Do you save money? What plans do you have for your future? Even if it’s not your dream to wander abroad like me do you have some special wish…?
Do you plan to get retired at young age? Are you cogitating about buying a house or a new car? Would you like to undergo a plastic surgery? Do you wonder about giving an unforgettable wedding party…?
Whatever your goals are they’ll probably require some amount of money to be achieved. And here comes the key question: what are you doing right now to get there?
I only know two ways to raise money: earning more or spending less. There’s no magic. (Of course there’s always a chance for you to win the lottery, keep trying!)
If you’re like me and don’t wanna sit and wait for luck to smile at you, you need a good plan to fatten your bank account.
According to famous Brazilian psychiatrist, writer and businessman Roberto Shinyashiki:
“Dedication is the ability to commit with an objective. I don’t know a person who has achieved career success without working at least 12 hours a day at his early career. I don’t know anyone who has reached a dream without sacrificing holidays and Sundays at least a hundred times. (…)
Success is built at night!
During the day you do what everyone else does. But to get a different result than most people reach, you have to be special. If you do like everybody else, you’ll get the same results. Don’t compare yourself to the majority of people; unfortunately they’re not successful models. If you want to achieve a goal, you’ll have to study during that time others are having beer and chips. You’ll need to plan, while others remain in front of the television. You’ll need to work while others bask by the pool. The achievement of a dream depends on your devotion.
Many wait for their dreams to come true by magic. But all magic is an illusion. And illusion doesn’t move you from where you are. Illusion is the losers’ fuel.”
So… if you fit in the situation mentioned above and you’re like everyone else, why exactly do you expect to be treated in a different way by your boss, or achieve more success than your competitors in your business? You may say that you’re more efficient, talented, intelligent, or that you are more attentive to your customers, but if you truly want to stand out you need to leverage your time better than others.
Work more, study more, or do anything else above the average!
Start a new graduation course during the night or weekends, acquire more knowledge studying by yourself, read at home on your spare time instead of watching TV every single night, learn a new language, develop some sales skills.
Now you can try to get a raise from your employers, but before claiming to it make sure they know how much you’re worth it. Are you always there when they need you? Are you committed with your company’s values and goals? If you do, highlight yourself: make some self-advertising, there’s no point being an exemplary employee if no one notices that!
Another option to complement your wages is to get a 2nd job. What are your skills? Are you good in some specific subject? Teach some classes. Are you good looking? Work as a hostess in a night club. Do you draw? Why not doing some sketches for your local newspaper…? Anything counts!
Yet on this topic “Earning More”… I just finished reading Robert Kiyosaki’s book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” about financial education loaned from my friend Cristiane… The big ace in the hole of Mr. Kiyosaki to get rich is to invest in assets instead of liabilities. Be careful not to confuse both! An asset generates incomes – such as stocks, and liability produces expenditures – like a house (unless when the house is for renting) or a car. Very clever!
To save money you must be truly committed to your goals. Saving money can be very suffering because every time you choose something you’re actually refusing the other thing, you’re giving up something. In my case I have missed already several social appointments and gigs in favor of my trip. Gosh I miss hanging out with my friends, I wish I could see them more often… But that’s the basis concept of choice: NOT having both things. Can you still be happy? Yes, you can. And my real friends will understand.
Lowering your daily costs: start budgeting your life. There are lots of softwares designed to help you control your bank account: Ace Money Lite, Microsoft Money Sunset Deluxe, GnuCash, Buddi, PearBudget, … All of them offered for free, choose yours!
I was testing Visual Budget app for iPhone and it looked very nice. It allows you to create different groups of accounts (and you can even configure them to work with different currencies), categories, repeating transactions and more. The drawback is that though it’s advertised as a free App the free version only allows you to insert a few transactions… And our goal is to spend less money, right?
** Just a small curiosity: when I was doing a research for financial apps I found out some containing the term “envelope” in its names… I couldn’t understand! Then the other day I heard a story from my mom while we’re discussing ways to control budget… She told me about one of my grandma’s girlfriends who many decades ago used to split her wages in multiple envelopes every month, each labeled with the name of an expense: manicure, house cleaning, electrical bill, grocery store, etc. They say she never had the problem of lack of money at the end of the month!
But you can begin with a simple excel spreadsheet. It’s very easy indeed: list all your incomes (dividends, wages), your monthly and annual fixed costs (fuel, parking fees, public transportation, car insurance and maintenance, taxes, health insurance, prescriptions, rental costs, housecleaning services, gym, cable TV, cell phone bills, magazines and newspapers subscriptions, etc).
You may be ready to answer this question: after computing these primary expenses is your balance still positive? Or is it time to redesign your way-of-life…?
Now establish budgets for your social life (you can’t live without it) and what makes you happy: dinning out, going out with friends, B-day presents, apparel, make up, CDs, etc. Be realistic: if necessary check your latest credit card bills to make sure you’re being honest with yourself and that you’re not forgetting anything!
So how is it going? Can you figure now in which drain is your money flowing down…?
Taking the hint of my friend Flavia I’ll publish here (someday, asap… haha the point is that I’m still working on it to make it easier for beginners) as an example my Plan & Track Spreadsheet. It’ll help control accounts and guide savings to make dreams come true!
12 TIPS TO SAVE
1- Keep your dreams pictured in your mind all the time. If possible configure your desktop screensaver with images of what you have been dreaming of. Spread photos all over your place. Keep focused!!
2- If you don’t use it, sell it or give it away. The less you have the less you’ll need. Try selling that old stationary bike that’s only gathering dust on you garage.
3- Think twice before purchasing anything. Are you sure this new stuff you are just about to spend your money in is as important as your big dream?
4- Before committing to any long term payment, calculate how much is its total cost within a year or two.
5- Stay away from shopping centers and online stores whenever you can!
6- Have in mind that a simple $2 cup of coffee a day costs you $720 per year (For my plan it represents 18 nights in a hostel in Europe – unbelievable!).
7- Avoid splitting payments. That $300 purse in 6 installments of $50 still costs the same $300. It doesn’t become cheaper just because you’re paying slowly – actually usually interests were already added to this offer! Instead pay in cash and ask for a discount. By the way: are you sure it is really important to have this? Isn’t your wardrobe full enough? And try not to pay in two monthly installments for something that’s going to be entirely consumed on the first month.
8- Avoid credit card interest at all costs! If you really need something, pay on demand whenever possible.
9- To save gasoline: keep your tires with the correct pressure, your tank filled, change oil at the time indicated by the manufacturer, and don’t forget to change motor air filters regularly – they keep the engine working properly.
10- Plan your itinerary ahead, whenever is possible don’t come back home after work to leave just a few minutes later to buy something at the grocery. Check if there’s something you’ll need before leaving home in the morning.
11- I spend a lot of money in cosmetics. Is that your case too? Wait till you finish what you already have and only then go for new stuff. I’m pretty sure that your old facial cream is just as good as the new one that’s been advertised now… Maybe it’s not a bad idea to skip women magazines for a while…
12- Another thing that makes me take my money out of my wallet is CDs. I don’t even know where I’m going to store new ones but I keep buying them! (Someone has to support musicians right? I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t find funny to work for free for your boss – even if he was your #1 fan! But think twice before acquiring anything compulsively!) Ok, I know sometimes it’s inevitable to indulge yourself…
“You can’t imagine how so many people waste their time
We can achieve the love we need so we can shine
And see the things in life will bring us now in perfect rhyme
The secret is in you, always within you …“
Mick Box, Phil Lanzon