Saving money is like starting a new diet: it sounds easy until day one rolls around and you have to sacrifice all the good stuff to see any results. But what if I told you there are ways to save that hard-earned cash without giving up the fun? Well, it’s true! With a little planning, you could have your next house renovation or family vacation paid off in no time! Here are my favorite ways to save money.
Creative Ways To Save Money
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1. Keep It Out Of Reach
One of the easiest ways to save money is to hide it from yourself. When filling out the direct deposit forms at work, have your company deposit part of your check into your savings account. Later on, whatever gets put into your checking account is what you have to work with.
After a few paychecks, you’ll start to get used to that amount and won’t even remember some of the money is going to your savings. Then at the end of the month, when you get your bank statement, you’ll be surprised at how much you have saved.
2. Plan Ahead Your Eating Out
Going out to eat is one of the top expenses in most households. As much fun as it is to try out new restaurants and grab drinks with friends, there has to be a limit.
Get in the habit of planning out your meals (check out these amazing high-protein breakfasts) for the week and go grocery shopping on the weekends. Have an allotted amount of money to spend and stick to your list. This will not only save you money but the extra calories from eating out so much.
3. Pay On Time
To avoid any extra expenses, make sure to pay your bills on time. Those unnecessary, not to mention overpriced, late fees can add up from month to month. It would be better for you to know going into the month how much you owe and when and then set a weekly allowance on top of that. When that’s gone, it’s gone.
4. Can the Cable
I know what you’re thinking, “Me? Get rid of my cable? You must be crazy!” Well, it’s not as crazy as you may think. A study by NPD Group shows that cable bills will go up on average to $123 per month.
So, getting rid of your cable subscription can save you almost $1500 a year! Not so crazy anymore, huh? And if you’re a TV junkie then there are less expensive alternatives that you can use. If you’re already paying for the Internet, try Hulu or Netflix to catch your favorite TV shows instead.
5. Swap & Save (clothing)
For me, the hardest part about saving money is not being able to spend it on clothes. And I know I’m not the only one. So gather your friends and neighbors and have a clothing swap. Everyone brings over their gently used or unworn clothes and jewelry and trades it for something someone else is getting rid of. This allows you to not only clean out your closet but also add some new stuff at no cost at all.
6. Splurge Every Once In Awhile
The best advice I can give you for saving money is to spend it every now and then. If you buy yourself something that you most likely don’t need, but want, it’ll make you feel less restricted. Not being able to treat yourself regularly can make it easier to cave when something bigger comes along that you want and definitely can’t afford.
7. Work on Your Liquid Savings
When a crisis occurs, you might need to access money quickly and for that reason, it is best to have a lot of liquid savings and not have it all tied up in complicated places. (You might own a second house that’s worth a ton of money for example, but you won’t be able to grab that money any time soon unless you start planning right now.)
Liquid savings accounts include things like your general checking and savings accounts, money market accounts, and short-term government investments.
The value of these types of savings is that they don’t fluctuate as much as some other things like stocks do. Of course, the risk of keeping all your savings in these types of accounts is that the interest you make is modest. For that reason, it is best to split your savings out around a variety of savings accounts, but just be sure that enough of it is liquid that you could grab it if you needed to.
8. Make an Emergency Fund
This might sound like a basic no-brainer, but if you don’t have one then you needed the suggestion! To make an emergency fund you might need to start budgeting out your monthly expenses and income a little differently. See where you can pare back and how much you can realistically put into an emergency each month separate from your normal savings account.
If you have a hard time doing this it can be beneficial for you to have an auto transfer set up after your paycheck gets deposited so that you don’t even see the money and can’t be tempted to spend it.
Clean up your monthly bills by checking for any money leaks. A common example is paying a monthly check instead of doing free checking. Another might be that you are paying for cable but could get by with just an internet connection and a Netflix account.
