When it comes to saving money, the internet is replete with common sense advice such as spend less than what you earn, stop eating out all the time, take public transportation etc. etc. and so forth. If you read enough of those lists/ articles, you'll notice that there are several recurring principles behind those pieces of advice. Principles that at first glance might appear as if they have nothing to do with money, but scratch the surface a little and you'll find the little pesos, happily going about their merry way. Of course I'm not going to keep you guessing about what these principles might be, so without further ado, here's my list of the 5 "who would have thought it?!" ways you can save money.
Know yourself - this covers a wide swath of your life, from personal style, your investing personality, choice of home furnishing and decor, where you'll be spending your holidays etc. The more you know yourself and your inclinations (no matter how quirky or out of this world they might be), the less you'll be throwing your money at things, services and experiences that don't bring you joy or satisfaction.
Without actually meaning to, I have developed a sort of uniform when it comes to dressing up. Through the years, I have come to accept what looks good on me and so I buy the pieces that I know will enhance what I got from my momma and obscure the parts that I'm not so comfortable with. I also stay away from printed clothing because busy patterns hurt my eyes and it's also easier to get more wear from plain clothing (more mixing and matching options). This means that when sale season happens, I have a general idea about what to buy and if the discounted pieces will work with what I already have. I'm happy to report that there have been many instances when I left a sale rack empty handed because none of the items were my style, even if they were at a ridiculous bargain. After all, if you save Php500 from buying a discounted top that was originally priced at Php1,000, but you only wear that top once, you didn't save money at all but only wasted Php500.
Be comfortable with doing nothing - when the weekend rolls by, our instinct is to hightail it out of the metro for a quick daytrip or overnight trip, or meet up with friends at the newest hotspot in town. That's why lists of the most happening restaurants, must-visit places and activities around town proliferate the internet. We have become used to donning our weekend warrior garb and going all out for two days.
I propose that instead of spending money and going out during weekends, you just stay home and do nothing. But when you think about it, you don't really do nothing when you stay home because there are a million and one things to do even when you're home. You can read, fix your closet, cook your baon for the upcoming week or learn a new recipe, catch up on your favorite Korean telenovela series etc. etc. And when Monday comes by, you'll be refreshed, ready to face the new work week and with extra money to add to your savings account.
Choose your friends well- this is something I've taken to heart ever ever since I read the quote "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with" by Jim Rohn.
If your friends have the same money-saving mentality as you do, then you can support each other's money goals or at the very least, they won't look down on you when you tell them that you can't eat out as often anymore since you're trying to build up your emergency funds. It's the same as having a workout buddy, with an accountability buddy, working towards your financial goal becomes less of a lonely pursuit and you'll have someone to celebrate your mini-victories with.
Buy expensive things- let me qualify this by saying that most, but not all, expensive things are of a much superior quality than their cheaper counterparts. So when I say buy expensive things, what I really mean is to buy the highest quality item you can afford even if it means initially shelling out more at the time of purchase because you can be sure that it will last longer. But isn't it catchier to simply say "Buy expensive things"? :)
I've had my eye on this daybed from Philux for the last few months.
At about Php40,000 to Php45,000, it costs 2x or 3x more than a sofa you'd normally find at the mall, but I bet that this daybed will outlast any sofa that SM or Robinsons has on display. Not only that, Philux is a local brand that creates its pieces right here in the Philippines, providing a livelihood for our countrymen and promoting the best of Filipino design with their pieces. So yeah, I'm clearly a Philux fan.
Imagine your income is smaller than it actually is- this one takes some brainwashing since you have to make yourself believe that your income is only 70% to 90% than it actually is and then you bank or invest the difference. It's a variation on the "Income - Expenses = Savings" doctrine in personal finance, because instead of setting aside the extra after your expenses, you take your savings off at the very beginning and then you force yourself to live on what remains.
It might sound extreme to some people, but once you've tweaked your budget to align to your preset savings/investing goal, then you should be able to function on auto-pilot. This will work best for those who want to have a "No Budget" type of budget. By setting aside your savings/investing money right at the start of the month, you're free to spend your remaining cash whichever way you please. No judgments. We're all adults here.
Before I end though, I would like to point out that all the money you'll be saving by following the tips above will be for naught if you don't actually deposit it in a bank account or add it to your investments. So before anything else, go to a bank and open a savings/checking account to hold your emergency funds and while you're there, you can also inquire about their investment products. Wealth and comfort is attainable but only if you're willing to put in the hours doing the work or studying about it, and then putting in the work.
*Additional image from Franticbutfabulous.com