You may have noticed that life is getting more and more expensive, while our salaries stay the same. For many people, this means that the more days they are away from their last paycheck, the more they have to cut back their life. If you feel the same way, we can reassure you – you are not alone!
To give you a little more breathing room for the days towards the end of the month, we have summarized a few important tips that you can use to adapt your money situation to your living situation step by step.
Step 1: Start keeping budgets
Keeping a budget is an important step to get a better overview of your income and expenses. It doesn’t matter if you use paper and pen, an Excel spreadsheet or an app to do this. It is important that you regularly look at your income and expenses and also have an eye on when which expenses regularly come up. How much do you spend on food on average? How much does it cost you to fill up your gas tank each month to drive to work? The mere fact that you regularly look at your expenses will make you more aware of money management.
Step 2: Prioritize your spending
Eating out with friends every 2 days in the evening is great, but probably not as important as paying your rent or home loan. Your accident insurance will probably also be more important than a new Netflix contract. This actually sounds logical, but if you don’t even consciously list your expenses and start prioritizing a bit, it will be hard to decide where to cut once finances get tighter.
Once you list all your expenses, you can put them into one of three categories:
- essential expenses (Needs), like rent, food, electricity or insurances.
- Wants (Wants), such as shopping, dining out, traveling, or more expensive hobbies.
- Future oriented expenses (Save): This includes life insurance, but also amounts you save or invest for the future.
Elisabeth Warren – a former US Senator – once defined a rough rule on how these expenses should be divided in order to bring these three categories into a good balance. She recommends that Essential expenses no more than 50% and expenses for "Wants"Do not spend more than 30% of your income should be. This still leaves 20% of the money left over for Longer term goals, or to create some financial freedom for yourself, Saved should be.
In the "needs" and "wants" pots there are also often many opportunities to save money. Whether it’s switching electricity providers, rescheduling a debt loan with better terms, or sometimes cooking at home with friends instead of eating out at an expensive restaurant.
There are a great many price comparison portals where you can find out about cheap providers for bank accounts, insurance and electricity.
Step 3: Be honest with yourself!
Do you have a rough idea of what you spend a year on coffee-to-go or eating-out?? What does the daily snack on the way to work cost you over several years?? For many people, these impulse purchases are expenses that can accumulate over time into very significant amounts of money. A daily coffee-to-go could equate to 5 years, namely 5.200 Euro. If you were to invest this money in a fund with a 4% annual return, you would get as much as 8.500 euros. Just imagine what else you could have done with that money? That would be a very nice dream vacation in the Caribbean! If you really want to save money, then be merciless when it comes to foregoing impulse purchases. Set yourself a concrete goal, this will help you to do so!
Step 4: Take care of your debt
Even in times of low interest rates, it is important to fight debt. Because the interest rates will rise again, and then the monthly repayments can quickly overtake you. Make your plan how much you need to put aside to pay off your debts faster.
Especially those who struggle with higher debts often see no end and thus lose their motivation. Therefore, start with the smaller debt blocks and loans and pay them back consistently. By tackling the smaller blocks first, you can feel small profit experiences, which is very important for motivation.
Sometimes it also makes sense to get professional help, such as that of a debt counselor. Vanity should not be an excuse. It means real money you save when you are able to pay off your debts quickly.
Step 5: Hang in there!
Changing habits is not easy. On average, it takes 66 days of practicing a new habit to get rid of an old habit. On average! – that means it can sometimes take much longer. The best trick for perseverance is therefore to set small, realistic goals and to work through and achieve them step by step.
Talk to other people who have a similar journey ahead of them. I know, money is not something you usually talk about. But we’re sure you have people in your circle of family and friends who feel the same way. Get together and pull together on the same rope! Motivate each other to achieve the goals and challenges you’ve set and share your experiences and tips and tricks.
But most important of all is the next step….
Step 6: Have fun!
A bad financial situation also affects your health. Money worries are already the No. 1 factor in stress and depressive illnesses. Therefore, the path to better financial health should not mean more stress.
Just always keep in mind that the situation is better today than yesterday. Enjoy the achievement of each small goal. Realize that from now on you are in control of your financial situation. And if you follow these 6 steps, you will be!
If the breakdown of your budget doesn’t feel right, then adjust it. But think specifically about what categories you will spend how much money on and how that will affect your savings situation. Find the path that works best for you – and don’t forget to reward yourself for your hard work along the way!
Because you earned it!
You can also get more practical tips for saving money in everyday life at the Monkee savings calculator. In addition, you can calculate your personal savings potential and compare your income and expenses with those of others in similar life situations.
We are Monkee
Saving and the right handling of money have a lot to do with attitude and a little bit with knowledge. Just as exercise is good to improve one’s physical health, there are behaviors that make and keep us financially fit. That’s why Monkee aims to increase the financial health of parents with young children by promoting responsible and sustainable money management.
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