Have you started saving already? For how long? Have you been saving but you feel like things haven’t been moving as you had envisioned?
Saving money can be hard. However, you may actually be the one sabotaging your own efforts unknowingly. You might be making some mistakes, which you can easily fix.
So if you are intentional and serious about wanting to save then you have to tackle those mistakes and get yourself back on track. Let’s have a look at some mistakes we make when we try to save money.
Buying items in bulk in most cases saves you money, but buying bulk also is making a commitment to a certain product.
While this is not necessarily a bad thing, if bulk buying is not well thought-out it could actually be costing you money. You are committing storage space and money on items that you may end up not using in the longer term.
This could range from bulk-buying anything from cereals to toiletries and even clothes. One useful rule to consider when buying non-consumables like clothes is the cost-per-use formula. How often will you be using these items in a month/year to warrant the expenditure?
Note that your tastes and needs could and often do change over time. Maybe you should thoroughly think through bulk purchasing and ensure you’re making a smart decision.
Sometimes spending money on preventive maintenance may feel like fixing something that isn’t broken. Because of this, you may consider it as an easy category to cut back on, especially when working with a tight budget.
So you don’t get your car serviced, you don’t take care of the small issues with your house, you put a pause on your doctor’s visits, etc. Yes, it will feel like you are saving some money because the car still works fine and the house is still standing.
But eventually, you will end up spending a lot more to correct the impending catastrophes you’ve been setting yourself up for than you ever would have spent on periodic maintenance. So make a smart decision about maintenance costs.
We all love a good sale, don’t we? But purchasing items on sale, promotion or clearance does not necessarily help you save money. Actually, you are a lot more likely to overspend when you go shopping when sales are on.
The only way to save money during a sale is if you had initially planned to spend X amount but spent Y amount, put the discount in savings.
For instance, let’s say you had intended to buy a pair of sneakers for Ksh3,000, but you ended up buying them at Ksh2,000 when you visited the market.
Invest the Ksh1,000 you saved on the shoes or deposit it in your savings account instead of using it to get something else in the store. However, if you spend the Ksh1000 on other things, you are not saving.
Note that sales can be very tempting especially if you have not been planning your purchase intentions before the sale opens. Often, you will find someone buying something the do not need majorly because it looks like a major bargain.
I was almost caught up in that situation the other day at Sarit Centre when I saw a fridge at 50% off! This is a steal! I thought to myself even though I was shopping for a washing machine.
“It’s Ksh30k only and almost twice the size of my fridge. Weeeell, I have a fridge already...Or maybe I can just snap up this deal and sell it in Jan for Ksh50k!”
I’m glad I didn’t fall for those thoughts.
Turns out sales can be very manipulative - in some stores what is presented as a discounted product could only be a function of psychological selling where the actual amount may not have changed much or at all.
Many Kenyans on the interwebs claim to have evidence of this practice by unscrupulous retailers. Be on the lookout.
One terrible mistake people often make when intending to save money is procrastinating or telling themselves that they’ll commence after reaching a certain milestone.
The milestone could be finishing off debt payment or attaining a certain amount of salary.
But did you know that the best time to start is now?
Even if it is setting aside a few hundred shillings a month, it’s still better than to take solace in the thought of the tens of thousands you will save some day in the future.
Besides, saving early will help you adapt to living on a certain amount of money. This will help you avoid the occurrence of lifestyle inflation as your savings increase.
While we are all in agreement that embracing a savings culture is great, this should not be confused with living a life of denying yourself everything you love and leading a miserable life.
You save towards an objective, a long-term goal with short-term milestones. It should be an enjoyable journey that does not mean drastically downgrading your standard of life that it starts feeling like a self-inflicted wound.
In fact, if you make saving a painful chore, soon enough you will be unable to keep up and you will surely give up saving altogether.
Instead, create a savings plan that is motivating, you can incorporate rewards into the process such as this basic but powerful beginners’ savings formula does - The 50/30/20 budget rule.
Under this formula essentials/needs take up 50% of your income, wants/personal desires are allocated 30% and then you save 20% of your net income.
As they say life is for living so do not make savings a suffering.
There is a saying that goes “you get what you pay for.” Ever heard of it? What it implies is true; The cheapest option is typically also cheaper in quality and least likely to last for long. Although there are exceptions to this.
The illusion of making a saving has led many into a cycle of poor quality purchases that eventually add up to being more expensive than making a larger initial high-quality purchase.
This is true for large purchases such as electronics and other home appliances as it is for other purchases including shoes, clothes and even holiday choices.
That said, it is always possible to get a high-quality product or service for cheap as well as a a low-quality product with a high price tag. Rather than considering the price alone, you are better off starting with quality and then price comes second.
It’s called value for money.
While you wouldn’t want to lock all your emergency savings in a vault and throw away the key, you also don’t want to make it too easy to access.
Keeping your emergency fund in a current account, for instance, is too easy. It would be tempting to spend it on non-emergency things.
Investing your emergency savings in illiquid options assets such as stock, bonds or real estate, on the other hand is not advisable given the fact that they cannot be easily exchanged for cash without a significant loss of value when cash is urgently needed.
It is thus best to have your emergency liquid. This means that it should be kept in a savings account. This savings account can be in the same bank as your current account, it can also be in a different bank or Sacco. What’s important is that you are able to access your cash fast in an emergency.
There is a wide array of financial products to invest in in Kenya. In fact, with globalisation, you can invest virtually anywhere in the world. But that doesn’t mean you should - if you do not understand the products you are putting your money into, there is a good chance you could lose that money.
Some of the available products in the market are more opaque than others and can put a few roadblocks in the path of someone willing to save.
If you are intending to grow your savings in any investment vehicle, ensure you’ve read through the fine print first. If there is anything unclear be sure to ask your financial advisor for clarification.
Make sure you have understood everything from fees to terms and all other requirements before you go ahead to purchase or invest in a financial product. It is always advisable to seek the services of a licensed financial advisor in case you are unfamiliar with a product.
A savings account will typically not give you the fastest and highest returns. Be very cautious of financial products that claim to be able to help you earn a significant return in very little time.
Mostly, the things with the greatest potential for return, like peer to peer loans or cryptocurrencies, like BitCoin or Ethereum, also have the greatest risk.
For instance, BitCoin has the tendency to rise and fall so dramatically, and it’s often in a period of just a few days. While you score and make a sizeable amount of money from it, you also stand to lose a lot of money if its value plummets.
It goes without saying that this promise of supernormal returns in a short period of time is one of the biggest red flags that something may be con game.
I know that saving money is important to you. But you may be struggling to consistently do this for a myriad of reasons.
It could be you’re finding it tedious, or just feel overwhelmed by the whole thing. The mistakes discussed above are just a few of the mistakes that we often make when we save. You can easily identify more mistakes specific to you by doing a complete financial self-audit.
Do any of these points touch on you? Then it is time for you to get back on the right track.
Begin with identifying what are the main mistakes that you are making then review your methodology to make some progress in that direction.
Give it a try, will you?