What to Do with Your Savings from Controlling Monthly Expenses
Everyone has fixed expenses which are the basic of needs for our daily living. There is no way to eliminate the fixed expenses but with some innovative budgeting, you could save some good money from this practice. If you have debt problem, a good practice in expense control and budgeting can help you to free up enough money to pay down your debt and may prevent you from bankruptcy. Of course, to accomplish your goal, you might have to live a very austere existence and scarification.
This article will list down some ideas on how to lower your expenses. While reading this article, you can make a list of you own ideas to cutting down your expenses.
Ways To Save Money
1. Reduce the Number Of Credit Cards
For many people, owning a credit card is the style of life and there are people holding 5 to 10 credit cards. It’s so convenient to make payment with credit cards and you many overlook your budget. Although to terminate all credit cards are not possible for many people, you could reduce the number of credit cards in hand.
2. Ask for a Lower Credit Card Interest Rate
A major consumer group conducted a study to find out how easy it is to get a lower credit card interest rate. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of those who simply telephoned their credit card company and asked for a lower interest rate got one instantly. Getting your credit card interest rate lowered depends on various factors. Normally the bank will approve your request if you meet the following conditions:
You have a good credit rating -- meaning no late pay notations on your credit report and a good credit score;
You do not have a high debt-to-income ratio and you do not carry a big balance on your credit card;
You do not send in just the minimum payment required each month;
You have an excellent payment record with that particular creditor;
The credit card is not one that is categorized as “sub-prime”, meaning it is not a secured credit card or one marketed exclusively to those with bad credit.
When you call and ask for a lower interest rate, your reasoning should be based on the argument that you deserve it because you’re an excellent customer or you’re getting better offers from other credit card banks.
3. Always Buy Classic Style on Clothing
Clothing fads come and go so quickly and it will become out of fashion after a season. Instead, buy only good quality classic clothing that you can wear five years from now if you haven’t worn it out by then. This will help you to reduce the frequency of buy new cloths.
4. Know Your Budget on Food
According to some survey, people who do not know how much they spend on groceries each month are twenty times more likely to be over their heads in debt than those who know exactly how much they spend on food each month. A lot of money can be saved by with below practices:
Stop eating outside - Dinners you prepare at home is significantly less expensive than meals you pay someone else to prepare.
Don’t buy what you don’t really need - Good examples are soft drinks, sugary snacks and other sweets. Giving them up will improve your health, reduce your medical and dental-related expenses and fatten your wallet.
Get the best price by comparing supermarkets – Don’t shop at the closest supermarket just because it’s more convenient. Driving a mile or two down the road can save you as much as $50 per week on groceries.
5. Car pool with your neighbors
If you have neighbors who work close to your company, you can car pooling with them to save gasoline and transportation cost.
Above are just a few ideas to reduce your monthly expense, sit down and list down your own list. You will surprise that by listing down all your monthly expenses, your will realize that actually there are a lot of expenses which can be reduced or eliminated. And you can use the saved money to pay down your debts.
Saving by reducing your monthly expense is the first step and it is the easiest, simplest, but the most emotionally difficult step. I know that starting to save money is emotionally painful because spending money is easy and pleasurable, while saving money feels difficult and challenging. But like any behavior, it becomes easier and natural the more you do it.
As a review, the billionaire John Templeton started out working during the Great Depression but he saved 50% of his income. This guy was serious! OK, you may have a lot of fixed expenses that you just can’t cancel immediately, but at least enroll in financial nursery school by saving 1% from all the income that you receive. Or start with only $3 a month and then ratchet up your savings rate continually until you are at least over 10%; or if you are ambitious get it over 30%.
The remainder of this article is about what to do with that savings. Economics is the study of allocating scarce resources. Personal economics are similar, but I think that it is better described as: The allocation of your income that you can’t spend. If you don’t spend this money, and maybe have it setting aside in savings account, what do you do with it? Do you pay down on a credit card, save it for a car, donate it to a worthy cause, or purchase a bank certificate of deposit? How do you go about deciding?
Well, I have given this some thought and have reached a few conclusions. It is my view that your monthly savings needs to be divided among four mandatory categories. By this, I mean that among the zillions of things you can do with savings, it is my view that four of them are absolutely mandatory.
For example, if you earn a paycheck (and after all of the taxing authorities take their share) of $1,000 that you can deposit into your checking account and you’ve chosen a personal savings percentage rate of 8%, then you move $80 ($1,000 X .08) into a separate savings account. Now, you will take this $80 and divide it up into at least the four mandatory categories I am going to discuss, along with any other categories that you value. In this way you’ll have the whole $80 assigned to specific financial duties to meet your financial goals.
Here are the four categories in priority order:
1. The Vault – this is your wealth account. Money gets deposited into this account and it never leaves, like a one-way valve. The Vault is invested and the principal is never spent. It will grow into the largest part of your net worth, generating nearly all of your investment income. If you don’t start creating wealth penny-by-penny, you’ll never have any.
2. Soft Savings – a delayed spending account. This money is marked for things that you want to buy, but can’t afford to purchase with normal pocket money. For example, a house, car, boat, vacation, college fund for kids, planned medical care, clothing, jewelry, etc. But this also includes maintenance to your home, like a roof, new appliances, new siding, paint, landscaping, remodeling, etc.
