Let’s talk savings for a minute. Some people may tell you that spending money is a lot more fun than keeping it “under the mattress,” yet most of us know to some degree how important saving is for both the short and long-term.
Not only is it important to have a nice nest egg built up in case of unforeseen circumstances, but as Americans we need to consider our future financial plan as early as possible for both us and our families. Do you know what your retirement looks like? Do you have your affairs in order in case of tragedies or emergencies? Are you even thinking past a few months of expenses? As the cliché goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” We all NEED to save.
So what are the best ways to save money? Obviously, the concept is simple. You take money and put it somewhere and don’t spend it – BAM! You’re done. But what happens when real life gets thrown into the mix? All of the sudden every dollar is spoken for and your piggy bank is left high and dry. What you need are some strategies that will help you save money even when your day-to-day starts sticking its hands in your pockets.
As always, find what works best for you. Some of these tips might be applicable to you, while others may not even make you raise an eyebrow. Take it or leave it, these are 12 solid tips on ways to save money.
- Build that budget But really, is anything else ever number one? Some of the wealthiest people in the world operate on a budget (even if it’s $30,000 a month for wine… we’re looking at you Johnny Depp).
- Set specific goals Another big time tip you’ll see often. Goals are like the finish lines of a race. If you’re running without some kind of target, you’re either just seriously weird or your name is Forrest Gump. Write down your goals so you know what you’re aiming for, whether it’s a home, car, vacation, or just a number in the bank. That’ll help fuel your motivation to pinch those pennies.
- Split them up Who’s to say which dollar goes where if all your money is in one account? Keeping a separate savings account will help you from spending the money and having an “oops” moment at the end of the month when you have nothing saved. Make it even harder to spend by considering using an entirely different bank for your savings (raise your hand if you’ve ever made a quick transfer and told yourself you’ll put it back when you get paid again.)
- Make it automatic Most companies nowadays utilize direct deposit, and you should take advantage of what it can do. Set a certain percentage of each paycheck to be deposited into that separate account automatically rather than having to transfer it once you receive it. You’re less likely to spend money if it never passes through your (virtual) hands.
- Start small Work your way up to big savings by starting with even $5 a week, then $10, then $15. Increase the amount when you feel comfortable doing so; even small amounts can add up to large sums over time.
- Avoid temptation Do you lose all spending control when you walk into a sporting goods store? Does window shopping turn into card swiping? For some people, carrying cash means they are less likely to spend their money. Identifying these “triggers” can stop you from burning through your disposable income and start seeing that account grow.
- Get a little something on the side If you have marketable skills or the ability to work part-time somewhere outside of your primary income, a second job or side business may help you save! Whether it’s selling crafts at the flea market or web-based, dedicate everything you make from your side job to your savings. Some online avenues that might provide this opportunity are www.mturk.com, www.fiverr.com, or www.etsy.com. Even Facebook is a great place to get rid of unwanted items.
- Trim the Fat This is important to do if you feel like you don’t make enough money to save. A lot of times just by budgeting out your expenses, you can identify waste in areas that aren’t necessary. For instance, do you pay for cable but only watch Netflix and YouTube? Well drop T.V. off of your bill and there’s a little chunk of change right there to put in the bank. Spend $4 on your morning on coffee? Make it at home or at the office instead and throw that extra money into your now growing savings. Look at things that are unnecessary and put those funds to better use.
- Pay those bills Your monthly expenses are important, especially when it comes to paying them on time. If you pay your bills late, you are looking at the possibility of additional interest charges, late fees, and other things that can quickly add up. Even something as small as a $10 late charge would have been better served in your bank account rather than your creditor’s.
- Treat yourself Did you just hit a savings goal that you’ve been working towards? Go out to a movie! Hit another goal after that? Buy yourself that new shirt. Saving money doesn’t have to be miserable, and it’ll motivate you even more if you know that every time you hit one of your goals, you get a reward. Couple each one of your benchmarks with something you want to do or something you want to buy (but don’t splurge too much, remember, we’re still saving!)
- Want to play a game?
- Stay vigilant Don’t give up! Use these tips to help you keep going and remain consistent in your saving efforts. The more committed you are to your goals, the greater the reward will be. You can do it!
And that sums it up! If you follow those 12 simple tips on the best ways to save money, you’ll be well on your way to better saving habits and much greater peace of mind. Saving your money will create more financial freedom. So Ready, Set, SAVE!