Saving money is hard, you guys. You tell yourself that you’ll save more when you start earning more but you never do. Because in the immortal words of Notorious B.I.G:
It’s not even just that. You slowly (and subconsciously) upgrade your standard of living the second you start earning more. This isn’t a bad thing, but a lot of people overdo it to the point where it feels like the salary increase didn’t make a difference.
Saving is important and I care about your wellbeing. This is why I’m here with this step-by-step guide about saving money in 8 steps. Thank me later.
1. Track your expenses.
If you want to start saving, you have to figure out how much you spend. Track every single expense (the bottled water you bought in traffic, the 50 naira you paid the cobbler that fixed your shoe etc) because it’s those miscellaneous expenses you don’t give a second thought to that really hurt your bank account. When you have this info, put them in categories. E.g food, bills etc.
2. Organize your recorded expenses into a budget.
Your budget should show how your expenses measure up against your income so it’ll enable you to avoid overspending. Along with your monthly expenses, remember to include those expenses that are constants but don’t happen every month. E.g. car maintenance fees, etc.
3. Create a savings category in your budget.
Experts say to save 20% of your income every month. A higher percentage is fine but less is not advised. However, if you’re new to the concept of saving or 20% is too high, start small with 10% or 15% while you cut back on nonessentials (and some essentials you can afford to spend less on). The key is to consider the money you put in savings as a regular expense similar to other important expenses.
4. Decide on something to save for.
One of the best ways to save money is to set a goal. Start by thinking of what you might want to save for (marriage, vacation, retirement etc), then figure out how much money you’ll need and how long it might take you to save it.
5. Prioritize your saving goals.
Your goals (after your income and expenses) have the biggest impact on how your savings are allocated. Learn to prioritize saving goals so you know which to start with. For example, if you’ll need to change your wardrobe soon, you might want to start saving for that now.
It’s also important to remember that long-term goals shouldn’t be neglected in favour of short-term goals.
6. Pick the right tools for your saving goals.
For short-term saving goals, take one of these into consideration:
– Savings account
– Certificate of Deposit & Short Term Investment Fund (locks in your money for a fixed period of time with an interest rate much higher than a savings account).
For long-term saving goals, consider:– Retirement Savings Account (RSA) – Individual Retirement Account (IRA) – Securities, such as Mutual Funds or Stocks. Know that these securities are subject to investment risks and possible loss of your principal.
7. Automate your saving
Setting automated transfers to your savings account the moment your salary enters is great because you don’t have to think about it, and it greatly reduces the temptation to spend.
8. Track your progress
At the end of every month, review your budget and check your progress. Doing this will help in identifying and fixing problems, while also gingering you to stay on your savings plan and hit your goals faster.