Do you want to become more financially secure, but are unsure where to start? When you suffer from crippling debt, barely make enough to make ends meet, or have never had to consider a budget, the idea of saving money can be frightening.
Saving money does not have to be scary. Anyone can do it with a little guidance and determination. Check out these easy money-saving ideas that actually work to get you started on your path to financial freedom.
1. Track Your Spending
Before you can begin saving money, you first have to understand where your money is going. Print out your bank statements and review your monthly spend. You may be surprised where your money is actually going. You can also keep a daily log in your phone or on a notepad to track any cash transactions.
2. Set Goals
Once you understand where your money is going, try setting some saving goals for yourself. For example. If you notice that you are spending money eating out multiple times a week, consider cooking more throughout the week and see how much money you can save! Tracking your spending and setting saving goals will help you eliminate unnecessary spending and put your money where it matters.
3. Use the B-Word
Budgeting! Budgeting is easy with a little dedication and focus. A budget can help you reach your savings goals without compromising your lifestyle. Start with selecting a budget that fits your lifestyle. Consider one of these seven budget styles to get started.
4. Every Penny Counts
In this case, slow and steady wins the race. Use a container of some sort to collect all of the loose change in your household. Instead of letting change stack up in your car, pockets, or couch, consolidate it in one location. My husband and I have made a game out of it. We collect the change for an entire year and cash it in every year for our anniversary. We then use the collected monies to pay for our anniversary date.
5. Brown Paper Bag It
If you go out to eat every workday and spend, on average, $10 per meal, it comes out to roughly $2,500 annually. Making your own lunch, meanwhile, will cost you about half that. The $1,250 annual cost you could potentially save by bringing your lunch to work could be used to add to an emergency fund, pay down debt, invest, or purchase an international round-trip plane ticket.
6. The Side Hustle
The logic here is simple, if you make more money you can save more money. With the onset of the gig economy and flexible options like Uber, temporary work, and part-time work there’s no reason why you can’t find an additional stream of income to fit your lifestyle.
7. Be Direct
Another way to mindlessly save money is to have two bank accounts; a checking and a savings account. Consider setting up your check to automatically deposit an amount into your savings account each pay period. This way you won’t be tempted to touch the funds and you might be surprised how quickly they can add up.
8. Cut Coupons
You don’t have to be an “extreme couponer” to save money when doing your shopping. Coupons are completely free and offer some serious savings on items that you use every day. Learn how-to get started using coupons here.
Most people know that making a financial donation to a qualified 501(c)(3) nonprofit can earn you a tax deduction. But did you know that volunteering can help you save money in other ways? You can get rid of that gym membership. Many volunteer opportunities require some physical activity. Consider beach clean-up, community garden weeding, or helping to build and repair homes. Volunteering can also help give you a better understanding of what your necessities are and a greater appreciation for what you have.
It's story time! While saving for our wedding, my husband and I got serious about tracking our spending. We discovered that over a course of 15 days, we spent nearly spent $100 on iTunes. After this stint of reckless spending on entertainment, we decided to print out our bank statements and highlight all the things we were spending money on that we shouldn't have been. During this financial exercise, we discovered multiple Netflix subscriptions, 2 Hulu subscriptions, 2 family iTunes subscriptions, at least 4 app subscriptions of some sort, and a Tidal account. Needless to say, quite a few calls were made to a multitude of customer service centers and cancellations were made. Now we're saving about $50/month that we didn't even notice we were spending and subscription services. Don’t be afraid to unsubscribe it could save you some serious cash!
Learn how to stretch your paycheck to help you reach your savings goals.