Monday, January 11, 2010

Easy Ways To Save Money

Last week, i had a very interesting phone conversation with a friend of mine and i think its not too boring to share with you guys. She actually called me for one reason: how she could curb her spending habits. You might be wondering why she called me for advice as i'm no financial guru or bank manager. The thing is - i used to be a hardcore shopaholic - i could easily survive on toast and jam just to buy a pair of heels that i'll end up treating like my partner or even a bag that i might end up idolising. I actually survived on jam and toast for a couple of weeks while i was schooling in Togo so that i could shell out some major dough to have my prom dress custom made. I've always been a saver and a shopper because i've been saving money since i can remember; its a habit that was instilled in me by my parents so i've pretty much done it all my life. But i also had a deadly shopping habit: not only was i keen on having new stuff everytime, i was also an emotional shopper. So i wouldn't touch my savings but i'd gladly starve to save enough money specially to buy something. It was really crazy and i knew i had to do something about it.
The first thing i did was to minimise shopping on the spur of the moment. So instead of buying something i like the minute i see it, i'd go back to the shop about 3 or 4 times to look at the item, decide if i REALLY love it enough to wear as much as the price. If the answer was no, but i still wanted it, i'd end up waiting to see if it went on sale. Most of the time i did this the item always ended up being sold out helping me curb my habits. The next thing i started doing was to set myself a short-term goal [this could be anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months]. In my goal i'd detail all the items that i wanted to purchase and i ranked them in order of importance. I'd then go on a shopping ban to save every spare penny i have over this period and after the shopping ban is over, i tend to spend a portion of what i saved and leave the remaining in my 'trust fund' that i've been accumulating since i was about 12.
She then went on to ask me if i spend everything i save from my shopping ban because the only expensive things she knows i tend to buy are skincare products, makeup and perfumes. I usually try to save at least 1/4 of whatever i save during my shopping ban because i also have long term goals that i would like to achieve and this involves having a robust bank account and this is my main reason for having a trust fund account. This account actually has nothing to do with my parents as i opened it when i started going to boarding school and receiving pocket money. I use to save half of it in the account and whatever spare change i had i saved towards getting my mum a birthday present because each year i give her a perfume for her birthday and she actually keeps the empty bottles and now she's got more than 10 empty bottles sitting in her room. The funny thing is eventhough i'm no longer at home, i actually send her money for a new perfume every year and i tell her the name of the perfume that she MUST buy with the money. If i decided to spend everything i saved from a shopping ban in a year, i could easily walk into Burberry and buy myself a wristwatch and maybe a scarf depending on how strict i was with every penny but since i have a long term goal, if i've saved a large sum from the shopping ban then i usually remove a large sum to go towards my trust fund.

If you're new to saving money then it's best to start with a short term goal. You'd be suprised by the amount of money that you're able to spend when you decide to be strict with your expenditures. I'm not talking about being stingy; that's a totally different story. Instead you are looking for little changes you can make to fatten up your bank balance. Using myself as an example, i've been wanting to buy a spectacular laptop for myself as mine has been living a life of its own. At one point i planned on getting a Sony that retailed for about $1800 and eventhough i was on a shopping ban, i also decided to reduce my weekly grocery expenditure from $40 weekly to $30 weekly and only allowing myself 1 week in every month where i spent $40. I was able to do this by swapping my weekly $6 Milo cereal purchase for $4 rolled oats that lasts me for a month and sometimes more, drinking more green tea and less milk tea which shaved off about $2.17 off my weekly expenditure and eating meat for a maximum of 2 weeks every month instead of weekly. There's always something that you can tweak a little bit so you have more spare change to add to your account. Consider making a list of everything you buy for 2 weeks and then go through it and see where you could shave off some expenses.
When you've finessed this, i suggest you open a savings account and if possible have more than one. I think i have about 4 savings account to date with 2 of them being in UK and the other 2 here in Australia. This way each savings account is used for something else. There are so many options out there so you can shop around to find which ones you prefer. My preferences are the online saver and bonus interest savings account. With the online saver, you can't withdraw money using an ATM, you can only use it online. With the bonus interest account, you get a % bonus monthly if you don't withdraw anything from it and nothing if you do. When you've accumulated quite a bit of money [such as $500+] why not get a term deposit where you can secure a % amount of return when your money is fixed. The longer you fix it, the higher the return but don't be tempted to fix it for too long if this is the only form of savings you have. I've had one for a year and then another for 3 years. I actually forgot about the one i had for 3 years until i got a letter from the bank telling me it was almost time!
Enough with all my words, here are some websites to get you into action if you're interested. Westpac for some savings account options, Money Management Ideas and Get Rich Slowly
Credits: Pink Pig Photo & White Pig Photo

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