You’ve probably heard the phrase from a friend or in marketing “save money, live better.” Well, having some extra money can definitely make your life easier, but you have to know how to do it.
For years, I lived paycheck to paycheck and had zero savings. When everything is okay with your health and your loved ones, you can somehow survive on a tight budget. The problem starts when you have an unexpected expense that leads to loans, and in effect, growing debt.
Sounds familiar? It was my life for a long time until I learned how to save money. I want to help you save money and live a better, more stable life. Here are 17 tips to help you reduce your debt and save some money that are daily able to be incorporated into your life.
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1. Pay Off Your Debt
Paying off your debt might not sound like saving to you but let me explain. Each month you need to pay some amount for servicing your debt. Tally up all the money you’re paying towards debt every month. It may surprise you that you’re spending hundreds of dollars without realizing it.
Until you pay off the loan, that money is always going to be an extra monthly expense. By not having those debt payments, that money can now be allocated towards savings and other monthly expenses. Follow these tips for getting out of debt quickly to get you started.
If you have an exorbitant amount of debt, you may want to look into debt resolution or debt settlement. This can have a significant impact on your finances though so should only be considered after working with financial professionals.
2. Set a Realistic Goal
Having the right motivation is crucial to succeeding in saving money. Rather than setting a numeric goal, for example, I’m going to save $100 in a month, visualize what you want to save the money for.
Maybe it’s a medium-term financial goal where you want to save money for a down payment on a new house. Or is do you dream about an exotic vacation or a photography course that you always wanted to take?
Whatever you are saving for, be sure to always have a clear image of your goal. To help you out, follow these easy goals and strategies for setting achievable financial goals. Once you have your target, you should calculate how much you need to save, for example, each month, to complete your dream.
3. Pay Yourself
If you own a business, you don’t postpone payments to your workers. The same should be true when paying yourself. When you’re saving, you shouldn’t cheat yourself.
There are thousands of excuses that you can use to put aside less money this month than you are obliged to. If you have a problem with keeping promises to yourself, set an automatic, recurring transfer on your account that is going to send money to your savings account on each payday.
4. Stop Smoking or Drinking
Quitting smoking is not easy, and if you are a smoker, I bet you know that well. If you smoke one and a half packs a day, it means that quitting smoking could save you $3,000 a year. That’s enough money to take a nice vacation yearly!
Of course, another motivation to get rid of those vices is your health. For the first time since the 1960s, less than 20% of Americans smoke cigarettes. Join the club – save your money and health.
Another thing that can help you save money is limiting drinking. Alcohol is something that can cost you a lot of money, especially when you drink regularly. If you’re a wine lover and can’t imagine your dinner without a glass of paired wine, that’s fine. You can try to cut expenses elsewhere. But if you do a lot of recreational drinking, try to host or suggest outings to so with friends that aren’t centered around alcohol.
By reviewing how much you spend on cigarettes and alcohol, you can determine whether you’re rather allocate that money to other things in your life lthat will bring you greater joy. If you never have the money for a vacation, you may be surprised how nice of one you could have yearly simply by cutting down on these two categories from your budget.
5. Say No to Take Out Coffee
Having coffee on your way to work or school can become a habit. Even if it seems like just a few dollars a week, when you add up the amount, stopping your daily coffee stops can help you repair your budget.
It doesn’t mean you have to resign from this little pleasure. Instead of buying your drink in a coffee shop, prepare it at home and pour it into a reusable cup that you can take with you. This way, you save money and the environment.
If going to Starbucks is truly your one enjoyment that you splurge on, that’s completely fine. The goal is to save money, live better. If living your best life includes takeout coffee, then go for it. Just be aware of the tradeoffs and don’t make it a mindless habit.
6. Pack Your Lunch
Brick by brick, you can build a home. Savings work the same way. The small, everyday sums can build up to a big amount at the end of the month. Let’s say that lunch at work costs you $7 and preparing it at home $2. If you bring your homemade food, after a year, you’re going to have saved $1,250.
You may say that you don’t have time for cooking, but there are thousands of one pot, quick, and delicious recipes on the internet that you can prepare in 20 minutes…probably the same amount of time you would spend waiting in the line at your work lunch room.
You can easily learn how to meal plan and even make freezer meals that you can reheat when you don’t feel like cooking after a long day at work. It’s not as time-consuming as you think and can save you hundreds on your grocery bill.
7. Make a Shopping List
Spending on things you don’t need is a waste of money. There is nothing worse than going to a supermarket when you are hungry. Buying too many products make you lose your money and waste food.
I was always going shopping right after work when I was hungry and everything seemed appealing to me. In the end, I paid a huge amount at the check-out for food, and I wouldn’t be able to eat it within a month.
While I was learning how to save, I discovered that preparing a list of the products you actually need from the store helps a lot. Allow yourself to get a maximum of two extra things that you haven’t put on your list you will save huge amounts of money.
