“I finally know what differentiates man from other beasts: Financial worries.”
Oh to be an elephant and not have to worry about rent or taxes,
only about poachers and finding water to drink. This quote by Jules Renard highlights our constant worry about money. As humans, we could always do with a little bit more money, and when we get a little bit more, it still doesn’t seem to be enough. More money, more problems, as they say. We are bombarded with advice on saving and investing, but how can we save money when we barely have enough to cover our bills and live fabulous lives? I have compiled a list of (commonsensical) things that one could do to save some money. You will probably read it and nod your head to a few points, and then completely forget everything. Try not to. Here we go:
What? Yes being too frugal can actually result in you spending more money. Sometimes we go the cheaper route and end up spending more money when the costs of repairs, replacements, dissatisfcation, e.tc are factored in. If you need something and it is important, go for quality. It will be better for you in the long run. Take it from a miserly penny pincher. I bought strawberry syrup because it was a few pennies cheaper than the maple syrup. Now I knew I didn’t like strawberry syrup, but I am just so damn miserly. Weeks later, the syrup just sits on the shelf and every time I go to the store I walk past the maple syrup mournfully, thinking of what could have been #WeCouldHaveHadItAll. I understand that there are times when we have no choice but to buy the cheaper lower quality item because the better quality one is just too expensive. In situations where you can afford to spend a little bit more to ensure quality, please do. That being said, the price of an item is not necessarily directly correlated to its quality. There are some no name brands that can very easily substitute or even outperform the uber expensive brand names.
Save before you spend.
Rather than saving what’s left of your paycheque after buying yourself a bunch of stuff, why not spend what’s left after saving? An easier method is to pay bills first, save, and then spend the rest. If you want to be stricter, you can have a fixed sum that you put away every month and after subtracting this, you pay your bills and then spend what is left. Of course putting away some of your paltry income may be difficult and may not seem feasible, but you can always start small. Oh and by put away, I do not mean under your pillow. You can make monthly payments into a financial vehicle that earns you a return. Even a savings account is better than your mattress.
Reduce expensive habits/vices.
Cut out alcohol. No where are you going? No don’t close the tab. Okay. Keep your alcohol. sheesh. You know what? Just go ahead and cut out all vices. Smoking, drinking, Starbucks, Pick n Mix. Not only will you save a tidy sum, your body will thank you eventually. I know what you are thinking; where is all the money I have saved from not drinking and smoking? Touché.
Cook your own food
I love eating out, and ordering food is so convenient, but all those pennies, cents, kobos and inches add up. You can save money by cooking your own food and packing your own lunch. If you are like me this will be difficult as first, as you struggle to figure out what to cook and what ingredients to buy. Looking up recipes can be daunting because some of them require so many ingredients. This is when the Sharwarma shop near your house starts to sound so appealing. I personally have not been able to master this yet, especially as I am trying to eat healthy. In the end, this should pay off, I hope. Don’t quote me.
Save up for expensive purchases
When my friends want to get piercings, I ask them if they are sure and ask them to think about it well. Sometimes they get it and hate it, but the good thing is that a piercing can always close up. The damage an extravagant purchase does to your finances may be much harder to fix. If you have your eye on a really extravagant item, rather than buying it immediately why not save towards it? The time will hopefully help get your thoughts together and make you absolutely certain that you want that item.
Don’t be a slave to trends
You do not need the iPhone 20Q, especially as you just got the iPhone 20P a few months ago. Ask yourself; do I want it or do I just want to show if off on social media? If you are paying extra for an item, make sure it offers you something tangible and sensible that its cheaper alternatives do not. Don’t get items just because everyone else it.
Know your expenses!
“Man I just got my salary and it is all gone. I don’t even know where it went.” It is so important to understand just where your money goes. A finance diary is a great way of keeping tabs on your finances. Write out all your fixed expenses: rent, utilities et al. Then budget a little for some variable expenses: food, fuel, entertainment, clothing. Keep a record of every cash inflow and outflow, including the one pound you used to buy a lollipop. This will help you see if you are being wasteful. With time, you should be able to estimate how much you need for your variable expenses and create a realistic budget.
Don’t be afraid to say no.
Say no to the voice in your head that is trying to convince you to buy something your wallet cannot support. Say no to people trying to sell you things you cannot afford. That pesky salesgirl that has been so nice and helpful that you feel you have to buy something. NO. Think carefully about any purchases. Do you really want it? Do you need it? Can you afford it? No? Put it back, tell the salesperson to have a nice day and vamoose.
Pay your bills on time.
Avoid having to pay a late fee.
Take good care of your possessions; your phone, laptop, car, house, clothing e.tc. If it ain’t broke, there is no need to fix it and you can keep your coins. Hallelujah.
Write shopping lists.
This is SO important. Before you go shopping, be sure to know exactly what it is you are looking for. This applies to grocery shopping, clothes shopping, stationery shopping, all shopping. Walking down the aisles aimlessly is a surefire way to buy things on impulse and end up spending more money than intended. Make a list of what you need, and stick to the list. Enter the store, go directly to where the things are, pay and leave before you can be tempted.
A few more tips.
Be faithful to your spouse: I read about a man who bought two sets of every gift: one for his wife and the other for his mistress. He did this to avoid confusion. I don’t know it the story is true, but it got me thinking of the costs of hiding one’s infidelity. Infidelity is expensive. Trying to please and wine and dine two or more people at the same time. Having to buy two sets of presents for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. Buying two bottles of the same perfume so your spouse doesn’t wonder who you smell of. It all sounds so expensive (and bloody stressful). Just stick to one person.
Stop buying tabloids. Do you really need to part with your money just to read for the twentieth time that Kim Kardashian and Kanye?
Finally, a 3 for the price of two promo is not a good deal if it is on something you do not need. You are not saving money by buying something you otherwise would not have.
I am going to leave you with a quote from Benjamin Franklin “Beware of small expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”
Happy saving! What tips do you have?