There are a lot of advice columns about how to save money and how not to spend. However, from my experience not all of them work or are realistic. I’m going to break down six of the easiest ways for you to save money. One of the things I wish our society and educational systems would teach, is how to be financially savvy. That is something that’s amiss in all of the educational systems we grew up with.
Unless your dad is a financial advisor who instilled in you the benefits of savings, or you grew up in a household of finance gurus, you probably didn’t get the education on money when you first needed it. But, as the saying goes, its never to late.
How Can I Save Money Fast?
It’s also never too late to get your finances back on track. One of the surest ways to save that money is with your intention. If you are fully committed to it, and are ready to do the (not-so-hard) work to get there, you will be able to get on and stay on that saving train for years to come. Here are some of the tried and tested steps I’ve used and shared with friends. And it’s worked for us and I hope it works for you too. Again, remember intentional commitment. And we are obviously starting here with the assumption that you already have a job providing you the necessary income to jump on that save-train.
1. Budget Your Money
Budgeting your money is the start of any savings plan. Turning a blind eye to your spending habits is only and surely going to impact you and only you. For starters, open up an Excel spreadsheet. Write down all necessary expenses (rent, food, gas, etc) and classify the rest of what your spending on every month. Evaluate if you truly need to spend on that non-essential. Instead of spending on cable or that fancy car you just bought, could you have possibly cut those out? Could you have gone with the cheaper option? And could you have moved that extra dollar to a high yield savings account? I think so.
And if you are not the person to know how to consciously move money to your savings every month, then I suggest setting up automatic savings from your checking account every paycheck, so you don’t see the money but its always there if you truly-truly need it.
2. Get Debt Down
It is always good to save money for those rainy days. However, you should know that if you do have any kind of debt, you need to work at reducing that or eliminating it as much, and as soon as possible. Having debt weighs heavy on anyone and the best way to get free from it is by paying it off. There was a reason you took on that debt, but if you have income to live off of now, then paying down that debt will help in the long run (i.e. you wouldn’t be paying as much interest as you would if you continued the minimum payment). Freeing yourself of debt puts you in a healthy mindset too. And who doesn’t want that? I wrote another article on how I got out of debt.
3. Credit Card Control
If you are not in control of your credit card spending, then you should be. And while credit card spending is essential to building up your credit score for future big loans or purchases, you should never leave a balance at the end of the statement period. Always pay off your credit cards. And if you don’t have the money to pay it off, that’s a sign that you could be living above your means. While keeping a small balance and actively paying it off each month is good, when we forget to do this, we incur a late fee – and that’s just not acceptable. Look into cards that offer a 0% transfer fee and no APR for X months. By moving your balance from a interest paying card to one that offers no interest for a while, you will save on unnecessary charges.
4. Dining In, Not Out
Being social and making friends while you are young and have gumption is great. However, there is a bigger price to being social outside of your home. You will be spending money on food, drinks, movie tickets (and the popcorn that is 10x the price), etc. One of the ways to cut down on your spending is to stay home more. Invite people over instead. Have game night, potlucks, and movie nights indoors with people whom you actually want to be around. This may also give you an opportunity to learn a new skill like cook for you and your friends. Or, have a cooking class where you all learn to cook something together for free! Barring the groceries of course.
5. 30-Day Savings Rule
Everyone is impulsive. You, me, and your neighbor’s cat. However, that doesn’t mean we need to act on that impulse. When we have a flowing income, we tend not to think about the future so much as we think of the present – and present satisfaction to be precise. The 30-day savings rule states that if you want something (significant, not a cuppa tea) put the money you would have purchased that item with, into a savings account instead. After 30 days, if you still want the item, go for it. If not, then let your money stay in savings and watch it grow. I recommend Ally Bank (not sponsored) if you are looking to open a savings account which compounds daily and has no maintenance or other costs to maintain.
6. Do not Follow the 10 Second Rule
This rule states that you wait 10 seconds before buying something, and if you want it after the 10 seconds are over, do it. I say, HECK NO! It is sooo easy for anyone to wait 10 seconds so I think this rule is total bs. If I wanted an expensive shoe, I’m pretty sure I would want it 10 seconds later too. Why is this even something anyone thought of? My 2 cents? Ignore this rule.
Do this instead. Stand there and take a couple of deep breaths in. Then ask yourself, do I really need this in my life? Is it going to bring me sustained satisfaction, or just make me popular with my friends and that’s it? Or is this new toy going to bring my child joy for years to come, while enhancing their childhood? Or is it going to something fun for 30 minutes and then its worthless? Could I possibly put this money into my child’s college fund instead?
Need versus want should be your new mantra. If its a need, how badly do you need it? If its a want, just don’t buy it. Ultimately, if you have money coming in, the one thing you need to master is your non-essential spending. And in some cases, your essential spending too. You can make coffee at home, and so Starbucks needs to be cut from your life. You can move into a 2-bedroom home, and so your mortgage/rent drops by 5%. There are many ways to save money if you only look. You have control over what you spend on. Being frugal might need to be your new hashtag – just for a while at least.
How have you started saving money?
Featured photo courtesy of pixabay.com
Article last updated on September 14th, 2021