There is no doubt that times are hard in Nigeria, however, it is often said that “tough times do not last but tough people do.” One area that Nigerians need to tough it out is in the area of savings.
There is virtue in cultivating a saving habit. A good reason for saving is to prevent having regrets in the future. When we save, we bask in the extra comfort and feeling of accomplishment that comes with the process and results of saving. The result of saving is the increased freedom to live well in the future. The only sure road to a comfortable retirement is through savings, and regular savings is the key to building wealth.
Irrespective of the virtues in saving, I can hear someone say, “I cannot make ends meet, so how can I save?” Agreed, it is difficult to save in hard times, but failing to do so prolongs or transfers such hard times to your future. So, here are a few tips that can help you save, even in the hardest of times.
Saving requires some financial discipline. Saving money is like weight loss or weight control; they both take discipline and depend on your attitude. The key to success in saving is to see it as a game of self-control where you make prudent choices even when you are faced with multitudes of daily temptations to derail the process.
Focus your thoughts on the benefits
In both saving and weight control, those who succeed concentrate their thoughts on the benefits, not the tough choices that need to be made. Just like weight watchers take pleasure in being in shape, looking their best, being in good health, and receiving compliments about their looks, savers should take pleasure in the fact that the process would lead to a financially secure future.
Skip or stop impulsive buying
One of the main secrets to saving is guarding against buying based on impulses. Impulse buying is the purchase of things without planning. When you go shopping, make a list even before leaving your house. Do not make the list without taking inventory of what you have and what you don’t have. We have come back from shopping on many occasions only to discover that we already have some of the items we just bought. Making a list prior to going shopping helps you stay focused on what you do with your money. When you go shopping, practise the concept of “double positives” which is a situation where you do not buy anything unless you and your spouse say yes to it.
Frequently analyze your expenses
Go over your expenses every month or two and find out if each expenditure provided you with equal value for money. Ask yourself if all the expenditures were equally worthwhile. Find out those expenses that you could have successfully and happily substituted with less expensive alternatives, and those that you could have had as much fun and happiness without; then cut them out and save the money instead.
Stop the habit of showing off
The average Nigerian is egotistic, and we like to show off even if it impacts our savings account. This is even more now when you can light up the internet or social media with a picture of yourself in one expensive item or another. You do not always have to be like the Joneses or the crème de la crème. Cut off those luxuries and save the money instead.
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Keep a record of all your expenses
By keeping a record of all your expenses, you might find out that you do not need some of the items you are buying. Weed out those items you do not need and save the money instead.
Think in terms of opportunity cost
In order to cultivate a savings habit, think about every Naira you spend in terms of the amount it could grow into by the time you retire. Benjamin Franklin once said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”