We all know we need to save. Yet, few of us do save. Why? Because there are too many competing priorities for money in our lives. But, you can you can save for those larger purchases, for the emergencies that are sure to come, for your children’s college, for a home, and for your retirement. You may not think you have enough money. You may think you are living paycheck to paycheck with nothing left over after meeting your expenses. You may think you have to earn more money in order to have enough money to save.
The truth is saving isn’t a math matter. It’s an emotional one. Once you make saving a priority, then and only then will you save. Until you decide to pay yourself first, you won’t save. By the time you get to the end of the money, there won’t be enough left over for you. Here are some quick tips on how to save money.
Tip #1 – Know where your money is going
Keep track of what you spend for the next month. Write down each purchase, or ask for a receipt. But at the end of the month, your assignment is to account for every penny.
Tip #2 – Get control of your debt
Unsecured credit card debt and car loans are two of the biggest drains on personal finance. Adopt the attitude that if you can pay cash for it, you don’t need it. Stop using your credit cards and paying high interest rates on things you probably don’t need anyway. Stop buying new cars on credit that lose their value as soon as you drive them off the lot. Use the snowball method to get out of debt and then stay out!
Tip #3 – Are you a collector?
Many people spend money collecting things. Maybe you collect records, books, antiques, coins, dolls… look at your collections. Do they have any real value (a limited amount with a high demand), or are they one of thousands with no real resale value? Do you have duplicates? Are you buying more than you can enjoy?
Tip #4 – Review your gift giving budget
Do you buy expensive gifts for a huge list of friends and relatives? Can you make something instead that might have even more meaning to the person receiving the gift? Sometimes giving a consumable, homemade gift to someone whose house is cluttered and including a handwritten note will be the best gift they receive.
Tip #5 – Use the “sleep on it” rule
Before you make a major purchase (for most people, that would be anything over $300, but your personal threshold could be lower or higher), sleep on it. Why do you think a salesperson tries so hard to close the deal before you leave the store? They know that if you have time to think about it, you may decide that you really don’t need to make the purchase right now. So, go home and sleep on it. If you are still sure the next morning that buying is the right thing to do, then go ahead and do it (assuming you won’t be violating Tip #2 by using a credit card or otherwise going further into debt!).
Tip #6 – Always write a grocery list before you go shopping
Shop with a list, and don’t buy anything that isn’t on the list. A lot of research has gone into the creation of store displays to get shoppers to make those impulse purchases. If you stick to your list, you won’t fall prey to that marketing ploy. Another good technique for grocery shopping is to use the envelope method. When you get paid, write a check out for cash for the amount of your grocery shopping for that pay period and put it in an envelope. When the envelope is empty, you stop buying groceries until the next payday when you can refill the envelope.
Tip #7 – Throw a party
No, I don’t mean an all-out, expensive affair. But, instead of going out to dinner, why not invite some of your friends over instead. You could even ask them to bring their favorite dish and have a potluck meal. You could discuss a good book or watch a $1 Redbox Rental. Entertainment can still be fun without being expensive.
Tip #8 – De-clutter
Go through your closets and dressers and sort through your clothes. If you’re like most people, you have clothing that needs to be mended, clothing that needs to be thrown out and clothing that either no longer fits you or you just don’t like anymore. Set aside the mending and actually mend it instead of replacing it. The clothes you don’t want anymore can be sold in a yard sale, taken to a consignment shop, or even donated to Goodwill for a tax deduction (just ask them for a receipt for your taxes).
Tip #9 – Buy used
Not everything needs to be purchased new. Did your washing machine break down? You can get a used one from your local appliance store for $75. Does your son go through video games in a day? Buy used from Hastings or your local video game store. You can also buy pre-owned movies from your local store or from your nearest Redbox outlet. Never, ever buy a new car. It will lose thousands of dollars of its value within the first couple of years. Let someone else take that hit; buy used.
Tip #10 – Cut back on convenience foods
It’s easy enough to cook in bulk and freeze leftovers to create your own “convenience foods”. You can take these to work with you saving that $6 – $9 fast food lunch bill. Not to mention, the food you prepare at home will probably be much healthier than what you buy from your local fast food restaurant.
These are just a few tips to help you find ways to save money. But remember, unless saving becomes a priority for you, it will never happen. So, start today, even if you save just a little. Make saving a habit, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your savings account will grow.