Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ballin' On A Budget: The Saving Game - 6 Saving Tips to Help You Swag Smart

See? Pigs aren't completely useless and haram!

A Little Backstory

Before diving into the lesson of this article, I just want to clarify something in case it wasn't comprehended from the Ballin' On A Budget Introduction. I didn't coin the phrase, nor do I have it trademarked to sell T-shirts (good idea though), none of that. "Ballin on a budget" is not a novel concept. In fact, the phrase--if I can recall correctly--was primarily used in a derogatory manner to people on the streets. Yup. People used "Ballin on a Budget" in a joking manner to crack on someone that was trying to fit in and flaunt his goods but did not have the name brand, top-of-the-line crap. (Example: "Yo, look at Tony rockin' those New Balance shoes and that $4 bottle of champagne. He's ballin' on a budget.")
What I'm trying to do here is take the negative connotations attributed to the phrase in its original state and roll it up into a positive. I want to make it good to ball on a budget, admirable, respectable. Using what I've learned from great financial gurus like Dave Ramsey and his "Total Money Makeover" book, I want to modernize and convey his message in a way that today's generation can click with. I want to put those words "Ballin on a budget" into action by presenting practical ways one can properly do so. Prepare your mind to be illuminated with 'da knowledge! Let's proceed shall we?

The Saving Game

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know you've been hearing this piece of advice from your old man and old lady since the beginning of time but that doesn't mean it's all rubbish. Save your money, dum-dum! We all know we need to save, but most people just don't do it the way they know they ought to. Why? Because people have competing goals that clash with their practical need to save money. It's that fresh set of wheels, it's that new game console, the shiny new time-consuming gadget from Apple, those hot clothes and accessories, all those material goods that you just gotta have now and can't hold off!

So saving money, pshhh--that just ain't gonna happen! The proof is in the numbers, brothers and sisters. According to a recent study, 70 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. 70? Seven-ty! People just don't save. And how can you when all those commercials and ads are seducing you with all their orgasmic words? They know just what to say to tug at your emotions, nudge you and goad you so they can take your paycheck right out from your hands as soon as you grab it from the mailbox! You know exactly what I'm talking about. "Act fast!", "Don't miss out", "Sale of the century!", and countless other action phrases. But what are those marketers and advertisers really saying to you about your money, your savings account and whatnot? Well...click play below and you'll see.

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(Sidenote: The female shouting, "I wanna be saaaved"? That's your money talking but is unfortunately drowned out by that sexy new product you want so bad.) So what happens? Mr and/or Mrs. No Self Control start slipping and throwing all their dollars away or, even worse, go into debt to buy these things. That debt means monthly payments which control your paychecks and make you a slave to that product. Yeah you have it in your home now, good for you! Now you're working yourself to the bone paying that piece of crap off even AFTER you lose it or it breaks.

And worse yet, the very same slavery you get yourself tangled in then starts to kill brain cells and makes you say really stupid things like: "We just don't make enough to save any money!" For uttering such stupidity, you would automatically qualify and rightfully deserve a UFC spinning back fist. Correction. People do make enough to save money; we just aren't willing to quit spoiling ourselves with our little ego-boost products and pleasures to have enough left to save. It doesn't matter what you make—you can save money. It just has to become a big enough priority to you.

Dave Ramsey brought up a classic example that I couldn't help but share:
"If a doctor told you that your child/mom/dad/wife etc. was dying and could only be saved with a $15,000 operation that your insurance would not cover and could only be performed nine months from today, could you save $15,000? Yes! Of course you could! You would sell things, you would stop any spending that wasn't required to survive, and you would take two extra jobs. For that short nine months, you would become a saving madman. You would give up virtually anything to accomplish that $15,000 goal. Saving would become a priority. And you would make sure that you reach it"
You see? Priority. Focus. And I mean focus that is phenomenally intense. INTENSE. Laser-like. Dave Ramsey in his book calls it "gazelle-like focus" after watching a nature show that showed a gazelle out-running a cheetah by bobbing and weaving and shaking the cheetah off.

That's the type of focus you need that will push all those goodies you don't need off to the side and focus on saving money, reaching a goal and meeting it like what was mentioned above. Once you save money, when disaster strikes, you won't need to trip. Falling on hard times? No biggie, you got money in the bank. (Shorty what you drank? Water I hope.) Here are a few proven tips that can get you saving and ballin' like never before.

