Part 5: Boost Your Savings

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Now you’ve started paying off your debts and are (however slowly) working towards becoming debt-free, your next stop on your journey to Financial Independence are your savings, with the aim to increase these little by little.

Part 5: Boost Your Savings

If you’ve already put together your emergency fund with (the equivalent of $1,000 which we looked at in Part 3, now is a good moment to saving together a second fund: a Three-Months-Expenses fund. As its name suggests, this fund should have enough money in it to cover 3 months’ worth of expenses. See this as a safety net should you ever decide to take an unpaid leave for up to three months or find yourself without a job for a while. In this way you have at least three months covered before you need to replace your income. Calculate how much you need for this fund, then plan how and when to start making contributions.

Another valuable step when looking at your savings more detail, is to work out your savings rate, which is the percentage of your income that you save monthly.

If you have a net (take home) pay of $1,500 and you save $150 every month, your savings rate is 10%.

This is important for two reasons: if you increase your saving rate, you not only save more money, you also need less time to put your Three-Months-Expenses fund together and will need less in your retirement fund as well as any other future savings target, since you manage to live of less.

If you take home $1,500, save $150 and spend the rest each month, you need Three-Months-Living fund for $1,350 x 3 = $4,050. With a monthly saving of $150 it will take you 27 months to get this fund together. If instead you increase your savings to $300 a month, you need just $1,200 x 3 = $ $3,600 in your fund and with $300 a month you save this in only 12 months.

Calculate your savings rate today and find ways to increase this ever so slightly to see the effects of it on your Three-Months-Expenses Fund.

A third task to complete when looking at your savings is to commit to keeping 50% of any extra money that you make. This means that if you get a bonus, extra holiday pay or a reduction in your mortgage payment, that instead of going out to celebrate and spend all the money you just got, you instantly set aside 50% of your money in order to improve your net worth and financial situation: putting it in a savings account, using it to pay off debt, making an extra contribution to your retirement fund or investing it in the stock market. After you’ve done that you’re free to use the remaining money to spend as you like 🙂

Lastly sit down for a moment today and define some of your savings goals, both short-, mid- and long term and determine how much you need for each goal and when you’d like to achieve them by. Examples of short-term savings goals could be a new phone or a holiday in summer: they are usually goals you aim for within the next two years. Mid-term goals take about three to ten years to achieve and might include a downpayment for a new house, planning for future children or buying a new car in cash (i.e. without a loan). Lastly the long-term goals take more than ten years and can include your retirement or saving up for your child’s college fees. Identify a few goals in each of those categories, but know that you don’t have to start working towards all of them at the same time. Some might stay “dormant” for a few years before you’re ready to start saving up for them.

Find some time today to look at the tasks above to complete to keep progressing on your path to Financial Independence!


This post is an adaptation of part 5 of the 10 parts in the guidebook to Financial Independence: 100 Steps to Financial Independence: The Definitive Roadmap to Achieving Your Financial Dreams where you can find more details as well as action plans and guidelines to each of the 10 parts. Available in both ebook and paperback format!

Get your FREE sample of the 100 Steps to Financial Independence Book here

Coming up next: Part 6 of the Journey to Financial Independence: Your Income.

Multiply your savings: A crucial step to attain financial independence

Today I am excited to introduce Patricia Sanders, who wrote the following guest article for 100 Steps Mission:

You can’t be financially independent if there is not enough money in your savings account. Job is not a piece of cake and you won’t get a pay hike several times in a year. A new job can give you a better package but this doesn’t necessarily mean your savings will improve. There are lots of factors to consider. For example, suppose you have to relocate for this new job, which means extra expenses. Unless the paycheck is very high, your savings won’t increase.

When you think about taking up a new job, you should research on the employee benefits minutely. What kind of benefits can you get from the new company? Will you get health insurance benefits, life insurance benefits, and transportation reimbursement? The less you have to spend on these, the more money you can save.

Let’s us discuss the other possible ways to multiply your savings because you can’t be financially independent otherwise.

