With rising costs of living, it can feel like it is impossible to save money, but the motivation to do so has never been higher. Whether your motivation for saving money is to have enough money for a down payment for a house, to gain financial independence, or simply to have extra money ‘just in case’, it’s never too late to start saving money.
An important part of saving is to set goals for yourself. These goals should be realistic and achievable. For example, cutting gym memberships that you don’t use is feasible; stopping eating is not. If you wish to achieve your goals and make a positive influence on your life, you should cut out only what you can afford to.
To save $10,000 in three months, you need to be saving around $780 each week, which is no easy feat.
This article contains several different methods of saving and useful tips and ideas to help you start making the most of them.
Ways to save money
There are multiple different ways to save money. What is important is finding the right route to financial freedom for you. This might involve cultivating an abundance mindset, cutting down on your monthly expenses, or finding ways to get extra income. However, there are also several specific habits that people use to grow their savings, which are detailed below. Quite often people combine multiple of these methods.
No-spend weeks, or even months, are an up-and-coming trend. The idea is that you reduce your spending to zero during this time. Obviously, with longer periods of time, some exceptions have to be made for food and bills, but for a week, you can eat down your fridge and freezer and stop buying new items, making do with what you have.
All the money that you would have spent during this week can then go straight into your savings account.
Another popular way to save is in small increments, no more than a few dollars at a time. Whenever you would normally buy a coffee, you put the money into your savings account instead, which is easy with modern mobile banking.
If you do not use mobile banking, or don’t want to have to transfer money that frequently, you can also round up the amount you spend on a purchase, and put the extra into your savings. This works better if you tend to use a lot of physical cash; you can pay with notes and collect the change to be deposited into your savings once every few days or once a week.
If you don’t like to have to think about your finances multiple times a day, using automatic deposits is the method with the lowest mental load. This involves setting up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account, normally shortly after your paycheck. Some banks even offer a better rate if you deposit a certain amount each month for six months or longer.
This method works better if your paycheck does not tend to vary a huge amount. If your paycheck varies, an automatic deposit can put you into an unplanned and costly overdraft.
Manage your money
Saving money is great, but if you do not have a good idea about personal finance, then it will be difficult to track your progress towards your financial goals. If you do not gain financial control, then even if you reach your savings goal in three months, you could have burnt through your savings over the course of six months if you do not take control of your own money and change your thought process to keep track of your finances.
Set up extra bank accounts
Most people have at least one checking account. In addition to this, you should at least have a separate savings account. Keeping your savings separate means that it requires active thought to spend them and therefore it cannot happen accidentally.
On top of this, some people like to have a third account where spending money can be deposited weekly, to ensure you stick to the budget you set. Others prefer to take this out in cash – which is especially useful if you are using the cent-by-cent method of saving.
It tends to be a good idea to also set up an emergency fund in an instant-access savings account. This allows the majority of your savings not to be instant access and, therefore, means you will be able to get a better rate of interest.
When you are setting up accounts, it pays to shop around for the best rate of interest and to make sure you are not paying for services that you will not use.
Pay down your debt
Most people have some form of debt, whether that is a mortgage, student loan debt or credit card debt. Best financial practice is to pay off at least the interest on any debt you may have each month. If you do not meet this target then the amount you owe will just continue to climb and the interest will increase. Similarly, if you pay off your debt, the amount of interest reduces.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to pay more money when you are trying to save, this will cut down on your monthly expenditure and save you money in the long run. You should start by paying off the debt with the highest interest.
Equally, if you have multiple debts, it may be worth looking at combining them into a single, low-interest loan, although you should ensure that none of the debts have a fee for early repayment before you do this.
Create a budget
Creating a budget is a vital part of controlling your spending, which is what you have been trying to do since the moment you started saving. With a budget, you can decide what you want to be spending money on, how much you’re willing to spend and see how much you can feasibly save each month.
The first step to creating a budget is working out where your money is being spent. You can use bank statements and receipts to track your spending and work out how much goes on bills, how much on travel and groceries and how much elsewhere. Try to break down your monthly outgoings into categories that make sense to you, then divide these categories into ‘necessary’ and ‘optional’. Once you know how much you must pay, you can work out how much you can potentially save and so begin to work towards financial independence.
Now you know methods of saving and how to control your money, it is time to look at how to maximize the amount you can potentially save. The first way to do this, and the way everyone immediately thinks of, is reducing the amount you are spending.
Some ways to do this are obvious – stop subscribing to streaming services, for example. Missing the latest episode of the show you enjoy watching may be frustrating, but in six months you won’t even think about it anymore, and the benefit of more time and more money far outweigh a few months of frustration. Similarly, stop eating out. Start taking lunch to work and invite your friends over to yours instead of meeting them at a bar, don’t buy clothing unless you actually need it. But there are other ways to cut spending and realize your goals.
