When it comes to finances, the best way to manage our money is to simply take control of our spending. It sounds incredibly straightforward and almost a little pointless to mention how controlling your spending can help you save money, but let’s examine this point in greater detail. It’s not so much a strategy, but more of a mindset that you need to train yourself with so that you can make smart decisions on how and where to save money.
Learn How to Budget
Your first task should be learning how to properly budget your money. You should always be keeping an eye on both your income and your expenditure so you’ll never be short when paying something like a bill. There are other advantages to learning how to budget properly, such as having more money to pay for unexpected costs such as repairs and emergencies, and you’re more likely to build up a good credit rating should you need to take out a loan in the future for something like a home, a wedding or even a new car. Being able to budget also gives you a fantastic sense of accomplishment because it’s a very responsible thing to do.
To get started with budgeting, you’ll need to either have a blank spreadsheet open or sturdy notebook and some pens or pencils. If you’d prefer a little more assistance, then there are many budgeting apps you can use on your phone or computer, but some people find it a lot easier to use simple pen and paper to record everything. If you decide to go the non-digital route, then make sure you have a calculator handy as well because you’re going to be making a lot of calculations.
First, gather all of the household bills you’ve been receiving for the past few months. This is so you can make an average of how much you pay for utilities such as your electricity, water and electrical bills. For static costs that don’t change, you can simply take the amount you pay per bill. However, for utilities that have varying costs, you’ll have to average them out which is why you should gather up bills for several months. Once you’ve calculated the costs of your utilities, you want to calculate other living costs such as your grocery bill and how much fuel you buy for your vehicle. These costs typically change on a weekly or monthly basis, so once again, you’ll have to calculate an average.
Now that you have your essential living costs calculated, you can then subtract that from your wage. If you’re already in the negative after doing so, then you may have calculated something wrong or you might not be taking into consideration any benefits you get. Remember that bills are also paid at different intervals. For instance, some utility bills might be paid on a quarterly or annual basis, so keep those in mind. If you’re self-employed, don’t forget to calculate tax as well.
But if you’re in the green, then you’ve done a good job and you can start properly budgeting. All of the money you have left over is technically disposable income that isn’t important to your upkeep. This means you can save this money for larger purchases or spend it on luxuries such as holidays or entertainment. Keep this up every month and you’ll find that with better control over your finances, you’ll have more freedom in how much you can spend or save.
Reducing the Cost of Necessities
Assuming you’re doing a great job with your budget, we can now attempt to reduce your living costs even more. The best way to do this is to actually invest some time into learning how your bills and insurance costs are calculated, and researching other companies in case you can get a better deal. Many people stick with the same provider for an extended period of time because they prefer the convenience of just paying and getting their service. They’re usually worried that switching comes with a lot of problems that they would rather not deal with. However, switching providers for things such as insurance and utilities is surprisingly straightforward and could save you a hefty amount of money.
Let’s start with utilities. Make sure that you’re shopping around for better deals and learn how your bills are calculated. For instance, you could be paying for an expensive call plan on your mobile phone because it has unlimited messages and calls. However, if you don’t use calls that much, then you could look around for a better deal that still provides unlimited messages but doesn’t give you infinite call time. Another thing to consider is data usage. If you’re constantly using 4G access even if you’re at home, then consider cutting down your usage and remembering to activate WiFi and use access points whenever they are available.
Next, let’s talk about insurance. There are many factors which go into calculating the costs of insurance. For instance, car insurance takes your experience, age and even your job into consideration. The more you drive and the less experienced you are, the more you’ll pay for car insurance. When you’re a new driver there aren’t many ways that you can reduce the costs of car insurance. The only way you can reduce the cost is to look around for a cheap car insurance policy that fits your needs and stays within your budget. Once you learn what goes into these calculations, you can manipulate it and drastically reduce the amount of you pay. However, it’s a good idea not to lie about your circumstances because it could invalidate future claims should you end up in an accident or have your car stolen.
Have a Goal
Let’s face it, there has to be a reason for you to save money. If there wasn’t, then you’d happily be spending and buying things without caring too much. As long as you’re not using more money than you’re spending, you could get by just fine without too much trouble. Saving money without a purpose isn’t much use and it can actually be detrimental to your quality of life. Far too many people are obsessed with the idea of saving money yet they don’t have a clear goal in mind. You could save all of your money and put it into a savings account, but it’s rather pointless if you don’t have a goal. On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who have no savings goal and instead, they’ll spend all of their hard earned cash within just a couple of days after their paycheck.
In other words, having a financial goal or an aim is essential for good money management. Set yourself targets and stick to self-imposed rules, but give yourself enough space to use your money freely. For instance, you could put 5% of your disposable income into a savings account for the sake of emergencies. Once your savings account hits a certain limit, you can stop the 5% cut and set a new goal. If you want to buy a car in the future, then put roughly 30% of your disposable income into your savings account or a safe place and once that reaches the desired amount you need for a car, you can stop saving.
Not only does having a goal help you save money in the long run, it also helps to motivate you with simple financial goals. You could always put more or less money into your savings account depending on your current situation, but the idea is to always set an aim and work out how much you can set aside for the sake of that goal without lowering your quality of life or skipping out on too many parties and meet-up with your friends and family. Watching your savings grow closer to your targets is a fantastic feeling that will do wonders for your motivation and morale.
Some Final Words
Far too many people neglect to think about their financial situation. They won’t look for better utility providers, they won’t look for cheaper insurance plans, they don’t save their money or they save too much money and forget to live a little. What’s important in managing money isn’t so much the amount you get or how frugal you are, but instead, it’s important that you take an interest in managing your money. Millionaires spend roughly eight hours a month managing their books and they set aside a few hours each week in order to analyse how much they are spending and how they can cut expenditure. Everyone wants to be rich, but in order to get rich and maintain that status, you have to take an interest in your money and how to manage it.
Hopefully, this guide has given you some insight on how to properly manage your money and save a bit more by learning about your financial situation. Remember to stay alerted with your money and always reserve some time, even if it’s just a few minutes, to analyse your books and look for ways to save money and reach your financial goals.