The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Save More in 2013

Saving money is a task much easier said than done. Unlike popular beliefs about it, there is more to saving than spending less money.

How much money will you save, where will you put it, and how can you make sure it stays there? These are some of the questions that people often ask themselves.

Here's how to set realistic goals, keep your spending in check, and get the most for your money.

Kill your debt first. Simply calculating how much you spend each month on your debts will illustrate that eliminating debt is the fastest way to free up money. Once the money is freed from your debt payment, it can easily be re-purposed to savings.

Set saving goals. For short-term goals, this is easy. If say, you want to buy a house, first determine how much of a down payment you will need. For long-term goals however, you will need to figure out how investments will help you achieve your goals.

Keep a record of your expenses. What you save falls between two activities and their difference: how much you make and how much you spend. Since you have more control over how much you spend, it's wise to take a critical look at your expenses and trim them.

Reassess your savings goals. Subtract your expenses (the ones you can't live without) from your take-home income. Take a look at what you're saving for and cut the less important things or adjust the time-frame. Maybe you need to put off buying a new car for another year, or maybe you don't really need a big-screen TV that badly.

Make a budget. Once you've managed to balance your earnings with your savings goals and spending, write down a budget so you'll know each paycheck how much you can spend on any given thing or category of things.

Stop using credit cards. Pay for everything with cash or money orders. Don't even use checks. It's easier to overspend when you're pulling from a bank or credit account because chances are you don't know exactly how much is in there.

Open an interest-bearing savings account. It's a lot easier to keep track of your savings if you have them separate from your spending money.

Pay yourself first. Savings should be your priority, so don't just say that you'll save whatever is left over at the end of the month.

Don't get discouraged and don't give up. You may not think you can become wealthy but to become a millionaire is possible if you set up an aggressive savings plan and stick to it. You may be surprised how much money you can put away for something far more enjoyable than what you could buy with short term savings. Good things often take time and the longer you save the more interest you will be making on your savings as well!

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