The most challenging part of saving money is getting started. While it can take a while to grow your savings account, learning different tactics can help you build a small, monthly or weekly budget adjustment into a future retirement plan. Everyone is at a different step in their financial journey, but most of this advice can be translated to fit different lifestyle needs. Some of these tasks will require minimal effort, while others will need a bit more of a push to make a difference. Here are the best ways to hold onto your cash.
Reduce the electric bill
Turn off the lights, decrease the usage of appliances, and, most importantly, turn off the TV! More and more people are choosing to get rid of cable TV thanks to the variety of online services that offer just as many viewing options. If subscribing to too many online services is making a dent, consider removing one or more. Cutting down or even eliminating television time reduces exposure to ads that encourage spending while giving you more free time to focus on prosperity-bringing activities like starting your own side business. Keeping an eye on the thermostat is also a smart way to save money, and make sure to seal air leaks, which can save up to 30% on energy bills.
Record expenses, budget, then set savings goals
A big part of why people often struggle when it comes to saving successfully, is they don’t know how much they spend, or where it goes. Keep track of expenses, including tips, takeout orders, coffee runs, and household items/groceries. Sit down and summarize bank statements or credit card statements; organizing them into categories like auto, entertainment, mortgage, and household items, writing the sum at the bottom. After this, you can start to budget and learn how to present overspending. Then, decide how much will be allotted to savings, such as anywhere between 10-15% of total earnings. Many apps can help consolidate and organize this data if the process seems overwhelming.
Go generic, and always meal prep
Rather than picking up the brand that you’re used to – especially if it’s something a bit fancier – try the generic version, which often isn’t that different. This will add up to a big difference on the grocery store bill over time, as will buying in bulk from value stores. Additionally, try to meal-prep ahead of time so that you have set portions and already cooked meals. This can help make it less tempting to order in or opt for fast food, which can spike cravings even further. Meal prepping breakfast goes especially far, as it helps curb cravings for the rest of the day and helps provide lasting energy. One cookbook can go a long way in helping meet financial goals. It is also recommended to avoid buying food at the mall; which can be a Pandora’s Box of spending.
Rely on the community and mix-up transport
Think about all the services you invest in: dog walkers, babysitters, house cleaners, mechanics, and more. The list goes on, and many of these services cost a pretty penny. Tap into the resources of your community by exchanging services or asking neighbors to help out rather than outsourcing to a third party. If it’s accessible to you, try public transit as an alternative to driving to work. Owning and operating an automobile can add up cost-wise, so instead of selling your car, try taking another form of transport a few days a week. Biking or taking public transportation can help you make save on gas or parking prices, and it’s more sustainable for the environment.
Maximize credit cards and customer rewards
Credit cards can often create the illusion that we have more money than we have. Set a low spending limit on your card, and if you tend to overspend frequently, eliminate the temptation by hiding your cards in a safe place when you go out, and spending only a set amount of cash instead. There are also plenty of credit card reward systems that help you save money by offering cash-back, miles, gas, or similar benefits. Another kind of reward that savers can take advantage of? Free customer reward programs at different retailers, including grocery stores. Consider making a new email address solely for this purpose, gathering as many cards as possible, and regularly checking the account for any additional coupons when it’s shopping time.