*This is a collaborative post.
You don’t have to be dealing with a financial nightmare before you decide that it’s time to start saving more and spending less. Taking control of your finances is the best way to make sure that you don’t end up in a difficult scenario further down the road. The more you save, the more of a safety blanket you have for you and your family if something in your life doesn’t go entirely according to plan.
The problem is, while a lot of people understand the value of saving and budgeting, they don’t want stress over the future to ruin their experience of the present. After all, it’s easy to get so caught up in how you’re going to pay for everything tomorrow, that you forget to enjoy the things you have today. Here are a few tips that will help you to unlock the secret of saving for the future, while you enjoy the now.
- Understand Your Situation
Few things affect your budgeting plan as much as your ability to understand your cash flow. If you want to make sure that you have both money to spend now and savings for the future, then you need to figure out how your current spending patterns are affecting you.
The easiest way to get started is to gather all of your bank statements and wage slips from the past couple of months and check how much money you have coming in, compared to how much you have going out. Looking closely at your spending habits will help you to pinpoint any areas you might be having problems with.
- Don’t Make Spending Decisions Instantly
Some money decisions are easy to make. “Am I going to pay the rent this month?” for instance, isn’t a question you should be antagonising over. However, there are also plenty of spending choices that you should think carefully about before you commit to anything. Sometimes, the biggest mistakes we make with money, happen when we make “impulse” buys. We tell ourselves we need something, only to realise that we probably could have done without it a few days or hours later.
Before you say “yes” to anything you don’t desperately need, give yourself a period of 24 hours to think about it. Go home and sleep on it. If you really need to make the purchase, then you won’t be able to get it out of your mind. If you don’t need it, then you’ll probably forget about it within the day.
- Reduce Your Monthly Bills
Speaking of things, you have to pay, some of your monthly bills might be higher than they should be. If you’re stressing over your monthly expenses, then now might be a good time to sit down with your outgoing bills and think about whether you can change to a better supplier. Comparing your gas and electricity vendors online can be a great way to save yourself some extra cash.
You can also look for bills in your monthly outgoing money that you can get rid of entirely. For instance, if you’re currently spending cash on a television package, but you only watch Netflix, then you might as well get rid of the service you’re not using.
- Automate your Savings
If your biggest worry isn’t that you don’t have money to save, but that you’re more likely to use the extra cash you have in your bank account, then why not remove the temptation? The chances are that you get your money from work each month through a direct deposit, and you can set up a debit to move some of your money into a different account too.
This will help you to get that cash out of your hands and into a place where you can see it grow. If you save the money you want to hold aside automatically, you’ll be much less likely to spend it.
- Give Yourself Some Wiggle Room
Finally, the key to good budgeting is sticking to your guns and making sure that you don’t overspend as much as you can. However, it’s important to give yourself some wiggle room. If you restrict your spending too much, then you might give up on your budget entirely because you feel like you’re never having any fun.
A good solution is to look at your budget again and try to build in some extra money for spontaneous spending. If you know that there’s extra money in your budget for having fun, then this should protect the money you want to save into other accounts too. While not everyone will be able to take this route, if you can give yourself some wiggle room, make sure you do.