By Njambie Mungai
I am admittedly an internet addict and an information junkie. I google everything from 'how to boil eggs', 'how to deal with an annoying person', 'Why people talk so damn much', 'how to master martial arts at home' to 'how to escape a snakebite'. Okay am kidding on the last one but you get my point. But not once have I ever searched the internet on how to save money.
In-fact the closest I have come to learning about saving was when I was reading a book by an author who's name I could not pronounce at that age, I was 10...impressive I know. For those who have not caught on yet, it was Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. It basically guided people on financial independence and how to invest while avoiding the "rat race". After reading the book like a novel, I remember thinking that I want to do that when I grow up.
Well I have grown up and I am yet to save anything substantial. I am very bad at saving and while I will not spend money that is not in my account, as soon as the money comes in, you can be assured that I will spend it. Now that my folks have made 'getting married' a constant dinnertime topic while dragging me to attend any and all weddings they hear about, I have taken that as my cue to move out and get my own place.
That is the main reason I have been propelled to finding ways to save. I am hoping that as I am sharing my experience, some might be inspired to save and others might be sympathetic enough to send some donations my way. I will issue a disclaimer right here: I am no investment banker or specialist in all matters saving. I am just a broke girl trying to find a way to save the little that hits my bank account.
That said, lets get started
Pay Yourself First
The first thing I do when I get paid is to spend it then scrap the little that is left to put into my non-existent piggy bank and a savings account that experiences more withdrawals than deposits. But in order to be successful in saving, you have to pay yourself first. Immediately you receive the money, transfer the money you want to save into the savings account or piggy bank. Then you can spend the rest without any form of guilt.
Document your spending
I have found that I spend my money on the most mundane things. I buy a newspaper that I never have time to read, a redbull because I am feeling a bit under the weather, a book from an author I never heard of because I just finished the one I have, but end up reading only 50 pages because the story is so bad it makes me want to slash my throat. In short, that 100bob, 50bob, 200bob can add up to alot of money. Documenting your spending will help you see where you are directing your money and most importantly helps you come up with a budget.
Write up a budget
Now that you have documented your spending as discussed above, you have an idea of the necessary and non-essentials. That will guide you on how to plan your budget. Make sure you write down your budget. I say write because unless you have a photographic memory, you are bound to forget if you just store it in your head. Include your income, what you plan to spend, and what you plan to save.
Pay off your debt
Yes, that mama mboga is entitled to the 50 bob you owe her. The butcher is tired of craning his neck towards the road to check if you are passing by, for his 300 bob. And for the love of God, stop running away from the landlord. Pay up...because running away from your money problems will not solve them.
Avoid credit cards.
That shiny elegant piece of plastic that has your name embossed on it comes at a price. And from personal experience, credit cards are the greatest debt traps ever created. Avoid them at all costs. If you have a big debt, come up with a payment plan. Start paying the debt off little by little, It eventually pays off.
Cut down on expenses
I get it, getting coffee at 'The Mug' makes you feel great and they really do have great coffee but is it really necessary? Carry coffee and pastry from home and save those few hundreds. If that is too much to ask, limit your coffee buying to once a week instead of everyday.
If you like eating out alot, reduce the number of times you eat out. You can start carrying packed lunch and save that 300 bob. For the clubbing crowd, instead of going out every weekend, reduce it to twice a month. Or better yet, buy the drinks and enjoy them in the comfort of your home.
Just as many of us are faithful in tithing to the church, we should also remember to tithe to ourselves or savings account. If you are wondering how you can start saving, this is very good place to start. Putting 10% of your income into your savings is apparently the general rule of thumb when it comes to saving etiquette.
Have saving goals
Give yourself a target to work towards. You could decide to want to have saved 20,000 bob in 6 months or something in those lines. Short-term goals are the best especially when you are just beginning this journey of saving. Achieving these goals will motivate you to set bigger goals.
Keep that savings account out of reach
As long as you can easily access your savings account, you will be tempted and in most cases will dip your fingers into that honey pot. Getting a savings account that allows you to withdraw maybe once a month or less will reduce the urge to withdraw your money.
Now all those pointers I have stated above will be totally and utterly useless if you don’t stick to then. "How do I stick to my savings plan" you ask? Well thank the Lord for my kind heart because I wrote a piece on self-discipline here a while back... you are welcome. Sticking to a plan is not easy but it can be done.
There are many ways to start saving but when all is said and done, baby steps and patience are the most important ingredients. It does not matter whether you are earning little or rolling in cash, you can always save something.
So dont wait to earn more in order to start saving, because if you cannot manage what you have right now, you will not be able to manage bigger things.
Remember, The art is not in making money, but in keeping it.