10 things you can do to save more money
According to a recent GoBanking study, 34% of the 7,000 people they surveyed have $0 in savings. Our grandparents and great grandparents did a much better job of saving than most of us do currently. Statistics speak to this. For many, saving money isn’t a priority which then results in added financial stress and worry. If you’ve read through my previous posts, you know that having an emergency fund of $1,000 is a great way to give yourself some breathing room. You should expect the unexpected and have a fund in place that you can dip into in times of emergency. I’ve listed ten things you can do to help you get to your $1,000 mark or just to save more in general.
1. Go cash only - especially when grocery shopping, eating out, and just shopping in general. This will force you to be a conscious spender. When we swipe a debit or credit card all day long, we don’t truly realize how much we are spending. Using cash activates the pain centers in the brain. When I spend an actual $100 bill, I feel it. I notice that it’s gone. When I swipe a debit card at Wal-Mart for $96 worth of groceries, I’m aware that I just spent money but honestly it feels different when I count out 96 bucks in cash and physically hand it over to the cashier. You will spend less when you use cash consistently; I guarantee it. Try it and start stashing away the money you save!
Also consider this… When you use a credit card, you are actually deferring an important question: was the purchase worth it? With a credit card you don’t ask yourself that question until the statement arrives next month. When you use cash, you must ask it in the moment.
2. Track your progress - visual aids help send a powerful message to your brain that your sacrifices are paying off! We have a chart on our refrigerator specifically for our house savings account. The refrigerator = an excellent location because we constantly see this savings chart. It reminds us of our goal and we write on it so we can see our progress happening! On the flip side, when we don’t see progress happening as quickly as it should be we know to check in and see what’s keeping us from reaching our goal.
I also highly recommend visual aids for keeping track of your debt pay off! When we were working to pay off my car, I kept a post-it note on my desk at work that had how much I currently owed on my car. Every time we made a payment, I would cross out the old amount and write down the new amount. Seeing that progress kept me motivated to not only pay it off but to pay extra on it when I could!
3. Limit the little luxuries that add up! That manicure or pedicure. Eating out. A massage. Alcohol purchases. Going to the movies. Etc... Spread out your fun! Eat out a nicer meal once a week instead of hitting a fast food place 3-4 times a week. Treat yourself to a pedicure once a month instead of twice a month. You have to remember what your bigger goals are and make them a priority. Plus if we are honest with ourselves, the treats should wait until after we’ve given our family a cushion to fall on.
4. Set up an automatic savings plan! Automatic fund transfers are the best! It is one of my top pieces of advice for those working to save money. Instead of making excuses for not saving or simply forgetting to save, have it set up with your bank so that every single month (or pay period) a certain amount gets deposited into your savings account from your checking account. No effort is required after setup. Just get it started and then let it work! And then don’t touch it unless it’s an emergency. Everyone that struggles with saving should do this! Go to your bank and tell them you want to set it up.
5. Stop giving interest free loans to Uncle Sam. I’m definitely not a tax guru, but I do know that many folks are receiving a huge refund come tax time. That is money that you could be receiving throughout the year to help pay on bills and to assist you in meeting your savings goals. Review your W-4! Have you selected the right number of withholding allowances? Speak with someone in your HR department or a tax pro to help you get this corrected. For example, if you are receiving a $2000 refund, that is roughly $167 a month you could instead put in a savings account as you go throughout your year.
6. Save all of your coins! I’ve always encouraged my students to save all of their spare change. Some people have coin jars for vacation or for a future splurge on something. I have my own coin jar, and anytime I have spare change I contribute to that fund. It’s not a game changer when it comes to saving, but it is a first step in realizing how quickly spare change can add up. On that same note - I’ve known people who save every single $5 bill they come in contact with. They either have an envelope or a jar set aside for all their 5 spots.
7. Compete with yourself. By nature, most of us are competitive beings. Turn saving into a competition. If you save an extra $75 this month, make it your mission to save $100 next month. Or if you saved $20 during the first week, make up your mind that you can double that amount for the next week.
8. Ditch DirecTv or Dish Network and use Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime. This could save you at least $50 a month.
9. Do you have things lying around that you could sell on craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay? If so, quit letting them clutter up your home and sell, sell, sell. Electronics, video games, home decor items, clothing, furniture, etc. I can only speak for myself, but I love the feeling associated with de-cluttering... So why not make a few dollars in the process to add to your savings!
10. Bring in more income so that you can increase your ability to save. When asked why they don’t save money, many will say they simply don’t make enough money to get past paying bills and putting food on the table. I understand that feeling. There are ways around that though. Work some overtime. Take an extra job for a short time. Start a side hustle. Use your skills and talents to make some extra cash. Mow a neighbor’s lawn. Clean homes. Tutor. Childcare. Care for the elderly. Do some computer work for someone. Etc.
Final note: Stop using your credit card as an emergency fund and actually build an emergency fund. If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always got.
Set a savings goal and get started today! Feel free to share, comment, or ask a question below!