How To Save More: Make Plans - Literally

How To Save More: Make Plans - Literally. It's not unusual to get overwhelmed with the things we need to do or want to accomplish. Unfortunately, as the tools for productivity and convenience have increased, so too have the expectations and pace of our lives.  However, sometimes the answer isn't to do more; but instead to stop and reflect. The same is true for our finances. Saving and investing both need some thinking and planning to achieve maximum effect.
I guess I should start by saying I'm a very organized person in most things. Before I do anything I usually break it down into small steps. And I consistently try to find the most efficient way to get things done.

And to do that I usually make some sort of plan - most of the time as simple as a list of tasks and when the best time to do them would be.

I've accepted that I'm just a little nuts that way and that's actually not the norm. But I've come to realize how much planning is undervalued - or at least under-practiced - in our daily lives. So in this article, I'd like to suggest some ways where making a plan can really help us.

Plan your shopping - as mentioned before, planning your trips and what to buy are two of the simplest but most effective way to bring down your grocery bills.

Plan weekly meals - Am I sounding a bit loopy now? But this is actually more practical than it sounds. If you have an idea what you'll be cooking for this week, you can have a more effective and efficient grocery list. You can buy what you need, and make sure you consume them all and not have to throw out vegetables or other foodstuff with quick expiry dates.

Plan (and combine) travel or errands - With the way traffic is these days, no one wants to go out more than once a day - and that includes the trip to and from the office. If you take the time to think about the things you need to accomplish in the week ahead, you can find the most comfortable way of doing them and save time, effort, and/or money (gas/fare) along the way. It could be combining them all in one day and free up the rest of your week. Or doing them one at a time, and not disrupt your usual routine.

Plan to buy what you want (in a responsible way) - Planning your wish list can help you avoid choosing between taking on debt, spending too much or not saving.

How? Make a realistic list of all the things you pay every month: rent, utility bills, food, transpo, and also factor in amounts for your emergency fund and savings (remember: a part of what you earn is yours to keep). What's left is what is termed as "discretionary income" - money you can spend on anything without affecting your ability to pay bills or lowering your lifestyle. If what you want is within that range, go ahead. If not, it's best to wait and save until it is. You might think you can use a credit card. You can, but that option is usually the more expensive option.

Plan to have fun - I know, it sounds pathetic. But has it ever happened to you that you couldn't go out  because you had no more money to do so? Having a fun fund can actually help make sure you have the funds to go out and have fun.

Plan your investments - After you've been exposed to personal finance, a lot of investments can look very enticing. And it can be easy to lose sight of the reason you started investing in the first place.

It's best to make a written plan stating your investment objective and which investment you chose to achieve that goal. Some pros and cons or reasons why that investment was chosen would be great too.

Whenever a new opportunity comes up, analyze it according to your plan. And if it's better than what you originally chose (using the reasons and pros & cons) then go ahead and switch. If not, then maybe it just sounds good but really isn't for you.

Plus, investment plans can help you not over-stretch yourself. Diversification is protection, but over-diversification will just limit your potential earnings.

Hopefully, this article helped you see how planning can help you save some money.

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  1. Not much of a planner. Hahaha.. I do plan sometimes. Maybe thats why im not maximizing my investment potential. Gotta stop and reflect.

  2. Woohoo! Glad to meet another planning obsessed person:p

    1. I know right!? One time I got stuck with planning our barkada's vacation, so naturally I cam up with a complete itinerary including time estimates of everything.

      Needless to say I was met with stares, head scratches, and some good-natured ribbing... So apparently that's not how vacations are done:)

    2. When I went to the US a few years ago, I derived so much pleasure from scouting for cheap domestic flights and then coming up with an itinerary which I sent to my US-based cousins for their reference.

      Then I made another plan on how to pay off my US expenses.

      Vacations are fun, but the anticipation is sometimes way better:p

  3. I have a planner and I always have it with me. IT HELPS LIKE A LOT! :o I'm not obsessed with planning though ;) but it does help! I wake up early every morning, and plan for 5-10mins tops for the day :D or even the week, depends :)

    1. Hi Darren! Good point. It doesn't have to take a long time. Like you said, 5-10 minutes can be enough. A small amount of time can make a big difference already.