Save money for future? 7 steps + essential saving tips

Save money for future? 7 steps + essential saving tips

Dear Happy Investor, saving money for future is necessary, but can sometimes be difficult. I mean, we want to live in the moment, but also should think long term. For example, you need to save for retirement, for unforeseen costs, house maintenance, and then you also want to go out with family and having FUN. With all these “feelings,” saving might become difficult, so what are the best ways to save more money for future?

At the young age of 23, I've asked myself how to become financially independent. Since then, I've crafted a proven strategy to achieve this. One essential part of that is saving money for future. The other two, more importantly, are earning more money and long-term investing. Today I'm 29 with 175.000 dollars of investments. At my 35th I will become financially independent. At my 40th (or earlier) I will be a millionaire. Not because I desperately want to, but because it is possible thanks to long-term investing.

Now, back to saving money for future. In this article, you will read 7 steps + essential saving tips to successfully save money.

Contents:

  1. Set a savings goal for how much you want to save money for future
  2. Want to save money for future? Focus on your income!
  3. Look at your expenses: what are your monthly costs?
  4. Set a savings budget based on your savings goal
  5. Cut the biggest monthly expenses
  6. Pay yourself first
  7. Put your money in low-risk long-term investments

1. Set a savings goal for how much you want to save money for future

If you want something, it could be useful to determine what you exactly want. This is called a specific goal. For saving money for future, it is necessary to have a very specific saving goal. A goal provides direction and something to hold on to. So let's start with determining your savings goal.

Ask yourself how much you want to save money for future. And define the future as well.

My advice: do it in small steps. For example, set a savings goal for 5 years and translate that to a yearly saving goal. Now translate the yearly saving goal to a monthly goal. In this way, you make the long-term goal very specific.

Setting a monthly savings budget is necessary, by the way, and I'll come back to that later.

2. Want to save money for future? Focus on your income!

how-to-save-money-for-future

Many people think that you can save quickly by cutting expenses. This is true when you think short-term. But for those who want to save for the long term, for example when saving for retirement, then it is smarter to shift the focus to your income.

Because reducing costs is only possible up to a certain point, after all, you continue to have fixed costs. While your income can only grow. Therefore, the first step is not to look at how much you can save by cutting expenses. Instead, the first step is to look at how much more you can earn a month.

Now let's take a critical look at this. In this step, ask yourself the essential question: how can I increase my income? What options are there to structurally increase your income. Think of negotiating for a raise or getting a promotion.

Or maybe you have time and motivation to start a small side business. A side hustle that brings some extra money into your pocket. Hint: you always have time, it's a matter of planning. But having motivation is more important. Therefore, start a small business that fits your passion. Are you uniquely good at something and does it give you a lot of energy? Then that is exactly what you can start your own business in. When you do this next to your full-time job, you have no pressure and you can let the company grow. And who knows, maybe you will become a full-time entrepreneur and work on your passion/hobby for the rest of your life.

I did this myself. Starting to work for a salary when I was 25. By the age of 29, I've shifted to being a full-time entrepreneur. Within four years, I've gained enough experience and momentum to build my side hustle into a five-figure income. And I'm confident that it will reach six figures in the next three years.

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3. Look at your expenses: what are your monthly costs?

After you've decided on how you will earn more money, it's time to look at monthly expenses. However, I want to emphasize once again that increasing your income must be the priority. That's where the opportunity to save for future really lies.

However, a necessity here is that you keep your monthly expenses at least on the same level. This rarely happens though.

When you suddenly earn 1000 dollars more per month, it is tempting to spend more. Just have an extra night out for dinner, because you deserve that and you can suffer it more easily right? It really is the biggest pitfall: if you have 5000 dollars in your bank account you will be much more frugal than if you have 50,000 or even 500,000 dollars. In short, the more money you have, the more easy-going you become. Anyway, for those who just want to save more for future, this is a less serious pitfall than for those who want to achieve financial freedom.

Organizing your expenses can be done by making an overview of your monthly expenses. Include a cost of unforeseen as well. Because there are always things that you overlook and will cost you money. To avoid these kinds of nasty surprises, it is better to put some money aside each month.

Another saving tip is to estimate your monthly costs a little higher than expected. And estimate your income a little lower. For example, do not include your vacation pay and any bonus. Make sure you can comfortably cover your monthly costs with your monthly income.

4. Set a savings budget based on your savings goal

We have one more step before the real work begins. And that is to set a monthly savings budget that is in line with your expenses, income, and savings goal. Simply put: if you have a savings goal of 500,000 dollars, you'll need to save more per month than if your savings goal is 100,000 dollars. So it starts with your savings goal.

How much money do you want to have saved in, say, 20 years?

