How to Save More, Spend Less
In such tough economic times, many Americans are facing a reality where every penny is accounted for and practically every dollar is spent before it even comes in. With such tight budgets, it’s hard to find money to create any financial safety net or build your savings so you can have a better future. However, building your savings is critical to making sure you and your family can be financially protected now and in the future.
If you need help creating a budget that will allow you to make a real plan to start saving for the future, give us a call at 1-800-990-9838 and speak with a financial resource specialist who can provide the personalized advice you need. With a little work and the right strategy, you can start building your savings safety net even if money is tight.
Finding more money in your monthly budget
Freeing up money in your monthly budget to build savings doesn’t necessarily mean you have to start doing without. In truth, you can often find more money in your budget simply by evaluating how you spend. In many cases you may be wasting your hard-earned dollars because you’re not spending your money as efficiently as possible. As such the first step in getting more money to put into personal savings is to take a good look at your budget.
Here are some common places people can find more money in their monthly budget:
- Food: First, take a look at how much you eat out. Statistically, eating out costs more than eating at home—especially if you use fresh ingredients to prepare meals instead of buying prepackaged food. Simply eating more dinners at home or making lunch at home and taking it to work can help you save big. You will also save more buying basic ingredients—so a block of cheese that you shred is generally cheaper than cheese that’s shredded or cut into sticks.
- Gas: Many people think saving money on gas involves driving around your town looking for the best price. However, this can actually end up costing you more than it saves. In truth, you need to improve your gas mileage to cut back on gas expenses. This is the biggest step you can take in cutting car costs when it comes to gas.
- Personal Care: How much do you spend on beauty and personal care each month? If you take trips to the salon or barber often, you may be spending more than you need to on personal care. Find beauty solutions you can use at home for more savings. In addition, if you have a gym membership (even if you actually use it regularly) consider options for working out at home and try to terminate your contract.
- Personal Accounts: In some cases, particularly if you’re just getting started with keeping track of your finances, you may have a paid account open on your debit or credit card that you don’t use anymore and may not even know about. From paid online services to monthly gaming accounts for kids, these monthly charges can really add up. Check your bank and credit card statements to make sure you’re not throwing money away for a monthly service you don’t really use.
- Bills: You may not think you can change your bills, but if you can make your house more energy efficient you can actually make a huge impact on how much money you pay each month. Use strategies for cutting energy costs to save on your monthly bills.
- Credit Cards: You may not think of your credit cards when you’re looking to save money, but the lower you get your debt the less you have to pay. As a result, using a debt reduction strategy to reduce your debt can actually be one of the most effective ways of finding more money to put towards savings.
More ways to save
In addition to finding money to free up in your monthly budget, there are some additional steps you can take to spend less so you can save more:
- Shop with coupons and deals. Look in local or store circulars or sign up for a free online coupon service to get lower prices on the items you buy every day. You may also be able to find deals and coupons online directly from the brands you buy.
- Shop sales and find in-store offers. For clothes and other shopping ventures, try to only shop sales. You can also usually save big if you buy off-season. For groceries, if you don’t have a coupon, look for in-store offers directly at the shelf—even if it’s not the brand you typically buy.
- Avoid impulse buying. Impulse buys are an easy way to overspend and a fast way to build up too much credit card debt. Always shop with a list and avoid buying things you haven’t planned for.
- Do-it-yourself on home projects. From your lawn care to the housework and even to home improvement projects, consider doing the work yourself on the weekends, rather than hiring a service professional.
- Negotiate for better interest rates. Reducing the interest rates on your credit card allows you to reduce your monthly payments. Call creditors to negotiate on your interest rates to make your monthly payments lower on your debts.
Treating savings as an expense
Once you find money in your budget to put towards savings, the next step is to ensure that’s exactly where it goes. The best way to avoid spending the money you meant to save is to treat savings like an expense in your budget. However much money you get to set aside each month, make a new line in your budget to put this money into savings.
You can even schedule when you transfer the money to your savings account to make it more like a regular monthly expense. Depending on where you put the money, you may be able to set up an auto-pay system for yourself, such as with an automatic deposit to a Roth IRA. This way you don’t even have to remember to set aside the money each month.