Friday, April 26th, 2019
It's tough to read story after story about Canadians doing big things with their money, like paying off $50,000 of student loans, or saving a $200,000 down payment for a house in Toronto or Vancouver.
With that income, it doesn't seem like it's possible to put money in the bank. But it is possible to save on a lower income without eating pasta every day or walking everywhere.
I know, because I did it on a $30,000 salary, and there were years when I was either working for non-profits, or doing a combination of free internships, freelancing and bartending, and I still managed to put away 15 per cent of my income.
A person making $30,000 annually is likely to bring home around $2,000 a month after taxes. I automatically transferred 15 per cent, about $300, into a high-interest TFSA every month.
That's money I refused to touch. I pretended it didn't exist.
After that, I had about $1,700 left in my account to live on per month. I built my lifestyle around this figure: $800 for rent and electricity, $250 for food, $80 for phone and internet etc.
It was doable. I had enough money for a place to live, food and going out money, but I couldn't overdo it.
2. Slashed the Big Expenses
Personal finance experts love to blame $5 lattes as the reason you can't save, but that's not it.
If you can slash your big expenses, you can cut hundreds of dollars instead of $5. Rent and cars are likely your biggest expenses.
I was able to get by using public transportation, so it meant I didn't need a car. As for rent, I lived near a transit line away from the downtown core and got roommates. It gave me financial flexibility.
3. Planned for Future Spending
In my monthly budget, I earmarked $100 for “future spending."
This was for my emergency fund, which I kept separate from my TFSA. I kept it in case of major one-time or annual purchases. I actually had three separate savings accounts, and I nicknamed each one based on what they were for: wedding gifts, moving expenses and a car, which I intend to buy someday.
By planning not only for my long-term savings goals, but also for my shorter-term spending, I was able to save uninterrupted and also enjoy my life without feeling guilty every time I wanted a latte.
If you manage to save $300 a month, you'll end up with $3,600 in just 12 months. If you do the same for two years, you'll have $7,200. By following this plan for three years, you'll have $10,800! In three years, I could have one-third of my annual salary saved.
By saving 15% of my salary every month, I've given myself peace of mind about my financial future without too much short-term pain.