Reduce Monthly Expenses
Cutting out one-off spending may be useful, but it won’t have the same long-term effects that reducing your routine monthly outgoings will. To achieve greater savings over the long term, you need to minimize the amount you pay for utilities. The advantage of this is that it will continue to save you money even after you reach your savings goal.
Shop around for the cheapest services for your phone, electricity, water, gas, and whatever else you use each month. When you have found a cheaper deal, phone up your current provider – a lot of companies will match a cheaper price if you have been a loyal customer.
Save money on food
The best way to cut down the cost of your weekly food shop is to make a meal plan. Every piece of food that you are wasting is money that could have been saved instead and planning what you are eating for a week will allow you to dramatically reduce this amount.
You can also start eating cheaper options for meals, such as cutting down on meat. This will dramatically reduce your expenses and make your income go further. Not only will this help you save, but it will also make you healthier in the long run!
Save Money on travel
One of the larger main expenses can often be travel, especially with increased fuel prices. You can save on this by finding new ways to commute. Perhaps you can walk or cycle to work instead of driving. Not only are they completely free, but they are healthy for you, will allow you to cut out a costly gym membership and many companies will offer monetary help to people looking to cycle to work.
If you can’t feasibly walk or cycle a journey, look at using public transport instead of getting a car. You won’t have to pay for fuel or parking, and travel cards can save you a lot of money over single-use tickets. See if your area has travel cards that last six months to a year for maximum savings!
Earn Money back when you spend
It is a fact of life that you will be spending cash. But, if you find the right credit card, you can potentially earn reward points with every use. These can often be exchanged for discounts on items that you regularly buy. If you prefer to use a debit card, your account can also offer bonuses and discounts.
If you a smart and factor these rewards into your daily life, you can save a lot on your monthly outgoings, and even find yourself having a few luxuries.
Be careful not to buy more than you normally would, however. While getting returns on what you would already buy is good, buying more than you need is still wasting what could be saved.
Earn more money
The less obvious option to maximize your potential savings is to bring in more income. There are many ways to reach a higher income, from monetizing your hobby to utilizing the web. Below are some tips and ideas to help you make the most of everything from your free time to your work.
Make the most of your job
Your job is your main source of income, but as well as money a lot of companies offer benefits to working for them. These may not necessarily be advertised, but you may be able to get assistance with your commute, money towards working from home or even move to flexible work hours, which allows you to more effectively use your free time for other ways to make money.
On top of this, if you have been in your current position for a while and have positive performance reviews, you may be able to negotiate a raise. If a raise is not possible, you can still look around for a new job that offers more money or better benefits.
Get a Side Hustle
Work is not your entire life. You have hobbies and other interests and if you are savvy, you can monetize them. If you enjoy crafting, can you sell what you make? If you play computer games, have you considered streaming online?
Alternatively, you can get an additional new job, such as working for Uber or Deliveroo, companies with flexible hours that you can decide when and how much you work. If the cost of working for these companies puts you off, try freelance writing or online tutoring, to be able to make money from your coach and find clients anywhere in the world.
Of course, you have to find the side hustle that works for you and fits with your life. Sometimes, you just need a break and you should not sacrifice your mental health in the pursuit of extra income.
Sell unwanted items
The chances are that you have a lot of items around your house that you do not want or need. Perhaps it is something that you saved because it was sentimental in the past, or because it might be useful one day, but if you haven’t used it in the last six months, you almost certainly won’t in the next six months, and if it is sentimental, do you actually like having it around, or are you just keeping it because you feel you should?
Not only is reducing clutter linked to finding it easier to rest and relax in a space, but you can also make money by selling what you get rid of! Use a free weekend to go through your house and gather together anything you don’t want to keep. You can list these on eBay or Facebook Marketplace, or even go old school and hold a yard sale.
Invest your money
Investing money you have already saved is a fantastic way to get passive income. There are many different options, some high risk, and some low risk. In general, if you want to be sure of an investment then you want to go for a low-risk investment or something with guaranteed returns. Government bonds are very safe to invest in, for example, although they may require a longer-term investment. Something high risk, like bitcoin, might double or triple your money in six months and can offer much higher rewards, but could also cost you all of the money you have invested overnight.
Rent out spare rooms
If you have followed this article all the way through, you might have found yourself with a lot of extra space, once you have sold some items. The good news is that you can use this to increase your income!
If you have a spare room, you can find a tenant and then save the rent that you charge. This can be anything from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars each month depending on where you live, which you can immediately save without having to worry about costs of living. It’s rare to find non-holiday rentals for under six months, so depending on where exactly you live, you may be able to easily find people to stay for a few weeks, or who only wish for the room during the work week. Alternatively, you can get guaranteed income if you sign a contract for six months to a year.