It doesn’t make sense, does it? You spend your days trying so hard to be frugal, you plan your food shopping meticulously and you never … well rarely …. go out. And yet, you find you get to a point each month where your bank balance is still far lower than you need it to be. Far lower than you feel it should be.
I am going to explain over the course of the next 200 or so words why this is the case. Why you don’t have more money than you do. But don’t worry, this isn’t all doom and gloom. There’s help on the way too!
You don’t have a clear target
We’re only human. We all need incentives to do hard work. That’s what wages are, after all. So you need to be really honest with yourself about what you need to save more money for. The reason you’re not left with more money at the end of each month is because the end goal is not clear enough. Why do you want more money? Because life will be easier? WRONG. Not a good enough answer. Can you measure “easier”? Can you touch it? No? So try again. Set an end goal, define what having more money means to you.
Once you’ve thought about why you need more money – and it’s something significant like paying off a debt, buying a car, being able to work less so you can spend more time with your kids or even buying five new pairs of shoes, once you’ve decided on your target, get obsessed with it.
Imagine you’re 15 again, and your target is the person you have a huge HUGE crush on. Its photo is your screen saver on your phone and computer. You’ve photoshopped images of you with that “crush” and posted them up in your house. Every night, you go to bed thinking about what you’re going to do the next day to get one step closer to your “crush”. Do that. Do all of that. (Or do the screen saver thing at least). It will keep you focussed and help you prioritise not spending over spending.
You don’t have a set deadline
To achieve a task is not just to do it. It’s also about doing it within a certain timeframe. If bills didn’t have payment deadlines, would we ever pay them? Er….probably not. Well, paying a bill is just like not spending money. It’s an unpleasant task that none of us wants to do. However, we do it because there’s a deadline. To miss that deadline means failing, getting in trouble and paying a fine. And paying a fine would take us further away from our saving goal, would it not?
So let’s keep that fine in mind.
Don’t just set a deadline and keep it to yourself. I need you to publicise the deadline you’re setting yourself to save this money. Use Facebook, twitter, whatever. But set a deadline and make people aware of it. Then, as part of that promise, agree to face the consequences if your deadline is not met. And what are the consequences? You have to pay £100 of your precious cash on a challenge of your best mate’s choosing. And if your mate is a good friend, they’ll make it something you really don’t want to do. (That’s the fine I was talking about.)
You’re aiming too high
Let’s be realistic. Unless you win the lottery or had shares in Snapchat, you’re not going to become a millionaire overnight. Also, if your savings target wildly exceeds your disposable income each month then you’re not going to meet your target either are you?
A really common mistake people make when trying to achieve a goal is they make that goal impossible. They set themselves up for failure before they’ve even started.
To set a realistic goal, start by looking at how much money you have each month after your bills. What you can save each month will be a proportion of that. Then look at your bank balances and credit card statements and total up how much you spend each month on absolute non-essential you-don’t-even-think-you’ll-miss-them items. This could be 4 of the 5 coffees you buy each day. This could be your weekly trip to Primark where you come back with two full bags of clothes you never wear. This could be the after work wine which you don’t need because you’re trying to lose weight anyway….. Whatever it is, total up the cost and make that your money savings goal for month one.
Be realistic about what you’re prepared to do and once you notice the difference a few small changes makes to your bank balance, implementing bigger changes will become a whole lot easier. You’ll have a lot more money before you know it!
You haven’t set yourself allowable cheats
You know why fad diets don’t work? They’re far too restricting. They ask you to cut out all the things that taste nice, and make you feel good, and they stop you from eating them forever and ever and ever again. Well that’s hardly a sustainable diet, is it?
Diets that work, and are sustainable for life, are the ones that allow you to treat yourself. To have something which is semi-naughty without the guilt so afterwards you can keep on with the food plan and don’t feel like you’ve failed and need to binge on crisps.
Well, think of money saving in the same way. If you can never buy yourself rewards for good behaviour, then you’re never going to stick to an effective money saving programme, are you?
When deciding upon your end goal, and your deadline to achieve this goal, also set yourself some landmark dates. Perhaps they’re every fortnight. Keep them small but make sure they’re incentives. They simply need to be little treats you can spend money on but you only get them if you’re on track for your end of month target.
Treats could be £20 put aside for another of your spending goals or a massive slice of chocolate cake. Whatever floats your boat.
You’re not having to report your progress to anyone
Diet clubs’ most effective slimming tool is the weekly public weigh-in. You have to turn up and have your weight read out to a room full of strangers. It’s terrifying. And you feel awful when you haven’t lost weight.
On the other hand, when you have, you’re applauded. Your achievements are celebrated. It’s amazing.
But without that public display of your progress, you wouldn’t be incentivised to lose weight. And that’s about pride and shame.
The same kind of applies for people that commit to achieving huge physical and sporting achievements for charity. Of course, 95% of the incentive for going through with the training and the challenge itself is to raise money for a good cause, but the remaining 5% is down to the fact that a lot of people know they’re doing that challenge and they don’t want to be seen to fail.
So when you start a money saving goal and you don’t report your progress to anyone, how can you expect to stick to it?
Don’t just tell your mum or your mate what you plan to save. They love you. They’ll understand if you fail. Strangers on the other hand….they’re judgemental. They can be really cruel.
You need to commit to a group of strangers to save money and meet your financial goal. Where do you find these strangers? On Feast Style Thrive’s Facebook page, of course. From Monday 6th March 2017, the page will run a weekly money saving weigh-in where anyone looking to achieve a financial goal can report their target and their progress. We’re nice, we won’t be cruel but we will give a hell of a lot of praise to those who are succeeding (and a lot of support and encouragement to those who aren’t).
So what are you waiting for? Stick to those goals and come join us on Facebook to share your progress! The pathway to more money is here!