11th November 2016 at 9:00am
So, you’ve recently taken the plunge and decided it’s time to start saving for the future.
Or you want to but can’t seem to knock those bad habits?
As I highlighted in a previous blog ‘ How to achieve financial independence’, it is saving as much as you can right now which will get you well on your way to the envied state of financial independence, free from the shackles of money worries.
Good intentions are sometimes not enough.
That is all well and good but good intentions will not be enough. As I know only too well, spending can be a bad habit which is not easily broken. I would once shop haphazardly, buying a myriad of products and clothing items I really had no need for.
I still, to this day, do not know why I needed over 20 coats and well over 30 pairs of shoes, but it is recognising your flaws and foibles that is the catalyst for change in your money mind-set.
I have found two main areas which I’ve had to work on to keep my spending under control. These are to encourage me to save and to eradicate my spending urges. So, I have compiled a list of simple tips and tricks to help you cut the crave.
Top tips to spur you on to save
Earmark your savings
One of the main ways I have failed at saving in the past is that I didn’t actually know what I was saving for. People told me I should be saving, so I did, but I would soon lose interest and up the spending because I didn’t have a clear goal.
Earmark your money for a specific spend.
Earmarking your money for a specific spend is a great way of ensuring you save as much as you can. Maybe it’s for that once in a lifetime trip? Or maybe, like me, it’s for getting on the property ladder. Whatever your ambitions are, ensure you know what they are and keep them at the forefront of your mind.
Let technology help
In this day and age there is an app for everything and it is no different in the world of personal finance. If, like me, you are useless with excel, using an app which tracks your spending can be a really handy tool and works at the touch of a button.
I have often envied co-workers who pull up a carefully crafted and colour-coded spreadsheet which details all of the intricacies of their spending and saving, but I just don’t have the time or patience.
Using an app to do the work for you really is the way forward.
Growth can be gratifying
We’ve all been there before, you save and save as much as you can spare but when you look at the bank balance you’re more than just a little disappointed. This is when deciding where to put your savings becomes very important.
Make sure you pick the right home for your money, look for the best rate for savings accounts and seriously consider investing your money. If you are unsure around where or how to invest, it may be time for you to seek the help of a financial adviser.
Unsure about the difference? Try our useful guide to understand the difference between saving and investing.
Seeing your money grow and your savings shoot up is a great way to spur you on and it may seem obvious but the best way to make that happen is to save more. What may be less obvious however is the ways you can make that happen.
Why not try rounding up your purchases, if that new gym kit costs you £37, put away £3 in your savings account. This is a great way to bolster your savings and doesn’t feel as though you are giving anything up in order to do it.
Another trick to try is putting away the discount your receive from sales and offers, as The Digerati Life explains;
“If you were prepared to pay full price but discover a saving of 10%, bank the 10% you save into your savings account. This could be a painless strategy of building up your nest egg that you incorporate into your daily shopping habits.”
These small tips and tricks can make a real difference to your savings balance and seeing the numbers go up and up truly does spur you on.
But employing these small changes simply is not enough to keep a serial spender from splurging. Which brings me on to my next point.
Cut the cravings!
Sure, incentivising, making goals and ensuring your savings continue to grow is a great way to keep you positive about saving but sometimes that simply is not enough. Some of us need to use extra techniques to stop those expensive urges.
But where do you begin? The answer is to…
Understand your triggers
Ultimately we are creatures of habit, and just as I crave a coffee in the wee hours of the morning I also have time-sensitive triggers which can affect my spending habits.
For me it is in the evenings, I peruse the online stores on my phone and before you know it I have spent a considerable sum on things I simply do not need. But My Money Coach offers a simple solution;
“Shop during times when you have more energy and feel less stressed. You’ll make wiser spending choices and think more rationally when you’re relaxed and less pressured.”
And it can be a whole host of areas which trigger your spending, such as the environment you’re in, mood, peer pressure and lifestyle. I now avoid reaching for the online shop in the evenings and it has made my bank balance a lot healthier!
Crunch the numbers
Now I am no mathematician and I certainly have no desire to do calculations on a daily basis, but this simple sum can work wonders. Work out how much you get paid an hour. Then when you come to wanting to make a purchase you’re on the edge about, work out how long you have worked for the price of the product. As Daily Worth explains;
“It’s easy to shell out a hundred bucks for a sweater without thinking much about it. But putting that sum into context can give you a whole new perspective on what it’ll cost you.”
A visual reminder
You see it everywhere nowadays, a horrible picture on a pack of cigarettes to remind you smoking is terrible or the red colour coding on supermarket food. Visual triggers really do work, and it makes sense to employ this technique for spending.
The Simple Dollar explains: “Take a few minutes, sit down at your computer, and create for yourself a visual reminder of your personal finance goals. When you have one designed, print out a few copies and put them in places where they’ll remind you of what your real goals are (I really recommend wrapping one around credit cards, for instance).”
This can be a very effective way of curbing your cravings and reminding you of your priorities; it also trains your brain to cut back on the crazy costs.
If you try and test these tips and tricks, soon you will be able to side-step those pesky spends and save for the future you want. Financial independence doesn’t come easy, but using handy techniques like these make it a lot more manageable.