So you’ve decided to include “increase our savings” in your list of New Year’s Resolutions. The thing is, this is often easier said than done.
Or is it?
Most personal finance coaches and advisers would tell you that it is actually very doable. You can save more money if you want to. All you need is discipline, patience and self-control — plus these tips at hand, to help you get started:
Set your goals, plan your budget Rose Fres Fausto, mom of 2, author of Raising Pinoy Boys, and the columnist behind “Raising Children with High FQ (Financial Quotient)” on Philstar.com, emphasizes the importance of goal-setting to help increase one’s savings.
“For 2015, start the habit of preparing your Balance Sheet and update this every quarter,” Fausto shares. “This gives you a clearer picture of where you are in your financial goals.”
Here are other tips you can do as a family to save:
1. Involve your children. Introduce the concept of “savings” to them early on, so that you can use the term the next time you are in a toy store or at the supermarket. Tell your child firmly and lovingly, “Remember, we want to increase our family’s savings, so we won’t buy that toy (or treat) right now.”
2. Use the “envelope method” to help you divide up your paycheck. Have different envelopes with labels like “Savings,” “Electricity,” “Water,” “Telephone,” “Rent,” etc. and place your allocated amount — in cash — for each expense in the corresponding envelope. This will help you limit unnecessary expenses.
Registered financial planner and financial literacy advocate behind ReadytoBeRich.com Fitz Villafuerte shares the following tips, which are all easy-to-apply and will indirectly help us save money (the less energy we use, the less money we’ll need to pay for that energy):
3. When cooking, use a kettle to boil water. Then, just pour the hot water into the pot. It’s faster and uses less energy than waiting for the water to come to a boil inside the pot.
4. Learn about energy efficiency ratings. This way, you can understand how much electricity an appliance consumes when being used. It will also help you compare electricity prices when there is a need to buy new appliances.
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5. Use light-colored lampshades. These are brighter and, indirectly, will help you save on electricity.
6. Enjoy more cold showers. They can be as relaxing as hot baths and warm showers.
7. Thaw meat inside. Instead of letting frozen food thaw on the sink or kitchen countertop, consider thawing it inside the fridge (it will take longer so do this much earlier). It can help in the cooling of the air in the fridge, which means less energy consumed in cooling the contents of the fridge.
8. Rediscover the joys of simple living. Disconnect from the Internet, turn off the television and just read paperback books, learn home crafts and take leisurely walks.
9. Do this water tank trick. Take a few empty small mineral water bottles, fill them with sand, seal them tightly and put them inside the commode water tank. Make sure they will not hinder the mechanism inside. Test the flush if it still works and adjust accordingly. This will reduce the water needed to fill the tank and lessen your consumption.
10. Buy and use a low-flow shower head. This will help reduce your water consumption. To test if you have a low-flow head, put a gallon container under it and turn on the water — it should fill after 20 seconds and not sooner than that.
Matt and Nida Vergara, parents to Gabe, 6, and Micah, 4, are both marketing directors and financial literacy trainors at IMG-Wealth Academy. They are able to increase their family’s savings by applying practical tips like those below:
11. Plan your “date nights” as a couple. “We usually have only 1 ‘expensive’ date at a classy restaurant, and 3 ‘creative’ dates (e.g. picnic in a park, going for a walk, having McDo coffee together),” Matt shares. “What’s important is that Nida and I have time to connect, align with each other’s activities, and talk every week.”
12. Teach your children to “earn” money. Matt explains, “When the kids like an expensive toy, we ask them to earn for it by holding a garage sale where they sell their pre-loved toys/things at a bargain.”
“We also ask them to give away the unsold items,” Matt adds. “The lesson we teach: When you give, the more you'll receive. So buying an expensive toy becomes a lot more affordable and becomes a lesson for them.”
13. Refrain from ordering drinks when eating out. “A drink can sometimes cost almost the same amount of money as a food order,” explains Matt. Drinking water is a lot healthier, too.
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Even more creative ways to save:
14. Save when you spend. Every time you withdraw cash from the ATM, transfer the same amount to your savings account. This way, you even out your expenses and savings, and you will become more mindful about getting money from your account.
15. Shop after the holidays. Christmas trees and lights would definitely go on sale after Christmas, which would mean big savings for you.
16. Grow your own food. If you have a tiny patch of land in your backyard, plant frequently-used herbs and vegetables so you won’t have to buy them every time.
17. Get rid of junk in your car. The more (unnecessary) items in there, the heavier the load is, which means extra work for your car engine.
18. Take stock of what’s in your freezer. It’s easy to forget what’s in there after you’ve had it for a while. Better yet, don’t buy frozen meat that you don’t intend to use within two weeks.
19. Join a lunch club. Team up with a handful of officemates and take turns making lunch for the group for the whole week. This means that you’ll only have to prepare lunch once per week – a bigger batch, yes, but you won’t be buying for the rest of the week.
20. Give up your gym membership. Instead, get yourself a jumping rope and hand weights, and stick to an exercise schedule.
If you really think about it, saving money isn’t that hard to do after all. Remember, it’s the little things that you do that can make a difference. The important thing is to start today.