This month also, despite having the best intentions to be saving money towards your goals and dreams, you went over your budget.
I mean, how could this happen?! After reluctantly checking your crazy bank statements last month, you swore it would never happen to you again, EVER.
You can’t believe it because you did everything by the books.
First thing first, you didn’t spend more than usual.
Second, you used coupons for most of your shopping online.
Third, you went to the supermarket, prepared and with a list (okay you may have succumbed to a nice box of chocolate, but that was it!)
And lastly, you even saved money on gas this month
Humm… something is not adding up. But what is it?
MISTAKES WE MAKE WHEN SAVING MONEY
Mistake #1: We don’t educate ourselves about money
The first mistake we make with our finances is being somewhat negligent about it. What I mean is money is a big part of our lives, whether we recognize it or not.
It pays the bills, facilitate all kind of experiences and brings some kind of comfort and stability into your life and family. So gaining financial literacy to ensure your own financial security, is a must for every individual.
How? You can start by using the resources your bank offers you, read books about how to earn more, spend less, and where to invest. Listening to podcasts and going to conferences are other great ways to be smart about your money.
It is never to late and never too soon to educate yourself on a subject that is this important.
Mistake #2: We don’t know how much we should spend every month
The second common mistake we make is to believe, if we can buy it on the spot it means we can afford that lifestyle. We couldn’t be more wrong. Following this mentality will only bring you closer to living paycheck to paycheck at some point of your life.
Lately, I realized that it isn’t about how much money you make. But about how well you manage what you bring in each month.
I have always been fascinated by money. Not because I am greedy, although I wouldn’t mind being rich (who would? lol).
But I think it it has more to do with how for example Laura, who is making $200,000 a year is literally broke each month, and how a family of four, lives a good life on half of what Laura is currently making at her job. More money doesn’t necessarily mean a better life.
If you don’t make your money work for you, you will work for your money
→ WHY SAVING MONEY IS IMPORTANT?
Although saving a bunch of dollars every month doesn’t sound like fun, but more like work, restriction and commitment, it is an important part to build your financial security.
Aside from preparing you for retirement, it also helps with the expected and the unexpected.
Let me clarify. In the expected category, you will find the need for affording leisure, vacations, renewing your wardrobe, getting a higher education, buying a home, living a legacy to your children, etc…
On the unexpected side, you will find emergencies, rainy days, a lay off, a sabbatical year, you changing career, health issues, family matters and so many others. Because life is so unpredictable, you want to prepare yourself because “what if” is better than “if I knew”.
→ HOW CAN YOU STICK TO SAVING MONEY EVERY MONTH?
First of all, saving money requires consistency and sacrifices on your part. So that extra $30 hanging out in your pocket? It has to take a First Class flight to I-don’t-wan’t-to-be-broke Island 🙂 .
No but seriously, we will dive deep into the subject later, but for now here is a visual representation of the best way to save some cash every month.
→ WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WITH THE $7,200 YOU SAVED THIS YEAR
Well… you could give it to me. I’ve helped after all lol (just kidding!)
But the best way to use that hard earned money you’ve patiently saved, would be to put it toward something that will last you a long time or improve your life greatly like:
- Buying a home (it will help for the down payment)
- Sending your kids to college
- Creating everlasting memories traveling with the entire family
- Starting a side business
- Investing your money
- Helping some of your family members and people
There are so many things you can do. Just take the time to think things through and follow your guts.
There are 4 steps you need to follow in order for you to be saving money this year
A. Create the right mindset
B. Find ways to earn more
C. It’s time to spend less
D. Shop more consciously
Let’s do this!
#A. CREATE THE RIGHT MINDSET
1 . Start with a goal: ($7,200)
It always starts with the goal in mind. When you want to achieve something in life, you must think backward. Start with the end goal, create a plan, break it down into manageable tasks and take action.
The reason why you need to be explicit about what it is you’re trying to achieve is because it will give you focus on the destination ahead. When you’re not aiming at something, you’re just wandering aimlessly.
