How to save money; a very popular question among my friends who are already earning enough to set aside a few thousands of their salaries every month.
I don’t hear this from my brother though, because obviously his allowance is just enough to cover his need for food.
Mastering the art of saving is important even if you’ve only started working.
The moment you learn how to save on a small salary means you are prepared to save on a bigger salary.
It’s like training your mind to automatically choose to save (even though you fail in doing so) and not getting too carried away with a 50% sale.
You decided to try, and that’s all that matters
I’m sure you’ve already done a lot of things to save money, like cutting down on groceries, not turning on the aircondition, or making sure all appliances are plugged off. And maybe you failed to stop yourself at some point from buying those beautiful sneakers.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you did. You tried, and that’s all that matters. You just need to decide to do it all over again. Don’t worry, you’ll succeed eventually.
Remember that sometimes motivation is never enough, and you can’t trust yourself to not spend.
So, in this article i’m going to show you ways to win in saving by not relying on motivation alone.
These are money saving strategies I’ve personally tried. Are you ready?
1. How to save money? Open a separate bank account and forget about it
This is my number one secret. When I started earning, I opened another bank account from the same bank. Every time I receive payroll, it’s very satisfying to transfer funds from my main savings account to the “Emergency fund” savings account.
This practice has a lot of benefits.
Your main account will always have just enough funds for your expenses.
So you don’t feel too “rich” to start shopping because looking at your account, you only have enough. This is especially useful for 13th month payouts or bonuses because the moment you receive that money in your main account (I understand the happiness you might feel) you will be tempted to withdraw and spend on things. But if you are serious in saving money, transfer that bonus to your other account ASAP. And forget about it.
You heard that right.
Read more: The only rule I follow in budgeting
If you already tried this but did not succeed, here’s another one.
2. Invest in UITFs (choose money market or bond fund types)
Here’s another strategy.
Instead of transferring your money to your other account, use it to buy UITFs instead.
Most banks (including BDO, BPI) have an online facility to enrol and eventually buy UITFs. Think of this as having a separate bank account, except that:
You are earning much higher interest than 0.25% per annum. Don’t dream big though because it’s usually less than 3% for low-risk investments. And I’m recommending you take on low-risk money market or bond funds first because remember, this money is for your savings first.
This has been my upgrade to the separate bank account strategy. In my bank’s online facility, there’s an option to enroll in UITFs, and the moment I receive payroll, I save money by buying UITFs and just letting it sit there. If you enrolled online you can see your UITFs on your online banking too so it’s just the same as having a passbook.
Just remember to choose money market or bond funds first and don’t go chasing on growth because you’re still starting out and you when you start needing money for an emergency your funds might have gone down. So choose low-risk type first, okay?
The best benefit of this is that it usually takes a day before you can withdraw your investment, so there’s less chance for you to spend your savings. The farther your savings is, the less you get tempted.
UITFs are a great way to get started in the world of investing, too. Just remember, don’t go chasing growth first. And pick that money market / bond fund type.
I know this part is a little technical for newbies, so I will make a video on this soon. Subscribe to my newsletter to receive updates. If you really want this ASAP, then tweet me!
3. How to save money? Create a budget!
I know. Basic, right?
But we need to talk about this. And plan properly.
There are a lot of ways to budget, and the strategy I’ve used for years is called Zero-based budgeting.
You can use paid mobile apps (I would recommend YNAB). I’ve been using YNAB for more than 2 years now, and it has helped me keep track of my budget and expenses ever since.
Or you can use free apps like EveryDollar.
If you don’t like apps, then use spreadsheets.
The idea is you need to categorize all your expenses and write down your budget for that category. Throughout the month try to track how much of the budgeted money is still available.
This practice means you are setting aside money for categories. You don’t have be so hard on yourself when you go beyond your budget. Make sure to adjust for the next month instead.
And you need to give every peso a job. Yes, you need to include your savings in your budget.
Just having this worksheet or overview of your finances helps a lot in saving money. Because you are aware of how much is left that can be spent on any particular category. Also if you have any extra, you know you can send it over to your other bank account just for savings.
4. Track spending
Write down everything you’ve spent on. Even if you feel ashamed of it. This way you can justify your adjustments to your budget the next month. Or you’ll know what made you exceed your budget.
Was it that beautiful dress or car accessory? Or were you spending too much on groceries?
Write it down!
5. Use envelopes to save money
This is a supporting tip for #3 and #4.
Go buy envelopes, label them according to your categories and put your money in those envelopes.
You can only get food allowance from your “Food allowance” envelope, and you’ll know how much is left for the month.
If your money is in your wallet, then it’s hard to label and know if this money can be spent.
So once you withdraw those hard earned cash, put them inside envelopes with a designated purpose. You can only get grocery money from your grocery envelope. And when you see there’s only a thousand left, that means you need to try to make it till the next paycheck.
If an emergency comes, then make sure you are budgeting for emergencies as well. Don’t worry, after a few months of saving, you’ll already be secured enough to even quit work anytime.
6. Stay home during the weekends and spend nothing
I noticed I used to spend a lot during the weekends. So some weekends both my fiancee and I decide to just stay home instead of going to the malls because there’s always something to buy in those damn shopping malls.
I know weekends are often the only time you can relax, and malls are pretty relaxing. But try to focus on other activities such as visiting the park instead, or simply taking a walk outside.
You can give it a try, and you’ll be amazed at how staying home can indeed save lives (referring to your wallet).
7. Eat more fruits and vegetables to invest in your health and wallet
The benefits of this tip are twofold: becoming healthier so that you get less emergency medical visits, and so that you can save money on food.
Have you ever noticed how you can easily spend P2,000 pesos in the mall’s supermarket? When you shop at the local wet market for vegetables the maximum you could probably spend for two persons a week is P500. And that’s already a huge squash, a couple of chayote, carrots, potatoes, and some green leafy vegetables.
I am working on a meal plan for busy freelancers, so if you’re interested, follow me on Twitter. I will be sharing to you our grocery list and some really easy recipes you can make to save money.
Have fun and enjoy the process
I’ve been telling you throughout this article to not be too hard on yourself.
Sometimes when we fail to do what we planned to do, we become sad and frustrated.
And saving money is not an easy thing to master. Sometimes, life is just so unpredictable and anything can happen. But the irony is that, the more you save, the more you become prepared for life’s unpredictable events like a job loss, medical emergency, family emergency, or even a quarter-life crisis where you want to leave everything and go travel with a backpack across Asia.
Or learn how to earn more!
You can always try to earn more instead. But remember, waiting to save when you already earn more than what you earn now usually becomes “I should have saved in the past”. Regret.
If anyone could suggest their own tips on how to save money, tweet me at @RoselleEbarle
Let me know if there’s any other questions you want me to answer first!