Saving money is important, but it is equally challenging. It is common to find someone earning relatively well struggling to save 10% of their monthly income. And often, the things keeping them from hitting their targets hide in plain sight.
It is easy to think that the things holding you back are complex barriers like your money mindset, comfort zone, or loan repayment. While those play a big part, they’re other little everyday decisions that can significantly reduce your ability to save. When it comes to saving, every shilling counts. Therefore, you will struggle to save unless you find ways to cut habits that increase your monthly expenses.
Kevin is a 33-year-old photojournalist and a fitness enthusiast. Last year he was Ksh52,000 short of reaching his annual savings goal. To prevent that from happening this year, Kevin gave himself a financial checkup to find where he could cut expenses. He realised that he buys two one-litre bottled water every day; when going to work in the morning and the gym in the evening. By cutting that expense and carrying water from home, Kevin can save an extra Ksh2,500 monthly.
Your scenario might not be like Kevin’s, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find additional money to save every month. This article will explore seven places you can find money to save to ensure you never fall behind your savings target.
Buying food is essential, and it is one of the biggest expenses you pay monthly. Reducing your food bill by Ksh100 per day can help you increase your monthly savings. And you can do this without starving yourself or going on a strict OMAD diet.
You will need to shift your mindset, change how you shop, and address little habits that balloon your food budget. These four strategies can help you do that:
Plan Your Grocery Shopping: Avoid thoughtless trips to your local kibanda. Before you start your trip, write down everything you need and the quantity. Ensure you stick to your list and avoid the temptation of adding an additional item to your basket.
Avoid Food Wastage: Wasting food = wasting money. Don't buy or cook food you won't eat, store your foodstuff well to prevent contamination, and plan for leftovers. Instead of throwing them in the garbage, save them for breakfast.
Prep Your Meal: This will ensure you limit the number of times you eat out/order takeout, reduce food wastage, and can help your save time.
There are many ways to save on electricity, gas, and water bills by being more mindful of how you use each in your home or apartment. Reducing these costs can free up money you can direct to your savings. To save more and reduce your utility bills, you will have to think beyond energy-efficient bulbs.
To reduce your electricity bill, try strategies such as:
To reduce the water bill, you should: Inspect for leaks regularly and fix them ASAP, use a washing bowl instead of running water on the sink, and turn off your tap when brushing your teeth.
To reduce your cooking gas consumption, consider buying an electric pressure cooker, cleaning and replacing old burners, and shopping around for an affordable supplier.
Finally, ensure you pay your bills on time. Delaying your water and electricity bills can lead to disconnections and fines depending on your tariffs.
To save money, you need to cut the number of times you go to the supermarket to once per month. Daily or weekly shopping sprees encourage reckless spending behaviour, including impulsive buying. On every trip you make, you are likely to add one or two items you want but don’t need to your basket, ultimately increasing your budget.
How do you shop like a pro?
You need to take three steps.
Step 1: Prepare a list of every essential thing you need for your household and trim down the list to eliminate any “wants” that increase your budget.
Step 2: Shop around. Compare prices of different sellers and choose the one giving you the most value for your money. For starters, you should skip your local Dukas and high-end supermarkets. Consider buying from suppliers directly.
Step 3: Shop in bulk. It's cheaper to buy a dozen bathing soaps at once than to buy two soaps every week. And the same goes for all products. Buying every non-perishable product in bulk can save you a few hundred.
Bonus Tip: Skip the brand name products unless you have a valid reason. Most of the time, they're overpriced to attract consumers looking for luxury, but they're no different from the cheaper product down the aisle.
Are you spending much money on something you are not utilising well? Go through your recurring expenses and find any expenses you might not need or are overpaying for.
The first place to check should be your subscriptions from the gym to streaming services.
For the gym, you should take full advantage of the subscription and attend your sessions without fail. But if you only go seven times per month, consider daily over monthly payments. Additionally, you should compare prices with other gyms to ensure you are not overcharged.
For streaming subscriptions, ensure you only pay for services you use religiously. If you recently married or have roommates/family around, you should replace your individual plans with family plans and pay annually instead of monthly. This can save you money if you pay for everyone's Spotify or Netflix.
Housing is one of the most significant expenses on your budget. Cutting this cost by just 10% can significantly increase your monthly savings.
To lower your housing costs, you first need to figure out why you live where you are. Does it make any economic sense after factoring in all the math? Does it lower your transportation costs, and if you are a parent, did you choose it because of its proximity to your kids' school?
Whenever your reasons are, you can start looking for ways you can reduce your expenses. These can be simple steps like looking for a slightly cheaper house within your current location or moving to a new location.
The option you choose should be able to help you save money. For example, changing location can increase your transportation costs. Therefore, ensure your rent reduction can offset the increase in transport costs. Reducing housing costs by Ksh4,000 but increasing transport by Ksh2,000 is economical.
Finally, consider the intangible effects, including time wasted in traffic and loss of productivity. This is especially important for self-employed people or those paid per day or according to work output.
Work without play can make you dull, but that is never an invitation to break the bank. If you spend too much on entertaining yourself, you might have difficulty meeting your monthly savings targets.
To save extra money every month, you'll need to review your entertainment budget and find ways to reduce expenses without killing your social life. And there are multiple ways to do that, as entertainment doesn't have to be expensive.
Some tips to help you reduce entertainment costs include:
You can't change your spending habit from frivolous to frugal overnight. You need to learn how to take baby steps. Setting unrealistic goals is one of the biggest mistakes people make when saving money. And when they encounter slight hiccups, they give up and revert to old ways.
You need to follow the correct path when saving money. Start deciding how much extra you want to save per month and choose achievable goals. Instead of deciding to increase your savings by Ksh10,000 per month, start with Ksh3,000 and gradually increase. Additionally, cut expenses slowly, so you don't notice complete changes in your lifestyle.
You should also aim to make the process enjoyable to ensure you don’t lose momentum and give up after two months. Don't say it isn’t worth it if you can't save 10% of your income or increase your monthly savings by Ksh10k. Remember that increasing your savings by Ksh1,000 is better than doing nothing.
Finally, mistakes will happen along the way. Don't beat yourself up or give up. Take it as a lesson and keep trying until you change your habits.
Saving money is hard, and you are bound to face some roadblocks. One of the best ways to ensure you hit your goals is to track expenses and have a detailed budget. If you know where every shilling is going, you will be able to find even more places to cut expenses every month.
To reach your goals, you need to adopt other strategies that will help you in the long run. Money254 has written about some of these strategies, and you can learn about them. They include:
Finally, stop waiting for the right moment to start saving. Make the decision to start cutting expenses today. Don't wait until you are making more money because you will never make up for the savings window you have today.