I’m going to make an obvious statement. You’ve heard it before. In fact, you’ve heard it so much that you’re going to have to fight against the natural response to stop reading and go back to whatever you were doing before you started reading this blog. I’m trying to warn you ahead of time so that you’ll do the opposite of what you want to do and benefit from what I’m about to share with you. Ready? Here it goes!
You Need to save more.
I know you already know this! But, stay with me, because I want to do more than just tell you to save. Everyone knows they should save so I’m not here to convince you of something you already know. I’m here to show you how you can find the surplus in your own finances so you can save more for your future.
We hear about saving a lot. Unfortunately, the message is not connecting with us because we’re terrible at saving. The national savings rate as of April 2018 is at 2.8 percent, down from 5.5 percent in May 2017. This trend is disturbing because it shows that a majority of Americans aren’t saving and are destined for difficult times when they reach retirement age.
How much should you save?
Financial professionals suggest saving 15% of your income toward long-term saving. However, that may not be enough unless you started saving early. The longer you waited to save the more you’ll need to set aside to help get you to the finish line.
If you started late or didn’t start yet, the best way to ensure you have enough saved is to start increasing your saving rate as you age, especially as you enter your later years when the kids have moved out and it’s just you and your spouse. Think 30% to 40% toward saving in the last 10 years before you retire and you’ll be closer to reaching your goal.
Impossible you say? I disagree. It may take some time but it can be done. You can adjust your lifestyle and reduce your spending to get you to the place where you can save what’s necessary to prepare you for the future. Below, I’ve outlined 3 things you can do to find the surplus you need to save more now.
3 Ways To Find a Surplus
1. Track and record what you spend
Tracking and recording make you more aware of your spending, which immediately influences your spending so that you spend less resulting in surplus you didn’t think you had.
The biggest revelation I had when I started tracking all my spending was how much I was overspending in certain areas. I was sure I knew exactly what I was spending. I believed the real problem was not making enough money, not overspending. But, I was wrong.
The simple act of daily recording what I spent was enough to open my eyes and to help me cut out a lot of the waste that was so prevalent in my spending. Not relying on my memory but on accurate information made all the difference. Another important difference was grouping my expenses into categories.
Being aware how much I was spending on food, entertainment, and others, helped me realize where I was overspending and gave me the ability to reign in those areas to a more reasonable level. Try tracking and recording your spending and I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at the surplus you’ll find.
2. Spend on purpose
Spending is often emotional. In our abundant society we can easily provide for our needs, therefore, much of our surplus is spent on the things we want or desire. The trouble is, we always want more.
To safeguard against emotional spending and not give into instant gratification you need to plan ahead. That’s why having a plan for your finances is so important.
A budget allows you to set limits on your spending based on your available resources and your financial goals. It’s making informed decisions ahead of time that lines up with your goals and keeps you from making purely emotional decisions. It’s spending on purpose so you can control your wants and desires, avoid overspending, and allocate the surplus to saving.
3. Evaluate your spending regularly
Managing money successfully requires a hands-on approach. When meeting with clients I stress the need to regularly compare actual spending to planned spending.
If married, I ask them to come together at least once a week to talk through the budget and answer the following questions. Did we stick to our budget? What went right? Want went wrong? And, what can we improve on?
By regularly comparing your spending to your budget you’ll be better acquainted with the budget numbers. Knowing the numbers will help you make better financial decisions and stick to your budget. And, making better financial decisions will result in reducing unnecessary spending so that saving can be increased.
Saving more is possible. But to do so, you need to find the surplus to save and the good news is it’s already in your possession, you just need to find it.
Become more aware of your spending by tracking and recording your spending so that you avoid waste. Manage your money through a written plan to ensure your spending is on purpose. And evaluate your spending on a regular basis to ensure you’re making the most of your money and saving as much as possible.
If you need help contact me. I'm happy to help!