Blog Post by Matthew, Follow him on twitter here
As much as I would love to begin with a lavish introduction as to my credentials on being able to give financial management advice to anyone, I must say, I have none. But what I do have is life experience, and learning from the experience of others, the best ways to “live your life” while maintaining financial prudence and living within your means. So hello to you, I’m simply Matthew or @SmittyRoyal on twitter, who seems to be a completely different and more popular person than Matthew is.
So let’s start here. The simplest way to save is to NOT SPEND. Yeah, it’s just that simple. But of course not spending could mean for most of us, not having a life.
While working a regular 9-5 the average Jamaican earns between $30k (after taxes) monthly, to well in excess of $150k (after taxes) monthly. Yes, I do have friends raking in the big bucks, and yes, some days I wish I was them *sigh*. But as I am not them I have to utilize my money in the most economical way, which involves TREATING SAVINGS AS AN EXPENSE, and also HAVING A LIFE. Now these two things for me go together like peas in a pod. I refuse, as a friend said to me, to life my life as a miser for someone to inherit all the money I saved living a dismal and gloomy life, so that they can go and have a grand funeral for me, and then use the balance to “live the life” I neglected. This is where the ever so annoying Y.O.L.O comes in….and it is true, YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, so do just that, live.
TREAT SAVINGS AS AN EXPENSE
Now before I get into how I do this, let me first make it clear, having a budget is a beautiful thing. I have developed a Budget for all my known expenses, with money in it that can be used for small unknown expenses, and then a savings portion that I do not even get in hand as that amount is wired straight to the bank (a great feature to have if your employer facilitates it). This is where I get into the heading, treat your savings as an expense.
In doing this, the money being saved will be regarded as “dead money” or “money spent” that you can’t get back (but in reality you can, because it’s your savings). This might take a little training of the mind, but once you establish that that money is no longer yours in the back of your head, then you won’t be so tempted to head to the bank to withdraw it, spending on some frivolous item (new shoes, jewelry, treating some new chick to the time of her life who clearly has no interest in you, just the experience she doesn’t want to spend her money on O__o) as soon as it reaches the bank monthly.
To be able to successfully treat saving as an expense, here is what you have to do:
1. Remember that super feature of having the money go straight to the bank or other savings institution as a salary deduction. Well yes, that’s the first thing. If your Employer permits it, apply to have a set portion of your salary, the portion you can definitely do without, that amount you always seem to spend and regret through cognitive dissonance days later. Yeah, that little (or for some people LARGE) portion every month, send it to savings. Now this is a little more difficult for those who might not have this feature, but I’ll address that in another blog post. Don’t worry, I gotcha. Also ensure that you leave the debit card for that account at home, locked up tight or even at your parents home, in your old sock draw, far away from your tempted hands.
2. In constructing your Monthly to Annual Budget, include all those items that you “have to pay” monthly as your first line of expenses. What I do is I list out each and every one of these expenses by name, such as my cable bill, internet bill, lunch money, gas/bus fare (transportation expense), grooming, life insurance etc. Those expenses that you can’t escape, have to spend on every month to simply live…comfortably. Now for some, this might take some tweaking of those inescapable expenses. If you are under 30 and don’t have life Insurance, don’t have any dependents, no family, then you can skip on the life insurance. But if you want mom and dad or that responsible relative to have it easy in case they outlive you and have to take care of funeral expenses, get some life insurance. It’s what a RESPONSIBLE ADULT would do. Then assess all the other inescapables. Some might be altered to reduce their amounts. If you have the porn stations on your Flow Cable, reduce your cable bill, take that package off, Porn is free on the internet!!!! And hey, if you want a few sites…I’ll post them in another blog ;-).
