It does sound like an oxymoron doesn’t it – “spending to save.” But we all know what we mean when someone suggests, “spending habits to save money.” One of the pastimes both my teenage son and I often find very motivational is listening to truly successful people.
One ubiquitous thread is they all have a simplicity and generosity that is the complete opposite of the vision of commercial success sold to the masses. Adverts and many music videos sell the idea that possessions, status symbol designer labels and constant spending is a sign of wealth. Whereas the opposite is actually true; true wealth is measured in an entirely different way, often with the heart, peace of mind, the simplicity of life and financial security. Financial success is being in control of our money, not our money in control of us. So, let’s take a look at 10 great financial habits that will help us save money in both the short and long term.
1) Have a Budget
Funnily enough, before this topic was suggested by the team, I had spent an afternoon last week reviewing the family budget. It’s simpler to achieve via excel spreadsheets available on all home software packages, many coming with pre-defined sections. It takes a few hours, on average, every six months. Some of you may do this already, so forgive me stating the obvious. But sometimes we may, like me, already have a budget but need a little nudge to update it in line with recent spending. For example, my food and water bill has risen sharply in comparison to other costs due to the age of my children, energy bills have risen well above inflation and, as I am self-employed, my income can change a little within seasons, even if it doesn’t necessarily alter that much from year to year.
2) Check Accounts Regularly
I found this one really helps me personally to hold myself accountable. I particularly like being able to see my ‘Pending Transactions’ – money that hasn’t yet been drawn out of my account but is not therefore available to spend any more. I have a little trick of looking at this online before I go on a shopping trip/browse, like splashing a little fresh cool water on my metaphorical face to make sure I’m sharp for the day!
3) Automatic Money
I wish I meant money that just comes to us! But what I really mean is using the simple method of all payments going out on bills and commitments before we spend. Putting our payments on automatic. We can then enjoy the leftover funds, knowing it is truly free for spending and investments.
4) Understanding Bad Habits
I took a Psychology degree before my Law Degree and will continue to find humans fascinating for the rest of my life. Driving styles and spending are often super quick ways to spot the flavour of someone’s personality, without words being spoken. But do we turn this analysis helpfully onto ourselves? This all makes sense but putting it into action can sometimes feel rather more difficult. That’s because:
“Habits start the very first time you make a choice, whether it’s charging something to your credit card or deciding to stay in rather than dine out. Some habits can also be addictive, but if you know the psychology behind what drives our habits – our need for variety, for example, and feeling significant – we can turn away from bad habits and put more focus on new ones we want to develop.” – Lifehacker
Really, unless we get this one understood and under control, all the other’s won’t be actionable, even with the best heart and will in the world.
5) Have a budget focussed on the 70/30 rule
Some business advisors suggest the 70/30 rule which advises you to live on 70 percent of your after-tax income. In this setup, you will pay for your living expenses, such as housing, loans, utilities and food, out of 70 percent. Of the remaining 30 percent, 10 percent goes into savings, 10 percent goes into investments that will grow your wealth and 10 percent can be given to charity as a way of giving back to the community. However you decide to divvy up your budget, remember point 3 above, that it’s helpful to set up automatic bill payments and transfers. These practices will ensure your financial house stays in order.
6) Invest in yourself and make your own opportunities
Along with picking good investments, successful people also create their own opportunities. This means asking questions, taking strategic risks and the initiative to build success. You may decide to invest in property or a profitable enterprise [or precious metals]. Or you might build a business in commerce and sales. Whatever you do, always take the time to research all possibilities and make calculated and logical decisions.
7) Avoid debt when possible
Credit card debt and loans are some of the biggest liabilities that keep people from flourishing financially. It is difficult to amass wealth if you are grappling with financial commitments beyond your means. Being aware of what you owe is the first step, but avoiding and eliminating debt as quickly as possible will set you up to achieve lasting financial success (credit to Deep Patel’s book, ‘8 Habits of Successful People’ for these last three points).
8) Say No to Expensive Drinks
I once watched a video that added up how many years we could take off our mortgage if we simply took the £3 a day we drop on a quick coffee or smoothie and paid it against our loan. I found this article printed in an Australian newspaper: “Well the numbers have been crunched, and according to RateCity.com.au, by giving up one coffee a day and putting the money into your mortgage you could be $71,891 better off over the lifetime of the loan, or 30 years. It’s a huge figure, but is it enough to change habits? Sally Tindall from RateCity said most people have no idea how much of an impact extra repayments can have on your mortgage,” (Economy section, news.au.com). Isn’t that amazing?! Now imagine we could then invest that money into something that would increase our money pot even further? Imagine doubling that figure over 30 years and we’d probably give up one cup of expensive drink a day very easily.
9) Packed lunches aren’t just for school
When I used to work in an office rather than remotely (which I highly value as part of a versatile employment package nowadays) I was so well known for bringing in left-overs for lunch that my boss bought me some tubberwares as a very sweet gift. So, I’m very pleased to find this little gem of advice on Tesco’s personal finance section: “This one’s a bit similar to ditching bottled water, but there could be a health benefit too. It’s no secret that some pre-packed lunches have higher salt content and additives than clean, homemade food. If you’re trying to be better with money, try adding up how much you typically spend on lunch a week, a month, then a year you might get an eye-opening shock!”
10) The Difference between a Pound and a Percentage
I really like this last point, gleaned from Business Insider UK – “Remember that saving 5% on a £10,000 item is not at all like saving 5% on a £10 item. But in order to process decision problems at different scales, the brain tends to normalize things so the two cases appear similar: “Ever since I studied behavioural economics, I started spending less time worrying about saving 20 cents on spaghetti, but I spent a lot of time thinking about what car to buy and making sure I got a good deal on it. You can buy a lot of spaghetti for a £4k discount on a car, and yet I see people who spend lots of time on grocery coupon clipping but never stop to consider whether they could move to a cheaper apartment, drive a cheaper car, etc.”
I’m reminded of an Anthony Robbins Wealth Mastery course I attended back in 2002 and one of the gems of wisdom I learned at the time talked about simple asset allocation using 3 buckets. (Ignore that this was written for Americans) but it’s a very easy way of considering your finances and building for the future. I’ve always been good at saving for things I want rather than carrying debt to get them quickly so, for me, it was useful to be told that you have to budget in a spending bucket – treats are important too and you shouldn’t feel guilty about having fun.
We hope you found this article helpful. Why not share your top money saving tip with the team and in a few months we can compile another article, where your clients help other clients. Which way did you either save or access the funds to purchase your first Physical Gold or Silver? As always, we love your feedback.
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