Two changes you can make today to fast track your retirement
If you search the phrase “how to save money” on Google, you will likely get well over 4 billion hits. That’s a lot of data to sift through; a whole lot of advice from everyone and their grandma; and similar tips packed differently and in different flavors.
The truth is, you don’t need to abide by a mountain of personal finance advice to start saving and fast-tracking your retirement or increasing your cash flow. There’s so much information out there that you may drown yourself in a pool of advice.
There is a prerequisite to applying money saving tips
I know many of you have heard this statement before: “poverty is a state of mind.” Well, saving money is from the same school of thought.
What most personal finance experts forget to tell you is that saving money is not just about tips and tricks. Saving money to build up your cash is a perspective, an attitude. If you don’t have the right perspective, your knowledge about all the money saving tips in this world won’t help you.
Once you adopt the right approach to saving money, you don’t need to drown yourself in reading money saving tips. You’ll figure out yourself what you need to do to save money. Your research will be more thoughtful and targeted. Instead of searching for “how to save money”, your searches online will be more along the lines of “how to eat healthy at a discount in x area”.
There are two fundamental perspectives that you can start developing today to enable you to have a money saving mentality. With time, you’ll be able to develop even more.
1. Don’t spend more as you make more
Write this down somewhere: do not keep increasing your expenses as your revenues increase. Personally, this is my ultimate principle when it comes to saving money. I said principle because it’s not a money saving tip. It’s a state of mind and one that you should also adopt if you want to save significantly.
Let me explain.
When you earn more money, whether via a job promotion or side gigs, and you also impetuously increase your expenses, just know that your savings is not taking a significant leap forward.
Is it compulsory that you upgrade your car when you get a bump in salary?
Do you really need to move to a more expensive apartment when your earnings increase?
Often, an increase in income reassures us that we can afford more, but it doesn’t help us to logically decide if we really need to spend more at that time.
A personal anecdote
After my undergrad, I started working at an accounting firm. I wasn’t making a killing but, for a first job, I made good enough money to move out of my parents’ place. Unlike many of my friends though, I didn’t immediately move out. This never even crossed my mind.
I didn’t see why I needed to move out of my parents’ place simply because I started earning decent money. For me, it was instead an opportunity to save a lot of money and start off my post college life with a solid foundation.
And that’s exactly what happened. I stayed with my parents and saved more money than I would have, had I moved to my own place.
Occasionally, when I met with some of my college friends, I was always surprised that some complained about their challenge in saving money. Many of them made as much as I did — similar industry — and some even made more than me — i.e., investment banking.
I finally understood that their independence had a steep price. Striking out on your own after undergrad in a metropolitan area is an expensive undertaking.
Recalibrate your brain to save more when you earn more
When your earnings augment, it’s a window for you to quickly increase your savings as well.
You should challenge yourself to maintain your current way of life for some time when you get a promotion. If you make $70,000 a year and with a promotion you start earning $80,000, challenge yourself to a $10,000 additional savings before taxes.
Honestly it is. Unless you have a major life event that requires an unexpected cash outlay, you don’t have to do anything different. You only need to maintain your current way of life and you’ll save money. That’s it. That’s all there is to it.
Even if you have a major life event that requires spending money, you’d be dipping into your savings (hopefully you’ve been saving) and this shouldn’t affect your current objective to save an extra $10,000.
2. Find a second source of income
“Have multiple streams of income”. This is the jingle of many fake gurus on the internet.
Fundamentally though, they have a point. Nothing is guaranteed in this world, especially a job. Regardless of how important you are to a firm, there is zero chance that you will never be let go.
A second source of income then becomes an important investment to consider.
When we talk about a second income source, it doesn’t mean it needs to bring you similar earnings as your primary job or business. No. As long as you’re earning from a different activity, more or less consistently, you have yourself a second income source. You shouldn’t think too hard about this.
How should you find a second income source?
Find an activity that matches your current life rhythm, not the other way around. It shouldn’t be an activity that you need to dedicate a chunk of your time to. Remember, it’s your second income source, not the primary one. If you’re not a risk taker, don’t take the risk and plunge into an adventure that will end up consuming you.
For example, if you are a network engineer and are a pretty good graphics designer as well, instead of simply toying around occasionally with a vector graphics editor as a hobby, try monetizing your skills. You don’t need to be the best at it. There’s probably a market out there that likes your work. Take time to conduct some research and zoom in onto that market and offer your services. The more you do this, the more you’ll hone your skill and can better monetize it.
Anecdote of a friend on side hustling
I have a banker friend who’s a pretty good cook. She enjoys cooking because it’s a stress reliever for her.
Whenever she packed lunch to work or brought some food for a team-building event, her colleagues noticed how good her cooking was. Eventually, they started ordering food from her and referring their network to her. With time, she built a solid customer base within the firm and her inner circle. Although she maintains her bread and butter at the bank, her catering side hustle enables her to save even more money and it also serves as a cushion in case things go south with the bank.
Today, more than ever, it’s important for everyone — especially young people — to have at least a side hustle. The talent pool is so big in most countries that your skills are only as valuable as the next qualified person in line looking to do your job at a discount.
Perhaps the competition is higher today in the side hustle space due to the availability of information, but the opportunities are far bigger. There are so many ways to make an extra income nowadays on a consistent basis. And the internet is a great avenue to market your services and products.
Also, doing something which is different from your primary money-making activity is a great way to learn and expand your mind.
- There are a gazillion money saving techniques, but you don’t need to read them all.
- Instead, adopt a money saving perspective and everything else will follow.
- You should absolutely find a second income source. Initially, choose something that doesn’t complicate your ongoing life pattern.
- When you start earning more, however, try maintaining your current way of life. It’ll give a significant boost to your savings and get you closer to retiring early.