3. After tweaking the inescapables to their true unavoidable amounts (yes Sir, reduce your Cable bill by ridding yourself of the Porn Channels), the remainder of the money is solely for LIVING YOUR LIFE!!! But if you are still not sure, here is how you do it. Having a monthly Budget means you can easily convert it to having an Annual Budget. This helps you plan for those one off expenses that might not occur monthly but maybe bi-monthly or even once a year, such as Car Insurance, Registration and Fitness, School Fees, Dental expenses etc. With these things included in the annual budget, you now know of the months you have in which that excess income (using the term excess loosely) can come in handy to help you have fun. Those are your “FUN MONTHS”.
HAVING A LIFE
Now for some of us who have annual events to attend, like the Dream Weekend (Here come the shameless plugs, which the promoters needs to pay me for, yeah I’m collecting!!!), Sumfest, Sting, Jazz and Blues, Easter Weekend, Spring Break, Restaurant Week, Heroes Weekend, Labour Day Weekend….*whew*, I’m sure this list can go on, and on, and on, and on, and….well you get the drift. This leaves you with almost every month being a “fun month” right? Well here’s what you do. Since you are a baller/belle on a budget, which surely means you can’t afford all these activities, discipline yourself to be selective about the ones you “need” to attend.
Noting that you have already placed some of that measly salary away for savings, which its best to not even look at, you won’t have enough to spend on all these events throughout the year, hence, forget about all of them and just focus on attending a few.
For the romantic man, his best bets for keeping her smiling throughout the year are definitely taking her to Restaurant Week, at least two nice restaurants, one at the high end and another anywhere else on the spectrum. Plus, you’ll already have Valentine’s expenditure (which even if she says she doesn’t want a gift, it really means she is not getting you one, but you better get her something like her friends beau did or she will be pissed!!!)
For the Party Hopping Bachelor, with no commitments to the many females he’s “dating”, living your life is all up to you with the available funds remaining in your budget. But you still have to spend wisely. So all that buying more than one round of drinks for the boys bull crap has got to stop.
Instances where School Fee, or Car Maintenance clash with a special annual event may just happen, so here is where the importance of forward planning kicks in. Remember that Annual Budget, well here is where it helps you to determine if that additional savings (outside of the budgeted savings) may be needed for the coming month, so you don’t go spending it. That balance carried over from the past month (almost impossible to imagine you could have money left over in this hand-to-mouth existence huh?) can be used to accommodate that trip, or party you might have planned to attended, before the dreaded school fee popped up.
Now all in all, the truth is, Budgeting is hard, but if you want to be in control of your finances, it’s exactly what you have to do. Discipline is the next issue, but that again is definitely for another blog. But put it this way, a Budget is useless without the discipline behind it to ensure you stick to the plan.
A wise word to the fellas out there also – If you’re dating a wonderful chick that is a strain on your pocket….you sir need to “pack your bags and GO!!!.” Any woman that is a strain on your pocket can’t be the right one for you. Ever heard the saying “Act your wage”, well in this case, “Date your wage”…and I’m serious, don’t go dating a woman who is a strain on your pocket. While she is saving her last to acquire her own house, car and start her business, you are out there moving heaven and earth to buy her the nicer things and you can’t tell the last time you bought yourself a suit to wear to work. Don’t be a fool.
So I know you might be doing it for the bomb sex she gives you, but guess what, paying for sex is not what you want. If you want to pay for it, trust me, hit up the strip club, a “massage” parlour or even any of the Urban Hip Strips. “I’ve heard” (never had the need to get such service) that if its bomb sex you want, then it costs a lot less to get if from the most experienced women you can find.
With that said I bid you farewell. Lots of thanks to Gordon for allowing space on his blog to inform you people of how to LIVE while being financially prudent. In all honesty, there is a lot more to be said, and a lot more factors that need to be discussed, but I’m out of writing space. See the pic below of a sample budget. Use it to help plan your way forward
PS: To my ladies, I sincerely apologize for the sexist undertone. I am a man, and as such, I can only budget from a male’s perspective. Additionally, you ladies have “magical” ways of generating additional income, as well as going out and being entertained without spending a dime.