When was the last time you reviewed your long-term investments and/or savings products, such as a retirement or living annuity? It’s recommended that you review your financial portfolio annually or if you know that your personal circumstances will change relatively soon, such as getting married, having a child, saving for education or retirement, evaluate them twice a year.
Are you paying yourself enough money?
It may sound like a strange question to ask, but you’re essentially paying yourself over a specific time period by saving. You’re making contributions to suit your financial goals. You’re also building a financial cushion should unforeseen circumstances arise. One of the financial lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic is how important it is to have an emergency fund in place.
Saving more than you are currently may seem impossible, especially after you’ve taken monthly expenses into account; however, with a solid financial plan, the correct mindset and knowledge, you can save more than you think.
How to start saving more money
Let’s start with the basics. Build up a fund that can be used in case of financial emergencies. There’s no ‘ideal amount’; however, a rule of thumb is to have enough money to cover three to six months’ living expenses. It may take time to grow the fund sufficiently, but when it comes to saving, time is your friend because you will reap the rewards of compound interest.
Next, it’s essential to find the right financial vehicle for your emergency fund. You’re likely to need access to the money immediately; therefore, consider a money market or tax-free investment account. Each of these options has pros and cons. If you need more guidance, speak to a reputable business consultancy that can refer you to professional independent financial advisers. You will gain a much better understanding of which vehicle will help accomplish your target.
It’s easier to determine a certain amount if you:
- Know what you’re saving for
- Know how much money is needed
- Have a realistic timeframe
Once you’ve figured it out, make a strong commitment to saving. Keep a level head, and don’t be tempted by emotional/impulsive spending. Ask yourself, do I really need that item? There’s a significant difference between needing and wanting something. For example, if you usually spend R1000 on clothes every month but sometimes buy an extra item for R1000, you’ve doubled your budget already. Why not put that R1000 into an emergency fund?
So, set up a budget that includes your fixed expenses, e.g. bond, vehicle and insurance payments. Then, look at the money that’s left; this is your variable expenditure, e.g. money you can spend. Decide how much money is needed vs wanted and put as much as you can into a savings account.
To help you evaluate whether you are, or aren’t, paying yourself enough money, assess the following aspects of your financial life.
Your current financial situation
You need to assess your current financial situation. It will serve as a benchmark from which you decide on the best course of action to move forward. It’s essential to know so that you can draw up a financial plan to achieve realistic goals.
Your short, medium, and long-term goals
It’s also vital that you know what you want to achieve financially?’ It’s worth taking a bit of time to decide and set up your desired short, medium, and long-term goals. Based on that, it’s best to prioritise those goals so you have an accurate picture of how much money you’ll need to save to reach them.
Your cash flow
By having a regular income, money flows in and out of your bank account, but you can measure it in the form of a budget. It’s a good idea to set a budget, which you monitor and track. It can identify negative spending habits which you can cut and instead save.
By having a real overview of these areas of your life, you can ensure that you are paying yourself enough to secure a robust financial future all the way into retirement. It would be best if you didn’t rush; take it one month at a time. If you don’t know where to start, speak to a business consultancy that can give you access to experienced independent financial advisers (IFAs).
Please remember to be realistic about your goals because your financial future will, more than likely, rest heavily on the decisions you make today.