Money-Saving Tips That Will Improve Your Finances
Saving money is so important, but so incredibly difficult. You have to cover mortgages, car payments, rent, insurance, groceries, and a multitude of other necessities that eat their way through your bank account. Plus, you still want to have a little cash for non-essentials like cute clothes or a night out on the town. By the time you’ve doled out your monthly expenses, it feels like there’s not enough to put into your savings account.
Unfortunately, failing to save money can be disastrous. If you run into a rainy day like unexpected car maintenance or the loss of essential income, a lack of savings makes the difference between taking a few months to get back on your feet and dissolving into panic mode.
Instead of turning your savings into yet another frustrating task, you can trick yourself into putting away some cash. Take a look below at some money-saving tips that will improve your finances.
1 Create a Separate Account
This should be a no-brainer, but you should first and foremost create a separate account for your savings. If you’re trying to save money, leaving it in your normal bank account almost guarantees that you’ll spend it at some point.
Instead, create a separate savings account where all your saved money lives. Promise yourself you won’t dip into that account unless you have a plan to use that money or you run into an emergency. By creating a separate savings fund, you can watch your money grow and keep yourself from using it every time you want to buy something impulsively.
2 Use An App
There’s an app for everything nowadays, including saving money. Some apps use coupons to save a few bucks, but apps that automatically save money for you usually yield the best results.
Chime automatically sets aside 10% of every paycheck you deposit. Digit looks at your income and expenditures, decides what you can save, and sets aside a certain amount. Qapital rounds every transition up to the nearest dollars and puts those extra cents into a savings account. Why think about saving yourself when you can just use an app to do all the hard work for you?
3 Set Up Automatic Transfers
If giving an app access to your bank account makes you uncomfortable, you can still find a way to automate your savings. Most banks allow you to set up automatic transfers, which takes the process of thinking about your savings out of your hands.
Simply set up the amount you want to transfer and how often you want the money to move and forget about your savings. It’s truly that easy. Your specified amount will move into your savings each month, allowing you to save a chunk of your paycheck without any conscious thought.
4 Bump Up Your Retirement Savings
Having an emergency savings account is incredibly important, but focusing on your retirement savings is equally essential. If you’re struggling to make ends meet, your retirement account might be the first thing to take a hit. After all, you won’t glean the benefits of that account for years to come.
However, focusing on your retirement now will save you a big hassle in the future. If you’re in a fairly comfortable position, try increasing your retirement contribution by just 1%. You’ll hardly notice the difference in your take-home pay, but it will make a difference in the money you’re saving for the future. Repeat this process every year or so, and you’ll find that your retirement account experiences a steady increase that will make your life easier down the line.
5 Prioritize Savings and Debt
When you sit down to sort through your bills and expenses for the month, don’t put your savings last. Decide on an ideal amount you want to put into your savings. Then, when you sit down to look at your bank accounts, focus on your savings and debt first. Pay off your debt and put money in your savings before you address the rest of your expenses.
If you leave your savings and debt until last, you’ll probably shortchange them in favor of having a little more cash for frivolous spending. If you prioritize them first, however, you’ll ensure you’re putting in a large chunk while still taking care of your other necessities. You may have less money to spend with this technique, but it will help you to cut back on unnecessary expenses.
6 Save Slowly
Once you have money, it’s hard not to spend it. After all, there’s always something you need or want, so it often feels like your paycheck disappears in the blink of an eye. If you’re bad at saving, the 52-Week Money Challenge helps to kick your saving into gear.
In the first week of this challenge, you only have to save one dollar. The second week you save two, the third week you save three, and so on and so forth until an entire year has passed. Using this method, you can start saving money slowly, easing yourself into forming new habits. The largest sum you’ll ever deposit into your savings in any given week is $52. When the year is complete, you’ll have saved $1,378. Plus, you’ll build a new mindset around saving that will help you to save more in the future.
7 Pay With Cash
This is a common money-saving tip, but it’s still effective. When you swipe a plastic card, you don’t think about the money that’s actually leaving your bank account. By using cash for your daily purchases, you’re forced to think before you spend.
Using cash involves an actual physical exchange of money. The material element will help you to stop and think about the actual cost before you spend your money willy-nilly. Plus, using cash ensures that you never spend money you don’t have, which is a huge pitfall of using a credit card.
8 Hit Unsubscribe
Stores often trick you into signing up for their mailing list by offering discounts and promotions you’ll want to take advantage of in the future. However, receiving promotional magazines and emails can actually increase your spending.
Each time you see a sale, you’ll be tempted to buy something under the guise of saving money. However, you probably wouldn’t have purchased the item at all if you hadn’t seen the promotion. To cut out some of that temptation, unsubscribe from promotional materials. When you decide you need something new, check out the sales that are going on. But don’t buy things you don’t really need just because they’re available at a lower price.
9 Choose 1 or 2 Streaming Services
“Cut the cord” is the phrase of the moment, and with good reason. Cable TV is incredibly expensive nowadays. Rather than funneling your money into a cable subscription, you can instead find all the entertainment you might need on streaming apps.
With so many apps available, however, the cost of purchasing every single one can easily add up to just as much—or more!—money than a cable subscription. To cut down on your spending in the entertainment department, limit your household to paying for one or two streaming services. Pick the services you watch most often and do away with all the rest. Over time, the money you’re saving from those subscriptions will start to add up.
