Everyone wants to have enough money to not only get by with their day-to-day expenses, but to treat themselves every once in awhile. The best way to do that is to learn how to save. Take a look at these habits that those well-versed in saving tend to have in common.
They plan for retirement.
Regardless of whether you’re one of those people who likes to “live in the moment,” take every day as it comes, and embrace spontaneity, or plan out every moment of your life, it’s wise to take retirement into consideration while you still have flexibility.
This too applies whether you’re a full-time salaried employee, part-time freelancer, etc. It’s always good to look ahead and be prepared.
If you can get a 401(k) (when “contributions are taken from your pay before your employer withholds income tax) as part of your job, you should take advantage of it, not least because it might help you lessen what you owe in taxes. This means that more of the money you earn will go toward what you need.
You might also want to consider an individual retirement account, also known as an IRA, as this can provide additional investment options, even if you do already have a coveted 401(k).
They differentiate between what they need and what they want.
One of the most important things to take into account (no pun intended) as you grow up is the balance between taking care of your wants without sacrificing your needs. Saving is no different.
Stanzak points out just how common it is for the masses to be convinced that a good deal of what we want happens to be something that we actually need. That’s not the case though.
Rather, she notes, “I’ve had so many clients try and tell me that travel, new clothing, and eating out are real needs. They’re really not.”
That’s not to say you should never spend on something you want but don’t need, though you should be smart about it, and, as with most things, act in moderation. A skill you might want to consider is prioritizing through making a list of what you legitimately need, what you want, and then what your big wants are.
They start early.
Preparing for situations before you ever encounter, and need to subsequently handle them is just a great way to approach life in general—after all, it’s better to be safe than sorry (financially as well), and life’s always going to be unpredictable, so you might as well have a contingency plan in place.
According to financial planners, Kristin Garrett and Janet Stanzak, it isn’t uncommon for those skilled at saving their money to have started when they were young.
As with most things, procrastination is the enemy here, and giving into it only risks what the state of your wallet. Garret notes that while those who are best at saving might not have been raised to do it, they learned to make it a priority quickly.
For instance, when these savers are faced with “an option, like a retirement savings plan through work, they take it. Good savers don’t procrastinate financial decisions.”
They use physical money instead of paying digitally.
It’s no great revelation that paying with a card or some sort of digital account, such as PayPal, is incredibly convenient—that’s part of the allure, after all—but that doesn’t mean that either is the most conducive to helping you effectively save your money.
While Stanzak does say that using physical money, as in checks or, of course, cash, isn’t a necessity, it does happen to be a common habit amongst those who best save their money.
Actually, she says, “Research shows you spend 20 percent more when using a credit card because it makes purchasing feel less ‘painful,’” whereas watching as your pile of cash decreases tends to give more weight to exactly what you’re spending and, in turn, losing.
As a result, paying in the latter form is said to actually reduce a person’s tendency to make impulsive purchases. You might also want to keep in mind that every purchase you make with a credit card will have to be paid back eventually.
They make sure to have a cushion.
Remember when we said that it’s best to be prepared to pay for whatever life might include? Well one way to do that is to ensure you have a cushion of funds for yourself, so that if something happens and you suddenly need a large amount of cash, you’re covered as much as possible. You never know when a rainy day may come along.
For instance, if you suddenly lose your job and have no other way to support yourself, having saved up a few months’ worth of funds can at least help to supplement your income while you search for a brand new job.
Of course, just how much money you can get by on is wholly based on whether you’re used to conserving your cash, splurging, or to falling somewhere in between.
Both Garrett and Stanzak advise that people keep a minimum of three to six months’ worth of funds on hand to stay afloat in any situation.
They realize that every little bit counts.
While putting a couple of bucks towards a candy bar or an Uber ride every few days might sound like nothing too drastic, disregarding these small purchases has a habit of adding up, and it can happen quickly, especially if you keep regarding every seemingly minor purchase as a one-off.
One piece of advice that could potentially help you avoid falling into this sort of trap though is making sure to write down whatever it is you’re spending your money on.
It might seem a bit tedious, but taking that little bit of extra effort to just jot down every single purchase—be it a pack of gum or a five-star meal—can help you to track where it is your money is going so that you won’t be caught off-guard if you suddenly run out.
You can even, hopefully, stop it before it gets that far.
They budget, budget, budget.
It might sound too typical to give it much thought, but in fact, budgeting is a very common trait of those skilled in the art of saving their money. According to Stanzak, “The first clue you have that someone has a problem with money is when they can’t provide their monthly cash flow.”
Why is that though? Well, it’s actually pretty simple. Without knowing how much money it is that you currently have to work with, you won’t really be able to save said money.
According to Forbes, one method of budgeting to consider is setting aside a certain percentage of each paycheck which you can then put toward certain payments you need to make, whether that’s an electrical bill, weekly grocery shopping, more gas for your car, or any other bill that may pop up.
This way, you can ensure that you will always have enough money allocated for whatever is truly necessary. For more budgeting strategies, click here.
Those who most effectively save their money are really and truly honest with themselves about everything, even when it comes to what it is that’s really putting them at risk. This includes, but is not excluded to their age (which is, of course, generally only a risk as they make it toward seniority), what sort of chronic health issues they might have, and more.
Once they have factored in their risks, they make a point of then allocating their savings to the appropriate, and, in turn, necessary situations.
They’re not entitled.
Another characteristic that can be attributed to savers is that they don’t feel that working hard automatically means they deserve to indulge in or splurge on something that they don’t need.
If you don’t actually have the money to comfortably purchase a designer wardrobe, you shouldn’t buy it just because you’ve had a long week and shopping might make you feel better. In the long run, it will only make things harder.