Sometimes the hardest thing about saving money is just getting started. It can be difficult to figure out simple ways to save money and how to use your savings to pursue your financial goals. This step-by-step guide to money-saving habits can help you develop a realistic savings plan.
- Record Your Expenses
- Make a Budget
- Plan on Saving Money
- Choose Something to Save More
- Decide on your priorities. …
- Make saving automatically. …
- Watch your savings grow.
- Turn off the television.
- Stop collecting, and start selling.
- Sign up for every free customer rewards program you can.
- Make your own gifts instead of buying stuff from the store.
Move bank accounts to take advantage of perks and earn more interest. One of the best ways to save money is to set a goal. Start by thinking of what you might want to save for—anything from a down payment for a house to a vacation—then figure out how long it might take you to save for it.
Here are some examples of short- and long-term goals:
Short-term (1–3 years)
- Emergency fund (3–9 months of living expenses, just in case)
- Down payment for a car
Long-term (4+ years)
- Your child’s education*
- Down payment on a home or a remodeling project
*If you’re saving for retirement or your child’s education, visit here and see the best plan for you
Decide on your priorities
After your expenses and income, your goals are likely to have the biggest impact on how you save money. Be sure to remember long-term goals—it’s important that planning for retirement doesn’t take a back seat to shorter-term needs. Prioritizing goals can give you a clear idea of where to start saving. For example, if you know you’re going to need to replace your car in the near future, you could start putting money away for one.
Don’t spend big money entertaining your children.
Most children, especially young ones, can be entertained very cheaply. Buy them an end roll of the newspaper from your local paper and let their creativity run wild. Play ball in the backyard. Head to the park. Plant a garden. Teach them to ride a bike without training wheels once and for all.
Realize that what your children want most of all is your time, not your stuff, and you’ll find money in your pocket and joy in your heart.
Turn off the lights.
Keeping the lights on in your home may not be expensive on a per-watt basis, but it sure does cost money over time. To save as much as you can, turn off lights any time you leave your house – or even when you leave the room. Turning off lights when you have plenty of natural sunlight can also help keep your electric bill down over time. The bottom line: If you aren’t using a light, turn it off.
Quit using credit cards.
If you have a habit of getting into trouble with credit cards, hide your credit cards and keep them in a safe place in your home, not in your wallet. If you need to keep a card for emergencies, that’s okay. Just don’t carry it around with you. If you’re often tempted to use it, keeping your card “out of sight and out of mind” might help.
It’s easy to justify spending money just to wind down from a stressful day at work. However, it’s rarely a good idea. Instead of buying things you don’t need to make yourself feel better, it might be wise to find other ways to de-stress instead.
An exercise is always a good option, as is meditation and even a good old-fashioned nap. Read, watch movies, or work in your yard if you’re stressed out. Spending money won’t reduce your stress in the long run.
This seems like an odd way to save money but think about it. If you spend time with the people you love the most and come to some consensus about your dreams, it becomes easy for you all to plan for it. Set a big, audacious goal together and encourage each other to be financially fit – soon, you’ll find you’re doing it naturally and your dreams are coming closer than ever.
Cancel unused club memberships.
Are you paying dues at a club that you never use? Like, for instance, a gym membership or a country club membership? If you’re on the fence about any of your memberships or find that you’re not using them very often, cancel them. Remember, you can always renew the membership at a later date if it turns out that you actually do miss it.
Keep your hands clean.
This one’s simple – just wash your hands thoroughly each time you use the bathroom or handle raw foods. You’ll keep yourself from acquiring all kinds of viruses and bacteria, saving you on medical bills and lost productivity.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t explore the world and get your hands dirty sometimes – that’s good for you, too – but basic sanitation does help keep the medical bills at bay.
Remove your credit card numbers from your online accounts.
It’s easy to spend online when you have your card information stored in an account – just click and buy. The best way to break this habit is to simply delete your card from the account.
That way, when you’re tempted to spend, you’ll be forced to spend the time to dig out your card – and really think about why you’re spending this money. Sometimes being forced to take that extra step is all it takes to convince yourself you don’t need the item after all.
Cancel magazine subscriptions.
Do you have a pile of unread magazines sitting around your house? It’s likely the result of a subscription that you’re not reading. Not only should you not renew that magazine, but you should give their subscription department a call and try to cancel for a refund. You never know – they might even give you the prorated amount back. I’ve had to cull my subscriptions in the past, and I’ve never regretted it.
Keep an idea notebook in your pocket.
I’ve wasted countless amounts of time and money simply because I’ve forgotten some of my best ideas. Nowadays, I keep a small notebook with me to jot down ideas so that I never forget anything important. This keeps me from forgetting the ideas I have throughout the day.
Invest in a deep freezer.
A deep freezer can be a great bargain after the initial investment, but only if you’ll use it. Often, having some extra freezer space allows you to buy in bulk and pay lower prices overall. Even better, you can store lots of meals prepared in advance, enabling you to just go home and pop something homemade (and cheap) in the oven.
Check out free events in town.
My town has several wonderful parks, free basketball and tennis courts, free disc golf, trails, and lots of other stuff just there waiting to be used. You can go have fun for hours out in the wonderful outdoors, be playing sports, hiking trails, or be trying other activities – and it’s all there for free. All you have to do is discover it.
Reading is one of the cheapest – and most beneficial – hobbies around. Most towns have a library available to the public – just go there and check out some books that interest you. Then, spend some of your free time in a cozy place in your house, reading away.
You’ll learn something new, improve your reading ability, enjoy yourself, and not have to spend a dime. Here are some more ways to get into the reading flow