Save Your Way to Wealth (But Don’t Forget To Live)

canstockphoto21503128You can learn how to save your way to wealth and still enjoy life in the process. Nobody is born with an understanding of budgeting, investing, or even money itself, and we all learn at our own pace how to best handle our finances. Everybody knows that it is important to save money, but few people successfully save enough money to develop a sense of financial security. This is due to a lack of understanding about how to approach personal finance. With a few basic rules to guide you, you can dramatically improve your savings and start building your net worth.

The first principle of personal finance is to keep track of your incoming and outgoing money. To be aware of your money is to spend it wisely. How will you improve your spending and saving habits if you don’t even pay attention to how you use your cash?

A simple way to practice this principle in the real world is to track all your expenditures for a week. Every dollar you spend must be written down. After a week, add up the costs of various spending categories like food or travel. This will help you see areas for improvement, such as cutting down on fast food spending or reducing how many miles you drive per week.

Another important rule of thumb is to save at least 10% of your paycheck in a long-term savings account. This isn’t money that you save to buy something with, like saving up for a TV. This savings account, or investment portfolio, is your retirement fund. Many families, even those with healthy incomes, have little or no savings put away for retirement. If you want to be able to retire with dignity, you will need to start saving as early in your life as you can.

At first, saving 10% of your paycheck may sound impossible with all of the living expenses and bills you need to pay. It is reasonable to start with five percent going towards savings. Aim to increase this amount to 10% over the course of a year, or with your next pay increase. Remember that this is money you are paying to your future self, with interest. Consider the opinion of financial thought leaders like VTA Publications CEO Jim Hunt, who advocates self-discipline as a crucial habit for success. Use the habit of self-discipline to put away that money into savings and never touch it again.

The final principle is to put aside another five to ten percent of your income for purely recreational spending. Don’t forget to live your life today in addition to keeping an eye on the future. Most of us already spend at least 10% of our income on some form of recreation, so this is more of a reminder than a hard and fast rule. No matter how frugal you get, be sure to enjoy yourself and reap a few rewards for all of your hard work.