10 Cut Out Interest
If you’re a human living in the normal world, you’re probably going to acquire debt at some point. Once you run up a bill, however, you’re not just paying back the money you spent—you’re also paying interest. While you can’t do much about the interest on home or student loans, you can try to cut out the interest on your credit cards.
Paying interest on your credit cards is just wasting money. If you want to use a credit card, try to pay it off in full every month. If you can’t afford to do that, try negotiating a lower interest rate with your bank or transferring your balance to an interest-free credit card. When you only pay the minimum balance on your cards each month, much of your money is probably going to the interest rather than your actual debt.
11 Use Your Receipts
Although it’s tempting to throw away all your receipts, you can use these little slips of paper to make a bit of extra cash. The app Receipt Hog allows you to photograph your receipts and fill out surveys about your shopping experience. You’ll receive coins for each survey you fill out, which you can then redeem through PayPal or Amazon.
Using this app is a simple process, but it earns you a bit of extra cash. Put whatever money you earn from the app right into your savings, and you’ll watch your account grow without taking away from your normal paycheck.
12 Go to the Library
Sometimes we don’t even stop to think about where our money is going. While you might feel a little guilt when you splurge on a new pair of shoes or a blouse you didn’t need, you probably don’t feel the same sense of shame after you buy a new book. However, books—especially if you’re an avid reader—can eat away at your monthly budget.
Instead of purchasing new books every few weeks, head to your local library. You can check out the books you want and save yourself the money that would be spent on new reads. Plus, you won’t have to worry about where to put your growing library anymore because you can put the books back when you’re done with them.
13 Save Your Change
When you think of saving money, you probably imagine putting big chunks of cash into your savings account, all at one time. However, every penny you save matters. If you find that it’s difficult to set aside a large sum for your savings, don’t do it. Instead, start by saving your extra change.
Grab a big jar and throw in your extra change whenever you get a chance. When the jar is full, count it and deposit it in the bank. Not only will it save you from the struggle of carrying around loose change, but it will also increase your bank account slowly, allowing you to save without really thinking about it.
14 Prep Your Meals
Humans have to eat. In today’s busy world, trying to organize a meal amidst everything else going on sometimes feels impossible. To cut out some stress, most people resort to eating out. However, eating every meal at a restaurant heavily impacts your finances.
Instead of spending all your money on food, try to cut back your expenses by meal prepping. Every Sunday night, make a big batch of breakfasts and lunches that will last you for the whole week. By eating the large majority of your meals at home, you’ll find that you have much more money to put towards your savings account.
15 Sell Your Old Stuff
Every now and then, you likely look through some of the things you own and decide you don’t need it all. At that point, most people prepare a pile to drop off as a donation at a secondhand store. While it’s certainly noble to donate your old items, you might also be able to make a little spare cash with just a tiny bit more effort.
Websites like eBay or Facebook Marketplace allow you to sell your old things for a fair price. You might only get a few dollars for the most simple items, but it’s a few dollars more than you would have gotten if you simply donated it. If the items aren’t selling online, you can also backtrack and donate them, anyway.
16 Buy Secondhand
Most people wince at even the idea of shopping at a secondhand store. However, buying a few items used can have a positive impact on your bank account. Plus, not all secondhand stores are full of other people’s junk. If you take the time to look around, you might find a few money-saving treasures.
If you need something new, like clothes, a kitchen item, or even decorations, do a first pass through a thrift store. You don’t have to look hard and you don’t have to buy anything you don’t want. If there’s nothing available secondhand, feel free to buy new. By simply taking the time to walk through a thrift shop, you may find that there are plenty of items available that meet your needs at a much lower price.
17 Make a Grocery List
You’ve probably heard it a million times: don’t shop when you’re hungry! But even when you’re full, you can still manage to waste a lot of money at the grocery store if you don’t plan ahead.
Rather than perusing the aisles and grabbing whatever looks good, make a grocery list before you head to the store and stick to it. That way, you can avoid buying packets of unnecessary snacks or veggies that will just go bad. You’ll waste less food and less money, allowing you to put some extra change into savings.
18 Track Your Spending
Sometimes you don’t realize just how much money you’re wasting until you start tracking your spending. Plenty of apps like Mint or Spending Tracker allow you to group your expenses into categories and see where your money is going.
Once you know the money you spend, you can start building a budget that works for you. You can also eliminate unnecessary expenses and cut down on frivolous spending to free up some funds for your savings account. While tracking your spending might be frustrating at first, it will give you a much better understanding of your expenses in the long run.
19 Delay Your Purchases
If you need a new phone, a new pair of shoes, or anything else that has a little buzz around its release, you’ll pay an exorbitant amount when you purchase it on the day it comes out. While it’s nice to have a new thing in your possession immediately after its release, you can save a lot of money by simply waiting a while until you buy.
If you don’t need the item right this second, wait a few months before you go through with a purchase. After the initial appeal wears off, the price of these items will likely drop. By delaying your purchase, you can save a large chunk of money. All you have to do is practice a little patience.
20 Drink Only Water
This may seem like such a silly change, but it can actually make a huge difference. Instead of buying multiple drinks at the grocery store, try to limit yourself to drinking only water.
Studies have shown that buying big packs of soda, large cartons of juice, and other sugar-filled drinks add up over time. When you eliminate those expenses, you can free up a little cash that can go right into your savings. By limiting yourself to water alone, you’re contributing to a healthier bank account and a healthier, more hydrated body.