Unless you’re independently wealthy, you’d probably like to save some money – and, even if you are, you may want to save so you can justify buying yet another sports car or something.
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Saving is obviously not easy. If it were, more people would have savings accounts with amounts that rivaled the bags and stacks that filled Scrooge McDuck’s bank. If you find it particularly difficult to save, employ some hacks to help yourself overcome that need to spend it if you’ve got it.
1. Get An Additional Job
Clocking in at another workplace is likely the last thing you want to do after a long day; however, picking up extra evening or weekend employment could provide you so much financial cushion that it could be worth any related discomfort.
To make your second job easier to stomach, get a job at a place you like or, even more advantageous, somewhere you shop at, as the employee discounts could end up saving you oodles of cash.
2. Plan Your Meals
Unless you want to die a slow and painful death as a result of starvation, you absolutely have to spend money on food. You don’t, however, have to shell out tons of cash. If you feel like too much of your hard- earned cash is going on groceries, try budget line items and change it up.
Before you go to the grocery store, make a detailed meal plan. Decide what you’ll eat when and stick to it. Only buy the items you need to execute this plan. If you really want to save some cash, consult the sales offers when you make your plan and incorporate foods that are on special.
Oh, and don’t go to the store hungry. Remember last time – when you came home with five bags of Doritos and two bags of chocolate? Bad decision.
3. Make Saving Automatic
If you’re depending on yourself to transfer money into your savings account, you’re doing it wrong. Make it automatic by having a set amount of your paycheck directly deposited into your savings account before the bulk hits your checking. If your workplace doesn’t offer this, talk to your banker, as most banks provide customers the option to make pre-determined automatic transfers.
4. Plan To Pay Off Your Debt
It might seem, if you’re trying to build up your savings account, that you should allocate less money to debt repayment, but you couldn’t be more wrong. The interest you make off your savings account is substantially less than the interest you are probably paying on your debts.
If you’re only making the minimum payments now, plan to increase the amount you shell out each month. Once these debts are paid off, you will be in a much better financial position, overall.
5. Don’t Skip Maintenance
Just like with paying off debt, it can be tempting to let your car go a few thousand miles extra before that oil change or to trust that your furnace is fine and you don’t really need it looked at. Skipping these maintenance tasks is a big mistake, however.
In the long run, you’ll save more money by maintaining the items you have as you won’t have to replace them as often. Make maintenance a priority, and don’t skimp on it.
6. Scour Your Statements
If you charge everything, from a tank of gas to a pack of gum, your monthly bank statement probably makes for some heavy reading. Although it may be tempting to forego reviewing these charges, you really do need to actually look through them and make sure they’re all legit.
Bogus charges are not at all uncommon and, if you’re trying to save up, you really don’t have any room for money you didn’t spend to be leaving your account.
7. Make Yourself Wait
You wake up one morning and decide that you really need new jeans. Instead of heading straight over to the mall to try some on, give yourself some time to think about it. Whenever possible, contemplate any purchase that isn’t absolutely necessary for 30 days prior to making it.
If, after a month has gone by, you’re still itching for those Levis, go ahead. If not, you will have saved yourself some cash.
8. Check Into Cash Back Options
If you’re a regular credit card user, you might as well get something from each swipe. Check to see if your current credit cards offer cash back of any type. If they don’t, consider opening a new account with a bank that does.
Use any cards on which you get cash back instead of the reward-free options. Although you shouldn’t use cash back as a reason to go crazy with your spending, if you’re going to buy something anyway, you may as well get a little extra money off.
9. Audit Your Habits
Make a list of everything you have or do that you could ditch. This list should include cable, magazine subscriptions, smoking, eating out, attending sporting events… anything you don’t absolutely have to do to survive.
Next to each item on the list, write down how much that item costs you per month. If you don’t know the figures, calculate them instead of guessing as you might be surprised how much of your paycheck is going to each of these things.
After you’ve finished your list, start crossing off things you can do without. Continue crossing items out until (1) you start to cry or (2) you have reached your monthly saving amount.
10. Use Less Energy
Benefit your bank account and the planet simultaneously by making a concerted effort to use less energy. Keep your house a few degrees warmer in the summer or a few degrees colder in the winter. You most likely won’t even notice the difference, but you will notice energy cost savings as they add up.
Similarly, shut off lights when you leave the room, and avoid leaving loads of exterior lights running all night, as they all eat up more energy than you would expect, translating to higher electric bills that take more money out of your pocket.
11. Set Up An Emergency Fund
To make your efforts towards financial health lasting, you need to prepare yourself to handle the unexpected without going into debt. Do this by setting up an emergency fund. Open a dedicated account, or make some space in your safe to keep the cash on hand.
Start small to build your fund by adding $100 or so a month to it. Keep saving until you have enough money to cover all of your expenses for three months. While this may seem an exorbitant amount, you will be exceptionally grateful for this account should you find yourself out of a job, as you’ll be able to pay all of your bills for a quarter of a year with no interruption.