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Today’s guest post comes from Tim at Life For The Better. This is a great read about being intentional and disciplined with your saving, and it’s wisdom that many of us could put into practice immediately.
Here’s more about Tim:
Tim is an Air Force Officer who is on the path to financial independence. He is currently 25 years old and has amassed a net worth of $225K. Along the path to financial independence, he practices minimalism and simplicity by living in a tiny house. He blogs over at Life For The Better where he talks about his journey to financial independence, tiny house living, minimalism, relationships, and more.
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Pay Myself First
I treat my savings as a bill because it forces me to pay myself first. Paying yourself first is a sure way to become financially independent. You do not have to be in debt to anyone else.
Paying yourself first means you set aside a portion of your income that is directed to yourself. This is ideally an automatic transfer into a savings account or another investment vehicle.
Most individuals will pay all other bills first and then pay themselves. That’s only the crumbs of it all. Would you only eat the crumbs of a pizza? Or would you eat the entire slice?
Pay yourself first to ensure you are saving towards a goal. Adjust your budget to accommodate your lifestyle from there. This will force you to think about if you really need that shopping trip or how to decrease your phone bill to increase your savings.
Avoid lifestyle inflation
Lifestyle inflation is when an increase in spending occurs when income rises.
This will be a sure way to not increase your savings. Any money that could be saved is spent on new items such as a new car, clothes, or going out to eat more.
By forcing myself to save this way, I am avoiding lifestyle inflation. Whenever I get a new raise I will also pay myself more. Before I could max out my Roth IRA and Thrift Savings Plan, I would increase these amounts to increase my savings.
This helps me avoid lifestyle inflation by never seeing that money in the first place. I am not wanting to go out and spend the money on whatever I feel like. It’s now a bill.
I have to think differently about my savings. I am forced to save instead of spending that extra money on frivolous things that bring me no joy in life.
Forces me to save
This simple act of treating my savings as a bill means that I am prioritizing my savings and my self. I would rather invest in myself than to take on any debt.
I am forced to buying back my freedom. I am using money as a tool to become financially independent. Forcing myself with built-in strategies will be beneficial in the long run.
Seeing my savings rate increase by deliberate action is a freeing feeling. No longer do I have to think about my budget, it’s already done for me!
I simply set how much I want to save and then the rest is what I have to spend. If I want to go out to eat more or do something fun I must come up with a side hustle or decrease spending in other areas to make up the difference needed.
How You Can Do It
If you’re reading this thinking “there’s no way I could treat my savings like a bill. I can’t pay myself first!” Etc. Etc. Start with a small set amount. This can be as little as $20. Slowly bump it up to $40 and then $50 and on to $100.
This will force you to “create” a bill that you have to pay. Fortunately enough, that bill is yourself.
You’ll start to find more ways to increase that $100 amount to $1,000. You will start to say “I have to pay that bill.”
If you do not make the set amount for yourself, charge interest. Do not let yourself slack just because you are paying yourself. That’s not how bills work, right?
Track Your Spending
Wherever you save money, put that into your savings. Treat it like a bill!
Tracking your spending is the beginning of where you can take your money and direct it to your new “bill”. Look at areas that don’t bring you joy in life and eliminate them from your budget.
Do you have a subscription service you no longer use? Get rid of it and add that to your “bill”.
No longer watching TV because you can use rabbit ears or Netflix? Cancel your subscription and act like you are still making that payment but, put it towards your “bill.”
Get a side hustle and bank the money! This will allow you to have extra room in your budget to save even more. You can increase your income this way and still save more.
If you really want to go out to eat more, travel, or go shopping for clothes, find a side hustle to pay for this. Don’t dip into the money you were going to pay your “bill” with.
This side hustle should be something that you actually enjoy in life. There is no point in going through life miserable just to make an extra dollar. Is the point to get to financial independence to get there as quickly as possible and not enjoy your life along the way? Or is the point of financial independence to enjoy your life to the fullest?
Automate your savings like you do your other bills. Pull it right from your checking account on the 1st of the month. Transfer it to a separate account. This ensures that it will happen and you won’t forget about it.
You are forced to save this way. This takes all of the debate of paying your bill or spending that money on other things.
You set your bills up on auto pay don’t you? Why not do the same with paying your new bill?