It doesn’t matter how much you make or how much your bills are — everyone should be saving more. And everyone knows it.
But sometimes what you know you should do and what you actually do are two very different things.
The problem is, saving isn’t easy. If you’re finding it hard to put cash in the bank, look to your home for inspiration. Here are three ways it can help you find more money to save.
1. Become the host with the most
Anyone with a jam-packed social calendar can tell you it can be costly to have friends — especially if you only ever meet over tapas and wine, or apps and beer, at your favorite restaurant. Eating out, drinks, and other special events all add up — taking a big bite out of your budget.
To save some coin, invite your friends over to your place the next time you get together. The cost of entertaining your friends can be a fraction of your bill at a bar.
Bring up the plan with your closest friends to explain why you’re inviting them over. They might jump on board with your plan and offer to host the next night in at their place. With the task of host constantly rotating, you’ll spend even less catching up with friends.
2. Repair old clothes
A missing button, a broken zipper, or an unraveling seam — they’re reason enough to toss an old shirt or pair of pants, right? Not if you’re thinking with your budget first. These minor issues have relatively simple repairs that anyone can perform with a bit of practice.
Go online to see mending tutorials for these common problems. In most cases, the materials you’ll need are inexpensive, so you won’t have to invest a fortune in this new hobby. And any money you spend will likely be worth it when you can save your clothes from the dumpster.
3. Create a financial corner
One of the best ways to save money is to make your finances a priority in your home. When you carve out a regular time to deal with your bills and investments, you’ll have a better grasp of your cash flow. Having a dedicated space where you can work on your finances will only make it easier to make this a habit you keep all year round.
It can be as elaborate or as simple as you want — just make sure it’s deliberate, and you only use the space for your finances. That means the corner of the kitchen counter or the TV dinner stand that you keep near the couch aren’t the greatest choices.
A desk in the corner of your living room, on the other hand, is. Whether you’re paying bills, researching alternatives to payday loans, comparing APRs of common credit cards, or doing your taxes — this is the place where you should do it all.
If you keep this area organized, it’ll be easier to find important bills, warranties, and other documents you need. Add a calendar where you mark important due dates, and you’ll have a better chance at staying on top of bill payments.
It will also help you stay focused on the task at hand. Without distractions, you’ll be able to take a deep dive into products or services you want to know more about — like direct lenders or IRAs. If you use your time wisely, you’ll find out why you would want to deal directly with your lender or what the exact contribution limits to your retirement account are for the current year.
Creating a dedicated finance nook is a great way to save, but don’t stop here. Spend some time thinking about other ways you can find extra cash in your home. Once you get brainstorming, you might be surprised by how simple saving can be!
Finance – Taboo, Importance, and Everything in Between
I have been reading a lot about finances and the different branches it touches, one thing that got me thinking was how little we discuss it in real life. Finance is a topic that most of us are scared to talk about. Money somehow used to be a taboo subject – I never understood why because it is in everything.
Everywhere you look, every aspect of your life is affected by it. I am glad the money talk isn’t that difficult now. We have so many resources available to us to talk about money matters.
“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.”
No matter what you need to learn about when it comes to this area – investing, budgeting, ways to spend, apps, tax filing, retirement plans, managing debts, taking loans, etc. – you will find something on it. Books, videos, articles, podcasts – so many ways to learn about things that affect a great part of our lives without feeling the embarrassment of asking questions to people and feeling stupid.
Not knowing things shouldn’t make us feel stupid, especially about finances and dealing with your financial situation, it’s not like we were ever taught about it in schools. Neither the school nor home prepares us for all of these things. It is surprising considering money management is one of the integral parts of our adult lives, which also makes it one of the leading causes of anxiety in people.
“It’s not your salary that makes you rich, it’s your spending habits.”
-Charles A. Jeffe
Anyway, being financially secure is our responsibility. In today’s day and age, with so many sources of learning, we really have no excuse to not know how to deal with our finances. Maintaining our financial health is in correlation with maintaining our own health.
Financial health is the state of one’s personal financial situation. Financial health consists of many aspects including the amount of savings you have, how much you’re putting away for retirement and how much of your income you are spending on fixed or non-discretionary expenses.
Fixed or non-discretionary spending is spending that is required by a budget, contract, or other commitment – which is always going to be there.
Having financial security is important for living without stress and also helps us stay prepared for any unexpected emergency that crops up. Because we are never taught about how to improve our financial situations and what good financial habits to adopt, many people get scared by the very prospect of doing anything.
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.”
Credit cards and the option of taking a loan makes it very easy for people to keep spending beyond their means – it makes it easy for people to not be aware financially – but that is not wise in the long run. When you do not pay with hard cash, it sort of does not feel like spending money which is why people tend to spend more on cards.
To be financially secure, you should allow only a certain amount each month for spending. Try to stick to the budget you have made, it will help you be financially aware. Unless an emergency comes up, you should be able to hold your budget.
