Saving money can be a daunting task for many people, and it can seem a lot harder than it is. Whether you don’t know where to start or you simply think it’s impossible to do because of a limited income, I promise it’s not. Saving can be one of the easiest things to do if you know what you’re doing and are dedicated to it. Whether you have a large income or a small income, implementing these tips can put you on a path to save thousands each year.
- Give yourself a limited budget each month for things you want
Sticking to a strict budget every month can be difficult, but it can also account for saving hundreds of dollars each month. To start this, make a list of everything you buy each month that isn’t necessary. Manicures, pedicures, makeup, clothes, etc. are all “want” expenses not needs. Even if you think you don’t spend much each month, I bet you would be surprised at how much you spend without knowing it. Give yourself a budget. For me, it is $100 a month. I have $100 to spend on things I just simply want and not need. Do the same for your significant other. Start an online expense sheet you both have access to. Each time you spend money on something you want, mark it. At the end, put any money leftover in savings.
- Make a list of things you need as you need them
Part of saving money is to eliminate buying things you don’t need. As you run out of things you use everyday or weekly, put it on a list. The next time you go to the store, buy just the things on that list. Try to use all of one thing (lotion, moisturizer, makeup, etc.) before buying more of it. And, stop buying backups that you may never use or may go to waste. Organize your things so you know what you have. This will help you know if you have another option already before you buy something new. Avoid throwing things that aren’t on your list into your cart while shopping.
- Use the 24-hour rule
So, you’ve spotted a pair of shoes that you “just can’t live without.” Halt! Before buying them right away, give yourself 24 hours to weigh the decision. If whatever it is you’re wanting isn’t worth the drive back to the store or the time to go and buy them, you don’t really need them. If you don’t think about it again within the next 24 hours, you don’t really want them. Instead, look for them the next time you’re in the store. They may be on sale or on discount.
- Don’t shop just because something is “on sale” and cancel subscriptions
We’ve all been there. We walk by a sign in the mall stating that everything in the store is 50% off. So, we go in and spend money that we wouldn’t normally spend because it’s a “good deal.” I wish I could get back all the money I spent on things just because they were on sale. Similarly, cancel all your monthly subscriptions to products that you don’t really need. For me, that was makeup subscription boxes, shoes subscriptions, food boxes etc. Instead, take the money you would be spending and place it in savings each month. I am adding an extra $240 a month to savings by cancelling my Hello Fresh box.
- Remove yourself from mailing lists
If you online shop often, you know the pull to sign up for promotional emails in order to get 10% off your first purchase. And then, you wake up each morning with dozens of emails about sales and money off your purchase. If you’re anything like me, you’re more likely to shop when you get an email about an upcoming sale. Not knowing about these sales makes you have an out-of-sight, out-of-mind outlook on shopping. If you do need something, visit the actual website to see if there is a sale coming up. Then, place the things you need in your cart to have ready when a sale comes up.
- Cook at home and order groceries online
I bet if you added up how much you spent on food, you’d be shocked. If you eat out often or make stopping at Starbucks each morning a habit, start cooking at home. Chances are, you can find recipes for your favorite meals or drinks online. Try making them at home. If you can’t live without something, add it to your “want” budget and take it out of your total.
Also, start ordering your groceries online or for delivery. Not only does this make you less tired and more willing to cook, but it also stops you from buying things you don’t really want or need. Shopping online means you have to search for the items you want, not just throw them in your cart. That means you won’t waste money on impulse buys.
- List all your extra expenses and then cut them in half
Each month, total how much you spent the previous month on “extras” that you didn’t really need. Make a conscious decision to cut that amount in half. Instead of spending $300 a month on eating out, only spend $150. Instead of spending $200 a month on entertainment, only spend $100 and find ways to entertain at home. Search for free ways to get out of the house. Or make a meal out of free samples at your local grocery store. Just kidding. Kind of.
- Don’t spend extra money because you have it
We all have those months where we end up with extra money somehow and our first instinct is always to spend it. Whether it’s tax time, a bonus from your employer, sell of stocks, etc., you may end up with extra money. Instead of spending it all on things you don’t need, give yourself a set amount out of it to buy something you want. Or, make a list of things you need but won’t buy until tax time. Invest that money in something: a down payment on something, a new mattress, new furniture. Anything you don’t spend goes directly into savings. And, if you don’t have anything you need, put all of it into savings.
- Transfer money automatically each week or month
The easiest way to save money is to never see it. If you don’t think you have it to spend, you won’t. Each week or month, have a set amount of money come out of your account. For us, we have money come out every two weeks as we get paid. Budget around the money you know will be going into savings. Don’t factor that money into your expendable income. And, if you cancel a subscription service, start transferring that money into savings as well. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can build up your savings account.
- Shop with cash instead of credit card
If you’re going back-to-school shopping or shopping for a birthday or gifts, make a budget beforehand. Know exactly how much it should cost to get everything you need. Instead of shopping with your credit or debit card, take out the cash you need to shop. Spend only that. This will make you more conscious about what you’re spending and help you make wiser choices when it comes to shopping. Plus, you won’t be mindlessly swiping your card without seeing the direct consequences.
A Few More Ways to Save:
- Buy things in full for the year
Many car insurance plans will let you pay for the entire year all at once. You also usually get a better rate when you do this. If you have the money, do it. This saves you from spending that money each month.
- Buy the things you usually rent
I bet you didn’t know you’re paying a monthly price to rent your router or modem from your Internet company. Don’t. You can usually buy these for about $100 and they are yours to keep. That means, you can’t be charged an extra $20 a month for renting them.
- Pay off small loans and bills first
If your goal of saving money is to pay off debt, then pay off the cheapest ones first. This may be a student loan that’s only a few thousand dollars or a credit card you aren’t using. Once you have enough saved, just pay off that expense completely. Then, put what you were spending each month on that bill into savings.
- Set up Auto Pay on Bills
Late fees are the easiest way to go over on your budget. And, if you’re like me, your life is hectic. Set up Auto Pay on any bills you have. That way, you don’t have a late fee and you don’t go through the hassle of paying them yourself.
- Take advantage of preventive healthcare
You know what’s more expensive than your yearly FREE dental exam? Filling a cavity. Taking advantage of free preventive care services can help you save a lot each year on costly health expenses. Your insurance plan will tell you what services you get for free each year.
- Don’t waste money trying to find cheaper alternatives
Sometimes, you get what you pay for. That includes many beauty, clothing, and cleaning products. Don’t waste money buying cheaper alternatives that you don’t like or that don’t work. You’ll end up throwing them away or using more product to get the same result. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
- Save your receipts!
I can’t count the amount of times I’ve bought something and hated it. But, I never kept my receipts. Even if something has been used or worn, stores will often take them back. Ask about return policies before buying something. Or, if you’re buying a product, ask the associate for a sample before committing for the full size. You’ll waste less money.