CHENNAI : The dawn of the new year brings hope and optimism for a fresh start. One of the common resolutions for most of us is to decrease impulsive shopping, keep track of expenditure, save money and spend wisely. “I find it so hard to save because the kind of lifestyle I lead, I end up spending so much, so quickly,” rued 23-year-old S Jaya*, who works at a production house in the city.
“I stay away from home so my parents often find it hard to understand the sort of life I lead. The timings are odd, and many times I end up working for very long work hours so I eat from outside most of the time. Then over the weekends, I make it a point to go out and unwind, which is a costly affair again and before I know it, it is the end of the month and I am left with nothing but a begging bowl. I barely save anything and am left wondering where I spent all my money!”
Jaya isn’t alone. The concept of ‘urban poor’ is something that has been talked about and is very relatable for a large number of young, working professionals. CE takes a look at how small changes can go a long way to help young professionals to save more and spend guilt-free in the new year.“Broadly speaking, you can categorise strategies into either trying to improve your spending patterns or your saving patterns,” said financial advisors from ithought financial consulting LLP.
“When it comes to spending, if you’re contemplating whether to buy something or not and you aren’t sure what value it’s going to add, don’t make an impulsive buy. Wait for a couple of days and then, revisit your decision. Also, beware of sales! Enter a sale equipped with a budget and a clear idea of what you need.”Saving is something all working professionals should look at doing a lot more. Often saving takes a backseat because one wants to wait till one has ‘more’ but financial advisors said that no amount is a small figure.
If one has a target amount that one would like to save, one can slowly scale up their savings to meet it. It could even be a Systematic Investment Plan with as little as Rs 1000 a month. A good place to start would be to categorise your expenses and understand where you spend money, said Henna Jain Tatia, co-founder of StuCred which is a real-time student credit platform.
“Excel spreadsheets are a great tool to track expenses. Update it daily and review every week so that you aren’t perplexed at the end of the month. Be aware rather than being idealistic,” she said.
In the new year, she said it makes sense to invest in yourself. “I see this as a very positive trend that is gaining prominence,” Henna said. “It is such a competitive environment that standing out at work is necessary. So, if there is anything that can make you be better and do better at work, it makes for a great investment. Be it a gadget or some time off to rest that will help you at work, that is where you should spend your money this year.”
If excel spreadsheets intimidate you, there are a number of apps available to help with budgeting. Across the board, advisors said that anyone who was looking to track their expenses should make their transactions cashless as this makes it a lot simpler to have a digital record. “I use the Walnut app because it helps me to set a budget for the month and lets me know when I am close to exceeding the limit or if I have exceeded the limit,” said Vidhya L Ved, senior research executive at Acolyte Resource Group. “It makes sense to pay through Google Pay and Amazon Pay as they provide rewards as well.”
She added that people should make simple and smart investment decisions. For instance, being someone who enjoys going out with friends, she paid for a Zomato Gold membership recently. “It helps me because certain places that I frequent are covered by the membership which makes it cheaper. Even when it comes to going out, my friends and I are opting for more low-key comedy gigs over an expensive night out.”
*Name changed on request.
Tips to save more
Save before you spend
If you’re having trouble maintaining a budget, this is the best strategy.
Automate your savings
Save yourself the effort and let your savings run on autopilot.
We tend to allow money to idle in our bank accounts or store loose change at home. Today, there are investment options (for example liquid and low duration funds) that offer almost the same liquidity and better returns than savings accounts and fixed deposits.
*Source: ithought financial consulting LLP