How to jump-start your savings

You can’t retain your financial independence without improving your savings. You’ll always be dependent on someone for covering your expenses if there isn’t sufficient money in your bank account. If you’re a student, you’ll depend on your parents. If you’re working and don’t have enough savings, you’ll be dependent on credit cards for taking care of your emergency expenses. Recurrent fights over money issues will occur between you and your spouse.

  1. Avoid using credit cards excessively: Instant gratification is not good for your financial health in the long run. You can purchase anything you love with credit cards. But think carefully. If you can’t pay credit card bills later, then you’ll be in debt. Try to pay your bills in cash so that you don’t have to pay additional interest.
  1. Cut down your expenses: Make a list of your monthly expenses and find out how much you’re spending every month. Pick that one expense you can avoid every month. For instance, you can have a cup of tea in your home instead of buying it from outside. Cook a healthy meal at home and have it in your lunch. You’ll save minimum $600 every month. You can use this money to increase your savings.
  1. Love and follow your budget: Your monthly budget helps you track your income and expenses. Don’t ignore it. Make it your goal to stick to our budget every month. Set an amount you have to save every month. Suppose, you decide to save $800 every month. In that case, cut down on any expense that stops you from reaching your saving goal.Don’t cover extra expenses from your savings. You’ll need the fund for your rainy days.
  1. Create an automatic savings account: Do you lack the discipline to save money? It’s quite easy to forget about saving money when there are so many lucrative ways to spend money. The best way to improve your savings is to automate your savings.

How can you do that?

It’s simple. Get a percentage of your paycheck deducted automatically every month and deposit it into your retirement or savings account.

The best part of an automatic savings account is that you don’t need to remember yourself about depositing a specific amount into the account every month. You can save consistently. You’re not losing money. Rather, this money is increasing your savings gradually.

  1. Stop impulsive shopping: Create your shopping list and stick to it. Don’t make irrational decisions when you’re shopping. Don’t get lured by the attractive deals. Don’t purchase things unnecessarily. You’ll see lots of items in the sore. But do you really need everything? Think carefully. Why should you waste your hard-earned money on something that looks good but is not useful?


One of the primary steps you need to take for attaining financial independence is to increase your savings. It doesn’t matter how much you can save. The important thing is that you can save some amount every month. It’s a habit. When you eliminate extra expenses and lead a frugal life, your savings increase automatically. Just don’t misuse the money you save, You can use it to make a down payment on your new house or can use it to help your child cover his/her tuition fees.

Patricia Sanders is a financial writer and a blogger as well. She has been associated with DebtConsolidationCare for a long time. She writes regularly on her personal blog on a variety of topics and she also contributes her valuable posts to different financial communities, blogs and websites too. You can also check out her social media profiles on Facebook and Twitter for more information.

Day 11 / 31 Start a Coins Jar

Day 11: Start a Coins Jar

Day 11: Start a Coins Jar
Day 11: Start a Coins Jar

A fun and effective way to speed up your savings efforts, whether that is for your emergency fund, to pay off debt or for your 3 months living fund, is by starting a coins jar.

Whilst you are unlikely to save up your entire 3 months living fund by just adding some loose change to a jar, every little bit helps and what is more important, each time you contribute something to your jar, you not only reinforce your goal and the fact that you can be in control of your money, it also works as a visual representation of your financial progress. It is always fun to see your money grow and what better way than having a coins jar that fills up a little more each time you add in another coin? Continue reading “Day 11 / 31 Start a Coins Jar”

Day 8 / 31 Learn about Compound Interest

Day 8: Learn about Compound Interest

Day 8: Learn about Compound Interest
Day 8: Learn about Compound Interest

The thing with compound interest is simple: it can either make or break your financial future. That might sound like an exaggeration but it really is that powerful. Today’s challenge is to learn (or refresh your knowledge) about compound interest and see where you have compounding interest affecting your finances positively or negatively.