So, even if you are new to learning about finances, there are two things you need to be doing before you start investing and making big decisions. You need to keep track of your spending and you have to set a realistic budget.
Document Your Spending
Knowing how much you spend will give you the power to determine your spending pattern. You will learn what you spend the most on – do you spend more on your needs or wants.
“The slightest adjustments to your daily routines can dramatically alter the outcomes in your life.”
This is the first thing to learning how to be conscious of your finances. If you want to be financially secure, then understanding your monthly cash flow is the base to what you build your budget and saving strategy on.
You shouldn’t be spending more than you earn – this is something very basic and we all grow up listening to this but it only hits home when we start earning. By that time, it is late to not let it affect our lifestyle.
Set a Realistic Monthly Budget
It is very essential to learn to spend less than you earn. When you start earning, it is natural to want to buy things you couldn’t before, but it also brings into perspective what goes into earning that much money.
Most people fall into a pattern of taking debts and financing their lavish lifestyle. When they do not know how to live within their means, they are taking financial security away from their future selves. People often forget that their lifestyle shouldn’t be burning a hole in their pockets, rather their earning should be cushioning their lifestyle.
“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”
A realistic monthly budget takes into account your spending habits and gives you a way to curb the excess without sacrificing much. Making a budget and living by it doesn’t mean not spending at all – this is where people are wrong. Being conscious of your money doesn’t stop you from spending on things you enjoy, it just makes your spending habits smarter and stops you from overspending.
You don’t have to be ashamed if you do not know much about managing your finances and you definitely shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask questions about it. Your 20s is the time you figure this stuff out. When you step into the real world, you will have to ask questions to learn. While money talk can be difficult to many because it is not openly discussed, we need to start the discussion somewhere.
Why Starting an Online Business is a Good Idea in Current Times
We live in a digital age. Everything, from socializing, to office work, to shopping is shifting to the online space. The advent of inexpensive (and fast) internet and smartphones has meant that now no matter where you go, you are always connected to the cloud. And, that invariably, you end up turning to this messianic network to satiate your every need.
Smart companies are busy embracing this very change. The workplace of the future is not one of a unified brick-and-mortar structure. Employees can now sit thousands of miles away and still collaborate successfully on a project. This is not just something I’m pulling out of thin air. Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft, postulates that if only more organizations embrace the immense power of the internet, they would be able to streamline their operations and ensure a happier and more productive workplace. You can listen to his amazing, thought-provoking and insightful talk in the video given below.
Personally, I have always been an advocate of the work from anywhere culture. Partly because of the time it saves me (which I can then spend on any one of my myriad other hobbies), and partly because it frees me up to travel the world.
What does one have to do with the other? Well frankly, the kind of location independence afforded by the advent of Skype has made it possible for anyone to interact with their colleagues no matter where they are. Like I pointed out earlier, not being restricted by a physical office means you can be just about anywhere in the world, and still get work done.
However, there is another facet of this digital revolution which has fascinated me even more. Honestly, it is something which seems to be staring you right in the face, but it is surprising how many people still fail to (or is it a refusal to?) connect the dots and use technology to their advantage. What is this facet I talk about? Well, it is the ability for just about anyone (yes, I mean anyone) to become an entrepreneur.
“But,” you contend, “entrepreneurship isn’t really for me. It takes time and money, and really, where’s the job security in entrepreneurship?”
I would have agreed with you if I myself didn’t know better. For the past many years, I have bet big on online entrepreneurship and reaped great rewards. Frustrated and sensing the endless possibilities afforded by the internet, I quit my regular 9-to-5 job and decided to start my own online business. As an added challenge, I left just about enough money in my savings account to last me one year. The very fact that I’m happier than ever right now bears testament to the fact that, when done well, online entrepreneurship can give you the freedom you deserve.
When you come to think of it, the market hasn’t ever been better for an online business. It is now possible to get your own website started for less than $50/year. And even if you don’t know a single word of coding, you can have your very own, professional-looking front-end, thanks to the power of content management systems like Drupal, WordPress and Joomla. Don’t like the plain vanilla look they offer? One Google search, and hey bingo! Thousands of themes and skins to choose from! Are you into e-commerce? No worries, mate! Payment gateways like PayPal and its ilk have you covered. Don’t have money to invest? That’s alright. Start a free website on Wix.com. Or, just start hawking your wares on Facebook.
My point is that in this day and age, there really is no excuse to not have your own business. You don’t even have to have the next big Facebook killer to be successful as an e-entrepreneur. I know of enough people selling junk jewelry (sourced from their local flea market) on Facebook/eBay/Etsy. And guess what? All of them seem to be doing really well for themselves. How well? Well enough to not have to work for anyone else to earn their living.
All that you really need to succeed online, in essence, is the will to actually take the plunge and just start something. It really is as easy as that. I’m sure even you have a killer interest you’ve always wanted to exploit. A love for movies perhaps? Or expertise in minting long-form articles your current job has no use for. Or, even an insane desire to turn every song you listen to into a minimalistic poster. Yep, I just gave you three solid ideas for online businesses. Yep, you don’t necessarily have to sell something to be an online entrepreneur. Even Google AdSense revenue from your movie blog counts. Or, commissioned works your Facebook and Behance design pages fetch you.