2 . Create a budget
Creating an efficient and realistic budget is your plan to achieve your goal of saving $7,200 this year. To create your budget, write down on a sheet of paper every expense you’ve had last month, from your bank statements.
Check the date of each expense and write it in the appropriate category (rent, groceries, transportation, phone etc… and week 1, 2, 3 or 4). How much are you spending on food? transportation? And shopping?
Can you cut down? Then, use the back of the sheet to decide how much you need to spend every month on each expense.
After setting your budget and cutting down on unnecessary expenses, you need to create an automatic transfer in between your accounts, that will allow you to save $150 on auto pilot (saving $150 each week will amount to the $7,200 at the end of the year).
If you do it manually, you might forget a few times which will delay the whole process, or even tempt you to use it for something else.
So set an automatic transfer in between your accounts for an amount of $150 on every Friday or the day after you are getting paid (you can create a new saving account to send the money to, or use the ones you currently have) . That way, you will always have sufficient funds to move.
3 . It’s all about commitment
The word commitment wasn’t only created for marriage, although this is what marriage is all about, right? Commitment and compromises let’s not forget…
Anywhoo, I’m getting off topic here. You’ve made the decision to save money to have a brighter future. Hooray!
Now is the time to stick to your guns and follow through. It is very important you follow through on all the advice given here because missing once step, once or more can really convince you to give up.
Saving money is no joke, but think of the bigger picture here, and all the things you will be able to do.
4 . Track your spending
To track your spending, use a sheet of paper and write down all the expense you had at the end of each week (like I explained in section 2).
If you didn’t go over the budget, it’s great! But if you did, just now it takes time to adjust and you’re making great progress. I’m proud of you! Also make sure the $150 are being transferred to your savings account every week.
#B. FIND WAYS TO EARN MORE
1 . Sell the stuff you don’t need
Nowadays, there is a lot of stuff we own and don’t actually need. Things like clothes, electronics, personals items and other things that just collect dust and take more space than they should.
Selling those items you don’t want anymore, is a great way to make some extra cash on the side and become a more organized mom by decluttering your house.
You can use sites like, Ebay, Amazon seller marketplace and Decluttr to sell everything you need to get rid of. It’s a win-win situation!
2. Keep your change in a jar
I know, keeping your change in a jar isn’t really earning more. But the way I see it, it is a way to repurpose what you are currently earning.You can use this money for quick errands instead of breaking big bills or even use your debit card.
Let me tell you a story. A few years back, I had a shoe box full of pennies, quarters and dimes. And my friend asked me if he could have it. Being the good friend that I am, I said yes. It turns out the box was worth $200 and change.
Well… it’s needless to say that I wanted my shoe box back with the money in it and my friend was pissed lol (you never know someone until money is involved 😉 !).
But in the end, I used that money for groceries, pocket change and even my laundry. As a mom you could even teach your children how to manage money.
3 . Get a raise at your job
Getting a raise is another way to ensure you can live a little more stress free and save money at the same time. At some point in your career, you realize you have been a good employee, delivering results, contributing in the team as best as you can and sacrificed a lot to be where you are now.
And your mind starts wondering… Is it time to ask for a raise? This is a very delicate question that I plan on answering in the future. But in the meantime, I believe it is your right to ask for a raise. It isn’t about greediness.
It’s more about knowing your own worth and showing that you are a valuable asset to the company.
4 . Start a business
Many moms, find the need for other things other than the usual they are facing everyday: cleaning they homes as decently as they can, meal planning to make sure no one in the tribe starve to death, working, and trying to fit in a few minutes into their schedule to take care of themselves .
Some of us want to explore this entrepreneurial side we have, that urges to come to light. Starting a small business is a great way to challenge your creative side and to supplement your income. Most importantly, having multiple streams of income is great way to secure yourself.
#C. IT’S TIME TO SPEND LESS
1 . Cancel unnecessary subscriptions
Every year, we waste a ton of money on subscriptions we believe we absolutely need in our lives. Canceling them and switching to cheaper and better alternatives will help us save $150 every week. Instead of cable, why not give a try to Hulu or Netflix?
