The Keys to Saving Wisely

“Take a better stand. Put money in my mom’s hand. Get my daughter this college plan, so she don’t need no man.”
~ Biggie

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My uncle was a man I greatly respected. My uncle was in fact a self-made multi-millionaire ten times over. You may ask yourself how he got there, and what is his story. Like most millionaires, he was an investor, and he invested his money so that his money would earn money for him. That was his job – his job was managing his investments, and not punching a clock. I remember his living room was filled with financial statements from companies of all kinds, and with prospectuses pilling up to the ceiling. Yes, much like Warren Buffet, he had to know the company inside and out before he would send any money that way.

This article does not cover how to invest your money, that I will leave to others that are more proficient in that arena. This article will cover how to save money, as my uncle also “grew” his money, by saving money. When one thinks of a millionaire, he thinks of jet planes, and fancy cars, but quite honestly my uncle did not own a car, nor did he live in a mansion; he lived in a rent-controlled apartment on Park Avenue. He would walk from place to place, and for a very heavy-set guy, this was a challenge, but alas, he did it to save the hard-earned money.

Key word being hard-earned.

Enough said, here are some general tips and tricks on how to save those pennies so that they pile up high:

1. Tax planning:

We have countless articles on how to save money, here is one that is growing in popularity this year due to the tax law changes:

Contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA) – this is a great account for many reasons – you may open the door to new deductions you were not entitled to before.

By contributing to this account, you are deducting out-of-pocket health care costs you would not be able to deduct otherwise, as the tax law makes medical expenses difficult to claim due to all the limitations that are involved.

2. Budgeting:

See our previous article found here on how to succeed in any business, part 2. This may seem like an obvious way to save on spending, but you would be surprised how many people do not budget their finances and are simply “winging it” each month. They are later surprised as to why they can never get out of debt or are left scrambling for cash each and every month. Many people simply live beyond their financial means, that is plain and simple, and let alone, do not live within a budget. They have a hard time saying no to themselves and lack discipline. If you go into any store, be it grocery or clothing, or even gas at the pump, and you do not know how much you will come out having spent at the end of the trip, you are doing something wrong. You should know or have a very close approximation of what you are willing and able to spend on each shopping trip. Make sure you give yourself a range next time you go, say to yourself what  your target is for this shopping trip, after you analyze the amount you “need” to spend, and make sure you meet those expectations. Learn to live without everything you “want”, you are not a child any longer. When you get to a store, you should have a list of items you are going to buy, and many do that, but many also lack to have the amount that this will cost.

When I go to do my food shopping, I bring a list of all the food items my family and I “need” for the week, and the expected cost, based on the previous prices I have paid. It takes one phone call to pull up my BJ’s card purchase history and have the log data emailed to me directly. From there I can better plan. When I get to the actual shopping trip, I know that I will be spending $100 -$130 for the weekly supply of food, and not a penny more.

3. Cost analysis:

What good is a budget if you do not review your monthly spending, at the very least on a quarterly basis? Today with all the technology we have available to our fingertips, it is almost a sin not to review your monthly spending in under an hour worth of time. Everything is exportable to Excel or to another number-processing software. You should review your costs and attempt to challenge yourself and your family to find new and creative ways to save. Make it a family exercise so that your kids are involved. This will help you develop the children and give them skills they will have for the rest of their lives. You will also be giving them something the school system does not teach, a financial education on budgeting and analysis.

4. Don’t impulse buy:

But mommy I want that…do you remember that tantrum you used to throw at the store when you didn’t get what you “wanted” at a random routine trip to the super market? Well things might have changed, but many have stayed the same, the only difference is they no longer fit into a car seat, but unfortunately are at the driver seat. Yes, you, are still a big baby, and you need to grow up and understand the basic “needs” vs. “wants” taught in every single marketing 101 class.