If you still aren’t really sold on the entire concept and ease of online entrepreneurship, maybe you should actually ask yourself whether you’re actually happy with your day job; whether it fulfils you. If you, like me, happen to be like the majority of the working population, chances are you aren’t really satisfied with what you’re doing.
Maybe, ok, it manages to pay your bills, but it’s either the rigidity of the corporate world, or a bad boss, or the endless commute to-and-fro, or even the nature of the work itself, which gets to you. And, I also know that much like the majority of the workforce today, you too have a secret desire to be your own boss and just do something for yourself. It’s all about the right day.
The right day, frankly, is on us. We are firmly in the middle of the small and medium enterprise revolution. The parity of opportunity between the big fish and the startup has never been greater. In the coming weeks, I will guide you through the various kinds of online businesses you can start and how to actually go about setting them up. Like me, you too can earn a good living running your own business.
Welcome to the age of the e-entrepreneur. Welcome to the best time in human history to start your own business and be your own boss in the true sense – the good and the bad.
How Money Management Can Help You Battle Anxiety
The latest Stress in America survey cited money as the top stressor for 64% of adult respondents. It’s high up there with work.
Come to think of it. The rest of the stressors in the above image all relate to money. Economic and health concerns are aggravated by money problems. And this kind of stress can lead to anxiety. Not having enough money can make you feel agitated. Your brain may switch to fight or flight mode even if the threat isn’t tangible.
Of course, I’d suggest you seek professional medical help to handle this. But while you’re here, know that you can also do something to curb anxiety. You can start by taking the following money management steps:
Get A Realistic Grasp Of Your Financial Status
Many people get trapped in a cycle of debt because they don’t live within their means. This is the truth that scares most people. But it keeps on happening because something isn’t being done. I won’t pretend to know the reason why some resort to borrowing money. This is also not to judge anyone.
However, let me help you break out of it if I can. One of the things that have helped me manage my finances is a simple equation. Income = Expenses (Recurring and Immediate) + Investment + Savings. The math is simple. If you spend more than you earn, you’ll end up borrowing money to fund those excessive purchases.
Now, the equation may appear lopsided in your case. So you have to evaluate your financial status right away. For a start, do the following:
- Track your debt – How much money do you owe banks and lenders, other people, and other credit sources? List all of them in a spreadsheet or a text editor. You can also use a money journal beginning today. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Just find a notebook you can turn into a financial diary of sorts.
- Monitor your expenses – Google Sheets or Excel should do the job for you. Whenever you spend cash or credit on an item, service, utility, or the like, make an entry in your document. Divide the entries into needs and wants or non-negotiables and negotiables. You can also download budget tracker apps like Mint for faster consolidation.
- Create/revise a budget – Use the debt and expense data to revise the budget you already have. If you don’t have a budget, create one now. It’s not too late to start this habit. Every month, review your financial documents and assess your progress.
If you’re suffering from money anxiety, paying your bills can possibly overwhelm you. Just looking at your credit card debt can induce panic from within. Such cases can also be true if you’re having money issues in general. So, in addition to the first step, strive to pay off your debt first.
This entails ditching the plastic cards. You don’t have to cut them and throw them away. But avoid using them except in emergency situations. And you have to strictly define what “emergency” means for your situation. The rationale here is that your income should be able to tide you over until the next payday. That is, if you follow your budget religiously.
Consider the Minimalist Lifestyle
Here’s a different tactic: watch a Netflix show. And not just any show. Watch Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. It features Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, the duo who call themselves The Minimalists. These guys present a movement, lifestyle, or whatever you call it as an alternative to the consumerist ways we’re accustomed to.
It’s not a self-help crash course on making money or whatnot. But both the show and the site provide resources that will guide you to achieve sustainable living. And these days, sustainable living is not just trendy. It’s actually becoming necessary. Two of the main goals minimalists pursue are financial freedom and mental wellbeing.
Take Advantage of the Gig Economy
Sometimes, no matter how you compute things, the numbers always fall short. Maybe because you’re not earning enough. Or you’re the family’s sole breadwinner. Or some economic factors have driven up the prices of basic goods. If you think it’s still humanly possible for you to take on side jobs, do it.
The gig economy has been growing in recent years. This is thanks in part to advances in digital technology. If you have coding, production, or artistic skills, there are plenty of jobs you can apply to online. If you’re an expert in a field, you can even offer your services as a consultant.
Dealing With Your Anxiety
There are ways to deal with the root cause of your anxiety. If money is the problem, you don’t have to feel hopeless. Proper money management is just one way to keep this #1 stressor at bay. Don’t be afraid to try the strategies and opportunities presented here. Work on them one step at a time. And reach out to others if you need help.
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