Savings Month Reflections: Top 3 Savings Tips
July is notoriously known for being a month where we all promise to leave our old ways behind, take on the baton of being financial saints and pledge allegiance to saving every penny. It’s funny how we as humans operate. By moving to the extreme side of the spectrum, we all hope that our renewed belief will absolve us of financial behaviours we’ve learnt over a plethora of years. I’ve got news for you sis (or gent): if this savings month will be anything but meaningful to you, all you need to do is to start where you are, accepting the neglect and mistakes you’ve made for not saving and promising yourself to take things one step at a time. Take it day by day, rand by rand, and watch how saving will become less of a chore and more of a lifestyle.
Tip 1: Have An End In Mind
I remember watching Beyonce’s documentary, Homecoming, in 2018 and l was honestly marvelled at the length’s she went to prepare for, in my opinion, the most legendary live performance of all time. She literally committed to removing all dairy, meat, sugar, caffeine, carbs, soda and uhm, virtually everything normal human beings eat to get into shape and worked out twice a day (in addition to all of her dance rehearsals). Now folks, who in their right frame of mind would randomly just wake up and say, “I’m just going to go on a starvation diet because I feel like it”. Not you and definitely not me. But what I came to learn was that the presence of an end in mind, the perfect show, motivated her enough to go the extreme lengths that she did to deliver. This has become a principle I’ve learnt on my own personal finance journey.
“Saving for a rainy day” is an outdated saying to be honest. It’s less motivating so save for a rainy day that you can’t really pinpoint than it is saving for your glory days. The vision you set for your financial life, the standard of living that you want-all of it, it become the compass with which you navigate your finances. Could it be that you struggle to save because you haven’t set an intention and vision for the life you want to live? From the neighbourhood you dream of living in, to the business you’d like to start one day, those are things that require financial diligence. If you haven’t formulated an end in mind, you’ll find yourself spending your money today, forfeiting what you could’ve saved it for in future. Aim for something. It makes the deprivation of the moment a lot easier to bear.
Tip 2: Little Things Matter
Perhaps the reason why we fail to diligently save is because we don’t keep track of our day-to-day spending. We can be so quick to say we want to save up a year’s rent to test if we can cope with monthly bond repayments on that house we’ve been eyeing for a while but fail to account for how we spend our money on a daily basis. Then only to discover at the end of the day that we’ve got R500 less than what we started the day with. The little things really do matter if we are to save consistently and not be moved by how we “feel” in the moment.
More than creating a monthly budget, figure out how much you need in a week to live. A monthly budget is great, but ultimately, its easy to take a portion from what you were supposed to save once you’ve spent more than you anticipated during the week on groceries. Have a plan for each day and outline what you’re going to be spending money on (transport, lunch, parking tickets etc) and then carry that amount of money with you. When you don’t have that set plan, you’ll find yourself buying all sorts of things that you don’t really need and wind up with nothing to save.
Tip 3: Saving Creatively (which leads to investing)
Another really interesting way to look at it as well is to ask yourself if the things you purchase store wealth. Money represents three things in our neoliberal economy:
Medium of exchange
Store of value
Unit of account
The second function is critical for understanding what really “saves our money”. Money itself is just a tool that can perform any of these three functions, but storing value is important because you can either keep it on hand (in a bank account) to save or you can purchase something of value, that you can sell in future at either the same price or higher if its value increases more than inflation. Don’t restrict your saving to cash but also look at interesting purchases you can make that still “store your wealth”. Move from buying clothes every weekend and ordering takeout often to buying assets that still store your money and allow for the time value of money to increase your wealth. Perhaps it could be a camera that you can resell or lease, or it could be event hire equipment that you could also resell or lease. If the thought of just keeping money doesn’t excite you, use it to buy something of value. It won’t make you feel as bad for spending money.
I believe that the three tips above won’t miraculously shift your finances in a day, but they will equip you with the day-to-day habits that’ll ultimately make saving a lifestyle. End savings month with a bang and commit to creating the financial lifestyle you deserve!
Author: Sthandiwe Msomi