Smart Money Tips That Will Help You Save Cash
Saving money is something everyone should aspire to do. If you don’t have anything saved for emergencies, when something comes up like an unforeseen medical expense or a car repair, you’ll be left with added debt that can spiral out of control.
Break the cycle and try some of these quick tips for saving more money. Saving is essential for everything from your emergency fund to paying down your debt. This guide has some simple ways to help you save money quickly.
Know the Importance of Saving
When it comes to saving, one of the most important things to remember is why you need to save in the first place. Keeping the reason at the forefront of your mind will help you from falling off the savings wagon. If you need to write a note to yourself and put it on your bathroom mirror, do it.
Track Your Spending
If you don’t know where your money is going, it’s hard to save it. In order to keep track of your spending, you need to know what you’re spending your money on. Spending money without keeping track of it can cost you more than you realize.
Commit to a Budget
Once you know where your money is going, you’ll be able to establish a budget that is more realistic. While it can be tempting to keep numbers as low as possible to pack as much into the budget as possible, if they aren’t grounded in real numbers, you may not be able to keep your spending within those bounds.
Pay in Cash
If you’re having trouble spending too much with your credit card or debit card, it might be helpful to start paying in cash. That way, if you don’t have the cash, you’re unable to pay for whatever you’re trying to do. This can help train your brain not to default to your credit card.
Make It Automatic
One of the easiest ways to save money quickly is to make it automatic. When money is automatically taken from your checking account, it can quickly go into your savings without you even realizing it was there. You can do this online at almost every bank.
Keep a Savings Tracker
In addition to tracking spending, you should also monitor your savings progress with a savings journal or spreadsheet. There you can record your progress, see where you saved the most money, where you can improve and where you may be able to cut or save even more.
Use a Budgeting App
There are several great budgeting apps out there that can help you stay on track and record your progress. Budgeting apps typically sync with all of your bank accounts. You can link them to your checking account, savings account and also credit cards.
Have Weekly Check-Ins
When you’re working on saving money, it’s important to regularly check in with yourself. Think of it as a weekly or monthly budget meeting at work. These check-ins allow you to see your progress and make adjustments for the following week or month.
Set Small Goals
When it comes to goals, you want to set small, attainable objectives that can help you on your way to achieving bigger dreams. Let’s say your big goal is to buy a house. Set your small goals for things like paying down your debt, saving $100 a month towards your down payment and paying off a small credit card balance.
Plan Out Your Big Goals
When you have your big goals mapped out, you’ll have a clearer picture of what your little goals are working towards. In the case of a home, your big goal is to buy a house, ideally with 20 percent saved for a down payment.
Get Creative With Entertainment
Entertainment for yourself or your children can be expensive. However, when you’re trying to scale back and save, you want to make sure you’re not cutting all of the fun out. If you deprive yourself too much, you’ll likely fall off the wagon and splurge on something reckless.
Save Those Dollars
An easy way to save money is by saving a set amount over a designated period. Let’s say you just want to start small with $1 a day. Literally take $1 a day and put it in a jar. At the end of the year, you’ll have $365 saved.
Keep Making Payments
An easy way to save money you might not even miss is to keep making payments even after a debt has been paid. Let’s say you have a small loan that you were paying $100 a month on. Once you pay off your loan, keep paying yourself $100 a month.
Bump Up Retirement Savings
If one of your savings goals is to prepare more for retirement, taking advantage of employer-offered benefits can make a big difference. For example, if you have an employer-funded 401(k) and you’re not maxing it out, now is the time to do so. This is especially important if your employer is matching your contributions.
Keep the Change
There are a lot of apps and programs out there that help you automatically save change from purchases. If you have an app synced to your debit card, for example, each time you purchase something and there is change, that amount is rounded up and the difference is put into a savings account.
The Envelope Plan
If you do better with goals when you have a visual reminder to keep you on track, try to use the envelope method for saving. With this approach, you mark several envelopes with the names of different funds your cash will go toward. You can have a grocery envelope, a coffee envelope and a lunch money envelope, for example.
Save Those $5 or $10 Bills
If you like to make saving money a bit more fun, play a game with yourself or your family where anytime you receive a $5 bill, you have to put it in a jar. This only counts with a $5 bill and not singles.
Have No-Spend Days
No-spend days or no-spend months are a great way to save money really quickly. Whatever you want to start with, choose a designated amount of time when you aren’t allowed to buy anything that isn’t essential.
One way to stay on top of your finances and hold yourself accountable is to set alerts on your accounts. If you are working on a savings goal with your partner, you can each set alerts for yourselves as well as each other so that you can see what activity has been going on in your account.
Put on a 24-Hour Hold
If you’d like to buy something while you’re trying to save money, try to put a 24-hour hold on the item. Let’s say you have a vacation coming up, for example, and you’d like some new clothes. Before you go and buy $300 worth of clothing, put everything in your online cart and wait for 24-hours before looking at it again.
The snowball method is one of the best tricks in the book when it comes to saving. To participate in the snowball method, you take one of your lowest debt accounts and try to pay it off over the course of time.
The Old Change Jar
Never discount that change sitting on the floor of your car or at the bottom of your purse. If you have a bunch of old change lying around, start rounding it up and saving it in a jar. You can even get your kids involved and have them keep a jar or piggy bank as well.
Set Up a Secret Bank Account
When you can always see the money in your checking or main savings account, it can be hard to let that money sit there without spending it. A secret bank account can be a great way to save some extra money without the temptation to spend it.
Holiday Gift Cards
While it may be tempting to spend the gift cards you get right after you receive them, try and save them instead. When you get gift cards for the holidays or your birthday, for example, try and save all of them somewhere out of sight.
Use the 50/30/20 Method
To help save more money, you can try the 50/30/20 method where 50 percent of your income goes to your essential and fixed costs such as housing, utilities and groceries. You then take 20 percent of your income to use towards savings, paying down debt, emergency funds and your retirement.
While vacations may not be what first comes to mind when you think about saving, it’s important to still plan and budget for these excursions if they are important to you. If a vacation is on your horizon, the sooner you start saving for it, the better off you’ll be.
Save First, Spend Later
One of the best things you can do when you’re looking to save money is to shift your mindset towards a "save first, spend later" mentality. As Warren Buffet once said, "Do not save what is left over after spending, but spend what is left over after saving."
Pay Down Debt
One of the best ways to boost your savings is actually to pay down your debt. Paying down your debt saves you interest, and it also makes your payments come to an end sooner. With each debt down, you save money on interest and fees.
The 30-Day Rule
One of the most important personal finance rules to live by is not giving in to instant gratification. One of the easiest ways to practice this in real life is by waiting for 30 days before you make a purchase. If you still want it after 30 days, then you can make a decision.
Have a Staying-In Day
One of the fastest ways to save cash is by cutting down on dining out, drinking and entertainment. While it’s still important to have fun, consider at least one day a week where you don’t go out at all — no restaurants, bars, cafes, nothing.