Making money: the siphon approach

Show me the money!

Part of my approach to building an exciting life for myself has been the pursuit of increased wealth without actually having to…you know…sacrifice anything. Or make that much effort. Most approaches to wealth accumulation involve investment, hardcore budgeting, a serious savings programme and/or starting an incredibly lucrative business.

Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aimed at ultimately having a ‘portfolio career’ filled with lots of opportunities to make money doing lots of different things I enjoy, but at this particular point in my life (and every other point so far) I’ve just had the one job. It’s not the kind of job where I can ask for a pay-rise (it’s a grade-related system) and it’s not the kind of job that I necessarily want to aim for a promotion (it’s the public sector – higher grade = significantly more stress than I’m willing to take on).

I always got frustrated at this point in my money-making research, because the options seemed to run out. I didn’t want to have to change that much to be able to feel more well-off. Selfish and lazy? Maybe. I did set up a standing order to invest in some sort of stocks and shares fund (I know, grown up) and downloaded a budgeting app… but deep down I suspected there was a way to feel richer that felt more…fun.

And there is.

The Siphon Approach

This does not involve siphoning money off other people in nefarious ways (though I always think: if we all just asked everyone we knew for £1, then assuming we know a) enough people and b) not tight-arses we’d probably be well on our way. But that’s not a sustainable way of making money, I do know that.)

Mais non. This approach involves taking control of the cash you do have, and sacrificing a bit in the short-term for more in the long-term. Much like the Childcare Vouchers scheme that I have literally just got around to doing 2 days before the deadline because it took me too long to actually understand how I could save money in the long-run.

Anyway, the Siphon Approach works, people. It makes you psychologically richer AND leaves you with more money to actually play with. Guilt free.

Step 1: Set up multiple bank accounts

If you’re lucky you can do this online – I had to physically go into my bank to do it. Quite frankly you can set up as many accounts as you want, but it sort of depends on what your goals are here. My goals were:

  • To be able to treat myself to really nice things
  • To have spare money to spend on my side-hustle-projects (like self-publishing my novel, or buying a domain name etc)
  • To save for my dream home

If you have the chance to actually name your accounts (as anything more sexy than ‘current’ or ‘savings’) then definitely do – and yeah, ‘Treats for Big Mama’ is a totally acceptable account name.

Step 2: Set your amounts

This a fairly well-established technique (I’m not creating a new #movement here) and from what I can tell, most people recommend putting 10% of your salary each month into whatever ‘savings’ accounts you have. That really spooks a lot of people. For others, it doesn’t seem like enough to make a difference.

I guess the key here is to be as ambitious as you can afford to be. There’s no point increasing your wealth by stretching yourself too thinly every month – but equally, until you take the money out of your account, it may not be crystal clear exactly how much you just spaff away on….God knows what. I’m pretty sure I mindlessly spend £100 a month in the canteen at work, which I could definitely cut down on. £3.80 for a salad wrap, anyone? 80p for a KitKat? Come on.

For me, it works best to put money in weekly – daily works even better. Like I said, each working day I probably spend £5 a day on lunch I don’t need to fork out for. If I dropped that into my ‘Treats for Big Mama’ fund then that’s £80 a month – into an account dedicated to treating myself. Not too shabby. And I’ve been able to find similarly small-but-significant amounts scattered across the rest of of my spending to put in my other accounts.

Set up an automatic transfer or make a diary note to transfer the funds each week/day – do whatever you can to make it so automatic you don’t have to think about the money leaving your main account in the first place. Otherwise, you’ll mentally assign it for other tasks.

And remember – small amounts are better than nothing, so if you can only spare £2 a week into each of your siphoning accounts, that’s still money you are building up for a specific purpose that won’t be eaten up by just general bills and stuff.

Which leads neatly onto:

Step 3: Protect your funds!

Set a clear purpose for each account and don’t dip into it for any other reason. In any other scenario than for the one you originally set, just pretend that money doesn’t exist. Otherwise one unexpected bill or payment will wipe your accounts out and you’ll be right back to having no money for yourself, and worse, feeling a sense of lack and defeat about the whole shebang.

Obviously, if your whole life comes crashing down around you and your family are put into seriously dire financial straights – yeah, crack into the ‘Babs needs a Mulberry’ fund. But as far as you possibly can, PROTECT IT. It’s your passport to feeling richer – both mentally and in actual funds to spend on the things you really really want.

Zig a zig, ahhh.

This probably seems like the most basic financial advice ever, right up there with ‘don’t spend more than you earn.’ But how many ladies are sticking to that rule every single month?! Give it a go – it has really changed how I feel about money, which has had a knock-on effect on how much money I need to be happy, and subsequently, I can’t remember the last time I couldn’t afford something I wanted.

Let’s see how we get on with two kids in childcare though, hey?

Any useful spendy/savey advice you’ve got to share?

 

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