Saving 80,000 in 3 Years
This may seem like a daunting task for the ordinary person with an average salary. In this post, I am going to share with you my experience in saving such an amount within a short space of time. It is not easy I must admit, but it is definitely attainable, and worth it once you start to reap the rewards of all your hard work and effort. So far i have managed to save enough for a deposit on a house, having enough to redecorate and also put towards my retirement account.
Here are the steps I took to realise this goal:
1. I Self-Educated
This is the most important step to begin with! I did a lot of reading on personal finance topics in order to gain a basic level of financial literacy. As most of us know, personal finance is not something taught in school (at the moment), but rather self-taught, and the best lessons come from experience. When I started my journey to wise money management, I had to get my hands on every material on personal finance as I could possibly get. I would sleep late at night, reading and taking notes for implementation. I became a voracious reader, and made it into a daily ritual that has become unbreakable (to some extent).
I remember the first book I read was The legacy Journey by Dave Ramsey. I had come to know about Dave Ramsey through another book I had read earlier on that recommended his material. Being the curious person that I am, I checked his literature out, and loved what I found. In a way, it seems like the universe had panned out my every step to financial literacy, as one positive thing led to another. Falling upon Dave Ramsey’s material was the best thing that has ever happened to me, and my life has changed for the better since then. Not only have I read all his books, I have read, and am still reading other countless material on personal finance that are proving quite beneficial on my journey to wise money management.
One thing I’ve come to understand is that it does not matter how much money you make, what’s important is how much you get to keep with the right management skills. The other important point to note is implementation. Not only must one read, but also one must implement what he learns in order for the process to be fulfilling.
2. I Tracked my Income and Outgoings
In myself-educating pursuits, I learnt the value of budgeting. Though sometimes one might fall off the budgeting bandwagon, tracking your monthly income and expenditure is paramount if you want to succeed with money. I created a simple expense tracker on excel and listed all my income and outgoings on a monthly basis. I was amazed when I figured out how much I was spending on Items I did not need! Tracking my expenses helped me drastically eliminate items that were a waste of my given resources. A good example was the two mobile phone contracts I had, I realised I was wasting at least £80 per month on two contracts, and so I decided to pay off the other and terminate the contract. I sold my second phone and got good money for it, which I put towards my investment account. By doing this, I had freed up £50 per month, which I then allocated towards my savings.
Budgeting helped me take charge of my finances. It opened my eyes to the loopholes in my wallet that needed addressing, thus saving me hundreds per month. I managed to cut down wastage from over a grand to only £300 per month. The advantage I had was living with my parents. I decided to delay moving out of the house until I had saved up a substantial amount of money as a starting point. I helped my parents with the household bills, even though they did not want me to, I insisted because I was exercising responsibility.
3. I Increased my Income
I realised that If was going to make a lot of money within a short space of time, I would need to increase my monthly income, and so I got a part time job. Getting a part time job was a good decision to make for me as it helped boost my yearly income by at least 10,000, which I put towards my savings. Because of my desire to achieve this goal, I was willing to put up with the long hours and adjust my daily schedule accordingly. My routine included waking up at 6am, going to the gym at 7am, starting my main job at 8:30am until 5pm, and then going to my part time after my main job until 11pm or sometimes later than that. I only had a day off every week, apart from the times I requested a full weekend. I understood that I would have to make sacrifices in order to achieve this goal, and I prepared myself for it emotionally, mentally, and physically.
As demanding as my schedule was, I did not break under the pressure. I was careful to eat healthy and keep myself fit. I even took cold showers every morning as a way of building inner fortitude and it worked for me. One thing I learnt is that if one has the desire to achieve something, one is always willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, despite the demands and effort required.
Increasing my income not only helped me save more, but it also helped me pay off the debt I had on my car of over 4,000. Imagine the relief and joy I felt when I made that last call to my car loan provider to have the car paid off in full. I told myself that never again would I get a car loan. Having that loan paid off 2 years early helped me save on accumulating interest and put that extra income towards my savings and investments.
4. I saved and Invested
The material I read on personal finance helped me understand the basics of saving and investing. Not only was I now in a position of saving money, but I also invested the surplus cash I was now getting in my accounts. I took an investment course to expand my knowledge and understanding of finance. This helped me choose the investments I currently hold in my portfolio thereby putting my hard-earned cash to work even harder for me. I had heard a lot of people talk about investing, even though for some it was just empty talk with no substance to show. Some of my friends had a better grasp of the subject, they even knew about what platforms and companies to invest in, and yet they did not follow their own advice. I did not want to be like them, and so I implemented some of their knowledge and got more out of it. By saying this, I am not trying to put anyone down or throw shade, but to highlight the importance of taking action and doing something today that can change your life forever, and not just talking about it.
The subject of investing is quite broad and vast, at times, it can be overwhelming; however, you do not need to know everything in depth, just get to understand the basics first, and the rest will fall in line as you read more about the subject, study it, and implement. A good starting point is opening an investment account first. There are numerous platforms that offer the service; these include Bestinvest, Interactive Investor, Charles Stanley Direct and Hargreaves Lansdown. All you need to do is open an account with them, choose an investment and set up a monthly DD. Investing can start from as little as £1 depending which platform you go for. Some have ready-made portfolios that make it easy for first time investors to get into the market.
When I started, I only afforded £25 per month because I had so many monthly expenses and bank overdrafts. As I started to pay off these debts and cut down on monthly expenditure, I started to have a lot of money left over to save and invest. My savings went from £25 a month to ££500 per month within 10 months, and from there I was now saving at least £1,900 per month. Some months I would save way more, and some months I would save slightly under 1,800. The figures would always fluctuate but I was always saving. I became frugal and focused my mind on saving and investing aggressively. I wrote down my plans and stuck to them no matter the distractions that came to try to detract me.
5. I had fun!
Not only was my focus on saving and investing aggressively, I also made sure I had fun whilst doing so. With the excess I was now making, I mindfully budgeted for fun activities like vacations abroad and in city excursions. With the way I was working, I realised that to avoid total burnout I had to take some quality time off for myself within reasonable budget. I managed to go to places like Thailand, Greece, and Portugal with friends. These moments with your loved ones are priceless experiences that add to life’s fulfilment. On your journey to financial freedom, make sure to give yourself a break and have some fun. Not doing so might cause you to one day negate your goals and impulsively deplete your hard work because of burnout. Have periods where you work hard and save aggressively, and then balance it out with at least two weeks of relaxation and exploring. Deprive yourself for a period, but then also reward yourself afterwards, sensibly.
Amassing that amount of money for the ordinary folk is not easy, but it is definitely achievable, whether it takes you three years or ten years, what matters is that you start from somewhere. It is better to save £1 a day, than to not save at all. If you must crawl, then do so, if you can sprint then go for it, just make sure you start moving, and keep yourself gravitating towards your intended goal. Think of your future and do something today that your future self will thank you for.