What about your Gym membership you haven’t used in the past 6 months? You could do your jogging in the street and workout right from the comfort of your home. Plus it’s free. Save money on the little things. It adds up.
For example, paying my rent online as opposed to paying with a check saves me $10 a month. It might seem little, but at the end of the year I will save $120. Now imagine doing this with 10 unnecessary things?
2 . Reduce your phone bill
If many people in your household have a phone, it may be a smart move to compare phone plans from various companies and pick the one that gives you the best value for your money.
Do you need a top notch plan for everyone? Maybe not. You can find some of the best phone carrier deals online (for 4 people) just by making a search on Google.
3 . Carry less money with you
It is as simple as that. You can’t spend what you don’t have. By bringing your credit card only when you need it for a specific purchase and bringing a certain amount of cash with you, you control what you spend. This is where the power lies.
Have you noticed that big brands always seem to push us more and more into buying their stuff? Stuff we don’t actually need. But I get it. As a recovering shop-aholic myself, there’s always this fear of missing out on the deal of the year. Big brands make it seem that way, but it isn’t true.
They will keep on having sales, deals and coupons on their merchandise because this is what marketing is all about. They study our behavior, words that connect with us, colors that make us want to buy, like bright reds and yellows… However, you have a choice.
They can’t force you to spend what you don’t want to spend your money on.
4 . Homemade is better
Grabbing a coffee on your way to work and eating lunch at a local store is convenient right? Or is it? Not really.
By eating out, you lose an incredible amount of time, getting to the shop, choosing what you want (God forbid you don’t know), paying , eating, getting back to work. But what about saving money?
Having a coffee at Starbucks is likely to cost you 5 times more than a homemade coffee. Same thing for lunch. Maybe you love this drink from Starbucks. No problem. You could get the ingredients and recreate it yourself at home.
Making your own lunch will save you money and time in the end. Instead of having to run and grab and sandwich you could relax and enjoy your salad chatting with your co-worker or catching up on your favorite magazine.
#D. SHOP MORE CONSCIOUSLY
1 . Save money on groceries
Saving money on groceries is possible when you know how to plan your meals and stick to a budget. The best way to do this, would be to come up with a list of meals you will prepare for the week, write a grocery shopping list, and prepare your food accordingly.
If you haven’t already, you can grab a copy of my Beginner’s Guide To Meal Planning for Busy Moms below. It is full of amazing tips, strategies, printables and recipes options.
YES, GRAB MY COPY!
2 . Wait for the sales or coupons
Everybody loves a bargain. But bargains don’t happen every day. So, when I have to buy big items like electronics or pricey things, I try to find sales for the same product on different platforms.
If there aren’t any sales, I try to find a coupon online. And if it isn’t to urgent and we’re approaching a big sales season, I will wait a little bit longer. I wanted to buy a vacuum the other day, so I signed up for the bed, bath and beyond newsletter and received a coupon for $20 or 20% off of an item which was nice to have.
What you need to realize is, it’s the little things you do consistently that amount to a lot of savings. Not the $50 you put in the bank once in a while.
3 . The art of negotiating
Negotiating doesn’t mean you’re cheap, although that’s what I thought for a very long time, every time my mom would negotiate the price of vegetables at our local open market every Sunday.
The truth is, there is always room to negotiate (in the right situations).
Whether it be when you’re looking for a house or an apartment, your salary, shopping at an open market, with a babysitter or even a cleaning person. By negotiating you’re getting more value for your money.
which means you could be saving money for the other things where you cannot negotiate.
ON A FINAL NOTE…
Saving money is one of the main keys to reclaiming your financial security. Is it hard? yes, but it is also necessary. Always remind yourself of why you are saving money in the first place.
Your why (your reasons), will keep you moving forward when the going gets tough. One year from now, you will be so proud of yourself seeing the zeros adding up, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.