Think about the end goal, and then you will have to calculate how much you need to save per month to reach your savings goal in 20 years. Assume financial setbacks. Thus, estimate your monthly savings higher than you usually would. Also, try to set your savings goal higher than you expect to be able to. It's better to set the bar too high and just barely make it than to set the bar way too low and easily reach the goal (because you probably would have done much better 😉).

Okay, so you now have a monthly savings budget based on the savings goal and monthly expenses and income. Then it's now time to look at how you're going to achieve this monthly savings budget. As explained above, there are two ways to do this. Either you provide extra income that allows you to save for future, or you start cutting back. The latter, cutting expenses, is the easiest way to save more in the short term. So let's look at that first. After that, we have two more steps that will make sure you definitely reach your savings goal.

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5. Cut the biggest monthly expenses to save money for future

The fifth step is to save as much as possible on monthly expenses. The main question to answer in this step is how to best reduce as many costs as possible. In doing so, it is important to have focus. If you try to do everything at once, you won't be effective. But when you start reducing cost item by cost item, then you will be much more effective thanks to laser-sharp focus. Therefore, list all costs from large to small. For example, the monthly mortgage and car expenses will be somewhere at the top of the list. And smaller expenses like the hairdresser or gym membership will be at the bottom of the list. If you want to achieve good results quickly, you should initially focus on the 5 largest expenses. Ideally, you should follow the 80/20 principle.

The 80/20 principle means that 20% of all your expenses will guarantee 80% of your total monthly expenses. In other words, if you have 10 expense items, the 2 largest of these will combine. 80% of your total monthly expenses. Anyway, coming back to saving money for the future: make sure you start reducing the biggest monthly expenses first. Focus on the big expenses and reduce them drastically. Examples can be: use savings to pay off your mortgage, sell the car and travel by public transport, eat less and buy fewer snacks while shopping, et cetera. You can also quickly and easily save money by switching subscriptions or insurance. Think for example of your energy or television. Through the link above you will find an independent comparator between the cheapest providers of all kinds of subscriptions and the like. Always handy…

6. Save money for future: pay yourself first!

Does this sound crazy, paying yourself off first? Hopefully not. Because paying yourself off first is one of the best ways to save more money for later. It's very simple and anyone can follow this step. In fact, it works like this: suppose you have a monthly income of $2,500 net. Your monthly expenses are 1500 (after eliminating your biggest expenses). So in theory you could save 1000 dollars per month. Now suppose for a moment that your monthly savings budget (from step 4) is 750 dollars. All you need to do to successfully save for future is to pay yourself off first. That means that every month when the money comes into the account, you transfer 750 dollars to your own savings account first. So you literally immediately secure your monthly savings budget of 750 dollars. This should be your very first action, even before direct debits are deducted. Don't see the point of this? Then I'll illustrate it with an example.

If you take the exact same situation as above, then it becomes very difficult for an extremely large number of people to save 750 dollars. Even if that means they have 250 dollars left over per month for fun trips. 1000 dollars is quite a lot, and saving 75% of that is also a lot. Because people are emotional, they (usually) only keep this up for a few months. Then come the emotions like “but I deserve to buy something nice for myself now”, or “I've saved enough”. Do you recognize this? When these emotions take effect, the savings budget of 750 dollars will no longer be reached. People suddenly have a lot of money. And if you have a lot of something, you will be less economical with it and therefore more likely to spend it.

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7. Put your money in low-risk long-term investments

Throughout this article, we've talked about saving money for future. All 6 steps lead to more savings for future needs. But the 7th step is a more special one. Because pay attention, you have savings in your account but how much can you really save? Nowadays you even have negative interest rates in the bank. That means you pay money to be able to put money in your savings account! And let's not forget inflation. Suppose inflation is 2% a year, and your savings rate is 0.5% a year. Simply put, this means that all your savings are worth 1.5% less every year! In short, you're saving money for later but you're also losing out. Fortunately, there is a safe solution.

The safe solution is to choose very safe investments. Investments that give you, for example, 4, 6 or maybe even 8% return per year. If inflation is 2%, and your return is 6%, then all your savings will become worth 4% more each year. Example: 50,000 dollars * 4% return = 2000 dollars profit. So you let the money work for you and this allows you to safely build extra wealth. Examples of safe investments are by investing in real estate or Dutch government bonds, or dividend stocks if you want to take a little more risk. Another safe investment is by paying off your mortgage. Depending on your interest rate, this also gives you a certain return, but as savings. The difference with this is that you spend money, while the investment in real estate example from above ensures that you do not have to spend money but that you only add money.

About the author
Raised by an entrepreneur, a master's degree in Organizational Science and Strategy, and a passion for investing. My name is Jorik Vermeulen, creator of the Happy Investors Mindset. For years I have been sharing my philosophy about a happier life with more freedom, satisfaction and financial independence. In addition, I help people to become (financially) more successful in Mindset & Wealth, with a specialization in long-term investing in stocks and ETFs.
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