Everyone wants more money but don't know where to start. A good place to start is coming to terms with yourself on how much you EARN vs. how much you SPEND so that you can SAVE MONEY. For myself, I've taken this to heart and understand the ins and outs of my money and manage to save 75% of my income so I can be on track to financial freedom.
In this post I will be sharing you a breakdown of my expenses and how I save my money, as well as stay until the end for 3 SIMPLE TIPS that will change the way you see money so you can start saving more.
Breakdown of SAVINGS vs. SPENDINGS
Spoiler alert, I won't be sharing the exact $ per se, as I believe everyone's financial journey is different and I'm not here to flex or anything. However, I do want to provide you with details on exactly where my money goes every month, so the following should still provide a useful reference.
Note that I will be only be referring to my take home pay from my 9-5 job, which I work full-time as a Tax Manager at a Big 4 Accounting firm. I would say I make a comfortable 6 figure salary but I'm definitely not making multiple 6 figures, so keep that in mind as I jump into my budget!
As mentioned, you can see I "save" 75% of my income (I will discuss more on how I allocate my savings) while my expenses are only 25%. I split my spendings into three main buckets.
Expense #1:The first is the monthly fixed cost related to housing, which includes mortgage interest, strata fees, home insurance, electricity, and internet. You may be surprised as to how small of my monthly expense is related to housing since, usually, it is the largest expense for most people. I will let you in on a couple of secrets.
First, I was able to negotiate an extremely low mortgage interest rate when I bought my home at the beginning of the Pandemic when prime interest rates hit an all time low. My mortgage rate is 1.34%!
Second, you might have noticed I haven't included the principal payments of the mortgage as my "monthly expense." This is because I see the principal payments as SAVINGS since it is money I will get back if I end up selling the home (if sold at or above purchase price) and the home equity I build.
Third, I'm actually "house hacking" as my sister moved in with me and is using my second bedroom. She is pitching in monthly, as she is working as a full-time lawyer, which helps with the mortgage! I haven't included this as "rental income" since I would see it more as splitting the costs with a roommate.
Expense #2: You might be wondering what this "allowance" relates to but it is not for myself! In Korean culture, it is normal to provide your parents with monthly spending money or "allowance" as a small "thank you" gesture. This is an amount that I can comfortably pay as well as feel happy about supporting. I've considered this amount also as a fixed monthly spending for the past 7 years since I've started working!
Expense #3: All other expenses that don't have set fixed cost every month all gets lumped into the category of Personal Spending. While I set a overall budget of how much I want to spend each month for Personal Spending, the expenses within this category can vary greatly from month to month. Let me jump into a bit more details below.
PERSONAL SPENDING BREAKDOWN (16% of My Income)
Over the course of the past year, I had spent my money on the following areas: grocery, health, miscellaneous, eating out, beauty, shopping, transportation, and subscriptions. While I have an overall set budget to spend $X amount on Personal Spending, how much I spend on each area may be very different and I like having this flexibility. For example, one month I may spend more on beauty and shopping, while other months it may be zero.
For the past year, I was able to keep Personal Spending to a minimum due to the Pandemic, which limited everyone in terms of traveling, dining out, and doing recreational activities (all the expense items!). One thing I learned during the past year in quarantine is that I'm content with less things. I enjoy cooking and actually prefer eating home cooked meals. I also enjoy activities that don't cost anything, like taking walks, hiking, working out at home, and reading. Though, one thing I can't give up is traveling, which I'm very much looking forward to and have already started budgeting for~!
Other personal spending areas that I prioritized is health, as I tend to spend money on supplements, workout apps, as well as physio/message treatments (the unreimbursed part of my health insurance). Beauty and shopping is minimal since I only buy things like face lotion when I absolutely run out and I don't remember the last time I bought new make up or clothes. For transportation, sometimes I take Uber and/or public transportation, but most of the time I walk as all amenities are close by. The only subscription I have is Amazon Prime and my phone bill (which is partially reimbursed by the firm). As for miscellaneous, there are always those random purchases that you somehow realize that you need and is different every month.
SAVINGS BREAKDOWN (75% of My Income)
You are probably wondering what I do with the money I do end up saving. I don't just keep it in cash, since then your money won't be working for you! You also want to factoring in extremely low savings interest rate and inflation, which means you will be losing money just by having it sit in your bank account. Here is how I split up my savings:
So you will see that a big portion of my savings goes into my emergency fund. I realized that I have too much cash tied up in investments that is subject to fluctuations and wanted the comfort of having at least three months of expenses set aside.
As mentioned above, I consider mortgage principal payments as building up my home equity and money I will be getting back when I sell the home, so I see it as part of my savings. The rest is split across my Pension Funds, Speculative Investment (ie. options and crypto), as well as Self-Development. I see self-development as investing in myself and learning skills that I will eventually see a return in the future.
3 Simple TIPS for SAVING MORE MONEY
Now that I've given you a run through how I budget monthly, let me tell you how I am able to SAVE with the following 3 SIMPLE TIPS:
Tip #1: Mindset
Pay yourself first. Don't pay all the bills and hope to save afterwards. Be discipline set aside your budgeted savings goal and then work with the rest.
Understand what you NEED vs. WANT. If you want to start saving money seriously, you need to be conscious every time you spend money. There is no need to be an extreme minimalist and it's healthy to treat yourself once in a while, but not to spend beyond your means. Don't buy things to validate yourself or to impress others. If you feel confident in who you are, what you have achieved, and who you ultimately want to become - you will realize material things are just distractions. I will invest in myself now for a better tomorrow.
Tip #2: Habits
Budget and analyze your expenses. I like to download my credit card statements and go through every single item to understand where my money went that month. This is the only way you can truly understand your spending habits, cut down on expenses, and learn to be more conscious of your spending next month.
Understand your net worth. I keep a tally of where my assets and liabilities are at all times.
Don't buy on impulse. Before I buy anything, I first question myself if it's something I really need or want. I will also put it in my shopping cart to think about it a couple of days. If I can justify buying it and know it's something I will use EVERYDAY (not just once in a while) than I will make the purchase.
Learn about MONEY and how to GROW WEALTH. I like to read books and educate myself on what to do with my money, as saving is just a part of the journey
Tip #3: Buy Assets that Generate Wealth
Spending your money on assets, rather than material things, actually help you save even more. If you save up for a down payment on a home, the monthly mortgage tends to be cheaper than renting. Also, you will be able to build your home equity AND see your home appreciate in value over time. If you are also able to save up for a rental property, you will also see cash flow in from rental income.
Buying other assets such as stocks will provide you with dividends in the short run and increase in value over the long run.
Investing in your self-development will help you build skills to increase your marketability and, ultimately, increase the income you make through your current job or through starting a business.
Build assets with your time, then buy time with your assets
The goal isn't to be frugal and save money your entire life. It's to put in the work and sacrifice now to build a foundation of wealth generating assets. After enough repetitions, the plan is to have enough income generated that you are able to financially independent. With the new found freedom, you would be able to spend time on activities you value most, which I believe is the greatest asset of all time.