Utility bills are another big one, you can truly save money on your energy bills by turning the lights off when you leave a room and using fans instead of an air conditioner when possible. A lot of these are small costs, but over the long term can make a big difference, especially when you find a few of them that you are paying for unnecessarily.
9. Set Up Auto Bill Pays
If you can safely set up auto bill payments without putting yourself at risk, you should do so. That way in case an emergency of any kind occurs you will not be at risk of getting your power shut off, or making a late payment on your credit card that could tack on some fees at a later date.
Sorting through the bills that you have can also help you decide if you actually need to be paying them at all. Close any accounts that aren’t necessary or that are not helping your credit score by staying open.
10. Work On Those Credit Cards
If there is any way that you can make more than your minimum payment on your credit cards, do that! The interest is just going to keep building up and you will owe more and more down the line. Up your monthly payments, as much as possible to free up more credit and Cute animal piggy banks cut down your interest.
If you know you will be able to make some significant pay downs within the next year or so, try switching credit cards to lower your rate. This isn’t a great idea if you won’t be able to pay it down anytime soon, (since the interest rate will jump back up eventually) but if you will it can free up that feeling of just treading water to stay above the surface and give you a minute to make payments that are actually doing something productive.
11. Make More Money
Well, of course, we all want to make more money, but if your current finances are not giving you enough room to work on your emergency fund it might be time to get creative. Is there someone in your household who does not work but feasibly could? Do you have any old belongings that you don’t need anymore that you might be able to sell on eBay or something?
Think outside of the box when it comes to money-making and not just about your direct paycheck.
12. Forget the Fast Food
While the “dollar menu” might sound appetizing to your stomach and your wallet, it’s not. No one ever orders just one burger and keeps on moving. There are the nuggets and the fries and the drink.
Next thing you know you’ve spent ten bucks and wasted over a thousand calories on one meal. And that’s just lunch!
One of the biggest ways to save is to stop going out to eat. Try going grocery shopping on Saturday or Sunday for the entire week. Get enough food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so you don’t have to stop for anything but gas on your way to and from work. That will not only save you some money each week but also a few more years on the old ticker, too.
13. Unsubscribe ASAP
Another thing you may be wasting your money on and not even realize is subscriptions. Whether it’s on a gym membership, magazine subscription, or the jelly-of-the-month club, it’s all costing you money that you could be saving for the future. And odds are you aren’t even using them.
Unless you’re a gym junkie, there is no way you are going as much as your membership is worth. You can always work out at home for free.
And why are you wasting your money on a magazine when you most likely can read it online for free?
Try paying on an as-needed basis. There are some gyms you can pay as you go, so do some research and find which one works best for you.
14. Skip the Supplements
And speaking of the gym, can those miracle pills and powders. The only thing they’re making smaller is your wallet, not your waist. Weight loss traps are an easy way for companies to get you hooked on a product that promises you unrealistic results for an unnecessary amount of money. The only way you’re going to lose weight is to get off the couch and go for a run, which is free.
15. Cut the Cable
With technology where it is these days, there is no reason why you should still be paying for cable TV. There are a number of cheaper options you can use to catch your favorite shows, especially if you’re already paying for the Internet. So check out Hulu or Netflix and see what they offer and for how much. You’d be surprised at how much you could have been saving the last few years while getting the same benefits.
16. Lose the Bank Fees
Do you know how much you’re actually paying your bank to keep track of your hard-earned cash? Most banks are charging bank fees for just about anything these days, so it’s important to keep track of what they’re deducting and why.
Look into your bank’s fees and then shop around if it’s too high. There’s no reason why you should be penalized for not maintaining the balance they prefer. They set it that high so you can’t maintain it, forcing you to pay. So do your homework and find a bank that fits your financial needs before paying any more to a bank that doesn’t appreciate your service.
17. Pay Down Your Debt
The good news about debt is that it can be paid off. The bad news is that it’s not so easy. The one single greatest thing you can do to achieve financial freedom is to not get into debt at all, although that’s wishful thinking sometimes, as life gets in the way. Our goals get roadblocked, making it all seem like one giant storm after the other.
