You’ve all heard the financial advice “Pay Yourself First”, more times than you can probably count.
As a money coach, I consider this to be one of the most important financial advices you can follow.
The concept behind it is quite simple: Save some money before you pay any of your bills. In other words, make yourself the most important bill to pay, because if you wait until everyone else is paid, you will never get around to saving money for yourself.
The main challenge with applying this golden rule is that most people feel like they’re not making nearly enough money to save anything. However, in reality, you can always improve your ability to differentiate between your real needs and your wants, and adjust your spending accordingly. If you are able to discover your “Latte Factor”, you will easily free up some funds for saving.
So how do you get your savings on “auto-pilot” mode?
If you have a regular and predictable paycheck, I recommend setting up an automatically recurring transfer on pay day from the main account to a separate savings account. Depending on what you are saving for, you can deposit the funds into a Tax-Free Savings Account or into your RRSPs. A good amount to aim for is 5%-10% of your net salary. For example, if you earn $750/week and you save 10% of it, you would accumulate $3,900 after 1 year! How great is that?
If you are paid on an irregular basis because you are self-employed or commission-based, setting up an automatic transfer will probably be less convenient. However, you can still commit to transferring 5-10% of your earnings every time you get paid.
If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of “depriving” yourself of 5-10% of your salary, I recommend doing it gradually: this month, save 2% of your net income. You will surely not miss 2% of your salary. Next month increase it to 3%, the month after to 4%, until you reach 10%. The adjustment to your lifestyle will be less drastic. The most important step is to actually start the savings process, and not delay it until you get a raise, or until your credit card is paid off, or until you get that promotion.
The best day to start saving is TODAY, because the earlier you start, the more time you give your money to grow and prosper.