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The Smart Ways to Save Money Fast (Even If You’re a Big Spender)

The Smart Ways to Save Money Fast (Even If You’re a Big Spender)

Are you under the constant impression that you are barely making ends meet? It is almost impossible to treat yourself with something expensive, as you seem to have just enough money to get by through the month.[1]

Also, you have no major expenses on a daily basis, you pay the bills, you eat out maybe once or twice, and then you get your monthly subscriptions and maybe one or two new items. Yet, you still end up wondering where all your money went.

Furthermore, it has definitely occurred to you that you might need to get credit at some point, either for a new car or for an apartment, and that requires a positive credit history. All of these are valid and troublesome concerns, especially if you don’t have at least $1000 in your savings account.

So, here, we will go over how to increase your savings and become more prudent, as well as why saving money is tricky but necessary.

I got it, we save money today to prepare for a better future.

We are all fully aware of the reasons why it is important to save money. For starters, it is the first and most important step towards financial independence.

The second reason is that we need savings in the event things go south for some reason, or if we need money to buy or repair a piece of equipment that is necessary for our work or of us to earn money.

Lastly, you need to know how to properly manage your finances in order to have a positive credit score, which will make it easier for you to get a loan if you ever need one, and you will also have lower interest rates when returning that money.

But saving money always seems to be so difficult…

One of the main reasons why saving has become more difficult is due to micro transactions and monthly subscriptions.

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If you want to save money, you need to give up a magnitude of smaller things rather than one or two of them. In other words, any attempt to save money by cancelling one subscription for example seems meaningless, since you aren’t saving a lot to begin with.

Another reason why we struggle with saving cash is because of our daily habits. We have developed certain tastes, and certain rituals that we tend to indulge on a daily basis, so very often, saving money warrants a fundamental change and people are not really fond of them in general.

Moreover, if you have a lot of bills that require immediate attention, it is difficult to think about saving money, when there are clearly more pressing matters.

So, spending money provides us with short-term positive feelings that we have kind of grown addicted to, whereas saving money does not. So, we are in a way stuck in this hedonistic treadmill,[2] and we just continue to live on paycheck to paycheck.

What can I do to start saving money?

Now let us go over some of the techniques, habits, and tricks on how to start saving money on a monthly basis. If you somehow manage to adhere to all of these tips, you can look forward to a significant amount of cash. However, we are all aware just how difficult it can be to drastically change your life, so you can also introduce these new methods one at a time.

1. Say no to extended warranties.

Whenever we buy something we want to make sure that the item is high quality and that it will serve us for months or years to come. As a result, we are very often tempted to buy extended warranty, which is, in a way, a waste of cash.

First of all, if you are not particularly clumsy and if you do not cash in on your extended warranty, then there is no need to get one in the first place.

Second, we hate using the same thing for more than a year, so it is very likely that you will buy a new item or gadget even if the old one is still working.

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2. Buy refurbished gadgets.

Here is a really good way to save a significant amount of money and get good products at the same time. We usually pay more for something just because it has a strong and well-known brand name behind it.

There is no reason to think of that as a bad choice; after all, a renowned brand means greater security, but it also means that it has good products in general.

In other words, buying branded refurbished gadgets can help you get amazing and useful tech without spending a fortune on it.

The downside of it is that you will not be up to date with the latest product, but eventually, they will be available as a refurbished phone or tablet, or any other gadget.

It is a good way to test yourself if you are buying out of peer pressure and to stay relevant, or if you are buying because you are acting on impulse.

3. Make it a weekly challenge.

A very useful trick for saving extra cash on a monthly basis is the so called weekly challenge. Much like with any game there are the easy, normal and hard mode, and this is how it is done. Basically, you set a weekly sum for yourself that you need to put aside at the end of the week.

You can go with $1, $5, or $10. The key is to double the amount at the end of the next week and so on until the end of the month. So with $5, you have $5 at the end of first week, $10 at the end of second one, $20 at the end of third and $40 at the end of the month.

This is why it is way more difficult to pull it off with $10 as your starting sum. It is a really good way of saving money, and you need to invest it with the rest of your savings into your savings account, in order to accumulate a more significant savings stash.

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4. Train yourself to be more patient.

Patience is a virtue and for a good reason.[3] When it comes to saving money, you can save a lot if you are patient.

First of all, it gives you more time to research and discover better items at a more available price.

Second, you can wait until there is a sales incentive or discount at the store before you buy something expensive.

Third, many stores offer discounts if you purchase multiple products, so it is better to save money and then purchase in bulk because you are going to save more this way.

5. Save your spendings on transport.

We tend to spend a lot of cash on transport, whether we’re buying gas, or even worse, if we use a cab to get by.

If you make a deal with friends from work to car pool, you can reduce the carbon footprint by relying on one vehicle, and you can save money on gas.

If you spend too much money on taxis, then you should immediately switch to public transport. This is far more convenient and cheaper, plus when the traffic is busy, you will actually get to where you need to be more quickly.

Simply get a monthly pass, or store value on your metrocard to save more money and start walking a bit; it will do you good. Alternatively, you can buy a bicycle and use it to commute; it is also convenient, cheaper, and great for your health.

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6. Cancel unnecessary subscription.

As mentioned, a great portion of our funds is funnelled away due to our monthly subscriptions that we do not even fully use. So, limit yourself to a single subscription that you are going to like the most during one particular month.

Private networks like hulu or Netflix usually announce what their users can expect in the upcoming month, so you can check that content in advance and decide which network you are going to use for that month.

7. Don’t pay for brand names.

We tend to pay a lot for big names and influential brands, and these products are usually overpriced for no reason. Sure, you might want a particular phone or PC to have strong components and, since it is a long term investment, you do not mind spending a bit extra.

However, when it comes to chargers, HDMI cables, headphones, or adapters, you can find decent products at a lower price that are going to get the job done. So, when you are buying something, it does not need to be from an expensive producer at all costs, and you can save a lot if you opt for less known, yet still competent providers.

8. Avoid eating out.

One way of committing financial suicide is by eating out frequently. Sure, we love the service, and that food is instantly prepared, but as mentioned, it is important that we practice patience in order for this to succeed.

It is far cheaper and healthier to prepare your own meals, plus you get to learn how to cook.[4]Today, we have pages and video clips that help us prepare meals, so there is really a small chance that you can mess it up, considering the amount of instructions you can get.

9. Consider energy saving appliances.

Finally, the money you save can be invested into energy conserving appliances and this helps you reduce the amount of money you pay for the bills. You can get energy saving light bulbs, as well as other appliances that spend less electricity, and you can even buy solar panels at one point.

Moreover, you can check your electricity provider to see how much they charge and switch to another one in your area that charges less.

Well these were the tips that can help you save money; you should also make sure to look up how to earn extra money online, just so that you create an even bigger savings account.

Some of these don’t require too much effort, others may include learning new skills, but mostly, it’s about practicing patience and restraint. Hopefully, you will find this article insightful and inspiring, and it will help you save some money.

Reference

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Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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