Breaking bad habits and making savings habits!
I’ll never forget that look my father gave me. His lips pursed in frustration, eyes aflame, brow creased like a rusted piece of corrugated iron in ridges of displeasure. And that finger, shaking with rage, levelled at me. “No son of mine is going to be a dancer!” My mother, passive but shrewd in her neutrality, new full well that I wouldn’t make it (there is a genetically-proven lack of rhythm in our family) and just smiled quietly. I was saving to pursue my dream career in dance, and saving (no matter what for) was the best habit to get into in her eyes. The argument escalated (in retrospect performing the arabesque to demonstrate my dancing prowess only seemed to aggravate him further), his mouth began foaming like an over-exerted llama as his words transformed into incoherent shrieks…
Needless to say my dancing dream was never realised. Nor was my training as a Steeplejack ever completed or my attempt to make the GB Dressage team in time for the Beijing Olympics. All these setbacks haven’t affected me; indeed they have steeled my character to the next challenge. In the meantime though my savings have grown into a sizeable nest egg, so much so that the last time I acquainted her with the balance it brought a tear to my dear mother’s eye.
You see, saving is a really good habit to get in to. So much these days is made of bad habits, that positive habits quite often go unnoticed or unremarked upon. I am not a good authority on modern dance, but I can give you tips on how to get into that most wonderful of habits: the saving habit.
Before you look to start saving, put your finances under the spotlight. Total up your monthly bills. Do you have an overdraft or credit card? If you do, make paying these off your priority (unless you have a rate of 0% and are disciplined enough to repay before the rate goes up). When you have been through your finances, work out how much you can save. Be realistic about this and only cut your leisure budget or make sacrifices if you think you can honestly stick to it.
Once you know how much you can afford to save, the next thing to think about is the reason you want to save. Usually this will be for:
An emergency fund. This is the first thing you should try to have saved. It can provide a safety net if you are made redundant or another unexpected event puts pressure on your finances. Typically you would aim to save the equivalent of a few months’ salary but this will vary dependent on your circumstances. Take time to think about how much you would ideally like set aside and then aim to save towards that goal.
A big purchase, such as a car, holiday, deposit on a house or private dance tuition with Darcey Bussell. This kind of saving is generally over a shorter term and therefore is easier to motivate yourself for as there is the tangible reward at the end. Here’s an idea: a lot of shops will do “buy now, pay later” offers on big ticket goods such as televisions or sofas. If you have the money saved, keep it saved and use the buy now, pay later. You then pay for the goods at the end of the period, but keep earning the interest on your savings in the meantime!
A future time when you won’t be as prosperous as you are now. This could be to subsidise your income in retirement or to fund your fledgling modern dance career. This type of saving is no less important but can be more difficult to motivate for as the goal might seem less exciting and will take longer to achieve.