1. Write your Expenses for a Month
Although it sounds simple enough, this little trick works very well to outline what you are actually spending your money on. Most of us enjoy the little things in life- whether this happens to be a coffee on the way to work, a burger from your favourite fast food restaurant or a chocolate bar at the service station. It may not seem like much, but believe me, it all adds up.
Let us say I buy a coffee every morning. I pay $4.30 every time for the convenience of having it made a handed to me ready to go. I also have another one on my lunch break three out of five working days, and those times also buy lunch at an average of $12.00. So five days of morning coffee adds up to $21.50, plus three days a week lunch and a coffee comes to $36.00. The grand total is $57.50.
Congratulations! You've just found where those $55+ dollars have been running to. By making a list of all of your daily expenses, you can identify all of these 'hidden' escapes that your money has, and take action to minimise your expenses.
2. Only Pay in Cash
To millions of people cash may be a foreign concept these days, with the advent of Eftpos and credit cards we have become accustomed to the convenience of plastic money. Building on the first point, I can tell you why this convenience can be hoovering your cash away.
When you go to a casino and give them your money, they give you some plastic chips to go and play with. When this happens, you no longer lose money- just some cruddy plastic rounds. Paying with cards is the same thing. All of those phantom expenses we just found were most likely bought with your card. Opening your wallet will tell you if your cash is dwindling, your card will always look the same.
Set a budget for each week and withdraw cash to cover those expenses plus a few little luxuries (ie. two morning coffees a week and one lunch). By doing this you will know how much you're spending every time you peek into your wallet and maybe even think twice before buying that luxury you don't really need.
3. Write a List
Have you walked around the grocery store and been enticed into one of the 'specials' on chocolate, candy or the other thing you didn't need? I bet you have. We all have. Guess what? This is another one of those phantom money hoovers that we have just found out about. To combat this, we need a plan. We need to write a list.
By writing a list we can take our budget into account and prepare what we need before the many deals start to entice us. Your list only takes a minute to write down and also allows you to look in the cupboard and refrigerator while you're at it. This means you'll buy only what you need and (if you stick to it) you will also resist the temptation to buy any extras.
4. It's the Little Things
By now you're probably seeing a pattern. By resisting on the little things you can start saving a lot on the overall. You may see this as a valid option, but if you don't, think about it this way.
All that money you're luxuriating with over the little things could be put to use for something of real value. When I say real value, I mean a holiday abroad, an experience of a lifetime or even that thing you always wanted to get for your kids. The reasoning behind your motivation should be solid enough to resist the little things to accommodate the big things once in a while.
Focus on what you really want from life and reach for those goals with the power of saving!
5. Pay that Debt Down!
Come on. I know there's something hiding in your money closet. Was it that new car or motorbike? Is it your mortgage? Do you have a soft spot for an expensive home cinema?
Maybe you've resisted the urge to spend OPM (other people’s money) on the things you want or need. Most likely there are some that have. Let's face it- most of you probably have. If you are in bad debt in any way the thing you need to be doing about it is paying it down. Get rid of that money sucking beast as soon as possible or it will consume all your money.
Every day that goes by while you are in debt is another day the bank or lender makes even more on the interest you must pay. Before trying to save money you must try as hard as you can to pay down that debt. Debt has consumed many people's lives through careless use of other people’s money, don't let it happen to you! Any money you could be saving should be steered towards paying down that debt now.
6. Work Smarter Not Harder
I like to over-deliver :)
For the entrepreneurial types out there- what to do with all that money you are saving? Sure, you could go and spend it on things you want, but then you would have to save it all over again. If you can find something to invest that money into- some sort of business or activity that can bring in passive income continuously, you will be setting up a strong foundation for your future.
The term 'spend money to make money' is applicable here. Do plenty of research on your topic of interest, even do a few courses on the subject and take action. Many have done it before, so there's no reason stopping you. We all have the power to change our lives for the better and building on solid foundations we can change our reality.
We are all human (well, most of us) and we tend to get enticed into the little things often enough to skew the 'big picture' we place in our dreams. By sticking to these (six) simple steps you can start to build the foundations of a better life for yourself and your family. Don't fall for any get rich quick schemes and educate yourself to know what will work and what won't.
Take action and build yourself a better life, feel the power and confidence of your ability to be independent and most of all, be happy.