We all understand the concept of spending less than we make, and while the idea of budgeting sounds great in our heads, when it comes to actually sticking to one, it’s like a new year’s diet that never seems to last past the month of January.
No one wants to “save” – that’s boring. Do you get excited thinking about saving for retirement? Most likely not. You are however more excited about that new BMW that just came out. But if you’re continuing to carry debt, not saving for retirement and living pay cheque to pay cheque, you may want to consider starting a more boring activity – Saving money.
By making a few small lifestyle changes, you can learn to live within your means. You’ll be surprised at how much richer you can be with just these small changes.
Save first, spend after – If you are type of person that runs out of money before you run out of month, then you are prioritizing your spending before savings. You pay the bills, go out for a few dinners, and try to save what’s left: which is usually nothing.
Start treating you savings just like any other bill payment, like rent or your cell phone bill by setting up an automatic withdraw of $100 or $200 into your savings account every two weeks in sync with when you get paid, and you’ll forget that you even saved.
Cut down on small purchases – We live in the “Starbucks Generation.” How many cups of coffee do we devour over a year? too many too count, but consider this: Saving $5 / day on coffee over a work week and instead invest this money at 7%, will give you an extra $218,000 over a 30 year period. Suddenly coffee doesn’t look so cheap anymore does it?
Save your salary increase – one major mistake people make is to automatically increase their spending when they get a raise at work, but the reality is you won’t even know where you spent that money. A much better use of that money is to re-direct the increase into a savings account.
Cash system – if you find it hard to stick to a budget, then what you need is a cash system. If you budget to spend $300 on dining out this month, the take out $300 in cash and store it in an envelope called “Dining Out” and only spend from this envelope instead of swiping your credit card.
And a final word…
Stop trying to fit in!
What’s really interesting to me is that people often struggle between being different, and unique and wanting to “fit-in.” We try to be different through the way we dress, for example. Yet, growing up, we always wanted to fit-in. We wanted the most popular toys, enjoyed the same video games. In high school, we all wanted to be the popular kid. Now as adults, we work hard to keep up with the people we hang out with – the nice car, the big house and even take the same vacations based on all the selfies our friends are taking. To put it simply: too many of us buy the things we don’t need with the money we don’t have to impress the people we don’t like. Maybe we should stop trying to fit in for once and spend a little less, buy a fewer things, and make our wallet a little richer.