Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions on How To Save Money
If you are aiming to finally be able to kickstart your savings, this is the very post you need to read. It includes everything you should know about saving money.
According to a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas survey reported by ABS-CBN in 2014, only 1 in 4 Filipino households has savings.
This is the common truth isn’t it.
Filipinos find it hard to save money for plenty of reasons.
1. Not having enough money.
2. Leaving things to fate aka bahala na mentality.
3. Not knowing how to save money.
4. Debt, debt and more debt.
5. Thinking it is already too late to save.
Here’s what I want you to remember:
Saving money is the single most effective way to get rich.
If you can live within your means, save and invest the rest, you have done well for your(future)self.
Far well than you might ever think.
Once nakasabay ko sa jeep yung classmate ko nung highschool, he opened up to me that he does not have any savings.
His money goes 100% to his Mom and then his mom will budget for him.
I am not against the idea of letting your mom handle your money BUT if the topic of zero savings occur, I am very furious.
As a person who learned the hard way in taking care of her finances and giving significance to the power of savings, my experience has been eye-opening.
I experienced having “sakto lang pampamasahe” moments.
Lived a “magastos” lifestyle. Blamed others with my wrong doings and became depressed with my financial situation.
That time I thought that it was too late for me to realize how foolish I was to take for granted the money I could have saved.
I only have one goal in writing this post – encourage you to save and ultimately invest. I hope the quick question and answer suffice.
1. Why should I save money?
A lot prolong the need to save money until they are in near their retiring years.
They thought saving is not for them and that they still have a lot of time left to grow their money.
But here’s the truth, the earlier you save the more advantageous it is for your financial life. Compound interest will make your money grow without you even doing the hard work.
Here are more reasons why you should know how to save money:
To reach financial independence
The ultimate goal to those personal finance savvy is to finally reach total financial independence wherein you never have to worry what tomorrow will bring in terms of your finances. This can only be achieved if you take care of your money.
To be prepared in case of emergencies
Unexpected expenses such as car repair, loss of job, medical issues in the family call for an emergency fund. Your savings could cover the amount needed for the said unexpected expenses so you won’t be in debt.
To reach a financial and/or personal milestone
I have mentioned to you my financial bucket list. I also have my life bucket list up on my other blog.
Saving money enables me to achieve each of the financial and personal milestone I have.
Without proper savings you can never buy and invest for a house and lot or a start up business for example. You need to save money to have enough down payment on a bigger house. Other personal milestones includes a new car or a trip abroad etc.
To not pass up an opportunity
Sometimes life opens opportunities to us that can cost money. Opportunity like a seat sale to your dream destination, a pre sale house and lot within your budget, a new stock on its IPO stage or an even a new business idea.
Enter Opportunity Fund, one of the nine financial terms I have learned last year.
According to Get Rich Slowly, opportunity funds are money on hand to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. Joe of Retireby40, one of my favorite personal finance bloggers to read, says once in a while you’ll come across a good opportunity and you need money to take advantage of it.
That is opportunity fund in a nutshell.
If you don’t save enough money saved how can you say yes to opportunities?
During the early days of my journey to financial freedom I’ve learned the value of emergency fund. Then last year, I learned it’s smart to set aside money for opportunities too.
2. Who should save?
All of us need to save money.
It is a financial move that will give you a big edge towards your financial life.
The only time that it is forgivable to skip saving money is if 1. You need to get rid of your debts and 2. Your family is coping from financial breakdown due to illness or death.
Your first goal is to secure an emergency fund.
Emergency fund refers to 1-3 months worth of your income reserved for unplanned expenses such as loss of job etc.
Once you have built your emergency fund you should keep on saving. Try the 50-20-30 Rule of Budgeting wherein 20% of your income will be put to your saving fund.
3. How can I save money? What Are The Best Practices So I Can Save Money?
1. Review Your Finances
What it takes to get financial discipline and save money each month is a constant proper financial review.
The more you undergo a financial review, the more you become aware on what areas of your financial life needs to improvement.
Awareness is the knowledge or perception of a situation or fact. It is being conscious, being able to recognize and to realize things. When we become more aware, we become wiser when it comes to spending our money.
You can read my own Mid-Year Financial Review to know exactly how it made me figure out my next actions.
2. Track Your Spending
Are you tired of living from paycheck to paycheck?
If yes, then you might want to try tracking your expenses. Most of us spend our money unconsciously, we get our paycheck on the 15th and in just a week all the money is already gone. And the saddest part of it is we have no idea where our money went.
Tracking your expenses can take away a fraction of your time but it’ll be worth it. As soon as you make it a habit you will find it easier to do. Here are the benefits of tracking your daily expenses:
- Identify right away what kind of spender you are. Are you someone who spend mostly on your wants or on your needs?
