Do you wish that you had the funds to start building a financial nest egg to make your future more secure? Do you hear people talk about investing and think, “Sure, maybe in a few years time…”? For many people who are struggling to make ends meet, the notion of “building wealth” seems impossible. But in reality, there are lots of ways to start saving so that your money works for you, even when you earn very little. So start planning and saving, no matter what the size of your pay cheque.

Save, no matter how little

Whether you drop every R5 you get in change into a jar on top of the fridge or open a savings account and put in R200 every month, make savings a part of your personal culture.

Shop around

You’d be amazed at how much you can save by making sure you buy where your essentials are cheapest. Take the time to shop comparatively to get an idea of which store in your area charges the least, and then stick to the cheapest shops.

Shop for the right things, for the right reasons

Only shop when you need to, and only shop for things you need. Make a list and stick to it. Don’t kid yourself that there’s fun to be had in buying things that you don’t really need with money you don’t really have. And don’t buy clothes or gadgets just for status, we all want a nice big TV but do we need it? The answer is no.

Cut your frivolous expenses

This doesn’t mean don’t have fun. It does mean that you should try to skip on the things that don’t add value to your life. And then try to let go of some of the things that hurt a little bit – you’ll soon realise you can live without them. A daily R20 coffee could save you R600 per month.

Set savings goals

Savings become more concrete if they are the building blocks of a future goal. Think of something you really want or need, and keep track of how close you are getting to achieving your target.

Get an early start on your retirement plan

The younger you are when you start saving towards you retirement, the less you will have to save later. If you start putting away R250 per month when you are 25, by the time you reach retirement, you will have R1.5 million. But if you start when you’re 45, you’ll only get to R190 000 by retirement.

Budget

Be aware of money coming in and money going out. Sit down with a calculator, pen and paper or download an app like 22seven or Nedbank’s MyFinancialLife (some of the other banks are still developing their budgeting apps) to track your income and expenses and then look for ways to control spending and cut costs.

Don’t do debt

Debt isn’t just a way to spend money you don’t have; it also costs you a fortune in interest over the years. If, instead of borrowing, you saved, you’d avoid the whole debt cycle and save yourself loads of interest.

Find ways to earn extra income

Everyone could do with a little extra income to help make ends meet. What’s your secret talent? Make it work for you, and earn extra money after hours or on the weekends. Then save it.

Ask for help

Most banks offer you free financial and investment advice, so make an appointment with a consultant. If you don’t want to get bogged down in information, go in with specific questions – such as, “I can afford to invest R500 a month. What’s the best way to go about this?”

Don’t go for broke

If you have money left over at the end of the month, don’t aim to spend it all by payday. Try to adopt the mindset that money isn’t there to be spent, it’s there to be saved. Don’t aim for a zero balance.

Find your comfort point and stay there

When your income increases and you are finally able to afford more of life’s luxuries, don’t immediately start spending more. Rather than displaying wealth, make sure that you have what you need to be comfortable and save the rest.

Seeing is believing

While building wealth involves some changes in your mindset and some uncomfortable sacrifices, take comfort in watching your savings grow. Remember that building wealth is not about working towards a single goal, but rather about developing a lifetime of good habits so that saving always just comes naturally.