Life is hard, but it can be much harder without savings. This is Nigeria, so you are only one disaster away from needing urgent funds. Also, the only way to become wealthy is by saving and investing. And saving comes before investing.
Do you ever feel like it is impossible to save no matter how hard you try? You try to spend less and stash funds, but something always comes up. Life just gets in the way. In Professor’s master plan, this is where Volition comes in. We have compiled tested and trusted tips to get your spending on track and help you save some money. Now, relax and pay attention.
- Make money
Durggh. To save, you need to make money. First, you need to make enough money. If what you make barely covers your essentials, then you cannot save. You should not. To earn more than you already do, you need to improve your skills or seek better opportunities. Second, you need to make money consistently. To save, you need to be fairly certain of how much you will make during a period. At least, the least you will make. So, consider a job or business that is sure to pay you monthly.
- Spend less than you earn
To be wealthy, you need to invest. To invest, you need to save. To save, you need to live below your means. It is the only way you will have money left. It is impossible to save if you spend all the money you make. Spending more than you earn is even worse. It is important to live within your means so you would not rely on loans to pay your bills. This is tied to the next tip.
- Get out of debt
This one sounds like “aspire to inspire”. Easier said than done eh? However, to improve your chances of saving, you would need more of your money. You don’t want your paycheck to be gone before you even receive it. To get out of debt, cut your expenses, work to increase your income, and make a consistent repayment plan.
A budget will help you remain intentional, so you don’t spend more than you earn. You will find out how much you can save each month. You can make a zero-based budget – give every single naira a name – or assign it a job to do – before you save or spend it. Go a step further by documenting your expenses periodically. Find out where your money went today or this week. How much did that Uber cost? How much is your rent? Write these things down. Your memory is not as good as you think it is.
- Have a goal and stick with it
If you do not have a savings goal, you will easily spend your money. To save successfully, you need to set a clear goal and draw up a plausible plan. What are you saving for? Is it an expense or an investment? For how long will you save? How much will you save per year, month, week, day?
It doesn’t matter what we write though, you would still need the discipline to achieve your goals. Once you set up savings towards a goal, try to keep your hands off of the savings till you achieve your goal. Finally, try rewarding yourself for reaching small milestones.
- Pay yourself first
Paying yourself first means separating your savings as soon as you get your paycheck, and then living off the rest. If you only pay yourself after your bills and expenses are taken care of, you run the risk of never saving enough.
You can save money without thinking about it. You can set up your bank account to automatically transfer funds to a savings/investment plan. Saving automatically is especially imperative for people who spend whatever they see!
- Spend extra or unexpected income wisely
Now and then, you will find N500 in your jeans. Or your uncle will give you N50k. Or you will see N500 million in a Ghana-must-go on the floor (that comes with a “you will not turn to a goat” tag). What should you do then? When you make unexpected income, you must put it to good use. You will get lucky. Everyone does. So, have a plan for where “lucky money” is supposed to go.
- Mind your expenses
If you put yourself on a zero-based budget, you are more likely to do away with discretionary spending. This way, you must question every item on your list. Do you really need this and that? Take a few minutes to make a list of your monthly expenses. Identify your needs, and distinguish them from your wants. You may sort your needs immediately and purchase them in bulk. For your wants, wait!
Particularly, think about non-essential items for a long time. Consider the 30-day savings rule. This involves waiting for 30 days before you purchase a non-essential item. This way, you are more likely to take emotions out of your spending. The 30 days savings rule will stop you from spending money impulsively on things that don’t serve any real purpose.
- Reduce costs
There are many ways to drive your monthly costs down – some are interesting and some are just obvious.
- Reduce the luxury. First, buy generic. A lot of times, the only thing that is better about brand-name products is the marketing. Meanwhile, generic brands cost less but work as well too. Second, end your addiction to new stuff. If your old possessions still serve their purpose, why replace them?
- Cancel any subscriptions you don’t use regularly, and make sure you turn off auto-renew when you make a purchase. If you cancel it and decide you can’t go without it, subscribe again—but only if it fits into your new and improved budget. Also, consider sharing memberships with some family and friends.
- Consider energy costs – electricity and gas. Consider reducing your electricity bill. Which lights need to go off? Do you need to heat water every time you bathe? You may need to purchase new, energy-efficient appliances to save money.
- Pack lunch and eat at home. Remember when your Nigerian mother would tell you “we have food at home”? Yes, keep remembering that every time “restaurant” pops in your head. Buying lunch a few times a week may seem harmless at first (especially when your favorite restaurant is a walking distance), but you can save quite a bit of money by packing lunch. Also, you can buy a solid week’s worth of food for the same price as two dinner meals out. Prepare your food and take it with you!
- Consider reducing your transport costs by carpooling when you can. This means sharing a ride and splitting the fare with others. Also, try not to commute during rush hour. If Uber says there is a surge, sit in your office a little longer. These little costs matter.
- Sell everything that doesn’t bring you joy
Let go! Stuff is just stuff. Reduce your emotional attachment to things and sell them! Having somebody pay you for something (that would otherwise end up in the bin in another five years’ time) is liberating and lucrative.
With that, we have come to the end of our article. Remember that earning more is the most important step to saving more. But also remember that earning more will not endow you with magical saving skills. People who cannot save little cannot save much. Also, save to invest, do not save to spend.
You may learn more about money and improve your financial literacy with a free investment course from our Director. Subomi Plumptre’s free investment course is your definitive guide to investing in Nigeria. Apply today.