1. Pay Yourself First.

What is meant by this is when you get your paycheck, before you think about bills, before you think about those shoes you want or whatever, put some money aside and make it untouchable, pardna! How are you gonna get anywhere if you don't do that? Stop making money go to all these different places and things and invest in yourself. Your future. Once you set aside a little bit, even if its as little as 10 or 20 dollars, you gotta make it a habit. Keep doing it and those little contributions will add up. Bills are too much to pay yourself, Mr. Copout? That's when you gotta prioritize. Do you really need unlimited everything on your phone plan or can you go a little cheaper on a plan with less minutes? Do you need cable when you can see everything for free on YouTube on someone's ol' bootleg video channel? Give it the axe. Just make it so you can pay yourself first and throw away those lame excuses!

2. Give some $$ to God (charity)

This should probably go first on the list or be 1a while "Pay yourself first" is 1b. But yeah giving some of your hard earned dough, no matter how paid or how little you make will go a long way. Trust me, or better yet trust Ar-Razzaq (The Provider) you'll get that money back, multipled! The Qur'an says:

But if people give to charity, seeking God's pleasure, these are the ones who receive their reward many fold. (Quran 30:39)

I will cover this more in a later edition of the Ballin On A Budget series but this is crucial. Many wealthy and successful people--no matter the faith, swear by this. It doesn't matter how little. I give a good five bucks every week during Friday prayers and I give a dollar here and there to the needy I see on my commute to and from work. It adds up, in your favor. Give some money back to the mosque, the church, the synagogue, organizations that are making a difference, or just that homeless dude on the corner and you will get that money back multiplied by God knows how much in some way, shape or form. Make this a priority and it's a guarantee that you'll be aight.

3.Have a Laser-like focus

Like I had mentioned earlier. Stay focused, man. Stamp it in your brain that saving money is important. And put your emotions into the mix. Those same emotions advertisers and marketers jump all over, use it to benefit you. Use fear (Man, I don't wanna be broke and out on the streets!) and use anger (Dammit, I'm sick and tired of all these bills) to make yourself save. To set a goal and reach it. Here's a goal: Save $1,000 as fast as you can. You can do it. I'm almost there and I set that for goal for myself earlier this year.

4.Cook for yourself

Yeah, buddy. If you wanna save money fast and easy, the kitchen is going to have to be your best friend. You need to get some cooking skills in that repertoire. This will not only help your money line but maybe even your waist line! You'll save a ton of money. I can make some bomb grilled turkey sandwiches, I can even do a few casseroles and can cook a mean egg. It's not that hard! Just stop being lazy with all that eating out. Dave Ramsey hilariously said to a caller on his radio show that was having money problems, "I don't want to see you in a restaurant unless you WORK there!". Need some recipes? Go to the library and get some books or better yet, Mr/Mrs smartphone, use your dang phone and Google a recipe. Yeah that thing is not just for texting and checking your Facebook! What a discovery, right?

5. Keep the change.

While making daily purchases, soon your dollah dollah bills in your pocket start becoming coins that are jingling and jangling as you walk. It's time to go retro and piggy bank it! Get a large container and throw your change in there. Before you know it, it's full and it's off to Coinstar, baby!

6.Budget, boy!

So obvious right? I know math hurts your brain but it's the way to go. Look at it this way. Don't get fancy by finding some online chart and making all these boxes and stuff. A budget simply is you telling your money where to go. You keeping your money in check. Every dollar and every cent that you earn you gotta plan exactly where its gonna go so not even one penny lingers around in your pocket. You got money sitting in your pocket, your bound to go waste it on something you don't really need. Dave Ramsey had a great solution. Envelope system. Get envelopes and label them (gas, food, car etc.) and when pay day comes, AFTER paying yourself you put your money in there. DONT SWIPE your debit card or credit card. Paper is the way to go cuz its tangible. You exhaust your envelope money, you don't spend anymore money on that thing til next pay day. Your gas envelope is gone? Well, your homeboy better find himself another ride. You better take the shortcut to work and start learning how to walk to places again.

All in all, these little tips are just the starting point in your journey to being financially fit and of course, ballin' on a budget. And this applies to the single youngsters, students and the married professional folk. You gotta have a game plan in this fight and stop having money kick your you know what. Your the boss of money, not the other way around and these tips will set that in motion.

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