- Avoid mindless spending. Because you are keeping a record on where you spend your money, areas where you can save money each month is easier to detect.
- Allows you to take control. Taking notes of your spending give you a better control on your money. You can easily change your lifestyle so you can save each month.
3. Create a budget
Budgeting plays a crucial part on how to save money each month. If you don’t create a spending plan, you will easily spend more than what can and what you are allowed to spend.
To make it easier for you I encourage you to follow the 50-20-30 Budget Rule. I see this as the easiest and the most flexible budget template that can adapt to who and how you are with money.
1. First, input your net income. This is income less tax, government fees and tithes.
2. Second, divide your net income on three important categories – essential expenses, financial freedom and lifestyle fund. You can allocate your desired percentage. The most common is 50-20-30 hence, the name of the budget rule.
3. Third, try not to go beyond the percentage you set. Always aim to be as close or lower.
Related: I wrote an exact post on The 50-20-30 Budget Rule Works and How It’ll Save Your Finances you might want to check out.
4. Think of your goals
I urge you to set your yearly and monthly financial goals now. Goals work as motivational tool that will keep you from building wealth instead of the other way around.
Once you have a set of clear financial goals it will be easier to you to assess your next action list. Here are sample goals that can give you the financial discipline to save each month:
1. Pay-off 50% of my credit card debt before 2017 ends.
2. Start a side-hustle and generate my first 10,000pesos extra income.
3. Put up an emergency fund with at least 60,000pesos by January 2018.
Once you start thinking and remembering your goals you will be encouraged to save more.
5. Start small
You don’t have to make it big at first. Always start with small and doable amount.
Psyche yourself and your wallet on saving 1000pesos every month for example. At the end of the year you’ll have 12,000pesos more on your savings fund.
Do not force yourself to save a lot of money at once, make it as gradual as possible so you won’t slack off midway.
6. Reduce your monthly bills
Now, if you really want to save money each month then you need to reduce your monthly bills. A sudden decrease on your monthly bills give you the means to save automatically.
- Cut back on your energy consumption. Unplug electronics not in use. Spend less time on watching TV or being on the computer. Turn-off the lights especially at night time. Find appliances that have energy-saving features.
- Reduce monthly subscriptions from cable TV, Netflix, magazine, gym membership or beauty box. Just focus on what you truly need.
- Focus in paying your debt. Debt hinders you in saving money each month. Pay-off high interest slowly but surely. Avoid using your credit card and being more in debt. For personal loans try to negotiate with a lower monthly pay so not all your money go in paying.
7. Join a saving challenge
A good way to force yourself to save money each month is to join challenges. You see those testimonial pictures and videos of successful individual who manifest financial discipline and was able to save. Among my favorite saving challenge are as follows:
- The 52-week Money Challenge – Rhea Mocorro of Kuripot Pinay localized the 52-week money challenge and became widely popular every year. The idea is very simple, on week 1 you save 50pesos, week 2 100pesos, week 3 150pesos and this continues to increase based on your starting amount until week 52. If you succeed your total savings for the whole year will be as high as 68,900pesos! You can read more about this in Different Ways You Can Apply the 52-Week Money Challenge
- Invisible Money Challenge – I’ve done this challenge last year and is continuing it for 2017. It is very doable for those who want to save money each month. You choose an amount you will treat as an invisible money. For example every 50pesos that come in your hand/wallet are automatically considered as invisible money. You need to put those bills directly on your savings or alkansiya.
- The Jar/ Bote Money Challenge – Another viral saving challenge at the moment is the jar/bote. You basically dedicate a separate jar/bote for each of your saving goals. Put every amount you have from loose change to proper savings to each jar/bote as part of your short-term or long-term money cushion.
8. Make Extra Income
Engage yourself in extra income projects that you are passionate about. Choose a side-hustle you can work on along with your full-time job.
You can begin by selling your pre-loved items. Go through items you no longer need but still has applicable market value and sell them online or through garage sale.
If you there is an area you consider yourself an expert then try teaching to others. Whether you teach English online, tutor Math or Science subjects to lower year or coaching a specific type of instrument.
There are a lot of ways you can make extra income and save automatically.
I created a list of best side hustles to try this 2017 you can check for ideas.
9. Diversify your finances
It should be your ultimate goal to make money work for you. Create multiple income streams that will set your savings into autopilot mode.
Mind the gap between the money you have and the money you save.
Earn more, spend less, and save the rest.
The money you earn from your hobbies and passions can get you closer to your dreams. You have more means to save, to invest and to share.
Extra income no matter how small or big it is opens opportunity for you to achieve more.
All the side hustles I did and I still do helped me to become the person I am today.
It definitely increased my knowledge, widen my network and explored my potentials. Now I am not afraid to turn my idea into something for I know that if only I believe and I do the proper action I can definitely generate extra income with it.
4. What is the easiest way I can save money today?
How does the Anti-Budget Rule work?
