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10 Saving Tricks You Haven’t Tried Yet

10 Saving Tricks You Haven’t Tried Yet

It seems like we can never have enough of cash. Most of us are in the perpetual state of needing more than we earn. Most often, it appears we are actually earning less than what we need. But the reality is quite different. It’s not that we don’t earn enough, it’s actually we don’t save enough. We’re eager to spend as soon as we get our paycheck and thus, how much we earn, we readily spend all of them. The end result is,  we find it difficult to afford things we need the most and often, we might end up turning to loans to save ourselves.

But all of this continual despair and hardship can be avoided. It just takes a bit of self-discipline and wisdom. With proper planning and wise spending, we won’t have much difficulty in making ends meet. Below are the 10 unique and rather unusual saving tricks, often looked over by most of us, which can helps us save a few dollars each month.

1. Partner with someone frugal.

The truth is that not all of us are very wise in terms of making financial decisions. But we could make up for our shortcomings by seeking out a significant other who’s frugal and has a financial head on their shoulders. This is one of the great saving tricks. They help us make better decisions while spending money and keep the balance between earnings and expenditures. One could even focus solely on earning and leave all the works of financial management on the partner’s shoulders.

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2. Unplug.

The plan to execute this trick is quite simple. Unplug just about everything when you are not using it. This includes lights, laptops, coolers, fans, heaters and other such electronic items. This way we can save a significant amount of energy. And, saving valuable energy doesn’t mean we are only contributing to mother earth but also to ourselves. As energy bills make up a significant chunk of our expenditure, with this way, we can spare ourselves a dime or two.

3. Buy fewer clothes.

This one might seem rather silly of the saving tricks. But clothes do make up a significant portion of our expenditures. Moreover, in the case of most adults, they do not actually need to buy more clothes as they already have a fair possession of attires. People often wear only a fewer set of clothes among the ones they possess and rest remain hanging in the closet more often than not. So one could do with buying fewer clothes. For this, going a year without buying clothes could be a good idea.

4. Become good friends with your neighbors.

Well, it’s always good to be friends with more people and more so with one’s neighbors. This way, one doesn’t always need to buy new goods even if they’re required just for a while or even just for once. One can not only turn to their neighbors for help when something is needed at the crucial moment but also look up to them for those things one needs once in a blue moon. This way, a significant amount of unnecessary expenditures can be avoided.

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5. Save your time.

They say time is money and rightfully so. One could save a little bit of time across their activities and add up those moments to do more, leading to some more cash. By saving time, we can use it to do other jobs to make more cash. Time can be saved by avoiding unnecessary chores, which is of course for a person to decide himself/herself, by spending less time on social media, increasing speed at reading and many other ways. By doing works quicker and avoiding waste of time, life can be made significantly more productive. So, search for the moments you can steal every time you’re at work.

6. Graduate sooner.

Normally, bachelor courses are four years long. But one could take more courses in a year so that the program can be completed even within three years. This way, the tuition fees for the courses can’t be reduced as they need to be paid anyway. However, extra annual fees for accommodation, food, libraries and other annual college fees can be avoided. Moreover, you could even avoid potential tuition hikes by paying the fees early. It’s quite challenging but you could save thousands of dollars with this trick.

7. Go shopping at late hours and at sales.

Go shopping at closing hours, just when the owner is about to call it a day. You can bargain and get a few more things at the same price. Furthermore, with late night shopping, you can avoid bustling crowds and won’t need to go through lines at the checkout. And, along the way, you can have your pick of the bargains and markdowns that would otherwise be put out for the next day. This way, you can spare a considerable portion of your monthly budget.

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8. Go vegetarian.

Generally, vegetarian food items are less expensive than even the cheapest varieties of meat. Moreover, vegetarian diets have proven to help reduce the risks of various health hazards, thus avoiding the potentially high medical expenses. So consider going vegetarian and see how much you can save by doing without flesh. Going vegetarian has several benefits, one being that it saves you a considerable share of your budget.

9. Go to bed earlier.

You may be wondering how something like this made the cut. But this one has huge potential, although it is more likely to have never struck more of us than not. The idea is that, going to bed early means we don’t have to use electricity at late hours of the day. We can work with daylight, if we can make up for going to bed early by waking up early in the morning as well. This way, extra expenses which would have to be used for paying electricity bills can be avoided.

10. Buy cheaper versions of goods.

Everyone knows that buying items at a cheaper price will surely help reduce expenses. There’s nothing to fancy about with this idea. But what I’m trying to suggest is that a lot of times, we could do all fine by turning to lesser known brands, which are also the cheaper ones. Let us take the example of Finecoffeeclub. They basically provide coffee capsules to fit Nespresso machines, but at about two-third of the cost of the Nespresso brand. So if you are looking to regularly save money and you are a coffee drinker, this is a great way to go. This is just an example. Most often, prices are inflated just because of the brand name, with not much difference in terms of quality. So this could help you solve a lot of your financial woes.

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Featured photo credit: Tips on saving money via stockrockandroll.com

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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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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