Updated: Mar 24, 2020
It is very important for young women to be financially secure and self-sufficient. Financial freedom is not far-fetched if the right investment strategies and discipline in spending are adopted. So, if you are that girl having difficulty putting money away for the rainy day, here are 5 habits to curb to help improve your savings culture:
1. Restaurant Hopping: Fine dining is one luxury we all love. The restaurant ambiance or themes, the exotic dishes, the Instagram worthy photos. These are all fun and exciting until the bill hits and you realize you have just cleared your entire income on this very temporary pleasure. This does not mean dining out is always a bad idea, not at all. It is the frequency that can be the issue. If you are not raking in the kind of income that can accommodate this lifestyle, home cooked meals and dinners are more cost-effective options. Dining out can be a periodic treat instead. Make it special… dinner dates, family outings, somewhere really nice, once or twice a month (maybe just after that credit hits). Not at every lunch break or dinner time (it all adds up). Most importantly, never go dining out without a budget! You must always have a budget. Know exactly how much you can afford before scrolling through the menu.
2. Budget-less Shopping: You know that moment when you go to the supermarket or fashion store or even just shopping online, and you do not know what you want, or how much you are willing to spend, so you just shop sporadically on anything at any price? Moments like that are how you end up broke with a lot of liabilities in your possession. It has to stop, babe. There is a therapeutic rush that comes from shopping. We understand. Trust us, we do. Looking through all the beautiful new items, throwing them in your virtual or physical cart, and just feeling like you can have all the nice things in life. That is all fun and good until you have to pay for all those items. So, treat your shopping sprees like business trips. Have a shopping strategy. List out exactly what you want. Prepare actual budgets that highlight each item and the corresponding amounts you are willing to spend on these items. Once you get to the battlefield (the market/online store), stick to the strategy/budget plan like a reverend sister obeying the 10 commandments. There will be temptation to go outside the plan and just get all that your eyes desire. You must resist this temptation. Once you can stick to this plan, you can shop till you drop (within your budget, of course), enjoy the therapeutic feeling of shopping, and not have to be broke at the end.
3. Costly Commuting: Moving around the city can be very expensive and stressful. Fueling and maintaining a car is even more expensive and stressful. If you do not have a car, that can even be much worse. Dealing with public transportation problems can be more tragic. Hopping around town with these new online taxis is also very heavy on our purses. There are several hacks to commute more cost-effectively however. If you are driving, try monitoring your routes around town - track the fastest, shortest and less traffic clogged routes as well as the peak traffic hours (to avoid them). This would help you stay within your budget for fuel expenses and reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle. Also, give yourself a weekly and monthly budget for car expenses that is practical for your commuting culture. If you use public transportation, it is a little trickier. Safety and comfort are important here. While we would not encourage the use of the more expensive online taxis every single time you have to go out, we cannot totally rule that means of commuting out. Perhaps, leave that for special occasions when you are all dressed or maybe in a situation where public transportation will just not work. Whatever it is, having a monthly budget for your commuting expenses and sticking to it is just safest. This helps you stay-in and stay safe (except it is absolutely necessary).
4. Expensive Outings: Going out is fun to be very honest. You get to experience life. Create memories. Do fun, amazing things that make life worth living. This is all really nice, until you begin to lose tonnes of funds because of it. There are many recreational activities that you can explore that are less costly and still thrilling. Try hosting or going to a game’s night or girls' slumber party date at your home or a friend’s house, or visiting an ‘open to the public’ exhibition at a local gallery, attending (or crashing) a wedding with friends or family. Attending free festivals or concerts, or simply just staying home all weekend long with lots of junk food and a long list of movies. All these sorts of recreational activities help you unwind, relax, and most importantly, save you tonnes of money. So, when next, you want to splurge and take yourself out to unwind, think of the budget and reconsider your options. Or just save towards it instead. That way, you have a trip to look forward to that has funds made available before you even set off, not funds leaving your bank account right after.
Curbing these habits will help your savings grow and cut down your expenses significantly. You would reach your savings goal and target more effectively and efficiently… and be closer to your financial freedom and independence! In all of this though, remember the most important rule is simple - Always live life to the fullest (but, within a budget).
5. Having No Emergency Fund: You know the extra cash that just lays in your account, but is not part of your savings and is not part of your monthly expense budget? That is your emergency fund. It is not meant for spending on unimportant things, it is for the really rainy day when you’re about to be cash trapped and have nowhere to run to, and do not want to eat into your savings. The emergency fund is the lender of last resort, the one who comes to the rescue. Now, the thing we fail to realize is that the emergency fund is different from our savings and is never meant to be relinquished without replacement. Once you rescue yourself with this fund, it has to be replaced as soon as possible, so, when next the need arises you can have the emergency fund to bail you out, or else, you would end up eating into your savings and find that you never saved at all. It is like the pre-savings before your actual savings. Remember to make sure that your emergency fund is actually strong enough to handle emergencies. If not, take out the ‘emergency’ in the phrase, babe.
Try these tips for a month and let us know how well you improve!