DAILY NATION: Life & Style – Monday, May 14, 2018
The first step to shoring up more money for your goal: figuring out exactly where your current earnings are going, dollar-by-dollar. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH
If you’ve seen a steep decline in your own savings, you’re not alone. Almost half of small-business owners say cash flow concerns keep them up at night, according to a recent Square report. But if you’re looking to launch your own business – or build up funds for another significant goal – here are four actionable tips.
1. Figure out where your money is going – and where you can cut back.
The first step to shoring up more money for your goal: figuring out exactly where your current earnings are going, dollar-by-dollar. Apps such as Mint and Clarity Money can help here, as they both connect to your accounts and automatically categorize each of your purchases under sections including food and travel. If you prefer a more hands-on approach – or you’re more type-A in terms of exactly how everything is categorized – you can try the old pen-and-paper approach or go with Expense, a simple expense tracker app that allows you to input categorized expenses line by line.
Once you get a read on what your monthly spending looks like, you’ll be able to gauge the areas in which you may be able to reign it in. For example, if you’re spending $100 more a month than you’d like on dining out, try cutting back on one dinner a week – or bringing a lunch three times a week – and put the difference toward your business.
2. Try lowering your “fixed expenses.”
The phrase “fixed expenses” implies they’re just that: fixed. On the contrary, items such as utility bills and credit card interest rates are often negotiable. First, make a list of your regular recurring expenses (usually charged monthly). You can do this by highlighting them on a printed account statement or downloading an app, which alert you to your current subscriptions.
If there are any you’ve forgotten about or could do without – a group or club membership, a streaming service you rarely use, a box of new products delivered monthly – give them the boot. If you’d rather DIY lowering your bills and keep all the profits, set a calendar reminder for once a year to call the companies and negotiate better rates. Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need, and do something else – such as returning low-priority emails – while you’re on hold.
Be kind (if you were a representative, would you go out of your way to help someone who wasn’t?). Clearly lay out what you want (a lower monthly rate) from the beginning. Bring up competitor rates and say you’d rather not leave but are deciding based on price. Ask nicely to speak with a supervisor if you’re not getting the answer you want (sometimes, the person you’re speaking with doesn’t have the authority to make a significant change). And don’t take the first offer without thanking the representative genuinely and then asking if they can go any lower.
3. Separate – and automate – your savings.
Create a dedicated savings account for your small business, and de-link it from your checking and other accounts so you’re not tempted to dip in. You can set up automatic transfers to the new account for every time you’re paid (for example, your chosen amount of money will be moved from checking to savings on the 15th and 30th of each month). Since saving isn’t intrinsic to human nature, you can use smart apps to supercharge your stash.
4. Make your money work for you.
When you do build up a savings stash, it’s important to make sure you’re storing it in the right place.
This article was first published in the Business Daily.