Guest Column: Expert-Speak
The willingness and the ability to save money is the secret of building wealth. So as to save money, you need to spend less than you actually earn. Though it looks very simple when you say, it is really difficult to implement. There are plenty of ways to help you start saving money even on the very tight budget. Saving money or spending less is all about the personality, belief system, values of a family.
Spending less and saving more are lifelong living skills that need time to develop. Unless and otherwise, you have a written financial goals, you will lose your focus and go after consumerism and materialism.
To save more, obviously you need to spend smarter. To spend smarter, you need to understand you own spending patterns. Consciously you need to track all your expenses on a daily or weekly basis. So that you will be able to find out what influences your spending pattern.
Spending money has got so many influencing factors. But all these influencers can be classified into five broad spending influencers.
Your emotions play an important role in your spending pattern. The positive feelings like happy, fun, joy can influence you to spend more on entertainments and gifts. The negative feelings like envy, jealous, shame, stress, depression, frustration can influence you to spend more on smoking, drinking, buying things you actually don’t need, relaxation and healthcare.
2. Traditional Thought:
This is because of you belief system and your thought process. I need to buy a silk saree every year for my wedding anniversary. I have to bust crackers for diwali. These are all the classic examples of how your traditional thoughts will influence your spending pattern.
Society in which you live will have more influence on your spending. You have to buy a car as all your colleagues are coming to office in their own car. On the occasion of your kid’s birthday, you need to arrange gifts for all the classmates of your kid. You should be watching this movie, on a first day first show.
This influencer is caused by friends, colleagues, neighbours, relatives, and club members. Even at times, the advertisements and promotional offers like a discount sale can make you to spend more.
Habits formed when you are growing up can make us spend impulsively. Generally this will be for our sensual pleasures. Spending on movies, music, eating out, smoking, drinking are the best examples for this influencer.
This includes paying off your debts and loans, commitments towards family like school fees, buying groceries and other provisions, paying rent, paying for medical insurance. You are committed to pay these expenses earlier.
By tracking and analyzing your each and every expense, you will be able to identify the influencers which made you to spend.
Here are some strategies to overcome these influencers and spend smarter:
Control Your Emotions:
Instead of spending money, you can control your emotions by doing something else like doing yoga or meditation, watching comedy shows on TV, going to temple or beach. You need to solve the root of the emotion. You have to do introspection and need to keep a balanced mind always. Balanced mind is a key for spending smarter.
You need to consciously change your thought patterns to come out of traditional thinking. “I don’t really need a saree for every wedding anniversary”. “I am not a kid; so I need not bust crackers on diwali”. These kinds of auto suggestions will change your thought process and you will be able to really prioritize things on which you spend.
You are unique:
You were born original. Please don’t die a copy. There is no need to feel bad if you don’t get to spend or buy things like your friends or people around you. You are unique and special in your own way. You need to discuss with your family and friends about “How to live happily by achieving compromised spending patterns?”
Learn and unlearn Habits:
The unwanted habits which make you spend more can be unlearned. Good habits which make you spend smarter can be learned. Habits can be learned and unlearned. But you need to know it is not a quick fix. It involves a process and a commitment.
A habit is an intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire. Knowledge is ‘what to do and the why’. That is we need to spend less to save more and become richer. Skill is ‘How to do’. That is ‘how we spend less and what are all the strategies to be applied for spending less’. Desire is the motivation, the want to do. What are we trying to achieve by spending less? How that is more important to us than spending more. In order to make something a habit in our lives, we have to have all three.
You can’t avoid certain commitments like groceries, schools fees. But definitely you can discontinue unwanted commitments like the club membership in which you are not actively participating and not getting any actual use out of it; the chits impulsively you have enrolled with a jewelry shop.
Money not spent is saved. These above strategies will only work if you truly have a desire for future financial success. You need to be disciplined and persistent in the course of implementing these strategies. The more you practice smart spending, wealthier you become.
The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners(www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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