Saving is hard – no question. Between keeping the lights on and staying on top of student loan payments, the idea of actually having extra money to put back and not even touch can seem downright laughable at times. I’ll show you how to get started though, and that it is possible to make it work.
#1 – Start Budgeting
Okay, you’re probably sitting there like, ‘Well duh!’ But seriously, you’re never going to save a dime until you have a complete picture of your financial situation. That little balance number on your online banking app isn’t enough.
Start simple, making a list of all of your expenses that you know you have every month (approximating for things that change like groceries and electricity). Then determine your typical monthly income, pulling from all sources – paychecks, tips, personal sales, and any other little side businesses you have.
Compare your expenses and income, and start setting limits on the things you spend money on every month. Challenge yourself to be more and more frugal, and see just how little you really need to get by on.
#2 – Get Rid of What You Don’t Need
The first step to saving is definitely scrimping. Start trimming the fat in your expenses, getting rid of anything you can live without. Cable? Downgrade or get rid of it, and switch to something more affordable like a Netflix subscription. Sell clothes you never wear and things you never use, and stark stashing the cash.
#3 – Find Some Extra Income
This one can be tough. I mean, if most of us could be making more money, chances are we would be, right? Try anyway. Even if it’s only $20 a week, just try to do something to get a little extra money coming in. Pick up a bartending shift somewhere to cash in on some tips, make things to sell locally or online.
Everyone starts somewhere, so just try to get one small side gig going to help kick start your savings. Every month, try to increase that side business just a little more and expand on that income.
#4 – Try the ‘Jars’ Budget System
Okay, so this one might fall under the first step a little bit, but it’s such a great way to keep a handle on your spending, it gets its own step. The basic concept of the jars budgeting system is allotting yourself a maximum monthly amount for every category of your spending.
Though the concept used to center around keeping grocery money and such in jars to avoid over spending, the reality of electronic transactions has sort of changed that up a bit. It requires serious diligence and self control, but if you can stick to your own rules, it has the potential to put serious money away.
#5 – Start Opportunity Shopping
This is another way to keep more cash in your wallet. Instead of buying things on a set schedule, take advantage of sales and spend a little more, to save more later. Of course, don’t go overboard. This one things you actually use and buy regularly.
#6 – Set a Saving Schedule, and Stick to It
The most important part of meeting a savings goal is canning the excuses. Decide how much of your income you can afford to set back, and commit to putting that back, no questions asked, every single pay period.
To give yourself a little more incentive to stick to it, draw up a calendar with the savings increments, so you can see just how fast you can meet that $1,000 goal. It’s hard to blow it on a new iPhone when you’re seeing progress.
#7 – Keep Impulse Buys and Credit Card Use to a Minimum
One major setback to any savings goal is the notorious impulse buy. There’s no doubt that it can be fun to just blow some money on something that you’re sure in that moment will make life grand, but take at least a few days to consider the necessity of it before you pull the trigger on a big purchase.
Speaking of big purchases, don’t be tempted to hold onto fluid cash to put into savings by using credit cards. You may not feel the sting of these purchases now, but these payments will come back to haunt you, with interest. It’s always cheaper to pay for something in full with your own money, so can the credit cards if you’re really trying to save.
While we’re all doing everything we can to make ends meet, the moral of the story here is, there’s always a way to do more. Set a goal, and take whatever steps you have to to make it. Once you meet that goal, set another one, and another. Keep going, keep pushing, keep saving, and you will constantly surpass your own expectations of yourself. No one said it would be easy, but it’s definitely not impossible.