“When you get your paycheck at the end of the month, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it “I need to buy that new gadget, pair of shoes, go out with my crew, dine in that new restaurant in town…” or do you think “how can I make this money earn me more money?”
Be honest with yourself.
Which category are you in?
For years, I used to be in the first category. I didn’t even know the second category exists. Until I read JL Collins book The Simple Path to Wealth and learnt…
“Stop thinking about what your money can buy. Start thinking about what your money can earn. And then think about what the money it earns can earn.”
The first step towards getting there is learning ways to save money fast so that you have a bigger chunk of money to put towards earning you more money (commonly known as investing).
I’ll start with sharing my best money-saving tips then we’ll explore the best ways of saving money.
Best money-saving tips
#1. Be very clear about the game you’re playing
If you read this blog often, you know that I’m currently obsessed with Morgan Housel’s new book, The Psychology of Money. It has timeless lessons on wealth, greed and happiness. You NEED to read it.
I learnt this tip from him. That when it comes to money and building wealth, everybody is playing a different game and each of us has our own timelines.
The best example I’ve seen on this is where young professionals allow social media and peer pressure to influence their financial decisions.
Some people come from well-off families which means they can afford to acquire cars, a well-furnished home, party every weekend, access to luxuries within the first few years of their careers.
Others come from poor families which means that their budget must always include their families. Their goals include educating their younger siblings, building their parents a house, paying student loans, helping their parents get out of debt and such responsibilities.
Sometimes those from poor families will feel like they’re on the wrong trajectory when they compare themselves to their peers. Which is normal because consumer spending is socially-driven.
This why it’s important to take time and determine which game you’re playing. As Morgan says “while we see how much money other people spend on cars, homes, clothes, and vacations, we don’t get to see their goals, worries, and aspirations.”
Before you spend money to keep up with someone, ask yourself ‘what game I’m I playing?’ Often times, the person you’re trying to look like is playing a totally different game and is also on a different timeline.
#2. Pay your saving deficit
You should include your savings in your budget. If you’re new to budgeting, start off by saving 10% of your income. Ideally, you should grow this percentage as you learn how to adjust your budget.
Sometimes, life happens and we’re unable to save.
For example, I live in Dubai where rent is mostly paid quarterly.
When you rent a house, you sign a 1-year lease and give the landlord a current-dated cheque to cover the first 3 months and also 3 post-dated cheques for the rest of the year. It’s also common for landlords to ask for 6 or two cheques.
I pay mine quarterly. On months when my rental cheque is due, I sometimes don’t save money or save very little.
When this happens, I usually record the saving deficit and tell myself that I owe myself that amount of money.
When I get paid the following month, the first thing I do is pay myself this amount by transferring it to my savings account.
You can borrow this trick from me, which will ensure that you always stick to the ‘pay yourself first’ strategy.
And no, you won’t forget to do it if you use these 10 questions to audit your finances every month.
“Just as weeds grow in a field wherever the farmer leaves for their roots, even so freely do desires grow in men whenever there is a possibility of their being gratified.” – George S. Clason, The Richest Man in Babylon
#3. Control your desires
I read a story of this guy who took his friend to a flea market. While they were checking out the different stalls, he asked his friend why he hadn’t bought anything. His friend said ‘I desire nothing in this place.’
This guy had attained a ‘sense of enough.’ He was satisfied with what he already owned.
Morgan Housel, (haha this is a real obsession) also recommends that to save more money, stop moving your desire goalposts!
This is not to say that you should not have bigger goals.If you’re increasing your desires faster than you increase your income, then you’ll soon suffer from lifestyle inflation or lifestyle hyperinflation.
A lot of us make money, but few have realized that keeping the money is the key to building wealth.
“Modern capitalism is a pro at two things: generating wealth and generating envy. Perhaps they go hand in hand; wanting to surpass your peers can be the fuel of hard work. But life isn’t any fun without a sense of enough. Happiness, as it’s said, is just results minus expectation.” – Morgan Housel, The Psychology of Money.
#4. Get Comfortable with saying ‘I can’t afford it’
Show me a more liberating statement!
As I wrote in my last article on why saving money is important, if you don’t learn to use this statement, you’ll always continue to suffer the pain of regret alone, behind closed when you realize how much money you spent trying to impress other people.
It takes time to overcome the shame, guilt and to learn to talk about money. But once you say it the first time, you realize that you self-respect skyrockets.
It gets better and easier with time.
#5. Use Pinterest
Pinterest is the god of social media. It’s not like other social media sites where people are competing for followers and posting their latest gadgets. It’s mostly a platform that small businesses, especially online business, use to sell.
You can use it to create Pinterest boards that allow you to collect and organize your ideas in one place.
How can you use Pinterest to save money? I’ll give you 2 examples of how I use it.
a. To control my spending on clothes and shoes
I created a Look Book board where I save all my favourite styles. If I see something that I like and complements my style, I save it on this board.
After a few years (or months depending on how active you are) of doing this, you will know what styles you like and those that you don’t. When you go out shopping, you won’t waste time and money buying stuff that you don’t like. Your boards are your reference points.
Pinterest will also give you ideas on how to style different pieces of clothing differently so that you move from always thinking that you don’t have anything to wear, which leads you to buy more and more.
And, it will improve your style. Knowing that you look good improves your confidence!
b. To control my expenditure on home furnishing
If you don’t use Pinterest to get ideas on furnishing your home on a budget, DIY crafts, apartment layouts, where to get beautiful furnishing pieces, bougie colour combinations etc what do you use?
Before I furnished my apartment, I had a board with multiple ideas that I wanted to implement. If you live in a place that has IKEA stores, you can get exactly what you see on Pinterest.
You can literally turn your home into a small heaven. The boards are your reference points so when you go out shopping, you don’t get swayed to but stuff that’s outside your budget and plan.
#6. Join a saving challenge
Having a person who keeps you accountable makes it easier to reach your saving goals.
Accountability can also be in the form of joining a savings challenge with your friends or family.
I’ve seen several challenges online such as the 52 weeks challenge where you set a target amount to save every week.
I also play the accountability partner role in my personal finance consultancy. If you’re tired of living in shame, living paycheck to paycheck, wondering ‘where did my money go?’ a few days after payday, being stuck in debt, not making progress in your financial freedom journey, I can help you. You don’t have to do it alone.
#7. “Save More Tomorrow”
This is a concept I learnt from Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein’s book Nudge.
A lot of us know that we should be saving more, and we sometimes plan to save more but we don’t follow through with our plans.
“Save More Tomorrow invites participants to commit themselves, in advance, to a series of contribution increases timed to coincide with pay raises. By synchronizing pay raises and savings increases, participants never see their take-home amounts go down, and they don’t view their increased retirement contributions as losses.”
If you’re due for a raise at work, guard yourself against upgrading your lifestyle using all the extra money. Automate the savings process in a way that a percentage of the raise goes towards your retirement contributions before the money hits your account.
This will ensure that you live well now but also secure yourself a comfortable retirement.
You can also apply the same concept to bonuses (it’s almost that time of the year!) and tax refunds.
#9. Audit your monthly expenditure
This is the one tip that has ensured I save and invest consistently this year.
One of the questions I have to answer while auditing my finances every end month is ‘did I set a concrete savings goal and did I meet it?’ This question allows me to reflect on my actions and to think about whether my current savings goal is in line with the game I’m playing.
I shared this and all other questions I use for this process here.
Growing your savings and your net worth is a hands-on process. It won’t happen magically.
Set calendar reminders, hang out with a crowd that supports your ambitions and subscribe to this blog 😉 so that you don’t miss my next article on the best ways I save money.
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