Compound interest is nothing more than interest over interest over interest. When this happens over any savings or investments you have, this is generally a good thing as it means your capital is growing more each year. Instead of receiving interest over your original amount, you also get interest over any interest you have generated in past years. In this way if you have an investment account with an 8% annual return and an initial starting amount of $10,000 that amount will be worth $46,000 after 20 years. Continue reading “Day 8 / 31 Learn about Compound Interest”

Step 92: Track you progress

Step 92 of the 100 steps mission to financial independence: Track your Progress
Step 92 of the 100 steps mission: Track your Progress

One of the most fun parts of setting goals is seeing yourself getting closer to it with each step that you take. By tracking your progress (and celebrating your victories – something we’ll look at in the next step), becoming financially independent isn’t just a fun end goal, it should can also become a fun journey.

Regardless of your financial goal, whether it is big or small and whether it is a goal for the distant or for the near future, keeping track of how you are doing isn’t just  stimulating and motivating. If you track your progress and keep your tracking somewhere easily accessible and visible, you are also reminded of your goals regularly, which in turn helps you stick to your goal.

Compare the following situations:

  • Situation 1: You decide you want to save $10,000 for a specific goal. The first few days or weeks you feel very motivated and eager to get the money together and you cut out some expenses so you can assign some extra money to your goal. Yet little by little with time you start forgetting about your goal, you stop cutting some of those expenses and within a few weeks you stop putting money aside all together.
  • Situation 2: You decide you want to save $10,000 for a specific goal. You get out a big piece of paper, at the top write: $10,000 for (insert your goal). You decide that for every $10 or $25 you’ll draw a dollar note. You stick the paper in your agenda, on the inside of your bathroom cabinet door or on the fridge. Every time you see the paper you are reminded of your goal and how much you have left to save, which motivates you to take another small step so you can contribute just a little more and draw another dollar note. The more you save, the more motivated you become as you keep seeing the number of dollar note pictures increasing on the paper.

See how different tracking your progress can be in order to actually progress even more and keep up your goal? Tracking isn’t just to see how much you have saved. You can also use this strategy to track how much you have paid off a specific debt. Continue reading “Step 92: Track you progress”

Step 82: Pay Yourself First

Step 82 of the 100 Steps Mission to Financial Independence: Pay yourself first
Step 82: Pay yourself first

“Pay Yourself First”, one of the biggest motto’s in the personal finance world, is a hugely empowering and motivating concept that stimulates you to keep your savings goals at the top of your list. It’s origins are attributed to George Clason’s famous book The Richest Man in Babylon and although the book is nearly a century old, many of its lessons are still extremely valuable today.

I can hear objections already “But I am not a business owner, I can’t pay myself”, or maybe you do own your own company and think: “I need to pay my people first before I can pay myself”. Then yes you are totally right in both cases. But that is not what this concept is about.

Pay yourself first has nothing to do with your salary. It has all to do with priorities. You can be on a regular pay roll and get paid by your boss but still pay yourself first. Or you can be a business owner and pay your employees before anybody else, then pay all your creditors but still pay yourself first.

Pay yourself first has everything to do with setting priorities for your finances. Let’s complete a mental exercise about the road that your money takes every month. It of course starts with pay-day: you receive your paycheck. The first thing that happens even before you receive that money are the taxes taken out of it. Then you receive whatever is left over and probably one of the first things you need to pay are the rent or the mortgage. Then there’s the car your paying off, insurance to pay, utility and food bills and you’re in desperate need for a new coat and of course you’re joining your co-workers for a Friday afternoon drink after work. You likely have some more to add. So the list continues until there’s hardly anything left at the end, right?

So let’s see who’s being paid here then, as it certainly wasn’t you!

  • taxes of course are payments to the state;
  • rent – there’s your landlord getting paid;
  • mortgage – that will be your bank manager getting paid;
  • car payments – another one for your bank manager or car dealer;
  • insurance – the insurance company will have that, thank you very much!
  • water and electricity bills – your utilities companies cashing in
  • a new coat – that’s your shop assistant and retailer getting paid.
  • Friday afternoon drink – the bar owner will happily hold out his hand.

