The first step to investing is good money management. And good money management begins with putting aside a part of your income every month. No matter your monthly paycheck, if you wish to invest your way to financial freedom, you have to learn ho save at least 10% of your income every month. While it's true that the lack of will-power to sqeeze oneself to put aside some money for investing is the real hurdle many are facing, there are those who truly have an extremently tight financial position that constrains investment action. What we have always said, though, is that no matter your financial difficulties at the moment, the realsitic route to an improved future is to bite the bullet now and sow something for tomorrow. However tough it proves, the realistic way to hope to break out of the vicious cycle is still by denying yourself something now and ploughing that into some financial or other assets that offer a promise of returns and growth. That's the real hope for a better tomorrow. While pursuing options for enhancing your current earnings will be a wise and compelling survival strategy, always bear in mind that until you learn to plug part of your income (however little you earn) into investments that can grow with time, you would remain stunted, financially.

How can medium- and low-income earners cope with the financial demands of day-to-day livelihood and still sqeeze out what to invest on a regular investment plan? It certainly can't be easy for many, but here are some tips to help you squeeze out a monthly investment fund of at least N10,000:

* Watch Your Phone Bill
After many years of waiting for telephones to come, there is no doubt that it has been a great relief to have them easily accessible now. That's probably why the populace is using phones seemingly with a vengeance. Check how many poeple phone into any radio, television or whatever program they are invited to phone into. Then the downloads and all other marketing offers in the telecoms market. For many, this unknowingly has become a deep bite into the pocket. N10,000 to invest? Get at least N1,000 off your current expenditure on not-so-important phone calls and related services.
* Cut Your Vehicle Fueling/Transportation Cost
Now, this will matter if you use a personal car (a lot of people do), especially in a city like Lagos. Your monthly expenditure on fueling the vehicle will run into several thousands of Naira, much of that spent in stagnant traffic. How can you save on this? Get more resourceful in planning your movements and stay off the peak traffic periods and tough routes as much as possible. Set out a bit earlier, for instance. Do a good job of this and you can have up to N2,000 back in your pocket, monthly, for investment. Part of how to cut on this expenditure is by streamlining your movements and cutting off what may not be too important. Don’t have a car? You can still re-order your movements and save on transportation. It’s not all the traveling you do that is unavoidable.

* Quit or Curb One Unhealthy Habit
Most likely, there is a habit you spend on that is not altogether a healthy one. Such pastime as smoking, for instance. The booze, or whatever else. If you check thoroughly, you will find where to chop off some self-indulgence that can yield a few thousands for investing.

Take fastfoods, too. If you observe, a lot of money is going into fastfoods at this time. You know the cost includes their overheads and profit margin, which means you are really paying more, inspite of the health hazards we often hear about. Visit any of the major outlets to see the traffic. What if 20% of all that expenditure was saved and invested?.
* Cut Down on Medical Expenditure
That’s not easy, yet some health improvement effort could reduce illhealth and save the family a lot of money. Healthy living is not just a phrase but entails processes that can improve health without necessarily raising living costs. Exercises, for instance don’t have to cost you. Avoiding alcohol can only save money while improving health. Preventing malaria with treated mosquito-nets is pretty cheap. Good sanitation could improve health and cut medical bill. Effective immunization, we are told, will do a lot of good. There are always steps a careful person can take, and when these save you money, you have a little more to invest for tomorrow.

* Slash All Bills
Well, wherever possible. Electricity is inadequate, but do you realize that, when on, there is considerable wastage, even in your home? Light points are on, that shouldn’t. Lights are left on when people are out. Appliances are switched on even when not really in use. When you check well, there is always something you can do to save a little cost. What you may not realize is that those little bits add up to a significant financial impact, over time. If you have all the money and enough to invest, it probably won't matter. But you don't. Now that you desire to sqeeze out money for a major purpose, you just can’t afford to be sloppy about costs, anymore. So, do a hatchet job, cutting off any area of waste.

* Your Ceremonies, So Important?
Social ceremonies are running all over the city each day and especially at weekends. It’s easy, from their locations, to see that they cut across all strata of the society. Even the low-income areas are not left out and there are always enough reasons to justify what often ends up in debts. Think differently now, if you can, and see the missed investment opportunity in that expenditure you easily attract to yourself. Capital appreciation is lost. Ah, principal is lost, too! Not the best way to a strong financial standing.

So, there you go – some avenues you can explore to save N10,000 to invest. Okay, N10,000 is just symbolic. For you, it could be just N2,000 that is realistic, but that could make plenty of difference if you invest it, especially if the alternative is zero investment. For someone else, we should really be looking at N100,000, N250,000 and even more. The challenge is personal as these are only teasers. It’s you that will know what you can stretch yourself to extract and regularly invest. The idea here is to see that you push yourself a little harder and do the best that is realistically possible, in your circumstances, to build an investment portfolio. Don’t just make the huge mistake of rationalizing what would amount to shortsightedness with an argument that your earnings can permit any investment. Think of what happens if your current earning unavoidably reduces tomorrow. You will still find a way to survive on the reduced income. So, why not reduce it by choice and for a great purpose?

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