Saving money is one of the most important ways you can gain financial stability. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the hardest — especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck.
The good news is that it’s not impossible. Even if your savings feel negligible at first, the smallest amounts will build up over time. If you’re having trouble getting started, here are a few tips you can use to begin.
1. Use a Spending Card With Benefits
Different payment methods usually have different benefits ranging from cash back to airline miles. But using the best card for your situation can save you a lot without changing your habits. Perhaps you travel a lot for work and buy the tickets yourself before getting reimbursed. You can use an airline credit card that rewards you for traveling, eventually building up rewards for free personal flights.
Alternatively, you can get a debit card that will help you save via intuitive functions like round-up saving. Users can opt-in to automatically round up their purchases to the nearest whole dollar. The difference is put into a savings account.
Sometimes the easiest way to save (having the card do it for you, for example) is the best way. Don’t hesitate to explore all of your options, because you’ll be surprised what might help build your savings the most.
2. Set up a Zero-Based Budget
You can control your spending by setting up a budget for each period you get paid. For those to whom self-discipline comes a little easier, this is a great way to get started. Zero-based budgeting just means allocating money to all essentials as soon as you get paid. By “spending” your paycheck on what you need first, it can help prevent overspending.
Another benefit to zero-based budgeting is that one of the fund categories you can set aside is savings. Simply put, it helps you save by prioritizing setting aside a certain amount of savings each month. If you have trouble with self-discipline, consider looking for an online platform that can do this. Even if it costs money, the expense will be worth it when you begin saving more.
3. Try Not to Restrict Yourself Too Much
A commonly considered method to break addictions is to go cold turkey. The idea is by quitting instantaneously, you are able to avoid the harmful action starting immediately. But for some people, quitting cold turkey can result in rebounding back into the harmful action, sometimes even more so than before.
It’s better to let yourself indulge within reasonable limits. Don’t stop yourself from making little purchases that make your day-to-day life more enjoyable.
Instead, budget an amount that you can freely spend each month. Set aside this money outside of savings to treat yourself to some new clothes or steak dinner without worrying. Not only will you be happier for it, but you’ll practice spending in moderation.
4. Review Your Monthly Plans
Payments that are made on a cyclical basis are often set to come out of your account automatically each time. Because of this, it’s easy to forget about them. A lot of these payments, particularly those with tiered options like internet service, can be reduced by narrowing your needs.
Cut costs by ending or lowering the tier of subscriptions you don’t use or need. This can be a gym membership, a store membership, an extra streaming service, a needlessly fast internet plan, etc. Movie streaming service options are numerous, for instance, but you only really need one or two.
5. Find Ways to Treat Yourself at Home
While you shouldn’t restrict your budget to not allow for any treats, you can recreate many “splurges” at home. For example, you can save money from ordering out by learning to cook and/or meal plan in advance. Find new, exciting recipes online to try. You can even make cooking at home into a date night with your partner.
Instead of buying Starbucks every morning, you can buy a coffee maker, grinder, and high-quality beans. Your morning joe may even taste better! If you want something for your house like a decor item or accessory, look up creative ways to make one yourself.
6. Buy Foods That Stretch Longer
Learning to cook is fun beyond the savings because of how creative it can be. It does come with financial drawbacks, though, the more of a foodie you become. Restaurant-quality meals — while excitingly possible to make at home — can require extensive and costly ingredients.
The best way to cut food costs down is to build up a repertoire of long-lasting pantry essentials. Grains, spices, and oils, when bought in bulk, can help you make creative and affordable dishes for a long time. Things like low-sodium canned/frozen vegetables and loose-leaf teas are worth opening your wallet as well.
7. Shop Secondhand
For non-food needs, it’s generally unnecessary to buy things at full price. Sales are great, but nearly anything you see in a specialty or big-box store will be even cheaper if purchased used. This mainly applies to clothing and furniture/home decor, but you can find items of all kinds at thrift stores or online marketplaces.
Most of the time, used pieces are just as good as their new counterparts. Depending on the item (or your style), it may even benefit from prior use. You won’t find a better place for tattered jeans, seasoned cast iron cookware, well-traveled books, or weathered wood furniture.
Look into these seven options for the best way to accommodate your needs while still saving. Your budget will thank you for it — and in time, you will reap the rewards!