Save money live better. This is one of the key messages aired out to all the young people in the recent Yiiya Sente Forum (a forum to empower people on entrepreneurship) organized by The Vision Group on 13th September 2014 at Freedom City in Kampala. Engineer Dunstan Kisuule, the money saving expert and one of the guest speakers in the forum, emphasized the need for Ugandans, especially the youth, to adopt good saving habits if they are to live a better life. Engineer Dunstan Kisuule focused more on the youth because the future generations will depend more on them. They need to learn to save money early.
I reflected a bit, during his presentation, on the saving habits of Ugandans, including me. Surely, our saving culture is generally poor. Why?
1. Most Ugandans don’t save. They think they don’t have money to save. I have also ever fallen victim to this kind of mindset.
2. Those who save, save money at home in some hidden places. There are various reasons behind this kind of saving behavior. Poor beliefs and ignorance of other money saving options are some of the reasons.
3. There is little sensitization done on the need and how to save money. Low financial literacy levels, even among the educated class, contribute to this poor money saving culture.
4. Too much happiness. Ugandans generally like enjoying life. They spend the little they earn today without thinking about tomorrow. They spend money on luxuries like cars, ladies, gambling, drinking and many others.
Worryingly, they spend money they have not yet earned. In other words, they spend in advance. They are always in debts. But Thomas Jefferson says: “Never spend your money before you have it”.
Why save money?
In the forum, I learnt from Dunstan Kisuule that people save money for three main reasons:
1. To fulfill their dreams.
People worldwide have dreams they want to achieve and for which they have to save money. These vary from person to person. There are small dreams and big dreams as well. Such dreams may include, just to mention but a few, the following:
• Build / buy a house to live in
• Start a business
• Buy a car
• Educate children
• Save money for retirement or old age
• Travel – get out to see the world
• Pursue further education, etc…
People save money to become happy. They want to feel good. Feeling good entails healthy eating and being able to access other basic needs in life.
People save money for emergencies. Life is full of ups and downs. It’s full of surprises and shocking happenings. One has to be prepared to tackle them. One has to anticipate them so that when they happen, one can adapt to them and continue to live well.
Such surprises may include sickness of oneself or family members, loss of a job, etc… People who save money easily cope up in case of any such eventualities.
What save money tips should you embrace in your life?
I made a great mistake in life. I didn’t start to save early. But if you are reading this article and you are still young, my appeal to you is to save money early. Yes, save as early as possible. The following money saving tips will lead you to financial freedom.
1. Learn to save money irrespective of how much you earn.
One of the best practices in financial literacy is the ability to save money. If you earn money and spend it all without any coin saved, you will never develop. To save money, you don’t need to be a big income earner. You can save money even if you earn as little as you can think of. Every youth should embrace a culture of saving. Think saving money to have a brighter future in your life.
The lesson I have learnt from successful entrepreneurs is that they all have saved money. They now have big investments. Saving has a direct relationship with investment. Saving entails forgoing certain things you would love to spend your money on to feel good. It entails learning different ways of how to retain money in your pockets.
2. Avoid luxurious life.
Most youth like to enjoy life. Yes, it’s human to enjoy life. But this should be done cautiously. As already said, spending on luxuries has made it difficult for most people to save money. You have to postpone spending on luxuries and save. When you have accumulated enough assets from which you earn enough money, you may then spend on luxuries.
Jonathan Swift once said that: “A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart”. People who have money in their heart spend it on anything they admire. They spend it on what they want but not on what they need. They spend it on what pleases them at the time and not on what will add value to their life now and in future. They spend it to show others that they have money. But people who have money in their head think in terms of development.
Additionally, Dave Ramsey said that: “You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.” If you don’t control yourself and save now for future developments, you will live in perpetual scarcity of money throughout your life.
Rich people rarely spend money luxuriously. One day, one of the world’s richest men in USA, was asked by a waitress in a certain hotel where he used to go for lunch that: “Why do you give a tip of $20 when your son gives us a tip of $200?” The rich man answered that the reason why his son gave a bigger tip than him (the rich man) was because his son was a son of a rich man but he, himself, was a son of a poor man.
The rich man worked hard to become rich. He knows well the difficult road he walked to riches. He could not spend money luxuriously like his son who found himself born to a rich man. He was spending money of his father, not his own hard-earned money.
When you earn money, avoid spending it like that rich man’s son. One day, you will not have it because you are not a son of a rich man. You have to work for yourself to attain financial freedom. Learn to save money! Don’t be like those people Zig Ziegler talks about when he says that: “The rich people have small TVs and big libraries, and poor people have small libraries and big TVs”.
3. Make it a habit to save a percentage of any money you earn.
To save money effectively, you should have a money saving plan. For instance, on every coin I earn, whether worked for it or donated to me, I save 10%. The rest I spend. I spend it on things like family budget, Offertories in church, donations and happiness. You, too, can adopt your own money saving plan and stick to it.
To effectively fulfill your plan, you need to record your income and expenditure. You can simply do this in your diary. This helps you to achieve your plan. With a plan, you will be able to save money daily, weekly and monthly.
4. Don’t save money at home.
Never be attempted to save money at home. Money saved and kept at home is susceptible to risks like theft. Besides, you also find it easy to use it any time a need arises.
As a matter of principle, when you save money, keep it where you cannot easily access it. There are several money-saving options but for the purpose of this article let me share with you only two of them:
• Open a Savings Account or a Fixed Deposit Account.
Banks nowadays offer tailor-designed savings accounts. It’s highly recommended to open a bank account and to keep your savings there. You can fix some of the saved money to earn a bigger interest on a fixed deposit account.
To avoid withdrawing your saved money from your savings account, I recommend that you do not get an ATM card for that account.
• Join a savings scheme.
For instance, when I was still working with SOS Children’s Villages Uganda, we started a Staff Savings and Welfare Society (WAMU) whose objective is to enable SOS staff to save money to make meaningful investments. We have achieved this and continue to see more individual achievements.
With over UGX 1 billion savings (equivalent to 378,000 dollars), members are able to borrow at affordable rates to invest and develop themselves. The good thing with saving with SACCOs is that as a member you share the interest earned from the loans advanced to members. Your saved money grows year after year.
5. Have a reason for which to save money.
It’s hard to effectively save money if you do not have a reason for saving. If you just save for the sake of it, you will hardly quantify the amount of money you need to achieve something.
For instance, one of my dreams has always been to start my own business and employ myself. I have achieved it. In 2012, I left formal employment to become a boss of my life. What made it possible are the savings I made during my employment. I used the savings to buy land and a plot on which I constructed a residential house. I also bought assets like computers, designing software and printers. I invested in learning designing skills.
With the above assets acquired, I was able to pull out of formal employment to start my own business. I have 6 acres of planted trees and run a small business in Kampala.
I have shared my own example to demonstrate how you, too, can save with a purpose. Without it, you will never achieve anything. You eat up your savings. You spend them haphazardly.
In conclusion, I would like to re-emphasize the need among the youth to save money early so that they can live better in future. If you have additional helpful information, please use the comment section to share with us.