The savings edition: Saving when you’re living on a shoestring budget
22 March 2016
After graduating from university, the world feels like your oyster. An oyster that, unfortunately, can leave a bad taste in your mouth when you realise you have to deal with money – or a lack thereof – because of a less-than-desirable entry-level salary.
Here are the facts: you can, and really should, save money from day one, even on a low income. While it’s difficult to control the amount of money that comes in, you have far more power over what goes out. The temptations to spend will be everywhere, and unless you are content to survive on instant noodles living salary-to-salary, you’re going to have to set up a plan that will make your money go further.
When you have a small income – and perhaps even a student loan weighing you down – saving for emergencies or longer-term needs (such as retirement), tend to take a backseat. Establishing a specific set of long-term savings goals will help you direct your money where it matters most, and will also provide purpose and fulfillment to your savings efforts.
Take control of your finances with the tips below, to ensure you reach your long-term financial goals:
1 – Budgeting
In order to save for the long-term on a low income, you will have to take control of your finances. The best way to do this is with a budget. The first three steps include being aware of how much you are spending, evaluating your outlay, and setting goals with the future in mind – then tracking your spending on a regular basis so you don’t deviate from the plan. It is important to do a financial clean-up. Cancel unused subscriptions and make sure the contracts you have are the best available. Be sure to organise all your bills and receipts and check your statements regularly – this will help you keep track of your spending record. Always estimate low for income, and high for expenses. With your budget in place, it will be far easier to establish smart money habits. There are a lot of amazing budget templates online, such as this one . It is also a great idea to download an app to help track how much you spend. Who knows, there may be a spending blind spot that you are completely missing, which could save you a lot of money!
2 – Update your banking solutions
It is important that as you make the transition from student to full-time employee, your banking solutions are updated to mirror your changing needs. This is crucial because the right account will assist you with everything from your bill repayments, to expense tracking (so that you’re not liable for any late charges), and even larger savings on your transactions. Visit our list of transactional accounts here to find one that suits you best. If you are an existing Absa customer, you can call us on 0860 100 372 or visit one of our friendly staff at your nearest Absa branch.
3 – Investing for the future
If you want to create an investment portfolio that suits your needs and investment goals, ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) are one of the easiest ways to save for the long-term. Like a unit trust, your money is pooled so that it goes further. You are essentially buying a portfolio of securities – which lowers the risk – and you choose the index, sector or commodity you want to track.
4 – Sweat the small stuff
Every rand you waste is a rand you can’t save for your future. It’s important to separate your needs from your wants. Plan your shopping so that you’re buying your groceries on a full tummy, and allocate money so that you shop smart, like taking advantage of loyalty programmes. Restrict yourself from overspending as well. Organisation and diligence is key – buy second-hand goods, take a packed lunch, do all your errands at once to save petrol, and unplug your electronics when not using them. A little really does go a long way.
A unit trust is one of the easiest ways to invest for the long-term. This is a collective investment scheme – meaning that a number of people pool their money in a fund, which then allows brokers to buy and sell quality-listed shares, cash or bonds on your behalf. A unit trust reduces your risk of investing in the stock market by combining your savings with thousands of others’, and then distributing the money across a variety of shares or diverse types of investments. Don’t worry – all your investment will be actively managed by an investment professional, so even if you have no idea what all this means, your money will be in good hands. In order to invest, you will either need a monthly debit order of R100, or a lump sum of R1 000 or more. For more information about investing in a unit trust from Absa, click here.
Disclaimer: The advice contained on this blog is for general purposes only and does not take into account individual circumstances, objectives or financial needs. Accordingly, readers are advised to seek appropriate advice from licensed professionals prior to making any investment, or taking up a financial product or service.