And the list of course goes on and on. So where’s your payment? How do you benefit from the money that you earned? Of course you’re able to buy yourself a shelter over your head with that income by paying off you mortgage or paying rent, but that money is being paid to somebody else. With your pay you are also able to buy food and clothes and security in the form of insurance, but whilst you are purchasing these items, somebody else is also benefiting from you buying these products: they are getting paid by you. The one person who doesn’t seem to be being paid is YOU.

Now it would be ridiculous to say that you shouldn’t buy these items and stop paying other people, as you probably wouldn’t survive very long or have a miserable life living at the margins. That’s why this step isn’t called “Stop paying others”. Our society and economy are based on exchanging goods and services for money and it is a key part to survival, happiness and life. Instead “Pay yourself First” encourages you to – before anything else – pay yourself first before you start giving away your money to others.

Although you might not be able to change so much about the fact that taxes are taken out of your pay first (although of course there are some pension funds that will let you invest tax-free and then you could always consider moving to a lower tax state or country), you can pretty much make sure that as soon as you receive your net pay, that you pay yourself first.

How to pay yourself first? By setting aside money for you – to build a secure financial future, to grow your capital and net worth, to reduce debt and to improve your general financial situation, so that you and your family little by little gain more financial security and freedom. By assigning an amount of money to go to you, you give your future self an income, instead of spending it all and giving it away to others, you make sure that some of it comes back to you later.

This means that instead of having to work indefinitely in order to keep up with all of your creditors every single month, you can at some point stop working and enjoy the money you have set aside for your future self. It means that you have paid yourself forward and secured yourself a future income.

Whenever you get paid, think about how to pay yourself first. Set aside money in a savings account, invest the money in a pension fund, or pay down your debt so that you free yourself of those monthly creditor payments. Don’t allow yourself to come up with excuses like: “I don’t make enough” or “my bills are too high”. Find ways to reduce your expenses, to increase your income and remember that starting small is always better than not starting at all. Even small contributions add up over time, and by starting small you build a habit that when you finally reduce those expenses or increase your income, you can instantly increase contributions.

Step 82 – Pay Yourself First – in detail:

  • Brainstorm a list of how you already pay yourself first. How do you use your money to improve your finances?
    • Pension contributions
    • Savings accounts
    • Investments
    • Debt reduction
    • Saving money for a specific goal to avoid future debt.
  • Look at your overview of your fixed, variable and discretionary expenses, go through the list and identify one by one who you are paying every time you make any of these payments. Go through the full exercise and write down the beneficiary for every single expense. See how many people are being paid over you!
  • Give yourself a score of how well you are doing on a monthly basis out of 10, with 10 being “excellent” and 1 “poor”.
  • Set yourself a target monthly contribution or grading on how much to pay yourself each month.
  • Refer to Step 12 which gives a further breakdown on how to set yourself specific savings goals on a practical level.

Once you become familiar with the “Pay yourself first” concept and start internalizing this more, you’ll discover the true power of this wisdom that will keep you focussed on your mission to financial independence.

Read more about my 100 steps mission to financial independence or simply decide to take control today and join us on our step-by-step quest on how to make your finances work for you, starting with step 1.


Step 80: Your Savings Rate

Step 80 of the 100 steps mission to financial independence: Your Savings Rate
Step 80: Your Savings Rate

Now that you’ve got a bigger picture of your long-term financial goals, it is equally important to identify ways to achieve those goals. Hopefully by now you’ve set yourself some big financial goals to work towards to in the near future. These could range from earning some extra cash, becoming debt-free and paying off your mortgage, to reducing your work hours or retiring early.

Why exactly do so many people still have debt or no financial or pension plan for their future? Ask anybody in your environment and a vast majority will say that they just don’t have enough money to pay off their debt or to throw at their pension fund. They’ll tell you that they might plan to pay off their debt as soon as they get that promotion and accompanying pay raise. But by now you probably know that even when they get that increase in income, they still most likely won’t be using that money to pay off their debt, nor will they tuck it away and use it to invest in their pension. They’ll simply spend it on new things and without them even realizing it, their lifestyle will gradually inflate to a new level.

