In today’s economic landscape, most of us probably wish we could save more money than we currently do. Between saving for retirement, the kids’ college, or simply paying the bills each month, wouldn’t it be nice if we could make our savings accounts a little fatter? But with the never-ending stream of expenses that we’re constantly being hit with, it can feel impossible to do anything more than weather the storm.
Luckily, we’re here today to break you out of that defensive crouch by showing you 5 money saving tricks that you can use to start stashing away cash today.
Budgeting always sounds like a good idea in theory, but is invariably difficult when you have to sit down with pen and paper and work one out. Luckily, in today’s digital age, there are more sophisticated tools than what mom and pop had to create their budgets.
Apps like Mint will automatically track your spending, sort your expenses into categories, and generate graphs to show you trends. This allows you to get a bird’s eye view of your finances, and start planning ahead for the future. Are you spending too much on groceries? Utilities? Shopping? Make a note of it, and create a custom budget to reel in your spending in those categories.
While it may be convenient and delicious, one of the major places we overspend is on eating out. This is a simple point, but a very important one to include in your spending plan. Eating out, whether fast food for lunch or couples dinners with friends, can add up quickly. A single meal may be cheap, but that same meal multiplied several times a week over a year? The cost can be substantial.
We’ve touched on this subject before, but being festive and enjoying a holiday doesn’t have to mean spending an arm and a leg. There are endless ways to cut costs on any given holiday celebrations. Decorations, food, guest list, gifts: all can be simplified and low-cost solutions found. Really, what’s the point of splurging on a holiday only to stress and worry for months over all the money you spent?
Debt is a double-edged sword: if used strategically it can save you a huge amount of money in the long term, but used irresponsibly will cost you just as much. Title loans, credit cards, and other forms of lending are useful if you’re preventing future problems or tackling an unexpected cash emergency that can’t wait. But these products can have a tendency to lull into a false sense of security and cause us to spend more money then we have, leading to a revolving cycle of debt and money wasted on interest.
Connected to the above, you shouldn’t ever put money in a college or retirement fund if you have any outstanding debt. The interest rate on that debt will invariably be higher than the return on the same amount of savings, so by not paying off the debt first it’s actually costing you money to “save.”