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15 Money-Saving Hacks We Can All Learn From Our Mums

15 Money-Saving Hacks We Can All Learn From Our Mums

1. Make do and mend

My mum is a one for making weird tube tops and horribly unfashionable dresses (or sacks…) out of old sheets. Maybe you’re not a dab hand with a needle and thread but I bet you can cut your old jeans into a new pair of hawt to trawt shorts, eh? They look way more unique, no one else will be wearing them, you’ve saved an arm and a leg and you’ve been a green citizen, all in a stroke of the scissors.

2. Bulk buy

Remember rolling your eyes at the pack of 15 toilet rolls your mum stuffed into the car boot? Well you may be the new nutter on the block with your crate deliveries of 50 tins of beans, but you’ll have more money in your pocket and you’ll never be caught short on the loo again.

3. Just keep walking

Remember those endless journeys, Mum’s empty promises of ‘just around the corner’, the constant ‘are we there yet?’s as you trekked towards a destination that should have been a ten minute drive? These days, we jump on a tube for one stop on the line (it’s genuinely quicker just to walk down the road most of the time) and that’s an expensive trip. So get your free on and take a walk in your mum’s footsteps.

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4. Nom nom, time for some tasty leftovers

The phrase ‘waste not want not’ is a permanent motto in my mum’s kitchen and bread mould is no match for a sharp knife. There’s something to be said for leftovers, ladies and gents. Don’t throw them away – drag out your golden god pasta bakes and your meatilicious lasagnas for lunches and dinners all week long if you want to avoid the dreaded total on your supermarket receipt.

5. A little bit of Lidl

I think every mum has a soft spot for a bit of bargain hunting, an excitement overload when the shelf price is below a pound, and all mum’s are fools for 3for2s and half price deals. We all love those crazy German cereals, those big yellow prices on the shelves, the questionable vodka bottles for under £5 (it all tastes the same once you’ve added some fifty pence a litre cola). And I’m only exaggerating a little folks. Lidl is the place to save your pennies.

6. Share your baths

We’ve all screamed at our mums for plonking our naked siblings in the bath beside us in those long lost times of yore, but did she have it right? I know, we’re not in the Victorian times, but I mean come on, how dirty are you? Leave the bath in for your housemates or, hey, why not have a sexy naked night in with your partner? Either way, forget about those water bill nerves.

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7. Bodge it

My mum with a screwdriver is a scary sight – so why not provide some free entertainment, and potentially, if you’re really really lucky, a free fix, and do it yourself? Sometimes, the perfections lie in the imperfections (or maybe that’s just how I like to think of it…) But folks, if you can fix it yourself, do it – save money, make your house your home, have pride in your work. And if it all goes to hell, well, it’s a funny story for later.

8. Make friends

My mum happens to be very good at this one. The ex husband’s sister’s boyfriend of Mary wotsit down the road is a painter, and he’s doing the house on the cheap because good old Mum is such an old friend… kinda… Isn’t that nice of him? Isn’t that nice for your bank account, too?

9. Show some self-restraint

Now this is a quality my mum entirely lacks, and hence the lesson that has stuck with me the hardest. When your mum comes home with a new handbag every day, a different pair of boots in a slightly different shade of black to the last pair, it’s all alarm bells that echo way into your adult life. Don’t throw your money away.

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10. Grow your own

Maybe your mum’s not as hipster as mine, but a herb box is always part of her garden. And it always saves us on ingredients. Grow your own veg and herbs and never go without again – it’s always economical when you can sustain yourself. Bear Grylls style, eh?

11. Pay your belongings some respect

My mum is always gasping when I drop my phone (which happens a few times a day) and rarely lends me her stuff (I wonder why…) She treats her books like prized artifacts, refusing to throw any away (EVER) and has trinkets and earrings that have survived even the eighties (a feat in itself). Unlike half of my friends, she will never, ever leave her phone in a taxi. And this will save her lots of money (oh how we have all learnt that the hard way…)

12. Manage your own books

It’s definitely a mum thing – a little notebook with numbers scribbled all over. Yours can be a spreadsheet on Excel but my mum will always be a pen and paper gal. She notes down every single transaction she makes and checks the figures against her bank statement. Good luck, fraudsters and con artists. My mum is on your case.

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13. A holiday is only a click, another click and a few hundred more websites away

Research can be key to saving your pennies. My savvy mother has trawled the internet for the cheapest getaways many a time. There’s a World Wide Web out there, folks, full of comparison sites and Google Shopping pages (sort by lowest price first? Yes please). So don’t splash out on the first thing you see, follow Mum’s virtual footsteps and do your research.

14. Be generous

This one may seem counterproductive, but mums everywhere will preach the same old pearls of wisdom: you get back what you put in. Help a friend in need with a cash loan and you never know how grateful they’ll be a few years down the line. Invest a large sum across companies and you could earn some impressive profits. Life’s a lottery so let’s give it all we’ve got.

15. Don’t forget that the best things in life are free

If my mum taught me anything, it was not to worry about money. Go for a picnic if you can’t afford a big meal. Enjoy the little things in life and remember – you can always make more money. It’s those memories rather than the pounds that will keep you going when you’re old and grey, and remembering all that sound advice your dear mum passed on. So thanks for all the help, my wise old ma, who has never cost me a single penny but is worth a million and more.

Featured photo credit: Compfight via static.flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal 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. 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 to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

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

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal 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’s for. It could be anything, including your child’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 that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals 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 beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as 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.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

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

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a 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.

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

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-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.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, 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 spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

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

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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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 manage all the expenses from the rest.

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

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

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. 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 counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

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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5. 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.

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

6. Maintain a Journal

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

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.

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

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s 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.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

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[2].

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 compared to equity instruments.

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3. 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.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

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

    4. 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 and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    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

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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