8. Lower Utilities
Your house utilities may cost more than they should. If you’re spending a lot on healing and cooling, contact your utility company or find a contractor who can perform an energy audit. They can tell you more about your home’s energy efficiency and easy ways to fix it. Something as simple as caulking gaps around window frames can save you hundreds of dollars monthly.
For other utilities, use a service like Trim where they do the work to negotiate your monthly recurring bills lower. This includes cable, internet, and phone services. Also, check out ways you can legitimately get free internet at home.
9. Bring Smart Solutions to Your Home
You already know that you shouldn’t leave a light on in a room when you’re not spending time in it, close the tap when you brush your teeth, and unplug all electrical devices when you don’t use them. These small steps can give you a bit of savings on your bills for utilities.
If you want to improve your house efficiency, you can lower the thermostat on your water heater. Decreasing the temperature by 10ºF can save you 3-5% on energy costs. A good solution that can lower your electricity bill is installing energy-saving light bulbs.
Using other “smart home” solutions like a learning thermostat and upgrading old appliances to Energy Star rated ones are good ways to save over time.
10. Enjoy a “Staycation”
The #staycation hashtag is very popular on Instagram. There are over 5 million posts with this tag. It’s not surprising; spending your vacation in proximity to your house is becoming more and more popular.
Instead of spending your holidays abroad, you can organize an unforgettable vacation in your area or even your own backyard. During a staycation, you can discover cool places close to you, which you had no idea existed. Become a tourist in your own town or nearby town.
11. Little Sums Add Up
When you start saving, you may think that your budget is already good and that it’s impossible to save more. Once you start looking closely at your spending, you’ll see the bigger picture. Once you start writing down small purchases here and there, you’ll quickly find out where your money leaks are.
It’s easy to spend $20 for soda and snacks at the vending machine every week without a second thought. (not mentioning the gym subscription to burn all those off those snacks). This is good though! This means that once you stop those mindless purchases, it’s like you’re getting a pay raise.
12. Cancel Email Newsletters
Remember that time you subscribed to a brand newsletter to have a chance to win $500 for shopping in their store? Yeah, me too… Since they already have your email, you’re going to continue to get information about the newest collections and promotions.
Opening an email with an offer can encourage you to buy things that you don’t need and that you could easily save money on. This is why you should cancel all the newsletters from the brands that you’re not interested in to avoid this kind of temptation.
13. Check Your Closets
Once you get rid of all of the newsletters, you may still feel that you have nothing to wear. It’s a universal problem. I’ve been there too. You should go through all your clothes and check which ones you wear, which you forgot about, and which are just dust catchers.
This method can help you unclutter your space (any Marie Kondo fans here?), refresh your outfit sets, and even allow you to earn some extra cash. You can try to sell items you no longer wear on eBay, Craigslist, or at a local flea market. If you realize you really need some new clothes, you can put aside, for example, 20% of your profit, and the rest put aside into your savings account.
14. Buy Used Items
Saving doesn’t mean living a poor, extremely minimalist life. While we tend to buy useless things that just clutter our houses, we sometimes need to get items that our household lacks.
A good place to go when you live on a budget are second-hand stores. You can save a ton of cash by buying there. Moreover, you can be sure that in a vintage store, you can find real gems. Instead of getting the same coffee service as three other friends, you can get a genuine, retro porcelain set that no one else has.
15. Share Your Goal with People Who Support You
Friends who always have your back are priceless. When you’re saving money, you should share it with your loved ones. They can support you in your dreams and remind you about them.
When your friends know why you’re saving money, they’re going to be more willing to resign from eating out and meet with you at home in order to support you in your dream.
16. Cancel All Subscriptions for Services You Don’t Use Regularly
If you have piles of unread magazines or you subscribe to streaming TV that you don’t have time to watch, you should cancel them as soon as possible. By doing this, you can save a good amount of money fast and put it aside to reach your goal quicker.
17. Look for Free Events in Your Town
It might be hard to resign from your social life. The good news is that you don’t have to do it. Plenty of free events happens around you all the time, and you don’t even know about them.
Maybe your municipality has free tennis or basketball courts, or an outdoor gym? The local library can organize a young artist’s exhibition, and perhaps the town hall runs an outdoor cinema during the warm months. All you need to do is good research.
Try to join a group on Facebook or check the local news to learn about the events happening in your area. Then, enjoy activity events with your friends or by yourself.
Whether you’re trying to pay off your debts, save for college for your kid, or have an amazing vacation in Paris, these tips can help you reach your goal quicker. Sometimes all you need is to take the first small step and change a few of your daily habits. None of this advice is probably going to be life-changing itself, but I am sure that if you implement more than one in your life, your financial situation is going to change quickly.
My last but most important piece of advice for you is: never give up. Remember that learning how to save money is a process. Don’t be discouraged by small stumbles. Follow this advice regularly, save money, live better.
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