Saving is one of those things that we all know we should be doing. Saving is as easy as not spending money you have access to. Although, as many of us know, this is a lot easier said than done. The simplicity of saving is the very thing that makes it more challenging. Our brains as humans are usually rigged for instant gratification. Often when people think of saving, it feels like an uphill battle. If only there was a way to make “not spending money” easier.
The typical way of doing things:
Most articles will say the best way to simplify saving is to picture your goal and set up mini-milestones. These seem to be very noble ways of doing things, but if you are like 75% of South Africans, this doesn’t work. Especially for something as vital yet uninspiring as an emergency fund.
While you want to get to a place where you can save thousands of rands monthly, going from no savings to perfect conditions will likely be a shock to your financial system. Like anything in life that is worth doing, saving takes practice. Start with an amount that you won’t feel, save 1% of your income. If you earn R5 000, start by saving R50.
For some people, not spending this meniscal amount of money and calling it saving will feel ridiculous, laughable even. Keep in mind we won’t stay at 1% forever, but to get better at the skill of saving, you should start at a place that will have no resistance. If the first month went well, save 2% next month. Then 3%, and then 4% etc. The goal is to become the type of person that saves.
The main challenge:
The most challenging part of this experience would be to silence the inner critic who often tricks one into an all or nothing approach. This mindset robs you of the opportunity to start slowly and comfortably develop this habit.
Why this works:
Another critical aspect of doing things with this slow approach is it allows you to still have fun while saving. Granted, once you have saturated up your emergency fund, it will be easy to not only move the savings to the next goal, but now you can use your goals as rewards. Once you have saved a good amount of money. You have become more disciplined, so going out with friends will be seen as more of a reward to be earned instead of your everyday.
What to do with your savings:
Although saving to buy more significant liabilities might not be the way to go, this is something we will discuss next week. What to actually do with your savings.
Remember, you don’t become financially free by earning more money; you become financially free by saving more money.