Saving money is a lot harder than spending it, but as we mature, it’s not about living paycheck to paycheck, but planning for the future. If you’ve never sat down and created a budget, grab a chair. It’s time.
Many of us overlook the importance of saving money, however, if we’ve learned anything during COVID, life can change in an instant, and preparation is key. Setting up savings goals for an emergency or retirement is a necessity.
It’s challenging to save when certain items on our to-do list require us to spend. Our car needs new tires, the house needs to be painted and all three kids need braces at the same time, blah, blah blah. Here are 15 tips to help. Let the savings begin.
1) Embrace Automation
Thanks to tons of hi-tech online tools and resources, automating your transactions is easy and you don’t have to be a graduate of MIT to figure it out. Automation is nice because it does the work for you. For example, you can set up transfers from your checking to your savings every month which takes the pressure off you.
2) Empty Your Pockets
If you look in your couch, in your car, or in your pockets, there’s a good chance you’ll find some coinage. While a quarter here and there isn’t going to buy that car, a bunch of them will eventually.
If you’ve ever gone to the supermarket with a jar of coins, it can be pretty exciting to empty them into the coin counter. All of the sudden, you have forty bucks! You can do this monthly or annually and put that money in your savings account. It’s fun to get your kids involved too.
Check with your bank to see if they offer any roundup or keep the change programs as well.
3) Prepare a Grocery List
There are a few rules I try to follow at the grocery store. Never shop when I’m hungry and prepare a list beforehand. This helps when sticking to a budget and I don’t end up with random items that I didn’t need in the first place. Check for loyalty programs and be on the lookout for coupons to make the most out of your trips to the market.
4) Go Generic
Whether it’s your prescription medication or those allergy pills, generic and store-brand options cost 20-40% less than nationally advertised brands with the exact same ingredients. You’re basically paying more for a label people. Get over it and save!
5) Choose Smaller Servings
Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomach. We end up with leftovers that sit in the fridge for days and there goes precious money down the toilet, literally. Sorry, had to. I love food and instead of sacrificing eating at restaurants I love, I just don’t order as much.
6) Use Entertainment Discounts
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to create family fun. Always check to see if you’re eligible for discounts at amusement parks as either a resident, AAA member, student, military, senior, or perhaps there is a reciprocal special if you’re a member at another park. Believe it or not, many times, purchasing an annual pass is more economical than a day pass.
7) Compare Prices
Whenever you’re buying electronics, furniture, or expensive kitchen appliances, take the time to compare different brands and options. Usually, places offer price match guarantees and by simply asking for discount opportunities, you get discount opportunities. Make sure your products come with a warranty and at the end of the day, feel good about the money you saved.
8) Limit Online Shopping
I have to admit this is my downfall. Being greeted by a package when you open the door is exciting and very satisfying. Do you really need those luxury slippers? What about that blinged-out dog poop bag holder that attaches to your leash? Just because you can buy dozens of products online while lounging on your sofa doesn’t mean you have to or should. If you can’t look without buying, don’t look.
If you have app notifications set up on your phone, turn them off. It’s hard to stay away when a product pops up on your phone screaming, “BUY ME NOW.” I promise to follow this advice to help with my Amazon Prime and Nordstrom Rack addiction.
9) Use Your Talents
Sometimes, the best way to present an affordable gift to make it. “Who has time for this,” you ask? I hear you, but you can always find the time. If you like to paint, gift someone a portrait. If you have a big garden, prepare a gift basket of fresh fruits or herbs for your neighbors and family members. Making someone happy with something that makes you happy is pure joy and will end up saving you money.
10) Call Your Cable Operator
Placing a call to your cable company and asking if there are any savings you can take advantage of will save you dollars. There are always promotions and bundled opportunities.
Another tip is to go through your bill with a fine-toothed comb. You’re probably paying for services you don’t even use. If you’re not thrilled with your cable company, shop around as there are tons of alternatives available today.
11) Change Your Cell Phone Plan
The same inquiries about your cable should be accomplished with your phone. I just upgraded my phone to one with more storage and it turns out it’s cheaper per month. Not sure how, but it is. Head into your local cell phone carrier store or call to learn about your options.
12) Fix Your HVAC System
The life of your HVAC system can be extended by simply servicing it properly. Look into a quarterly check-up service from your current company so you can find a leak before it finds you. You’ll save more money maintaining your air conditioner than fixing it.
13) Cancel Useless Memberships
How many memberships do you have that you never use? If you’re still paying and not going to the gym, cancel your membership. Go through all your memberships and subscriptions to find those you can get rid of.
14) Track Spending
Yes, it takes time to keep your spending organized, but it’s worth it. Mobile apps can help you create a budget and stick to one. You must hold yourself accountable when saving and these apps will help you do just that.
15) Set Achievable Goals
While it’s imperative to save, setting yourself up for failure by creating unreachable goals isn’t very productive and makes you feel bad. Start small, prove you can do it, and slowly increase your savings goals. When you start to see how much money you were able to store away, it will motivate you to save more.
Many of these tips come with some investigative work, and while that takes up precious time and creates frustration trying to get a human on the phone, laziness costs money, it doesn’t make money.
Soon your addiction to spending will be replaced with your addiction to saving.
Here’s to the Wellness of Your Wallet!