Friday, 23 September 2016

Pay yourself first! The secrets to painlessly save more money

When you’re still getting to grips with your finances, your first concern is usually “Where did all the money go?” after you’ve burnt through your monthly student stipend or pay-cheque. The same can be said at the start of your career, when having financial independence from your parents, increases the temptation to go on spending sprees which rival the Kardashians.

Once the panic sets in, your go-to problem solvers are your older family members, who, let’s face it, are supposedly better at “adulting” than you. While their advice is useful, do not fall into the trap of doing what your grandparents may have done and simply save cash at home, or into a single savings account, pay all your bills and expenses first, leaving you with very little to call your own at the end of the month.

So what can you do to save money without acting like Scrooge?

Write it down

Monitor your expenses to get a good idea of what your spending habits are. Factor in one-time expenses like insurance payments, car expenses and periods of heavy outgoings like Christmas, birthdays and weddings.

You could use pen and paper, or create a spreadsheet to keep track of all your transactions. By far the easiest method is to do it on the go and have your financial overview constantly at hand on your smartphone. With a large number of money management apps available, it is very easy to keep tabs on your expenses.

Pay yourself first

Make yourself your first priority when it comes to financial loyalty. The best thing to do at the start of each month is to pay yourself a pre-established sum of money from your salary into a specific account. Do this by standing order and you won’t even notice it being taken out.

The remainder of your salary will allow you to pay bills and expenses, dictating your spending habits and making you a more conscientious and responsible consumer. At this point, multiple accounts are a must.

Compartmentalise your money

Diversify the way you channel your money by having different accounts for different purposes. A second savings account not affiliated with a debit card, means that unless you physically go into a bank and withdraw money from your account, you won’t be able to use those savings, which in turn means that you’re guaranteed to save that sum each month.

Creating a current account associated with a chequebook is also useful for large payments, while having to regularly check that you have enough capital in the account to effect payment. E-banking has now become standard practice, so make sure you become familiar with this method of money management as its features allow personal banking to be easier.

Get to know your Financial Advisor

Personalise your banking. Set up a meeting with your local branch’s financial advisor and explain what your long term savings plan is. Listen to his advice but be upfront about your financial limitations. You cannot over-stretch your incoming cash over a large portfolio. Make sure that you create a solid rapport with your financial advisor and meet them every six months to a quarter to discuss any changes to your accounts. Show an interest in making long term investments once you’ve saved a good lump sum.

Invest

Property is the most solid form of investment, but having the capital to start off with takes time. This is where your financial advisor comes in. Start small and invest in a mixture of low risk bonds and higher risk, higher yield shares and always insist that they are capital guaranteed. This way, if a specific fund you invest in goes belly up, you are at least guaranteed the return of the initial capital invested. However, long term investments tend to fluctuate and hanging onto them over a long period of time, can yield profit through interest.

Think of your future

Become knowledgeable about other physical, movable property you could invest in, like collectables, antiques or art and make sure that what you like is timeless enough to promise profit in years to come: perhaps turn these into investment buys. Think about starting a private pension plan or life policy which is, again a long term form of saving guaranteeing peace of mind.

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