Saving money for the future does not necessarily have to entail frugal living and sacrificing every single enjoyable thing you do at present. After all, you save money so that you can continue to live a good life instead of allowing your financial limitations to dictate what you can or cannot do in future.
An effective future savings plan does not require that your spending is strictly limited to essentials or unavoidable expenses. In fact, this would not be a sustainable savings plan at all and as a result not an effective one either. What is required is to control the way you spend and to make this controlled spending a habit.
Know What Your Dollar Buys for You
Controlled spending entails knowing exactly where every dollar you spend is going. Many times you end up with huge bills and you don’t even use many of the items you bought. This often happens when you make a shopping trip without a list of things you need.
A list helps you stay focused on what you need so that you avoid picking up unnecessary items ‘just- in- case’ you need them. With a list you finish your shopping quickly, avoid making repeat trips to pick up missed items and also spend only on necessary items.
Identify and Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses
Study your monthly expense sheet to identify expenses that you can cut back on or eliminate completely without feeling the pinch. For example, you can start using messaging instead of calling your spouse to tell him/ her when you will return. Similarly, you can take a brisk walk to the corner store instead of driving the car and using up the gas. These small savings add up to big ones over a period of time and the best part is you do not have to make any sacrifices to save this money.
An essential aspect of painless controlled spending is proper allocation of funds for various activities and expenses. Set aside a specific sum for each of the main categories of expenditure you incur every month, for e.g.: telephone, electricity, commuting, groceries and food, etc. Also make a special allocation that goes towards entertainment. Fund all eating out, movies, picnics and get-togethers with friends with this ‘entertainment’ allocation. If in a particular month you do not spend any of this money, simply add it to the next month’s fund and go on a binge, within budget, of course.
Knowing where every dollar you spend is going will help you streamline your expenses to match your priorities. In the long run, controlled spending helps you weigh different expenses in terms of the value you stand to gain out of them so that you spend judiciously.