Are you making saving a priority in your life? Or do you find it “too hard” or that there “just isn’t enough money to go around?” I know exactly how you feel, I have been there! For that reason, I have been thinking what practical advice that I could offer to help answer these questions. Here is what I came up with.
1. Set reasonable goals and stick to them
2. Make saving a monthly bill
3. Only spend what you have
4. Cut back on unnecessary expenses
5. Pack your own food
- Setting realistic goals is super important. Yes, everyone would love to save $10,000 a year, but is that actually reasonable? Could you actually make that happen? You need to set goals that make sense for you and your family. What goals work for me are different than what may work for you. Everyone is different. People make different incomes and have different expenses. Goal setting is completely personalized to what fits YOUR needs. Make sure to set reasonable goals and then of course, stick to them! Building a hefty savings account does not happen overnight.
- I suggest treating saving as a monthly expense. Make saving just as important as paying your mortgage bill, rent, or purchasing food. If you put your bills first, then whatever is left over at the end of the month will be your allotted guilt free spending money. My husband and I put our savings right into our budget. It is something that is routine and doesn’t change. We don’t make excuses and make it a payment that has to be met every month. Since we started doing this, we have been able to contribute a significant amount per month into my student loans (on our way to tackling all of our debt!!)
- By only spending what you have left over at the end of the month, you will not be accruing more debt or racking up a large credit card bill. This is where you need to be in control of your spending and know when to say no. I struggle with this myself, especially when there is something extra that I want to buy that month or somewhere special I want to go. My husband and I set a monthly allowance that we both have to spend on miscellaneous items. It’s simple, if you don’t have the money, don’t spend it.
- I think most of us can relate to this. If you were to make a list of your monthly spending, would there be things that were non-essentials? Things that you could have passed up or said no to? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you can’t have fun…but all in moderation. When you work hard, you should be able to spend your money. But I suggest being reasonable with your spending or splurges. Do you go to Starbucks 15 times a month? What if you cut back and only went 7? That would be an extra $25 every month just from cutting back on coffee. What else can you cut back on? Do you have a monthly gym membership that you don’t even use? Then get rid of it! Go for a walk or run outside. YouTube at home workouts. That would save you another $60 a month. If you are unsure if you are overspending in this area, write down a list of what you bought for an entire month. At the end of the month look over your list and decide what was necessary and what wasn’t. My husband and I do this every month. We keep track of our food receipts and our miscellaneous spending. At the end of the month we keep eachother accountable for our spending.
- It sounds so simple doesn’t it? This step alone can save you so much money. I know to many people who buy their food out everyday or order out every night. Do you know really how much you are spending on food every month? My husband and I are big on packing lunches, especially since we know how expensive food is! If you have a husband who eats as much as mine does, we would go broke if we didn’t pack our own lunches everyday. Buying cold cuts at the grocery store will last you 5x more than the 1 sandwich you bought at the local deli for lunch one day. Make a list of what you like to eat and then go pick it up! Yes, it may require some food preparation late on your Sunday night…but the money you will save will be worth it. You will thank yourself later.
I hope you found some of these tips to be practical and helpful. Saving isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time, patience and even practice! Make saving a routine bill and then pretty soon it will just become second nature. They say that it’s so much easier to save when you are young, so why not take advantage of our time? What do you have to loose? All you have is money to gain!