Taking care of your finances can sometimes be overwhelming and hard to manage. But it is essential if you want to feel secure and safe with your financial situation.
With South Africans being considered “the world’s worst savers,” according to statistics collected by the Reserve Bank, it’s no surprise that only 6% of South African retirees are financially independent. Hiring a financial planner can be expensive, but having a plan is crucial for your future.
That’s why we are going to take you through some ways that you can save money and plan for your financial future on your own. Follow these tips if you want to be your own financial planner and come up with a plan that works for you and your finances.
Make a Budget
Whether you have a high income, a low income, or something in between, a budget is an essential tool for a financial planner.
Without a budget, you could be overspending, creating debt for yourself. You could accidentally drain all of your money without a budget, leaving you with little savings and no way to pay for things you didn’t plan for like if your car breaks down or you need to travel on short notice.
Creating a budget will help you avoid this. First, you’ll need to figure out how much money you have available to spend each month. Then break down how much you spend on certain things like household expenses, car payments, loan payments, entertainment, luxuries, etc.
Also, be sure to budget some money for savings, retirement, and an emergency fund.
Track Expenses Like a Financial Planner
This goes right along with your budget. You can budget all you want, but if you don’t track your expenses, you won’t know if you are actually staying on budget!
Definitely keep track of your major expenses like bills, groceries, gas, car payments, etc. But even your small expenses like your morning coffee and donut can quickly add up.
The best way to handle tracking your expenses is to write down everything you buy, whether you literally write it down on a piece of paper or use an app or even an excel spreadsheet. This might seem excessive, but this will ensure you know exactly what you have spent each month.
Another benefit of this is you will get to see exactly what you are spending on what. You could potentially find some things that you could cut down on, or perhaps some things you could devote more of your funds to.
Watch Your Spending
If you are following your budget and tracking your expenses, this tip should be easy to follow because you’ll know what you should be spending and what you are actually spending. But it can be hard to follow a budget, especially if you find yourself spending money on extraneous things each month.
With both your budget and your expense tracking, it will be easy to see how much you are spending on what. But even with both of these things, it can be easy to overspend.
Some things we buy on impulse or because of pressure from others. Try and keep this type of overspending to a minimum if you want to maintain your financial goals.
And as we mentioned before, budgeting and recording your expenses means you could potentially identify some problem areas in your spending. While everyone should be allowed some luxuries like a coffee in the morning, getting your hair done, or going out to dinner, you should be careful not to overspend on these things.
Cutting some luxuries and other extraneous purchases out of your life will give you more money to spend on more important things, and also some extra money to save. If you cut out some luxuries and instead invest or save that money, you could be looking at thousands of dollars in savings and returns in your lifetime.
Let’s say you strictly follow your budget and you have some leftover money. Try and keep yourself from spending that money, and instead put it away into a savings account or a retirement fund. You likely won’t miss that money and thank yourself later.
Invest and Think Proactively
Our last point leads right into this idea of investing and saving your money. A financial planner doesn’t just think about the here and now; they think about and plan for the future.
As we said before, try and save any “spare” money you have leftover each month instead of spending it. Besides that, you should work a “to save” amount into your budget, so each month you are able to put away some money for a later date.
Besides saving money, you should also think about investing money as well. Investing can be a great way to both put away some money and increase your overall wealth over time.
By both saving and investing a set amount of money each month, and perhaps more if you have some spare cash left over, you will be setting yourself up to make more money off of that in the long run. You will not only have a cash reserve in case of emergency, but you’ll also be planning for your future.
Pay Things On Time (and Not Just the Minimum!)
Whether it is credit cards, loans, or other bills, paying on time is crucial.
When people don’t pay their bills on time once and a while, it can be a mistake you move on from. But if this is a commonality, then that usually means that you are having to wait for a paycheck to pay the bill (meaning you are likely overspending your money).
Paying late can sometimes result in late fees, which just adds another expense you could have avoided. Being late paying your bills can also have a huge, negative effect on your credit rating, which can hurt your ability to take out loans, find housing, and even your ability to find employment.
Be sure to pay on time to avoid these consequences!
Another thing to note is that you should pay on time, but also pay more than the minimum amount (if you can afford it). Keeping a high balance will mean you’ll be paying a lot more in interest over time, which is an expense you could avoid if you pay more than the minimum. A high balance can also hurt your credit rating.
Paying on time is the number one priority, but paying more than the required amount will help you avoid paying extra in interest while also moving you towards less debt.
Planning your financials can be stressful, but it is necessary if you want to spend and save intelligently. If you follow these tips, you should be on your way to a stable and secure financial future.
If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on this post.