We all know we need to save, but there are times when it doesn’t seem like there’s any room in the budget for it. While saving money may not be painless, we can make it easier. Here are some tips and tricks to help you come up with a plan to save, lower your monthly expenses, and hopefully, put some extra cash in your wallet while keeping the sting to a minimum.
Start small. Establishing substantial savings may seem daunting, especially if you have specific long-term savings goals, but the best way to start saving is just to start saving. Decide that no amount is too small to save — even $5 is worth it because it helps get you in habit of setting something aside. Next, figure out where that amount can come from by tracking and reviewing your money habits and taking an honest look at your spending. Using online tools for this step may be helpful and can help you continue to budget.
Practice savvy spending. Once you have an idea of where your money is going, you can start taking steps to help you save when buying necessities — and reduce temptation on impulse purchases. For starters, give yourself a spending allowance and consider using cash for your purchases so you can see what you’re spending (using only your bank’s ATM to avoid unnecessary fees). Removing your credit card numbers from your Amazon account and following the 24-hour rule on major purchases — waiting a full day before following through on a big purchase — gives you some time to re-evaluate before buying. Other smart moves: Consider buying refurbished rather than new products, using coupons and discount apps, or simply asking for a discount when you shop. Additionally, buying store-brand or generic products can often save a lot in the long run.
Save around the house. You can lower utility costs at home by weatherproofing your home and lowering your water heater temperature. Additionally, simply turning off the lights when leaving a room and being more mindful of your water consumption are great ways to save on energy costs.
Tighten your food budget. There are lots of ways to find extra dollars simply by changing your eating habits. For example, you can double a recipe once or twice a week to have leftovers for another meal, or you can pack your lunch whenever possible. When you do dine out, consider sticking to water as your beverage of choice; cutting out drinks with your meal results in an average savings of $2.99 per person. If you usually meet friends for a meal, invite them over for a casual get-together instead.
Be a smart car owner. Savings can, and should, easily extend to your vehicle, starting with your auto insurance. Are you overpaying? Could a different provider offer a better rate? Shop around until you find the best balance of coverage and cost. (This goes for home and renter’s insurance, too — you may even be able to save more by bundling your policies.) Keeping up on car maintenance can minimize costly repairs. This includes changing your air filter regularly, staying on top of regular oil changes, and making sure your tires are properly inflated. Just be sure to check your vehicle’s manual first.
Be proactive. A lot of good money-saving practices are simply small adjustments you can make to your habits and creature comforts. For example, you may be able to bring in more money by taking on a side hustle or getting a part-time job, then putting those earnings in your savings account. You can clean out your closets and have a garage sale to bring in some extra money and simplify your belongings. You can swap out larger expenses for cheaper substitutes, like cancelling cable and signing up for Hulu. And finally, you can make adjustments to habits like smoking or getting fancy coffee every day; cutting out cigarettes and replacing your quad shot latte with coffee brewed at home can really add up in savings.
These are just a few of the ways you can identify “hidden” savings or opportunities for extra income. Once you have a handle on your spending and readjust your budget, you might be surprised how much room there is for adding to your savings!
Remember, we’re always here to help. For more information, contact Caitlin, our Financial Literacy Manager.
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