I have never been one to care about money. I spend it on food like it’s my last day on this planet and I always have the need to try out every fancy eatery on the block. Before I know it, my tummy is full but my wallet is quite the opposite. In the quest of saving more and spending better, I started looking for women who would not only understand my situation but also impart their financial knowledge to me.
There is no science in saving money. The truth is, regardless of whether you are a college student, a housewife, or a businesswoman, you need to be certain of how much you are spending each month. No one can be too sure about what the future holds for them.
According to the World Health Organization, women live longer than men and earn significantly less as per data collected by the Center for American progress, even if they spend their entire life in corporate slavery. There is also the long battle that women have been fighting for centuries now: the idea that women and money have an unhealthy bond and that women are financially illiterate when compared to men.
To help you save better, I reached out to women who work, talk, spend, and save money like no other. Here is what these financial advisors had to say:
1. Use cash instead of cards
Rule one in the book of being mindful of how you spend money is to use cash instead of cards. Sarah, the head of a financial department in a well-known multinational company, shared that having a credit card made her feel like she was making purchases for free. It was only later, at the end of each month, that she realized that nothing in the world is a free lunch.
Instead, Sarah strongly suggests getting rid of that credit card as she calls it “the hub of all the extra spending.” Instead, having cash money means that you can keep a physical check on how much you are spending and hold on to your budget accordingly.
2. Dumb the debt
One thing the now 31-year-old corporate financer, Hannah, regrets is taking a loan for a luxurious car during her first job at 22 years old. She says that she is still paying the debt and does not know a way out.
“No matter how tempting a loan scheme might look like, do not fall into the trap as there is no looking back,” she said in an interview with The Tempest.
Try taking baby steps when it comes to paying off debt. Even if it means getting rid of the $500 you owe your brother. After all, a debt is a debt and you need to pay it off at the end of the day.
3. Invest in mutual funds
Neha, a 27-year-old financial advisor, calls investing in a mutual fund, “A day spent without having to work.”
She advises women of ages 21 and above to start saving and investing at least 30% of what they are earning in a month. Investing is part of saving in the long run, after all.
Many women do not know this, but you can save up to 40% of your taxes by investing in a mutual fund. A mutual fund is a type of financial vehicle made up of money collected from different investors for the purpose of investing in securities like stocks, bonds, money market instruments, and other assets.
4. Watch your finances like a hawk
Saving up without having a budget is like traveling without travel insurance. You never know what might happen next.
“You need to keep a check and balance of your finances, where and on what you are spending the money,” said Bina, a 37-year-old financial officer. “You need to be mindful and vigilant wherever money is involved, otherwise you would be at the losing end,” she added.
If you are someone who is clueless about how to watch over your money, here are few tips you can use:
- Start by making a financial calendar. You can call it your money to-do list. Put your monthly utility bills, everyday expenditure, fuel costs, how much you spend on shopping, and, most importantly, what you are saving on this list.
- Always set a budget. Live on a budget. Make it your life’s motto until you become responsible enough to not spend on anything and everything. Be realistic with your budgeting. If your monthly expenditure is $500, you should not expect to survive on $250. Cut short but, slowly. Try making it $400 for the first month by letting go of some luxuries.
- Keep checking in on yourself by going back to your budget. If you won’t do it, no one else will!
5. Save first, spend after
“You need to think about saving first before you plan on spending. That is how it works,” said Tasha, a 41-year-old financial assistant for a firm in the United Kingdom. She learned this trick from an article she read in The Economic Times.
She manages her household finances as well as her work. According to her, she has attained financial peace by making sure that she is not spending too much on unnecessary things like online deals and offers.
While taking control of your finances and planning for the future might appear intimidating, it is also something that you cannot afford to compromise on. One thing that I have learned by talking to these financial advisors is that saving is important and a must, even if it is just one penny each day.
You can also join money-saving groups online (there are plenty of these for women, by women), such as Coupon Mamas and Couponers United. You do not have to rush into saving. It is a habit that you can develop over time. And it is only with time that you will realize how this newly acquired habit is helping you make a difference with your everyday money matters.