Cultivating good habits can help you save money now and throughout the year. The single biggest tool for savings is a spending plan or budget: make one and stick to it. Start with food, shelter/utilities, basic clothing and transportation, then add in amounts for saving, giving and other categories like entertainment.
As you look at your spending patterns, here are some other ways to build your savings:
- Pay off debt. Easier said than done, of course, but make extra payments on your debt whenever you can. Paying down the principal early means less interest due in the end.
- Make a grocery list. You may have heard that you’re not supposed to shop on an empty stomach, but the real grocery store life hack is following a meal plan. Decide what meals you’re making, check your pantry and only buy what you need.
- Pack a lunch. Make sure your meal plan includes food to eat at work; you’ll be shocked by the savings compared to eating out or hitting the vending machine every day.
- Shop generic. While there are exceptions, generic goods tend to be cheaper yet comparable in quality to name brand. In fact, sometimes they’re the exact same product! (Ever wondered why your butter has a generic wrapper inside a branded box?)
- Cut the cord. If you have cable, consider cheaper streaming alternatives. If you still have home phone service, ask whether it’s worth it.
- Cancel subscriptions. Push the pause button on Netflix, Amazon Prime, unused gym memberships and other services you pay for monthly. Get rid of what you don’t use or miss, then build the good ones into your budget.
- Automate your savings. Saving is easiest when you don’t have to think about it. Set up an automatic transfer to divert a portion of each paycheck into an emergency fund or separate savings account.
- Reduce energy costs. Seal up cracks and gaps so you’re not heating and cooling the outdoors in addition to your living space. Even little things, like turning off the lights when you leave a room or unplugging unused appliances, will add up too.
- Borrow, don’t buy. Tools, pans, clothes – all things you might need for one specific occasion. If you know someone who has what you need, see if they’ll lend it to you. What are friends for, after all?
- Use discounts. Lots of places knock a few bucks off for seniors, veterans, students and so on; ask what you qualify for and take advantage. Save money with coupons, apps and discount programs too.
- Freeze your spending. If you’re really looking to understand your relationship with money, don’t buy anything nonessential for a week or a month.
If you’d like to discuss your finances, let us know using the form below.