The COVID-19 pandemic created a tale of two economies: those who were able to save, and those who struggled to make ends meet. It highlighted the importance of building up an emergency savings fund. But of course, sometimes the hardest thing about saving money is simply getting started.
Savings need not only be in terms of money in the bank, it could also be on your spending habits. Once saving becomes second nature, you’ll easily build up an emergency fund, retirement savings and even an investment bucket!
Below are six ways to help you develop a simple and realistic strategy to save for all your short- and long-term savings goals.
Record your expenses
The first step to start saving money is to figure out how much you spend. Keep track of all your expenses—that means every coffee, household item and loan you need to pay off. Highlighting your spending habits and being on top of what goes out of your account each month allows you to stay on top of your finances and avoid spending beyond your means.
Tip: Look for a free personal finance app to help you get started. Try Planner Bee and start your savings journey today.
Pay yourself like a bill
Once you have an idea of what you spend in a month, you can then set a budget for your savings. Treat your savings like a monthly bill you have to pay i.e. utilities or mobile phone bill. As you make all your payments for the month, include a line for savings and dedicate as much as you can to it once you’ve covered all of your essential costs.
Tip: One way to discipline yourself is to include a savings category—aim to save at least 10 to 15% of your income.
Set saving goals
Setting a savings goal is one of the best ways to motivate yourself to save money. Start by thinking of what you might want to save for—perhaps you’re getting married, planning a vacation or saving for retirement. Next, figure out how much money you’ll need and how long it might take you to save it.
Tip: Set a small, attainable short-term goal for something fun and big enough that you aren’t likely to have the cash on hand to pay for it, such as a new luxury watch or a family holiday. Achieving small goals can give a psychological boost that makes the payoff of saving more immediate and reinforces the habit.
Get yourself a piggy bank
As cliche as it might sound, having a physical piggy bank is a good way to inculcate the savings habit. Put all your coins (or any loose change, perhaps) into an old-school piggy bank. Not only will it free up your wallet space and lighten the load, by the end of the year you’ll have a nice tidy sum! Get your kids to do the same to teach them how to think like a saver.
Find ways to cut down on your spending
The lockdowns have forced Singaporeans to get creative and be their own inspired chefs. We see posts and recipes coming out of home kitchens that look and taste just as good as restaurant takeaways.
Although things are starting to open up again and we can take advantage of restaurants, don’t let yourself get carried away.
We’ve lived without them for a long time now, so budget a certain amount to treat yourself to meals out occasionally, but keep those recipes on hand and save yourself the money.
You can also use the Planner Bee app to identify nonessentials that you can spend less on, such as online shopping, entertainment and telco subscriptions.
Tip: Cancel subscriptions and memberships you don’t use—especially if they renew automatically.
There are a number of savings challenges out there that can help get you into the habit, such as the 52-week money challenge. With this challenge, you start by saving $1 the first week and increase your saving amount by $1 each week — so you’ll be saving $1 in week one, $2 in week two, $3 in week three and so on until you’re saving $52 on week 52. At the end of the 52 weeks, you’ll have $1,378 saved up. You can set this aside on a savings account for easy tracking.
Tip: Review your budget and check your progress weekly. Not only will this help you stick to your challenge, but it also helps you identify and fix problems quickly. Understanding how to save money may even inspire you to find more ways to save and hit your goals faster.
Saving is a mindset. Inculcating the right mindset and habits can produce results that set you up for long-term financial stability. The best time to start saving is right now, but to know exactly how to do it depends entirely on your timeline. Save whatever small amounts you can, in a way that you can sustain and grow over the long term.