One of the sad truths about women and finances is that not enough of us are saving. We look forward to financial independence, to spending, to shopping, buying more and more things; sometimes, even things we do not need, but we dread saving. We hope for a time when we will have more money, but what we do not realise is that saving is one of the most important keys to achieving financial greatness irrespective of what amount of money you earn as income. When we face that as a reality, and make it a part of our financial reality, then we are ready to build a financial future.
If you are ready and willing to develop the habit of saving, then you must come face to face with the fact that there is never going to be enough money to save. A salary increase for most people will not necessarily get them to save more. Your children finishing school will not get you to save more. A bigger client for your business will not get you to save more. Getting older will not enable you to save more. Paying off your debts will not get you to save more. All these are excuses not to start saving today. If you are not saving with what you have today, chances are you will not save when you have more money. This is because you have not yet developed a savings culture.
We need to understand though, that saving involves a whole lot more than dropping some money in a bank as a way of developing a savings culture, we will also need to look at how to stop waste and block leakages. After all, we do not want to be penny wise and pound foolish.
First, let us start at the beginning.
Why develop a savings culture?
A writer by the name of Eckhart Tolle stated, “If the thought of lack has become a part of who you think you are, you will experience lack and all you will see is lack”. Many of us have become prisoners of the scarcity mentality. Most people do not save because they think they do not have enough money to save. So they are consistently in the frame of mind of “there is not enough”. If you actually believe today with what you are earning, that it is not enough, it will never be enough because you are focused on the wrong thing.
If you have struggled with saving in the past, one of the reasons could be that you started off with an amount that you could not sustain. Consistency in saving is what builds that habit which in turn develops into a culture. Take a leap of faith today, decide on a small amount that you can comfortably put aside every month and be consistent with it. As you adjust your budget to accommodate that amount, you will see that you can still pay all your bills and save.
This brings me to the next point, budgeting. Most of us do not draw up monthly or weekly budgets when it comes to our finances. A budget will give you a clear and full picture of your spending, help you to immediately see where you are spending too much and also help you to block leakages and avoid waste. To put this into practice, take a sheet of paper and write out all your monthly expenses in order of priority; feeding, accommodation, transportation, school fees, etc. Once that is done, attach realistic figures to each expense. Don’t forget to allocate a certain amount for emergencies and running cost of the home too.
Developing a savings culture allows you to put things into perspective. Is upgrading your car today really that important? When things are put in their proper perspective, we are no longer slaves to the deadly habit of instant gratification. Instant gratification allows you look at a purchase and think that you cannot possibly do without that thing for another minute. With a good savings culture already built, you are forced to ask yourself how important that thing or that purchase really is. And because you have a budget which cannot accommodate your desire, you know you just have to put it off. At once, you are able to discern between needs and wants, your spending is put into clearer perspective and your finances are the better for it.
The time to start is now
I am an advocate of immediately putting into practise what you have learnt. As we have heard numerously, procrastination is the thief of time. Do not put off till tomorrow what you can do today. If you are really serious about growing your wealth, then today is the day to plant the seed and begin to water it.
Draw up your budget, realistically look at how much you can save on a monthly basis, cut off excessive and unnecessary spending, be hard on yourself when it comes to your budget, commit to growing your wealth, get rid of your scarcity mentality, do away with any inhibitions you may have and look towards building a financial future. Remember, you can be penny wise without being pound foolish.