And are you maybe still telling yourself a version of this story as well?

Let’s think about how you can speed up your savings goals. Simply speaking and as we have already discussed in earlier steps, there are generally two ways to increase your savings:

  • increasing your income
  • decreasing your expenses

The disadvantages of looking at achieving your savings goals in this way however is that it is easy to focus on the finding excuses for not saving more: “I don’t make enough money”, “If only I earned another $1000 a month”, “It’s so much easier for my neighbor, he earns a lot more than me”, or: “I wish I didn’t have a mortgage for 30 years, it’s a big expense each month”, “It’s easy for you to say, I came out of university with a $50,000 debt”, “I have two young children, do you know how expensive they are?”…. And the list goes on and on and on. Continue reading “Step 80: Your Savings Rate”

Step 55: Discuss Finances with your Partner

Step 55 of the 100 steps to financial independence: Discuss Finances with your Partner
Step 55: Discuss Finances with your Partner

I admit that this step should have probably been way earlier on in the list, since if you share your household and finances with your partner, then discussing money matters and making sure you have the same short-term and long-term goals in mind is essential to not only achieving your financial goals but also keeping your relationship healthy and happy. At the end of the day if you are trying to save, invest or grow your capital whilst your partner is more of the “let’s spend it all now” school, you likely both wind up frustrated with each other, meaning both your financial goals and your relationship happiness will take a hit and suffer at some point.

Sad but true: finances and a lack of shared financial goals or financial compatibility are not uncommon reasons for people to end a relationship, so let’s get this sorted once and for all and make sure that you and your partner discuss your individual and joint financial beliefs and goals. You might not have exactly the same ideas about how to spend or save your money, but discussing will at least create more understanding and hopefully pave the way to an agreement that satisfies both and leaves some (financial) room for both to do your own thing.

Of course it might be that your partner is not into finances at all and is happy for you to take control of the (majority) of the money decisions and responsibilities. If that is the case, it might sound easier in the short-term to simply assume that role not inform or even consult your partner, but remember that long-term this might not be in the interest of neither your relationship nor of your finances. Continue reading “Step 55: Discuss Finances with your Partner”

Step 28: Keep 50% of any extra money

Step 28 of the 100 steps mission to financial independence: Keep 50% of any extra money
Step 28: Keep 50% of any extra money

As promised, the next few steps will focus on how to speed up your savings process and reach your savings target faster with some simple ideas. Although the tips and habits will help you to build your living fund faster, they are not meant to be just one-off ideas. If applied over time, they will help you to keep progressing towards new financial targets you have set yourself, even if they have since become other or bigger goals.

The first one of the tips – Keep 50% of any extra money – is an easy one to understand, yet as often is the case when it comes to money, difficult to implement, as it requires you to resist the temptation of instant gratification and instead needs you to focus on the long-term advantages of self-control. Continue reading “Step 28: Keep 50% of any extra money”

Step 26: Open a new savings account

Step 26 of the 100 steps mission to financial independence: Open a New Savings Account
Step 26: Open a New Savings Account

Now that you know all about the power of interest over time, are building (or have built) your emergency fund and have started paying down your debt, we are moving on to a new area of your finances: your savings. In the next few steps we will look at your savings in greater detail, but the first step for today is to open a (new) savings account.

Looking at the title and this introduction you might think can skip this step as you maybe already have a savings account, which you are of course free to do. But opening a new account starts with investigating what’s on the market and I recommend you at least read through this step and potentially still consider opening a new account, as it never kills to have more than one savings account, especially if they don’t involve any costs, and because it can be helpful to have different accounts allocated to different savings goals. Apart from that, it is also a good habit to compare saving accounts from time to time, to make sure you are still getting the best deal. And if you find out you aren’t getting the best conditions possible, it is a good moment to consider changing your savings money to a new account. Continue reading “Step 26: Open a new savings account”