The Internet is full of money-saving advice ranging from extreme frugality to absolute obscurity (like separate your two-ply toilet paper and save around $1.42 per week) most of us typically fail to follow or find just rather useless.
One of my biggest pet peeves about saving is that feeling of guilt you have when you spend extra bucks for coffee or opt for the more expensive option of two. In fact, most advice I read said to stick to a budget or cut down your Starbucks spending. While those points may be somewhat valid, they won’t actually help you stick to your goal and save big without experiencing that dreadful feature of frustration and pressure.
Now most money advice you see are based on the idea that if you save $5 today on something, it would be $1825 within a year, $3650 in two, and so on. Now, the problem with this approach is you have to commit to this decision and cut down on a thing you like on a daily basis. With limited willpower most of us eventually fail to comply.
So, when you decide not to buy coffee each morning, we start to lead a daily struggle resisting this tempting urge to get a chai latte from Starbucks each time we pass by. In time, our motivation fails and we give up on saving.
I have realized that saving on small stuff like those $5 a day on my coffee will not bring me any closer to my ultimate financial goal.
So I have decided to tackle things from another perspective and start big. Here’s what I did.
1. Audit Your Finances and Set up Automatic Payments
Again, due to my extremely limited willpower I have always had a hard time when I had to cut down a slice of my earning and transfer them to a saving account each month. It felt double frustrating especially when I had a lot of planned (and unplanned) expenses during that month.
So instead I took time, analyzed all my monthly spending, and worked out an automatic scheme that worked for me. Ideally, it should look like this:
More on automating your finances here.
Also, I use a great app called SavedPlus to automatically transfer extra bucks to my account from each lunch I pay for. Again, it leaves me guilt-free, as I actually don’t notice how the process goes.
2. Cut Down on Things You Hate to Pay, Rather Than Those You Love
So you can’t give up buying coffee or going to that expensive hairstylist or washing the car yourself or whatever your favorite routine thing is. And actually, you shouldn’t! Instead have a closer look on things you hate paying for e.g. your phone/Internet bill, insurance plan, bank fees, etc.
A few months ago I have realized I have not changed my cell plan for nearly four years! Obviously, it was no longer the most lucrative option my provider offered. After some quick research and a conversation with a rep, I switched to a better one and started paying $30 less each month.
Same goes with your credit cards and banks fees. Shop around, compare the deals, and opt for a reward credit card instead of your usual one to collect miles or get cash backs. In fact, Citi Bank now offers very lucrative terms compared to the other banks with no annual fee to pay.
3. Create a Separate “Unexpected Expenses” Account
We all have them and we all hate them. When you smashed your bumper because you didn’t want to pay for a normal parking spot. When you went swimming with your “waterproof” cellphone and it’s no longer working. When you were running through the airport to catch a flight, fell down, and smashed your laptop.
These types of stupid and unexpected expenses happen all the time and create a small drain in our original savings account.
That’s why you should consider having a second account where you put $50 to$100 each month to cover all the possible accidents you may have. Had a good year with no stupid mistakes made? Great, reward yourself with 15to 20 percent of the total sum and transfer the rest to your main savings account.
4. Negotiate your salary
When was the last time you got a raise? In my case it was two years ago till I finally got the guts to talk with my boss again. Since then, not only the market realities changed, but my qualification and the list of responsibilities grew drastically. After a series of negotiations I got a 40 percent raise. 25 percent went straight into my savings account.
If your current employer is not showing any willingness towards negotiating your pay, consider switching jobs. In fact, one of my friend called it quits, worked for three months in another company for 50 percent higher salary and then he got a letter from the former boss offering to double his pay if he comes back.
Know your real value and don’t forget to remind your employer.
5. Get a Side Job
My idea of successful savings lies in changing your mindset — instead of saving small, go big and earn more and afford the lifestyle you’d like to have, while saving money.
In case you don’t feel ready to negotiate your salary or switch jobs — find a side one instead. In fact, some gigs are really well-paid and don’t require much of your time. Here’s a list of side jobs you could do to earn extra and save extra.
Some more ideas: rent out a spare room via AirBnb; host dinner parties and invite guest for cash with EatWith; become someone’s paid friend with RentAFriend; share car travel expenses with BlaBlaCar or drive people with Lyft. Seriously, there are a lot of non-lousy small jobs you can do in your free time with the shared economy and online freelance marketplaces on the rise!
Diversify your income streams and trap them into massive savings while still living the life you love!
Now, how do you feel about saving money? What’s your strategy?