How To Save Money
My question for you is very simple – I want to know how to save money. I pay my rent and I work full-time, but my bank account seems like it has been stagnant for years. It seems like whenever I get a little bit saved up, something comes along (car repairs, Christmas gifts, etc.) that I need to spend money on. Even though I’m still young, I’m worried that if I don’t start saving now, I’ll have no money to live on when I retire. Should I even be worrying about that? I don’t know, Jeff. I just want to learn how to save money! Can you help?
You are one of the many Canadians who are finding it hard to save money. We’ve got near record levels of household debt and personal savings rates hovering around just 5%. Even though most people would agree that they need to save more, it’s easier said than done.
First of all, you asked if you should be worried about your retirement. The answer is, simply, yes. We should all have our eyes on retirement because it will be easier to reach your financial goals the earlier you start saving.
But, that doesn’t answer your main question – how can I save money?
The simple answer is to spend less than you earn. But, like you said, that doesn’t work when large unexpected expenses pop up that deplete your savings.
But, there are some ways that you can put a little bit more away each month that will help your bank account to grow. Here are my tips:
- Take a pay cut – What? Take a pay cut? Before you turn off your computer, listen to what I mean. Let’s say you are used to $1,500 being deposited in your account every two weeks. I want you to have your bank automatically direct 10% of that ($150) into a savings account. Don’t even look at it. It’s gone. This money is going to grow while you aren’t watching and it will still be there in the future. Eventually, you should start investing these savings but for now, just save.
- Make changes – Let me get more specific: If you can move to a more inexpensive apartment you’ll be saving money. If you renegotiate your car insurance, you’ll be saving money. If you sell your car and take the bus, you’ll be saving money. If you reduce your cable package, you’ll be saving money. Sometimes we get stuck in a situation (like not saving money) and we don’t know how to get out of it. But, sometimes the answer is as simple as making a change. So, make the changes that will save you money.
- Earn more, save more – If you have a full-time job but it still isn’t enough to save any money, there are two options for you to take. The first one is to march into your boss’ office and ask for raise. This will solve your problem but, unfortunately, it’s out of your control whether he gives it to you or not. The other option is to work more. Start selling your homemade jams at a farmer’s market on the weekend. Tutor neighbourhood kids in art. Work as a crossing guard if you have time in the mornings. This solution isn’t ideal but neither is a bank account that doesn’t grow.
The three tips I have given focus on the three keys that I believe people should follow if they want to learn how to save money: first, make saving automatic; second, cut costs; and third, find ways to earn more money. Try to attack those three areas and you’ll be saving in no time. Good luck!
Jeffrey Schwartz is the Executive Director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada and President of the Credit Association of Greater Toronto (CAGT).