Scientists have explained this genetic programme that is ingrained in every single living thing in the world that drives us to procreate to ensure the survival of our species…and one of the things we are programmed to do is find a suitable partner. After all, the family forms the primary economic unit, according to anthropologists.
Yet, after the elaborate wedding ceremonies, and after the honeymoon, we find ourselves taking stock of one of the the basic realities of marriage: our economic pursuits. We need to earn, make money to pay the bills, raise children, buy a house and so on.
It is unfortunate though, that with society placing so much emphasis on an individual’s capacity to earn, it stops short at emphasising the value of frugality. Commercialisation takes over. Digital media bombard us with the latest gadgets that make us automatically reach out for our credit cards, regardless of the cost of these items.
Unfortunately, we are so programmed to want the things we don’t need. And sadly, we are also programmed to be competitive, which translates to our wanting not to be left out with the latest fads and trends. We “have to” keep up with the Joneses! But in the rush of this rat-race we forget about the importance of saving money.
I remember looking at my totally useless (because they’re outdated) gadgets, at the exercise machines that sit rusty from disuse, and wondering where has all my money gone while I have my credit card swiped for my son’s hospital bills because I have no cash!
Parenthood has a way of jolting us out of our follies. Being broke while facing a family emergency could be any parent’s worst nightmare. The amount I earned became irrelevant because I had nothing saved! This was one important lesson I learned, and thankfully, I learned it at the early stages of our family life.
To avert future occurrences of this nightmare, my wife and I have devised a system of saving money, making sure we always have something left for a rainy day.
On the next page, I’d like to share some of the main features of this system with you.
The usual mistake most people make is to allocate their month’s earnings to expenses first, and if ever there’s something left, they save it. Who are we kidding? There always is nothing left! And if ever we get lucky with a little left-over cash, we wantonly spend it on non-essentials to “reward” ourselves for working hard.
What we did instead was for every net income we got, we immediately saved a certain percentage and put it in a separate bank account. Yes, it could make your monthly budget a little tighter than it already is, but we consider “savings” as important as everything else on the budget.
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What do these savings do for you?
1. They make you feel secure knowing that despite and present financial difficulties, you still have something to turn to when things get worse.
2. These savings are like a fire extinguisher. They sit there seemingly useless, but when fire breaks out…
We were so reckless before that what we spent totally depended on how much cash we had on hand. This was so irresponsible!
Now, we have a strict 30-day budget that we follow religiously. When you have a budget, you control your spending. While this sounds quite basic and even simplistic, it is the truth and it works!
30-day advanced allocation
We devised this system to further entrench our 30-day budget plan. When we had enough savings, we took out the exact amount that we needed for our 30-day budget. By doing this, got a sense of empowerment and security, knowing that the day’s expenses were already taken care of, and what we were earning at that moment would be used for the next cycle. This is a 30-day buffer to shield us from any unexpected events that would require upfront cash.
What does it do?
- Makes your spending money sit longer in the bank.
- Gives you 30 days to work on your next cycle of expenses.
- Helps you stick to your budget.
Use accounting tools
There is a lot of useful accounting software (e.g. PeachTree Accounting tool) that could hugely impact the way you manage your personal and business finances. Personally, I use Microsoft Money. It helps me keep track of our finances; stay a step ahead of our bills; gives us a good idea of where our money is going and what percentage we are we spending on what; and it gives us an insight on our future cash positions with its scenario-making feature.
There are many more ways to motivate ourselves to stay on our savings program. Why not share your ideas with us by leaving a comment?