negative thoughts about your finances. Now you can focus more time on saving and less on your past financial mistakes.

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      How to Effortlessly Track Your Spending

      Stop manually tracking your spending.

      Leverage powerful analytic tools such as Personal Capital and these money management apps to do the work for you. This tool has worked for me and has kept me motivated to why I’m saving in the first place. Once you login to your Personal Capital dashboard, you’re able to view your net worth.

      When I’d first signed up with Personal Capital, I had a negative net worth, but this motivated me to save more. With this tool, you can also view your spending patterns, expenses, and how much money you’re saving.

      Use your net worth as your north star to saving more. Whenever you experience financial setbacks, view how far you’ve come along. Saving money is only half the battle, being consistent is the other half.

      The Truth on Why You Keep Failing

      Saving money isn’t sexy. If it was, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

      Some people are natural savers, but most are impulsive spenders. Instead of denying that you’re an impulsive spender, embrace it.

      Don’t try to save 60 to 70% of your income if this means you’ll live a miserable life. Saving money isn’t a race but a marathon. You’re saving for retirement and for large purchases.

      If you’re currently having a hard time saving, start spending more money on nice things. This may sound counterintuitive but hear me out. Wouldn’t it be better to save $200 each month for 12 months instead of $500 for 3 months?

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      Most people run into trouble because they create budgets that set them up for failure. This system won’t work for those who are frugal, but chances are they don’t need help saving. This system is for those who can’t save money and need to be rewarded for their hard work.

      Only because you’re buying nice things doesn’t mean that you’ll save less. Here are some rules you should have in place:

      1. Save more than 50% of your available money (after expenses)
      2. Only buy nice things after saving
      3. Automate your savings with automatic bank transfers

      These are the same rules that helped me save thousands each year while buying the latest iPhone. Focus only on items that are important to you. Remember, you can afford anything but not everything.

      How to Foolproof Yourself out of Debt

      Personal finance is a game. On one end, you’re earning money; and on the to other, you’re saving. But what ends up counting in the end isn’t how much you earn but how much you save. Research shows that about 60% of Americans spend more than they save.[1]

      So how can you separate yourself from the 60%?

      By not accumulating more debt. This way you’ll have more money to save and avoid having more financial obligations. A great way to stop accumulating debt is using cash to pay for all your transactions.

      This will be challenging, depending on how reliant you are with your credit card, but it’s worth the effort. Not only will you stop accruing debt, but you’ll also be more conscious with what you buy.

      For example, you’ll think twice about purchasing a new $200 headphone despite having the cash to buy them. According to a poll conducted by The CreditCards.com, 5 out of 6 Americans are impulsive spenders.[2]

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      Telling yourself that you’ll have the discipline to not buy things won’t cut it. This is equal to having junk food in your fridge while trying to eat healthy–it’s only a matter of time before you slip. By using cash to make your purchases, you’ll spend less and save more.

      A Proven Formula to Skyrocket Your Savings

      Having proven systems in place to help you save more is important, but they’re not the best way to save money.

      You can search for dozens of ways to save money, but there’ll always be a limit. Instead of spending the majority of your effort saving, look for ways to increase your income. The truth is that once you have the right systems in place, saving is easy.

      What’s challenging is earning more money. There are many routes you can take to achieve this. For example, you can work long and hard at your current job to earn a raise. But there’s one problem–you’re depending on someone else to give you a raise.

      Your company will have to have the budget, and you’ll have to know how to toot your own horn to get this raise. This isn’t to say that earning a raise is impossible, but things are better when you’re in control right? That’s why building a side-hustle is the best way to increase your income.

      Think of your side-hustle as a part-time job doing something you enjoy. You can sell items on eBay for a profit, or design websites for small businesses. Building a side-hustle will be on the hardest things you’ll do, be too stubborn to quit.

      During the early stages, you won’t be making money and that’s okay. Since you already have a source of income, you won’t be dependent on your side-hustle to pay for your expenses. Depending on how much time you invest in your side-hustle, it can one day replace your current income.

      Whatever route you take, focus more on earning and save as much as possible. You have more control than you give yourself credit for.

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      Transform Yourself into a Saving Money Machine

      Saving money isn’t complicated but it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do.

      By learning from your mistakes and rewarding yourself after saving you’ll save more. What would you do with an extra $200 or $500 each month? To some, this is life-changing money that can improve the quality of their lives.

      The truth is saving money is an art. Save too much and you’ll quit, but save too little and you’ll pay for the consequences in the future. Saving money takes effort and having the right systems in place.

      Imagine if you’d started saving an extra $100 this next month? Or, saved $20K in one year? Although it’s hard to imagine, this can be your reality if you follow the principles covered in this guide.

      Take a moment to brainstorm which goals you’d be able to reach if you had extra money each month. Use these goals as motivation to help you stay on track on your journey to saving more. If I was able to save thousands of dollars with little guidance, imagine what you’ll be able to do.

      What are you waiting for? Go and start saving money, the sky is your limit.

      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

      Reference

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