Every payday remove 20% of your salary as your savings (This can be adjusted based on how much you can commit to save). Then you are free to do whatever you want for the rest.
- Decide how much you want to save.
- Pull this off the top.
- Relax about the rest.
Because you already secured that 10% or 20% as savings you are pretty much okay to spend the rest.
The next best thing you need to do is increase your monthly savings rate.
5. How much do I have to save?
Perhaps this question has been on your mind for quite some time.
We were always taught that saving money each month is important but we weren’t aware of how much we should really be saving. Of course not all of our income can be put in our reserve money.
It all depends on certain circumstance below:
Your idea of perfect savings depend on your age.
People in their 20’s will have plenty of time to worry on their retirement so most of their saving goals are short-term. They may be thinking on a car, a condo, a gadget or a branded handbag. Thus, how much you save each will be lower.
Once you hit your 30’s your priorities will differ.
You start to build a family of your own and will have to take care of your aging parents too. Your savings will long-term now. You start to think about retirement, your kids’ education and your health.
This will require a bigger amount to save each month.
Your age surely plays a vital role in know how much you should save.
- Short-Term Goalsare things achievable in less than a year. This could be the vacation abroad you’ve always wanted, a special gift to your loved ones or a debt you’ve wanted to pay off.
- Mid-Term Goals are things are achievable in 5-10 years time. This could be a house, payment for your wedding and/or start a business.
- Long-Term Goals are the ultimate things you want to achieve. Retirement is a solid example of a long-term goal you want to think deeply.
Have you listed your goals yet? Once you manage to specify your objectives you will be surprised on how quick you are in coming up with the next actions.
Your income has a lot to with how much you’ll be able to save.
Maybe you are thinking a saving goal that’s too much that what you’re being paid. If you want a better savings you need to increase your income, find other sources of extra money you can put in your kaban.
Given the three circumstance above, this is how we will approach the whole “How Much Should I Save” question.
Overall, save in accordance to your span, your reach and your means. The more your income grows, the more your savings you should have and not the other way around. Treat it as a never-ending cycle of wealth.
6. What is the difference between saving and investing my money? Which should I do first?
Most confuse saving money from investing money.
Saving is income/money not spent. It is the act of preserving your money for future needs. You save money for emergencies (emergency fund), a needed vacation (travel fund) or forthcoming retire life (retirement fund).
When you invest your money, you are basically putting it at work. It is the act of spending your money on vehicles that may earn interest. You invest money to beat inflation, to grow your current net worth and to reach your financial bucket list faster.
Saving should come first before investing. You need a proper money cushion ready to use whenever you need it.
Invest only when you secured a proper savings. Why?
Because here’s the deal:
If you jump in the investment bandwagon without a saving bucket, you are endangering your finances. Investing comes with inevitable risk unlike saving.
7. Should I save money or pay down my debt?
It is highly recommended that you pay down your debt first before saving up money.
Because being debt-free promotes financial peace and security, more money to spend without guilt and improves your ability to save and invest.
The faster you can get rid of your debt, the faster you can reclaim your finances.
But there are still few exemptions.
If your debt has a very low interest rate, it is better to save for a baby emergency fund first.
Save at least a month worth of your salary as a working emergency fund ready at times of sickness, accident, sudden death or other unexpected financial trouble.
Dave Ramsey’s Total Makeover suggests to build a baby emergency fund as a starting point to financial freedom and I personally agree with this.
Focusing on paying down debt without any savings at all may cause you to borrow money again as soon as emergency situation arise.
Now if you have debt with high interest rate like credit card then try to pay down as much money as you can.
Here are five doable actions to pay down your debt fast:
Pay with cash
Stop using your credit card to pay for everything. If you really want to stop getting into more debt then you have to learn how to pay with cash. Paying with cash will give you consciousness with how much money is getting out of your cash flow.
Use bonus and extra money to pay debt
The fastest way you can do this is by using your bonus or extra money as payment. Now that the end of the year is near, we all are sure excited for the bonuses, 13 Month Pay and extra money coming.
Automatically put all your extra money to pay debt. I know this is the saddest thing ever considering all the hard work from the past year but at least you are off to a better start in the coming New Year.
Pay the most expensive debt first
This particular tip has been shared for a lot of times already and it definitely works. Once you have evaluated your debt you’ll surely know which has the highest to lowest interest rate.
A great strategy to get rid of debt is to pay the most expensive debt first. Focus on the debts that accumulate higher interest rate. The faster you get rid of the most expensive debt, the more money you can have to pay down the rest of your debt.
Pay the smallest debt first
This is the complete opposite of what I mentioned above. The Debt Snowball Method was first introduced by Sir Dave Ramsey. This technique suggests that you pay the smallest debt first.
