Saving money always sounds so simple in theory – you just put some of your income aside whenever you receive it, and eventually what you’ve put aside will accumulate into a form that will be able to go towards something bigger than it otherwise would. However, in practice, it’s not uncommon to feel as though you’re consistently struggling to do save, with the short-term sacrifices to your income needed to make it happen feeling more severe than you expected.
It’s okay to feel as though your current budget isn’t working, you can always try again. In fact, your next budget is bound to be better, as it’s built upon the knowledge of what went wrong, but why stop there? Why not build it on top of other knowledge that you collect from other sources to make it as effective as possible?
1. Be Realistic
One of the biggest failings of a lot of budgets is that the person in question doesn’t allow themselves enough slack. It makes sense that you would want to hit your targets as quickly as possible, and if you’ve hyped yourself up about the prospect of your long-term saving goal, impatience might well seep in.
However, planning on putting too large an amount of money aside each month won’t leave you enough to realistically live on, and while concessions are expected here or there to make the saving work, it shouldn’t infringe too heavily. The end result is likely that you’ll simply start ignoring your own budget in order to spend more in the short term, and once you’ve done it once, it’s easy to do it again.
Remember that you still have to have fun, you still have to eat food that you enjoy, and while it might be easy now to promise that you won’t do anything costly for a few weekends in a row, the stresses can pile up and make you yearn for a reprieve.
That’s okay though, it’s not a failure to spend at these times, it just means that you must take it into account so your budget can be as effective as possible. It’s not unusual to get this wrong on your first attempt and tweaking the amount so it’s just right might take some time, but you can always adjust your budget as you go rather than starting fresh each time.
2. The Topic of Investment
When you set a target towards saving a certain amount of money, the progress that you make can seem to slow at certain points, and the goal that once seemed so manageable can feel as though it’s not getting any closer. When this happens, it’s easy to start thinking of the shortcuts that you could take in order to get there. It’s important to remember that outside of simply securing yourself more income through something like a higher-paid job, there are rarely shortcuts to such financial success.
Investing is one such method, and some people will swear by it, so much so that there are entire communities focused around it, with strategies on how and when to do so. Whether it be stocks and shares or cryptocurrency, it’s important that you have a firm understanding of the landscape before you jump in expecting it to make an enormous difference right away.
However, if you do take the route of investing, it’s important that you’re aware of how you can incorporate this into your budget. In regards to cryptocurrency, this might mean that you’re aware of certain digital tools such as exchange rate calculators or straight-up converters, like those at OKX, so you can give yourself a clear idea of how and when to withdraw your money.
3. Where Can You Save?
As mentioned previously, much of the joy that you might get throughout your standard day could simply be from pleasures like the food that you eat. This might also be where some of the money goes, so when it looks like you could save by taking money out of areas such as this, it’s easy to fear that your consistent enjoyment of life is going to be in some degree of jeopardy.
It doesn’t have to be the case entirely, and it might just mean that you alter your eating habits and use this as an opportunity to discover a new, more affordable, but equally enjoyable mode of eating. This is a great opportunity to get into cooking, if you haven’t already, allowing you to spend as much as you like on ingredients and cook in bulk, meaning less money spent on food overall but with complete control over how they turn out.
If you spend a lot of money going out with your friends as well, this might be a good time to re-evaluate and figure out how you can change what you do in order to save money. This might seem like a negative result of your saving, but it doesn’t have to be. You can spend more time at each other’s homes, or you could investigate activities that don’t tend to cost as much money, such as cycling, hiking, sport, dinner parties, and movie nights; the choices are only as limited as your preference dictates.
4. Reward Systems
At the end of the day, though, you still need to have things to look forward to that aren’t just your long-term goal, especially if what you’re saving towards is something in the more distant future like buying a house. Therefore, you might find that it motivates you to stay on track in regard to your budget if you have smaller, short-term rewards to look forward to every couple of weekends. This might include going out for dinner or drinks with your friends or family every two or three weekends, or little trips away that don’t cost you too much money and simply give you something to look forward to.
Eventually, the balance of getting used to living affordably, combined with the plans that you form through this system might make saving feel like second nature, at which point you can comfortably forget about it until you’re pleasantly surprised to have reached your target.