Let’s face it, saving money today is not easy and I am the first person to admit it! I am a wife and a mom of 2 young boys, and it is very difficult. Society is not helping things in this department at all. It is getting more and more difficult to save money because everywhere you look there are big billboard signs, adverts on TV and social media, we are being bombarded all our waking hours with wonderful looking products, getaways, houses, cars etc they want YOU to buy.
Therefore, if you are serious about saving money you need to change your mindset. It must be a conscious decision on your part that YOU ARE GOING TO WORK TO SAVE MONEY. It is not something that is easy to do at all. It is so easy just to stop at the shop on the way home and buy that ready made dinner, or during your lunchbreak you walk past your favourite clothing store and see a blouse you just “have to have”.
It is so very difficult to not give into those impulse buys when you are doing your shopping, let’s just add a few more items into the grocery trolley because they look delicious and I am sure we will use them during the month. The truth is that we are spending our money without really thinking about it and when it comes to the end of the month and our bank balances are sitting at zero or worse, we then wonder where all the money went.
Been there done that far too many times!
This is the biggest hurdle we need to overcome to really be able to get into a money saving habit/mindset.
Saving money is a journey and I call it a journey because for me personally it is. You will have good days where you don’t spend anything, you will have bad days where you just couldn’t resist that temptation, you will have your ups and your downs, but in the end as long as you have consciously made the decision that you want to save money and you are willing to work to achieve that goal then YOU CAN DO IT!
But before we go any further let me just say saving money is not at about being a “cheapskate”. There is a term that is being bandied around nowadays especially in the USA about being “frugal”. The definition of “frugal” is different for every person because everyone’s lives are different. To me this definition rings true:
“…being frugal is about prioritising your spending so that you can have more of the things you really care about. A frugal person is someone who is careful about how he/she spends money and lives simply and economically.”
I consider my family to be a frugal family and we live a frugal lifestyle, at least most of the time. Of course, there are times we splurge on something that we really want but don’t really need but I don’t beat myself up about it because we are all only human and it is not something we make a habit of doing. Living frugally is not to say we don’t live a wonderful and fun, normal life because I think we absolutely do. It just means that we make conscious decisions as to where and what we are spending our money on. As I said in the beginning for me this has been and still is a journey. There are perceptions I needed to “let go of” and I think by doing that not only have I become more money savvy I think it has helped me grow as a person too.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO KEEP UP WITH THE JONES’
I think the biggest obstacle I have had to overcome personally is that I needed to stop comparing myself and my family to others. In this age of social media, reality TV shows, celebrity magazines and famous blogs, it’s far too easy to get sucked into making comparisons. The fantastic life you see filled with designer clothes, overseas holidays, private boat trips and other fun stuff look great, but for all you know they all could be paid for by credit cards, loans etc and these people could be amounting enormous debt or worse. But it doesn’t stop at celebrities we try to keep up with the Jones’ at home too and we find we compare ourselves to other family members, to our friends, our neighbours or even to other people we see but hardly know, you know what I mean – that glam mom who always drops off her child at school driving the latest BMW and dressed like a model. What you don’t think about is that you don’t know what is going on in that person’s life. What these people and families portray to the world might be very different to what they are like in real life. What I have realised, and I am even embarrassed to admit it as it has taken me years to get this right, is that you don’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. Being strong enough to stop doing that is so difficult but you need to stop doing it and you need to live your life within your means the best you can and how YOU want to. Once you can get over that hurdle then you can really start LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE!
SETTING A GOAL AND WORKING TOWARDS IT
One of the best pieces of advice I can give you when you start your money saving journey is set yourself a GOAL! I can’t tell you what that goal should be as it is different for every person or family. It could be a large or a small goal, but it needs to be something which is going to keep you motivated. It could even be a series of goals that you work towards. It could be to save enough money to go on holiday once a year, it could be saving enough money to be able to afford to get Netflix every month, it could be saving enough money to buy a car. You need to have a goal that you can work towards. This goal helps your positive ‘keep your eye on the prize’ mindset and it will keep you motivated to save, save, save. How about writing your goal down and sticking it on your fridge so that every time you go into your kitchen you see it or maybe share your goal with your best friend or colleague so it also gives you accountability to help you keep on track.
Now I must add here (although I hope it goes without saying) the goal you choose to work towards needs to be attainable to you with some hard work. I personally am never going to set a goal of taking a cruise around the world because although for some people it is an attainable goal, I know that no matter how much I save, it will never be something I would ever be able to save enough money for. Don’t set yourself up for failure before you even start. Remember this goal is going to be a motivating factor to save not a demotivating factor.
TIME TO CREATE A MONTHLY BUDGET
Okay, so now you have decided you want to save money, you are going to live your best life, you are not going to compare yourself to anyone else and you have set yourself a goal or a series of goals you want to achieve. The next question is how are you going to even start saving? Well like with all good things you need a PLAN! That is where a monthly budget comes in. Now I can tell you that working out a budget is not for sissies. You need to take a long hard look at your life and basically break it down into Rands. Before you can create a realistic budget you need to understand where you are spending your money now so I suggest (if you haven’t already) you sit down and see how much money you are spending on various things such as groceries, petrol, rent/bond, water and electricity, car loan, school fees, you get my drift. You need to itemise everything, and I mean EVERYTHING no matter how big or how small, if you spend money on it every month, it goes onto the list. Understanding where you are spending your money every month will help you figure out where you can save money. Finding wasted spending is the first step to getting money back into your pocket quickly!
PRACTICE GRATITUDE EVERY DAY
So, this point might sound a bit “airy fairy” and you are probably wondering what practising gratitude could possibly have to do with saving money, but it is something I think is very important. Once you have finished working out your budget and you have found out the areas of life where spending money is most important to you, practicing gratitude every day will help keep you focused on what you really want in life. You could even start a gratitude journal and keep adding to it every day.
In these modern times it is so easy to become distracted when it comes to spending money. It is human nature to want the next biggest and best thing or experience, but practising gratitude helps slow that brain of yours down and keep you thankful for what you already have!
Written by Wendy Offer, Wendy Offer Designs, www.facebook.com/wendyofferdesigns