Once the smallest debt is done, you will have to pay the next smallest debt until your debt is done at last. Because you are first paying for the smallest debt, you can easily feel the success and this will motivate you to stay focused on your goal.
Increase Your Income
Try to earn extra income on the side. You can read my post on 21 Side Hustles to Start this 2017 with Your Full-Time Job for some example.
Manage your spare time and use it to your advantage. Never settle with just one source of income because it isn’t and is never enough.
The lifestyle we live today plus the debt that you owe can only be met and solved with extra money.
Remember, your debt will not adjust to you ever.
It doesn’t work that way.
You need to adjust yourself to your debt in order to pay. You have the ability to be debt-free even on low salary as long you incorporate good financial habits with discipline.
8. Should a person in his or her 20s save money or spend it on things that make him happy?
As many financial advisers will agree, saving (and investing) your money at an early age is advantageous. You have a lot of years left to grow your money through compound interest.
Time is your ally. Don’t wait till you are 35 to reset your finances.
Learn to balance between your savings and spendings.
You need to know and to realize what truly makes you happy.
If its seeing yourself retiring a millionaire then save as early as now. If its getting happily married and enjoying your dream house then save as early as now. If its becoming worry-free in the moment of emergency then save as early as now.
Enjoy life! But realize that there are plenty of ways to enjoy life that don't involve spending a lot of money.
Read Next: How To Achieve Your Travel Goals in 3 Steps
9. Where should I put my savings?
Where you should park your money depends a lot on what goal you are saving for.
For emergency fund, an easy, fast and effective way you can do today is to open a dedicated bank account for your savings.
Go to your trusted bank, fill up the account opening form and present a copy of your IDs. After about 15-20 minutes your savings account (physical card) is ready.
If you have a minimum of Php 10,000 you can also open a passbook account which gives you better accountability to your savings.
There’s also the BPI Save Up + Insurance wherein you get life insurance on top of your savings. More about this financial product here.
For downpayment to a house or your kids education money, Unit Investment Trust Fund (UITF) or Mutual Fund are good options.
UITF or Mutual Fund works in the same manner, your money along with the money from other investors are pooled together into one fund to accomplish an investment objective.
If you don’t have much knowledge about stock market or trading and you don’t have that much time to really look after your investments, then UITF or Mutual Fund is for you.
For retirement I consider Exchange Traded Fund, Index Fund and/or Personal Equity Retirement Account (PERA) as the best retirement accounts ever in the market.
Overall, here is my rule of thumb when it comes to saving money according to purpose:
- For short-term goals such as trip abroad or a new car – save.
- For medium-term goals such as moving to a house and lot – save but put your saving in an account that can give higher returns such as mutual fund, money market or time deposits.
- For long-term goals such as money for retirement – invest, maximize the time you have to grow your money.
10. Name your best tips when it comes to saving money fast?
1. Make saving money a habit. Trick your brain into saving more often. You can do this by simply following the golden rule:
Income – Savings and Investments = Expenses.
2. Study your current financial situation. You can do this by checking your net worth or the difference of your assets and liabilities. READ: Why You Must Know Your Financial Net Worth and How
3. Select an amount you can save
Know how much you’d like to put away. Save what you can afford. Do not force yourself to save half of your income if you still have needed expenses. What’s important is to come up with an amount to save no matter how little or how big it is. If save consistently you’ll be surprised by how big it can be in the future.
4. Have some saving goals
Why are you saving your money. Are you saving to buy a new car next year? Is it a downpayment for a bigger house for you and your family or you are saving to start a business soon.
5. Automate your savings so you won’t forget about them
Deduct your saving first things first before you even pay for your expenses. This is a good habit that everyone should adopt.
6. Commit even if its hard and even if you feel tempted to spend
Just think of your saving goals whenever you lose hope.
Final Notes from SavingsPinay
I will end today’s post with two important reminders.
1. It’s a must that you save on a regular basis
Saving money should be more than just a task but a rather a habit for everyone. And you can never develop a habit if you are not doing it regularly.
Once the paycheck comes automatically save a portion. Live with the rest for your everyday expenses. Again, treat it as a payment you will give to yourself. You deserve it because of your hard work. READ: 40 Financial Habits For Life
2. It’s a must to budget
I know, I know I sound too pushy in the whole budget thing here in SavingsPinay but it’s just how things work.
You can never save without a budget.
A spending plan is everything you need to have an idea whether you are over spending your money or to track down where your money goes.
Izza of SavingsPinay helps Filipinos bridge the financial literacy gap one content at a time by providing insights and tips on budgeting, saving, investing, side hustle and growing your net worth. Aside from this blog she also writes at www.izzaglinofull.com, a beauty and lifestyle blog for frugal Pinays and manages, www.izzagevents.com, a wedding and event business since 2011. For inquiries, topic suggestions or future collaborations email her at firstname.lastname@example.org