You may already know that you should have three months’ worth of expenses squirreled away in your bank account. Unfortunately, what you “know” is wrong.
Financial experts now suggest having a six-month stash. If you’re like two-thirds of the nation, you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, lucky to have enough money saved to pay the next utility bill; never mind having anything saved for a rainy day.
Money is something that well thinks about, and though we all know that we should save it, it is often significantly easier to plan to save money than it is to do it! When you want to save money, take some time to think about how you can move forward with this goal. Simply by taking a few basic steps, you can start saving today.
1. Make It
Do you have a coffee habit? Is your day ruined if you don’t stop at the fast-food place for a breakfast sandwich? Spend a week adding up how much you actually spend and compare that number to what it would cost to make your addictions in your kitchen. Once you start making your coffee and breakfast yourself, put the money you’re saving in a jar.
2. Leave It Home
Leave your debit card at home. Give yourself $20 or $50 for the week, whatever you can afford, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. It will take a couple of weeks to get used to, but you’ll soon learn how to budget your weekly allowance. Put whatever you have left at the end of the week in an envelope, and deposit that envelope once a month.
3. Stay Home
Are you the life of the party? If so, the party’s over. You get absolutely no return on your investment when you spend money drinking at the club. Buy a six-pack and rent a movie; your friends will adjust.
4. Partner Up
Saving money on your own can be tough. Many people find that the buddy system makes it easier to hang on to cash. Recruit a friend who is as down and out as you and start saving together. Hold each other accountable for the money spent.
5. Have a Discussion
If you’re dating, there’s little doubt that you’re spending money on entertainment and gifts. Tell your latest squeeze that you’re trying to save money and extravagant nights out may be brought to a halt. If your partner doesn’t get it, get a new partner.
6. Go to Goodwill
Stop shopping at department stores. Hit the thrift store the next time you need a new outfit. The best shopping season at Goodwill is right after Christmas. You’d be surprised at the number of people that donate their unwanted gifts. It’s not unusual to find designer duds for pennies on the dollar.
7. Turn Off the Computer
Stop shopping online. Period. Shopping online is a huge money-waster because you don’t see the money you’re spending. It’s easy to add something to your shopping cart and complete the order without realizing how much you’re spending. If you need it, go to the store to get it.
8. Dump Cable
You can live without cable. There’s no doubt that it takes some getting used to, but you’ll survive. You only watch one channel at a time; watch it on your computer screen.
9. Learn to Cook
You can spend $10 at McDonald’s for lunch, or you can spend $10 at the grocery store and eat for two or three days. Spend the $10 at the grocery store.
10. Get Ugly
You don’t literally have to make yourself ugly, but you do need to give up your weekly trips to the salon or barbershop. Give yourself a manicure at home, spend money on a fantastic hair cut and let the discount chain do your trims, and get your message at home. You can return to pampering yourself as a reward for reaching your savings goal.
11. Take Care of Your Debts
The sooner you get rid of your debts, the better off you are. Problems with your credit go away, you can get back to saving, and the interest is no longer accruing
12. Set Some Goals
It is all very well and good to say that you want to save money, but how much money do you want to save? Do you want to save to get a house, or to go on a vacation? How much do you need? Set some goals, and figure out how long it will take to get there. If you have a time frame, everything becomes much more real.
13. Set Aside Cash with Every Paycheck or Every Other Paycheck
The truth is that no matter how much you want to save, you still have responsibilities that need to be addressed. How much money should you save every week or every month to get to where you want to be?
14. Keep a Price Diary
Every time you buy anything, write it down. Just by keeping this log for a few weeks, you’ll start to see your spending habits in sharp relief. Are you someone who is spending too much cash on things that are not essentials? A price diary helps you cut out the things in life that you do not need.
15. Decide What You can Reduce in terms of Costs
For example, if you are saving for a house, do you really need to live in a great apartment right now? If you are planning to move to a house within five years, you’ll find that you are in a terrific place to live in a smaller apartment. This is something that can help you save more quickly.
16. Set a Budget and Stick with it
It might mean living slightly lean for a little while, but the result is worth it. For example, if you have been eating out a lot, you’ll find that you can save a fair amount of cash simply by deciding that you are only going to eat out once a week. When you are saving money, skip out on the credit cards. It’s too easy to simply overspend. Instead, withdraw cash and use it instead. This helps you realize that you are spending real money!
17. Reassess your Goals and Your Situation Now and Then
Savings plans sometimes need to change, and you’ll find that your saving is much faster and much more stable when you change your plans to meet your needs. If you need to save less one month, you’ll find that you can simply save more for another month!
18. Finally, Be Compassionate with Yourself
Emergencies do arise, and sometimes, you might make unwise decisions with your money. This is something that happens, so be prepared to forgive yourself for it. Simply accept that there was a setback and move on.
Saving money can be rough, but when you have a lovely nest egg, you’ll find that it was entirely worth it!
There are hundreds of easy ways to save money. In most cases, saving is simply a matter of replacing old habits with new ones. Take a look at your lifestyle and make changes; you’ll be living large before you know it.