3. Paydown Debt Balances – making extra principal payments on your credit cards, car loans, and your mortgage. By chipping away at these expenses you will eventually eliminate them all, and then have more money available for other categories. Personal debt is the opposite of financial freedom and dramatically makes it more difficult to reach your financial goals. If you doubt this, look at the interest charges you pay each month and imagine if that money had been invested instead.
4. Financial Education – books, magazines, newsletters, seminars, software, investment memberships. Also, hiring professional financial advisors, tax accountants, estate attorneys, etc. (Avoid free advice a buddy, your cousin, or a friend’s neighbor – buy the best, most expensive professional advice you can afford).
As I mentioned before, you can put your savings into places that are only limited by your creativity. But it is my view that these four areas are so important that they need to be continually fed money in a systematic manner.
If you are missing the first account, The Vault, you’ll never have the money to start investing so you’ll never receive any investment income. This is pretty much the goal of all personal finance, to help you generate the most investment income.
That is why this is the most important of the four categories, to get your money earning money so that you don’t have to. (I do not consider any retirement accounts or qualified accounts to be Vault money. This is because you do not have direct control to invest the money or receive any investment income until the government decides that you can).
If you are missing the second account, Soft Savings, you either can’t buy what you want, or you have to increase your personal debt. This is moving in the opposite direction of financial freedom – you are reducing the amount of money that you can spend each month by the amount of the debt payment, and you are reducing your net worth by the principal and interest that you’ll be charged.
Another symptom of a lack of Soft Savings is disrepair to your car, home, and health because you don’t have the money for upkeep. Everything physical needs to be maintained, from your teeth to your vacuum, and it costs money to do so. This depreciates the financial assets that you own, and puts at risk the most important quality of life – your health.
Paydown Debt Balances
If you are missing the third account, Paydown Debt Balances, you are simply going to be the patsy in the financial game of life. People that are building their wealth collect lots of little interest payments from the people that are destroying their wealth by making lots of little interest payments – money is transferred every month from one group of people to the other.
Which group do you want to be in? Well, your Vault can automatically put you into the group of wealth-builders and your Paydown Debt account starts to extract you from the group of wealth-destroyers. The Paydown Debt account puts you on track to permanently extinguish all of your personal debt. The sooner a personal debt is paid off, the more rapidly you can take all of this money and put it into the other categories.
If you are missing the fourth account, Financial Education, you won’t know how to captain your Vault, and you may run it straight into the rocks. Only you will manage your money in a manner that will be to your maximum benefit. So it is best if you pay to learn how to handle money and learn where to put it. But not everyone has an interest in these subjects, and that is fine.
For them, instead of personally managing your money, you are going to personally manage your financial advisors. You’ll be spending money and time to hire and manage the advisors to attend to financial details.
Allocation of Savings
By allocating your savings into these four categories you are addressing the four most important elements of financial management. You’ll be making certain that: Your investment income will always increase by adding to your Vault; you’ll have money available for extra expenses with your Soft Savings; your net worth will always be increasing with a Paydown Debt account; and you’ll intelligently learn how to lower your investment risk, raise your investment returns, and lower your tax liability with your Financial Education account.
The only source of money to build these critical financial functions to increase your income, net worth, and stability is your savings – you simply have to do it.
I recommend you fund these accounts simultaneously – do not focus only on debt or only on education because I have seen how it is financially detrimental to do so. For example, let’s say that you really want to paydown your debt so you don’t contribute anything to The Vault. I have found that if you don’t have any investments, your investing skills will be under developed.
You will not know how to invest once your debts have been paid off, you’ll have no investment income to manage, you won’t be looking for investing opportunities because that is something you can’t afford right now, etc. And as a result, it will be harder to get into the investing game later, you’ll have more to learn in a shorter amount of time, and may just avoid it altogether and put Vault money into a low paying account.
How much do you allocate among the four categories? Anything more that zero! It is up to you, and your financial situation will fluctuate and be different from others. Just to get some starting percentages, below is my allocation. It is not a recommendation for anyone, it is just what works for me right now.
My current savings rate = 20% of all after-tax income.
This means that 20% of all cash income that hits my checking account each month is set aside into these categories:
1. The Vault receives 50% of total savings each month.
2. Soft Savings receives 20% of savings each month.
3. Paydown Debt receives 20% of savings each month.
4. Financial Education receives 5% of savings each month.
5. And that leaves 5% for other categories each month.
You may receive continual, ongoing income, in addition to some rare, one-time inflows of money. The percentages detailed above are how I allocate regular income savings. But if there is any one-time inflow of money (garage sale, bonus, extra project), then I take 90% of the proceeds and split it among the four accounts, and the other 10% is just spent. You can create your own money rules for different types of income; you can tell by my allocation percentages that my primary focus is to build up the balance of the Vault.
The amount of money that you can save from every source of income is your key to a brighter financial future. Contrarily, a risky and dimmer financial future awaits those that refuse to systematically save money. So be sure that you take the steps necessary to set savings aside and then simultaneously divide it among the four mandatory accounts by consistently allocating money to them. You don’t have a financial foundation without these four accounts, but with them, you can build as high as your ambition takes you.
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