One foolproof solution to getting out of debt for good is to know what you owe. I know it sounds easier than it actually is, but believe me, it’s possible. Create a calendar to track your payments and how much is coming in and going out as well as how much you spend on other expenses and miscellaneous items.
It’s tedious but will save you heartache in the long run. Seeing your spending habits up close and personal could entice you to make a change for good.
18. Stop Using Credit Cards
Credit cards may only seem like a good idea when you want to pay off a loan or purchase any other item, but with the incurred interest rates and constant balance, it’s an ongoing battle.
For a stable financial life, try to pay off debts and other purchases using money that you already have (ideally after you’ve taken care of other obligations), otherwise, you’ll keep mounting on debt after debt. It might seem convenient, but all you’re really doing is wasting hard-earned dollars.
One way to shock yourself out of credit cards is to weigh how much you owe if you paid a certain amount and how much you already make. If you make $25 payments per month, it could take you over 4 years to pay off a $1000 credit card. That’s extra money you could have had in your pocket, to begin with.
19. Pay Cash Only
Paying your way through life by using cash only, includes debit cards and checks. You are only using money that you have made, therefore you don’t have to pay it back.
When you have money of your own, you’re more mindful of how much you spend, which is why this method works better than spending judiciously with a credit card.
If your spending habits have to be cut down a little, also think about how much you are worth to your current company. Perhaps you are worth more than you think so a raise or job promotion might be in the works. A better job equals better pay, which leads to more money to save.
20. Don’t Spend Everything You Have
Sometimes it’s so tempting to wake up to see money in the bank and immediately want to go spend it all. It’s thrilling to know that you have money in your bank account that’s all yours. Just as elated as that feels, you’ll want to keep the feeling going by saving your money and by spending less than what you make.
I have a friend who only spends 1/3 of his income on rent and bills, while he is extremely frugal, the rest goes in his pocket. By saving more than half of what you make, you’ll be closer to securing a home, car, and putting away for retirement than you would if you could only afford to contribute less than 25% per month.
Staying away from debt and working out the hard parts of your financial life is easier than you think. With a more mindful outlook, you’ll be on your way to a smooth financial plan.
21. Borrow With Caution
It’s OK to borrow. You’ve probably borrowed from your parents many times to get through college and many times they usually know that you’re not going to pay them back. In the real world, it doesn’t go quite this way.
Unnecessary loans and too much borrowing can get you into a lot of trouble. Take it from someone who’s had 5 credit cards in college. Borrowing too much or having too many credit cards all at once can get you into loads of financial trouble.
There is in fact “good debt” and “bad debt.” Good debt is investing in your future. It leaves you in a better place financially and really shouldn’t impact you in a negative way. This includes student loans and mortgages.
Bad debt, on the other hand, will financially and emotionally drain you. Borrowing money to invest in your wardrobe is probably not a good idea. Instead, borrow money that is going to lead to a worthy investment.
22. Pay Yourself First
If you want savings to be your priority, take a good look at how you are budgeting. Buffet says it best, “Don’t save what is left after spending; spend what is left after saving.”
We live in a capitalistic society that is driven by consumerism. It’s all too tempting to get caught up in the pomp and circumstance of it all and purchase things that you truly know you don’t need, but in an effort to keep up with the Jones’, you buy it anyway, even when you know you’re already in debt.
Here’s a basic rule of thumb. Let’s say you have $1,000 to cover your basic needs monthly. Put away some money for bills and debts, money for saving, then whatever is left can be used at your disposal.
Think of your savings as a monthly bill. “Pay yourself” periodically, so that you don’t overspend. If temptation comes to buy something, don’t purchase it just yet, give it a couple of days, then if you feel like you still can’t live without it, buy it, but cautiously.
