Earlier this year, I finally met one of my major savings goals and was able to buy my oh so dreamy Chanel Boy handbag. Easily the most luxurious and gratuitous item I’ve ever decided to purchase but also one of the most rewarding thus far. I’m currently in the first stages of saving for my first house and it’s going surprisingly well, so I thought I’d divulge a few trade secrets in case you’re also planning big things with a frivolous mind ;)
Take Note of Your Funds
I’m notorious for avoiding my bank balance like the plague. I’m terrible with making impulse buys and, more annoyingly, sporadic novelty buys, and I’ve learnt as of late that they add up way more than your ‘bonus shop bought’ Friday lunches. Making a note of your monthly income (salary plus extras, like money you’ve had returned to you, birthday money, refunds, etc.) as well as every outgoing is the perfect way to shock yourself into making small cuts.
I’m really enjoying the Monefy app at the moment: it’s well laid-out and very user-friendly and you can divide your outgoings up into categories. For me, I like this function as it calculates the percentage of your outgoings going into different categories. Like, holy hell did I seriously spend 42% of my budget on food last month? Jotting every expense down means you can be more savvy for the upcoming month or trigger yourself to not get that bonus coffee in the afternoon.
Download the app here for Android.
Be Realistic and Meticulous
There’s no point in making ridiculous savings goals. Yes, you want that bag/car/house deposit, but realistically you’ll need a cheeky ASOS order and spare cash for days where you need a dinner date with your best friend. I find that specifying a set percentage to put aside per month helps to kick off my saving. Once I’ve done that, I like to transfer any extra money towards the 3rd week of the month into my savings account to semi-guarantee I won’t impulse buy a cat.
Round It Off
A simple tip is to round off your drawings. For example, if I’m checking my bank account and the figure is $3056.73, I’ll move that $56.73 into my savings account. This will slowly amount to huge sums! My Dad does this with his piggy bank (lol), any spare change goes straight into the pig and he uses the change to treat us once in a while. Especially good for fans of even numbers.
Don’t despair that you’re going to have to ‘sacrifice’ your existing social life. I’m a fairly dedicated saver if I have an end-goal, so I’m the type to easily reduce my social life to one or two evenings a week or fortnight if the monetary situation calls for it. But, you know, a girl’s gotta have fun!
Make use of deals at restaurants if you’re likely to want to eat out with a friend - there are always amazing offers at Vouchercodes for places like Pizza Express or for the cinema. Or better yet, keep it at home. Get all the guest duvets and pillows out and set up camp for the evening with Netflix, popcorn (cracked at home, of course, and dusted with coconut shavings and icing sugar) and a host of belly laughs. I like inviting a small handful of friends over and making group food like ‘build your own pizza’ or throwing taco nights, too!
The Lunch-plus-Dinner Trick
This one won’t apply to everybody but if you live alone or you cook your own food at home, make the very most of your mealtimes. Annoyingly when you prepare food from scratch, a lot of the time little leftovers will go to waste, right? Add a small helping - a small fistful - of an extra ingredient (I like adding smashed avocado and pomegranate seeds to salads or diced sweet potato with rosemary and black pepper to chicken meals or even just a doubled-up helping of vegetables to riceboxes) to your evening’s cooking regime, then split it between your evening’s dinner and tomorrow’s lunch. This way you’ll be upping the nutrients AND reducing odd wastage.
For Live-At-Home Gals
While I don’t live at home with my parents, I do live rent-free in our Hong Kong apartment, so I save a lot of money each month. Technically. To capitalise on this, I actually ‘pay rent’ to myself: I did a little research to work out the average rental price in my area for a two-bedroom apartment and each month, I transfer that amount to my savings account. It sounds borderline insane but helps me to put into perspective the money that is essentially surplus to me. As I’m also trying to maximise my non-working hours to be extra productive for other side projects, I also try to make a rough estimate of how much money I won’t be spending on eating out and, where possible, I’ll be extra tough on myself and transfer that too! This works out to around 60% of my monthly salary, give or take*.
* But I’m impatient so I’m trying to do a maximum save in as little time as possible.