Let’s accept there are many of us who wonder at the end of the month where the pay check went, if it just vanished into thin air. Saving money can be as much fun as getting a root canal done. Who wants to put away precious money when you can use that to go pub hopping with your girls over the weekend or buy the latest iPhone. We feel you! So, to help you make some savings, we got Hena Mehta, Co-founder and CEO of Basis, a platform that helps women be financially independent with curated recommendations and expert advice, to spill on ways to do so without feeling the pinch.
No-brainer right? As soon as you receive that paycheque, put away your savings into a separate account ideally within the first few days of receiving that money. “Save before the month’s expenses kick in. This way your savings are not what’s left after you spend, but it’s the other way around. Better yet, automate your savings. Set up an automated process that puts away your savings for you, so you don’t need to remember to do it every month. An SIP, or systematic investment plan, is a good option here,” advises Hena. By setting up an SIP, your money automagically gets invested into the mutual fund you pick.
Got a raise? Sweet! Now, the extra money is not just extra spending money, it’s also extra saving money. Don’t forget to increase your savings rate as your income increases.
A lot of money (and other) gurus will guide you to focus on the pure essentials in life. One of the good things that came from the lockdown last year was that we were forced to do this, because, well, there wasn’t much else we could spend on. While this is good advice, it’s also not entirely fun.
So here’s what Hena suggests. Trim the fat—understand what things you’d be completely happy living without, and monitor stuff like subscription plans that could be eating into your hard earned money without you even realising it. Remove these from your expenses. “But also indulge every once in a while the nice-to-haves, so you’re not miserable. Give yourself cheat days,” she says. Within reasonable limits, spend on things that make you happy: take that vacation you’ve been planning, go to that fancy restaurant that you’ve been eyeing, or buy that dress. Just don’t go on a splurging spree that will stress you out later. This way, you are rewarding yourself for being a good saver, and that could lead to better saving habits down the road.
“Mental accounting is the process by which we treat money differently depending on its source. It’s a concept that was introduced by Nobel laureate Richard Thaler at Chicago’s Booth School of Business in 1999,” explains Hena. Basically, the theory is about how we are likely to splurge money from “windfall” events such as a bonus, gifts or lottery winnings differently from how we would save and spend it if received from regular income sources. “The hack here is to treat all money the same,” she adds.
This could be your life partner (you don’t want to end up with someone who is terrible with money), or your friends who far too frequently insist on fine dining at five star hotels, vacations in exotic locations, and other expensive social experiences. “Surround yourself with people who share common views about money or at the least respect your views about money. This way, you won’t fall into crazy peer pressure to spend more than you’re comfortable with or live a lifestyle you can’t really afford. Be ok saying no to spending beyond your means,” says Hena.
PS: if you haven’t had the money conversation with your spouse/partner yet, there’s no better time than now. Understand each other’s saving and spending patterns, credit card debt, plans for the future, existing investments, and financial responsibilities (like supporting parents or other family members). This isn’t a one time exercise have the chat at least once a year, if not more often!
Saving your money and investing it are two different things. Investing helps grow your savings. Don’t let your money sit idle in your bank account. Make it work by investing it in instruments you are comfortable with. “By not investing your money for inflation-beating returns, you are actually getting poorer. The value of money goes down in time because of inflation - and you want to be able to grow your funds at a rate that beats inflation, so you can continue to afford things you love in the future?” Advises Hena adding that you could get tips on where to invest from the Basis app.
So right now as the financial year comes to an end, follow these tips and become a smarter saver.