Many people do not even try to save money. Meanwhile, the secret of successful personal finance management lies in the ability to control your expenses. Experts advise on how to achieve this.
1. Estimate your net worth
The best way to calculate your net worth is to value your property and calculate your debts.
Add up the value of everything you own: cash, savings, retirement accounts, property and car values, valuables such as art and jewelry, and more. These are your assets. Then, assess all your debts – a mortgage, car loan, payday loan, or credit card debt. Add them up and subtract the total value of your assets. This will be your net worth – everything you own.
If your net worth is positive, don’t relax. It takes discipline and cost control to keep it this way all the time. If your net worth is negative, don’t panic. This is not a verdict, but just the current situation that can and must be changed. Obviously, you should work harder, save more, spend less, and pay off debt more actively.
2. Keep a budget
It’s pretty easy to create a budget. You just need to make a list of all your expenses and income. This list will help you focus on your financial goals – spending money more reasonably, paying off a loan or credit card debt, or saving for emergencies or retirement.
Take one sheet of paper and write down all of your monthly income – salary, pension, alimony, or investment income. Take another sheet and start writing down your expenses. This is more difficult since you will have to track all expenses.
Start with basic items – biggest costs: mortgage, car, children, utilities, groceries, whatever debt payments you need to make. Your main expenses should be at the top of the list. Next, list non-essential expenses – fitness and clothing, entertainment, going to restaurants and movies. Budgeting will allow you to more clearly identify how you spend your money.
According to financial analysts, such a simple tool as maintaining a budget can literally work wonders for those who are used to uncontrolled spending. An elementary record of expenses often allows you to take a fresh look at your spending, think about their need and value. A new look will help eliminate unnecessary expenses without compromising the quality of life.
3. Normalize expenses in line with income
To live within your means, you need to stick to a budget. If you cannot control your small expenses, follow the so-called strategy of “limiting mandatory expenses to 60% of total income.”
Mandatory expenses include food, clothing, household expenses, insurance premiums, recurring bills (credit card, loans, car and housing payments) and all taxes. If your compulsory expenses are more than 60% of your income, you will have to cut some of them.
The remaining 40% of your income should be divided into four parts: set aside 10% for retirement savings, 10% for long-term savings (for a down payment for a home, for example), 10% for savings that may be needed for unexpected expenses and 10 % – for “interests and entertainment”.
Financial advisers start saving 10-15% of your monthly income. Such an amount will provide a comfortable saving mode without changing the usual standard of living, they say.
4. Review your expenses
Revaluation of expenses will help to significantly reduce expenses and increase savings. Review all of your expense items. Surely you will find some that you could easily do without. For example, you may well do without your cable TV subscription (at least temporarily) or reduce the number of visits to restaurants and cafes. It may be worth changing your fitness club membership for a cheaper one. You can also review the conditions of other banks and refinance (if you have a loan). Try walking more and reducing travel costs.
Brokers are confident that even food costs can be reduced without much damage. Most Americans spend money on food. Excessive spending on food often leads to inefficient use of foods. Meanwhile, organizing meals according to a more dietary scheme using recipes for steaming or in a multicooker can save not only money but also health, experts say.
5. Reduce your wish list
If you seriously decide to start saving and increase your savings, then you will have to sacrifice some of your desires. Review your list of expenses associated with buying a new pair of shoes or a new coat. Perhaps it is worth forgetting for a while about an old dream – to change the car for a new one or once again go to the sea. It’s up to you, but remember that you are creating a springboard for a better-off tomorrow by saving today. So experts say. They believe that you shouldn’t chase new gadgets every year. Modern mobile devices remain functional not only after six months of use but also after one and a half.
Recently, savings trends and even minimalism have been extremely popular: people on the Internet publicly live years without shopping, restrict consumption and try to find the optimal balance between their own needs now and ensuring their future. It is impossible to give uniform recommendations for all. Constant self-restraint suits someone, but it will make someone deeply unhappy. You can use any saving methods that do not irritate you.
6. Protect yourself from impulse purchases
Avoid impulsive shopping. This is a surefire way to spend more than your budget and usually on unnecessary items. Financial experts call impulsive shopping “spending at Amazon” and advise turning off social media at least temporarily.
According to a study by the brokerage company, about 63% of Americans surveyed believe that social networks negatively affect their financial condition. According to them, more than half of North American millennials make unplanned purchases after seeing ads on social media. And nearly 40% of young people shop on credit to keep up with their peers, according to a report.
7. Go on a “cash diet” right now
Change your lifestyle now without delay. Start right now, go on a “cash diet” that will save you thousands of dollars over the course of a year, experts recommend.
Put your credit cards in a drawer and promise to only spend the money you have on hand. If you do intend to make a purchase with a credit card, then make sure that you can get the money back on the credit card during the grace period – otherwise, the purchase price will increase.
According to brokers, it is not obvious to many people that large expenses or purchases require long-term planning, especially considering that there is always an opportunity to take out a loan. But such an opportunity leads to significant overpayments.
The most important advice for those who want to start saving is: just start doing it.