Ask yourself, “Will I be broke after purchasing this frivolous item?” If so, I’d simply save a little at a time, then buy it.
23. Don’t Live Paycheck to Paycheck
Put away money so that you don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. It’s easy to fall into a place where you’re trying to patch up a sinking ship. However, stepping back and figuring out why you’re always broke is a good start.
Examples of things you don’t want to do that will keep you living check to check are withdrawing from your savings or using payday loans. Doing so will lead you nowhere. While borrowing from your retirement fund might get you out of trouble in the short term, it’s not helping you in the long run.
Instead, look for regular expenses you can trim. Maybe you could forgo cable and just opt for Netflix and internet. If you’re never home anyway, you’re basically giving away your money. Re-evaluate your needs and wants. I know as a girly girl that it’s so tempting to buy the latest product that comes out, but do you really need 50 shades of red lipstick? Think about ways that you can live more simply. It will also do your sanity some good.
By downgrading, you can trim off the extraneous “stuff” that is cluttering up your life. Perhaps try taking public transportation or walking to work to save on gas during the week. Make coffee at home instead of going to your local coffee shop every morning. At $3 cup, you could literally save $720 a year on coffee alone.
Lastly, learn basic skills yourself so that you don’t have to pay anyone else, like fixing your car and patching the hole in your sweater. Things like this really add up and doing it yourself will also help you to learn something about yourself.
Frugality isn’t the same as being a cheapskate. You can still enjoy the things you do, with caution. If you want to have more money in your pocket, being smart about it is the key to financial gain.
Do you have any financial tips that help you to save? Please share them with us in the comments below. We want to hear your input!
25. Save & Invest
If you are in good standing with what you already owe with credit card companies and bills then you should work to save instead. Having money set aside to invest in your future will put you in a better position financially.
Short-term savings should be put somewhere safe and accessible like a high-yield savings account or for long time saving, you might to consider a brokerage account. Both of these investment types will help you find your place within the stock market.
26. Start an Emergency Fund
Unexpected expenses are bound to come up so starting an emergency fund will help keep you from ending up financially devastated, such as with medical bills or damage to your property.
Having an emergency fund assists you in not having to take a huge portion out of your debit or credit card so that all you’ll have to do is write a check and you’re done!
27. Start a Gig
Gigs are always good to have on standby to help supplement your income. There are plenty of opportunities when it comes to side gigs that pay well too. Also, having multiple streams of income helps should one stream dry up. You’ll always have another source of money on hand.
Getting laid-off can be a scary experience, so you’ll want a backup gig to help supplement until you find another job so you’ll be in a much better position financially.
Think about what you enjoy doing and what you’re good at when choosing a side gig. It can your own business or you working for someone else.
28. Raise Your Standards
The biggest goals for most Americans involve saving money for the new year. Having more money saved for investing will no doubt increase financial security, but it will also help your money to grow as well.
It is a good idea to make raising your interest rate your main goal. If you have the know-how to weather the financial storms, then retirement can be in your early future.
29. Create a Monthly Budget
This tactic is tantamount to saving. As you’ll want to put away money and pay off your debt, you should also have a budget in mind. It is always a good idea to pay bills and other important things off before spending on any extraneous entities.
Also, having a financial plan forces you to spend your money in smart ways before they have a chance to spend themselves. It’s a pay-off to sit down and see what your primary payments are such as groceries, entertainment, or even transportation. A monthly budget is the cornerstone of any financial solution.
If you’re like many people, many of your financial aspirations seem to fall short once the year gains momentum. Being smart about your money shouldn’t be something that falls to the wayside. Instead, with these 7 helpful tips, you’ll be that much closer to the financial freedoms that you’ve always dreamed of.
Whether you’re in you’re ideal situation monetarily or not, everyone could use some room for improvement. Fortunately with an old year behind us and as the new year emerges, there will be fresh beginnings that will make this year the year to loosen the financial shackles.