Revealed: The number one tip to save money in your 20s - financial advisor

The key solution to growing your savings from a young age has been revealed.
The key solution to growing your savings from a young age has been revealed. Photo credit: Getty Images

Young adults and saving money are like chalk and cheese, they don't always go well together.

Many of us find it difficult to juggle the cost of living, studying, paying back student loans and socialising.

I'm sure we can all admit there's a stage in our twenties where we've hit a brick wall of financial hardship.

At times we cringe, watching our savings shrink as money leaves our account.

This often leaves us wondering, how do I grow my savings?

There's one key solution, according to Lighthouse Financial's Wealth Director James Blair.

He said people in their 20s haven't figured out "their reason."

"There are two things, the 'why should I do it' and the 'how do I do it'," Blair said.

"Find the big why, which is the motivation and the reason behind saving, and then find the how, the plan you have for every time you get paid."

He believes more structure is needed.

"Don't just spend the money that comes into your account straight away or you won't save anything."

Blair's number one technique is splitting up earnings -  advice he often provides his clients.

Wealth Director James Blair shares his number one tip for growing savings.
Wealth Director James Blair shares his number one tip for growing savings. Photo credit: Supplied/Lighthouse Financial

"Those fixed finances are for things you know you have to pay for, like your gym membership, your rent and your phone bill," he explained.

According to Blair starting early is key.

"If you started investing $100 a week at 18 you'd have $1 million by the retirement age of 65," he said.

Blair stressed the importance of starting up an Emergency Fund.

"It's a good foundation to have, knowing there's always money sitting there when you do need it, the last thing you want is to be down to absolutely nothing when you do need money," he said.

Dividing income into different categories to keep track of spending is key.
Dividing income into different categories to keep track of spending is key. Photo credit: Supplied/Lighthouse Financial

Stick to goals you're capable of achieving 

He suggests realistic goal-setting for people with expensive desires.

"You might want to go away for an Overseas Experience (OE) and travel for a few years, it won't help you retire early, but that's you aiming towards something," he said.

And for those saving towards music festivals, there's advice for you too.

"If you're planning to head to Rhythm and Vines at the end of the year it's going to cost some people $2,000 to $3,000 so you need to start saving early." 

Blair said spending more on groceries and luxuries is fine, however, goals and motivation must be stronger than the urge to buy whatever you're seeing in front of you at the store.

"You need to be a conscious spender and understand what you're spending that money on," he explained.

"If you don't have goals in place then all you're doing is letting life pass you by."

Blair shared some examples of realistic goal-setting.

"Someone can spend $100 a week on drinks, or $10,00 a year on holidays but if their reason is that they can spend time with their friends, or be with their family, then as long as they achieve those goals there's nothing wrong in doing that."

"It all comes down to your individual needs and what brings you enjoyment in money, but it's important you spend the money strictly on those areas," he said.

Blair believes setting goals too far ahead in the future, can lower motivation.

"Ask yourself where you want to be by the end of the year, instead of in fifty years," he said.

"You can even break it down in quarters, or to a week, and ask yourself what you're capable of doing in a week."

Focus on your financial journey, not on those around you

According to Blair, comparing yourself to others is something that impacts everyone. 

"You have no idea what their story is, their savings could be funded through debt, Afterpay or even help from parents," he said.

"Or they could just be working really hard, and not doing what you are doing."

Blair suggests comparing yourself to the progress of your goals instead.

"My big thing when I was a graduate was buying a house, it was my number one goal," he said.

"Right now you'll hear a lot of people saying 'It's too hard to buy a house, I have to have so much money' but it all comes down to motivation and goal-setting,"

According to Blair, strict goal-setting is what helped him get what he wanted.

"I was so motivated to buy a house and I consistently saved as much as I could each fortnight until I had a deposit and was able to buy a house," he said.

He compared the process of saving, to the process of keeping physically fit.

"It's like someone saying they want a six-pack, you can't just go to the gym once," he said.

"You have to work out a lot, eat healthier and then you'll start seeing that progress."

Surround yourself with visual reminders to keep you motivated

Blair said the reminders to save money should come visually, not mentally.

"Have something visual at home to remind you, open up your laptop and have your background show you a thermometer or something to see how close you are to your goal," he recommended.

He said for those finding it hard to save for travel, doing it with someone helps create a level of accountability.

"If you're doing it with someone else and they want to do it with you then that person will be a constant reminder," he said.

"It makes you work harder knowing that someone else is relying on your ability to save," he said, adding that "it motivates you more because if you don't save then they can't travel."

"If you have better processes of saving you have a much higher likelihood of success."