Save money and live better. It’s one of the critical messages aired out to all the young people in one of the “Yiiya Sente” Forum (a forum to empower people on entrepreneurship) organised 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, emphasised the need for Ugandans, especially the youth, to adopt good saving habits to live a better life. Engineer Dunstan Kisuule focused more on teenagers 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. Admittedly, 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 keep cash at home in some hidden places.
There are various reasons for this saving behaviour. Weak beliefs and ignorance of other money-saving options are some of them.
3. Little sensitisation is 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, etc.
Worryingly, they spend money they have not yet earned. In other words, they expend it in advance. They are always in debt. 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 fulfil their dreams
People worldwide have thoughts 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 goals may include, 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.
#2 – Happiness.
People save money to become happy. They want to feel good. Feeling good entails healthy eating and the ability to access other basic needs in life.
#3 – Emergencies.
People save money for emergencies. Life is full of challenges, surprises and unexpected happenings. One has to be prepared to tackle them. One has to anticipate them so that it’s easy to 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 in case of any such eventualities.
What Save Money Tips Should You Embrace in your Life?
I made a great mistake in life because 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 as soon 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. You will never develop if you make money and spend it all without saving any coin. But you don’t need to be a significant income earner to save money. You can save money even if you earn little. Every youth should embrace a culture of saving. Think about saving money to have a brighter future in your life.
I have learnt from successful entrepreneurs that they all have saved money. They now have significant investments. Saving has a direct relationship with them. Saving entails forgoing certain things you would love to spend your money on to feel good. It involves learning different ways how to retain cash in your pockets.
#2 – Avoid Luxurious Life
Most youth like enjoying life. Yes, it’s human to enjoy life. But you should do this cautiously. As already said, spending on luxuries has made it difficult for most people to save money. Postpone spending on luxuries and save! You can spend on them when you have accumulated enough assets from which you earn enough money.
Jonathan Swift once said: “A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart”. People who have money in their hearts spend it on anything they admire. They spend it on what they want but not on what they need. What pleases them instead of what adds 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 heads think in terms of development.
Additionally, Dave Ramsey said: “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’ll live in the perpetual scarcity of money throughout your life.
He Who Toils to Become Rich Doesn’t Embrace Extravagancy
Wealthy people rarely spend money luxuriously. One day, a waitress in a specific hotel asked one of the wealthiest men in the USA, “Why do you give a tip of $20 when your son gives us a tip of $200?” The rich man answered that his son gave a bigger tip than him (the wealthy guy) because he was a rich man’s son. But he, himself, was a son of a poor man.
This rich man worked hard to become rich. He knows well the steep road he walked to riches. Therefore, he could not spend money luxuriously like his son, who found himself born to a rich man. He was spending money from his father, not his own hard-earned money.
Avoid spending money when you earn it like that rich man’s son because one day, you won’t have it. 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: “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 receive, whether worked for it or donated to me, I save 10%. The rest I spend. I spend it on things like a family budget, Offertories in church, donations and happiness. You, too, can adopt your money-saving plan and stick to it.
Record your income and expenditure to fulfil your plan effectively. You can do this in your diary. It helps you to achieve your dream. With proper planning, you can save money daily, weekly and monthly.
#4 – Don’t Save Money at Home
Never be tempted to save money at home. Money saved and kept at home is susceptible to risks like theft. Besides, it’s easy to use it any time a need arises.
As a matter of principle, keep it where you cannot easily access it. Ugandans are fond of saving money on their mobile phone. That’s like keeping it at home because anytime you spend it. There are several money-saving options, but for 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 recommendable to open a bank account and keep your savings there. You can fix some of the saved money to earn more significant 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.
In Uganda, many organised groups have started Savings and Credit Co-operative Societies, commonly known as SACCOs. You can join a SACCO that best meets your development needs and save money with it.
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 significant investments. We have achieved this and continue to see more individual achievements.
With over UGX 1 billion savings (equivalent to 378,000 dollars), members can 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 purpose for saving. If you save without a goal, 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 business and employ myself. I have achieved it. In 2012, I left formal employment to become the boss of my life. The savings I made during my career made it possible. I used my savings to buy land and a plot on which I constructed a residential house. Secondly, I invested in assets like computers, designing software and a laser engraving system. I also spent in learning
With the above assets I acquired, I managed to pull out of formal employment to start my own business. I have 6 acres of planted trees and run a small laser engraving business in Kampala.
I have shared my example to demonstrate how you can save with a purpose. Without it, you will never achieve anything. You eat up your savings and spend them haphazardly.
As I wind up, I would like to re-emphasise the need among the youth to save money early so that they can live better in future. If you have additional helpful information, please share it with us in the comment section.