Do what I do, say to yourself, do I really “need” this, or do I “want” it? If the voice inside that head of yours says I want it, you can live without it and walk away. You will thank me in the end, when you have more money in your wallet at the end of the month, and you do not feel like you are gasping for air due to all the financial restraints you have put yourself into. You will actually have more space in your home without all the useless junk you bought. I am surprised to see how people impulse buy at the mall. I think I am the only sane person there that simply goes to see other people, to look at items, and have a healthy walk….why is it necessary to go to the mall to spend? It is a very nice place to simply be.

5. Spending to save:

This is an old trick, but I thought I would mention it again. If your credit allows for it, do use a card that rewards you for spending with it. This can be a double-edged sword, so tread carefully here. If the card is not paid out in time, you can potentially end up spending more on interest vs. what you have saved in receiving rewards.

Look for the best deal or use coupons to save. Be careful, many of these may have you believe you are saving by buying, but many times you would need to buy items you do not really need or may not be the healthiest of choices.

Shop around, and don’t go with the sticker price, or get a brand-new item. Many times, a slightly used floor sample, or the manager’s used item, may be a lot cheaper, and still have that new smell; trust me, it can save you thousands.

6. Buy in bulk or directly from the source – cut out the middle person:

I can remember living in Brooklyn, NY a Costco opened by the highway. It took a good 45 minutes to commute there for us, and there was never any parking in the parking lot. This was a full day trip. Today, in most cities, you are in and you are out in no time, and there are many bulk shippers and stores you can frequent. You will not only save by buying from there, but you will also get rewards of all sorts, from cash back, to very inexpensive fuel for your vehicle.

I also recommend buying directly from the farm for certain food products and I also recommend, if space allows for it, to purchase a separate freezer to save yourself time and trips for food shopping. Time is money, and if I saved you time with this idea, I have potentially pout money in your pocket. If you do not use your new-found spare time to earn money, fine, at least I saved you the fuel, which equates to money saved one way or the other. I buy my meat in huge bulk, and store it in my freezer, hence saving myself not only the trips, the time and money, but also the hassle of having larger purchases each time I shop. Be wary of food price changes, and hopefully if you are buying in stores like Costco or BJ’s, the price fluctuation is not great if any, unlike the local grocers and shopping centers.

7. Pack a lunch to work:

Ever since my days in corporate America, there were two sides to the playing field, those that packed a lunch to work, and those that took a lunch at work. Now, unless you work for an employer that offers one cheap meal at the employer’s own discounted cafeteria, there is no way you should be eating out each day you are at work.
According to Fox News money saving guru, Clark Howard,
“At $20 per week, that’s $80 per month. Invested into a Roth IRA each month for 30 years at 8%, that adds up to nearly $110,000. Think about it: You could buy yourself a brand new Tesla!”

8. Stop eating out:

I don’t know about you, as a teenager, I worked in the food prep room of a restaurant. That alone was enough for me to never consider eating out again. Forget for a second how expensive it is, the food could simply be dirty, and the person prepping it may be handling your food with dirty hands. But on to the subject, yes, eating out is very expensive, and on average, a half-decent meal for a couple of people is at the least anywhere from $40 – $100. You can easily feed a family of four for an entire week with this kind of spending. Eating out should be done on occasion, you know, so that it is special/memorable, not twice a week because you are bored and can not find anything else to do with your time.

9. Be consistent with your approach:

No matter what, we will always have unexpected costs that we did not plan for, be it a broken-down vehicle, or an unexpected trip we had to take. But for those things you can control, don’t just get inspired from this article and make some changes here and there and stop after a month. Keep working on saving, it is a skill that is just like any skill, and it will take time to learn, adjust, and make more of routine as opposed to a one-time experiment you took up and ultimately failed at.

10. Invest the money you have saved:

You might be asking, how does investing save me money and cut my costs? Well, by investing your savings, you are making your money earn money and therefore work for you in the future. By having this additional money, you will not have to earn it in the future, hence you are cutting your future costs or increasing your spending potential!

To speak with us about tax planning opportunities, 2018 changes to tax law, or earn about money saving ideas, contact our office or simply call 904-330-1200 to arrange for a specialized tax advice.

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