Saving money can seem like an unattainable goal when you’re on a tight budget, but the good news is that is possible to get ahead and save. By making a few simple adjustments to your monthly expenses, you can get there sooner than you think.
To help you save money, try the following:
Cancel Monthly Memberships and Subscriptions
Now is a great time to cancel luxury items that aren’t 100% necessary. Items to consider canceling may include magazine subscriptions, beauty/clothing boxes, wine club memberships, etc. Another thing to research is paid mobile apps, such as photo filtering apps, music streaming apps, etc. Even if you only pay $2.99-$9.99 a month for some of these apps—every penny saved will help. Also, if pay for a gym membership, but have only gone to the gym once or twice this past year, you may want to cancel the gym membership and find other ways to exercise, i.e. daily walks/run or home workout videos (yoga, Zumba, etc.).
Use the 24-Hour Rule
If there’s something you want to purchase, use the 24-hour rule and wait that amount of time between wanting to make a new purchase and actually doing so. If you shop online, add something to your wish list or shopping cart, but wait at least 24 hours to make the purchase. Or, if you have a Pinterest account, save your desired item to a board. Often times, when you wait at least 24 hours you may find that you no longer need or want a particular item.
Stop Mindless Online Shopping
The convenience of online shopping can be a blessing and a curse. These days it’s easier than ever to buy something with the click of a button, however, it’s also a fast way to drain your bank account or rack up a credit card balance. To stop mindless online shopping, delete your debit or credit card on websites, especially those that allow a “one click” feature. By removing a saved card from the payment method, you make it one step harder to buy something.
Make a Monthly Household Budget and Stick with It
The key to creating a budget is understanding how much you earn, spend, and have leftover. Click here to access tool sheets to help you manage your money. Once you have a handle on your incoming and outgoing cash flow, you can create a monthly budget that allocates funds towards groceries, necessities, utilities, entertainment, rent/mortgage, etc. and once you determine how much money you have available for each item, make sure you stick to it. Understanding your monthly expenses and creating a budget will allow you to easily reallocate funds as needed. For example, if you normally spend $200 a month on entertainment, but suddenly find that you need more money for essential items, you can easily transfer money from the entertainment funds and apply it towards groceries, necessities, bills, etc.
Plan Your Meals and Make Shopping Lists Before You Head to the Grocery Store
At the beginning of every week, sit down and plan your meals for each day of the week. Write down exactly what you’ll need each day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and drinks. Click here to print a free weekly meal plan sheet. Once you have your weekly meal plan finalized, create a shopping list for the exact items on your list and stick with it. And whatever you do, do not go to the grocery store hungry! That almost guarantees that you’ll purchase unnecessary items and increase your grocery bill.
Purchase Generic Necessities
As you shop, consider buying generic or store brand items for cold medications, cleaning supplies, or plastic/paper goods, such as trash bags, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, etc. Generic products are usually less expensive and have the same quality and effectiveness as big-name brands.
Set Up an Automatic Savings Plan
Saving money can be made a little easier by setting up an automatic savings plan that places money directly from your paycheck into an account without you having to do a thing other than the initial set-up. If your employer offers direct deposit options, make sure to take advantage of this feature. Otherwise, look into your transfer options between your personal bank accounts—most banks allow you to set up monthly transfers from one account to another.
Get Rid of Debt
If you have debt, use Dave Ramsey’s Snowball Method to get rid of it. This method encourages you to pay off debt starting with the smallest to largest balance. Say you have five credit cards each with a pending balance: list each account in order by the total amount due from smallest to largest. You then pay the minimum balance on all accounts except for the first account listed (the account with the smallest balance due). Once the smallest balance is paid off, you apply the money that you were paying on the first card towards the next credit card and so on. It’s not only a great way to get rid of debt, but a great way to feel a sense of accomplishment once each debt is paid off.