1) Start A Spending Journal
Saving money is hard especially if you don’t know where you are spending it in the first place. Get a small journal and write down every expense for a period of 30 days. Then, organize them into spending categories such as gasoline, food, entertainment, etc. You might be surprised at just how much you are spending and where exactly the money is going.
Once you see where you are spending money, you can work on saving. You will likely see that small things add up to big costs. Things like that morning cup of gourmet coffee or that daily trip to the fast food restaurant can add up to big expenses over time.
2) Set Your Budget
The best way to use that spending journal will be as a basis for your new budget. Write out all of your expenses and include allotments for things like food and entertainment. Be sure to also include a savings category. You should be saving at least 10 percent of your take home pay.
Once you have your budget, compare it to your net monthly pay. If you find that your take home pay is insufficient, you need to make some cuts.
The easiest cuts to make will be in areas like food and entertainment. You have to eat, but you can save a lot of money on your food budget by cutting out restaurant or fast food meals. Meal planning will also help you slim down your grocery bill by making you a more efficient shopper.
As far as the entertainment budget goes, simply find cheaper ways to amuse yourself. Cut cable in favor of streaming apps and try entertaining at home more often.
There are dozens of ways to trim a budget with some cuts being harder to make than others. You must make these hard decisions though, because a balanced budget is crucial.
3) Form A Debt Reduction Plan
Debt is a burden on your budget and will keep you from saving. This is especially true with high interest credit card debt. What is the point of finding ways to save money when you are paying 20 percent interest or more on your revolving credit accounts? Make it a point to start getting those accounts paid down.
The most efficient way to do this is to start with the highest interest credit card and work down from there.
Organize all of your credit cards by interest rate. Then, pay the minimum on all of your accounts except for the one with the highest interest. On this card, you will pay as much as you can. Once that card is paid off, move on to the next highest interest rate.
By paying down the card with the highest interest first, you will maximize your money and get out of debt sooner.
4) Set Financial Goals
Saving money can be tough at times, which is why it is important to set attainable goals. Goals that can be reached in a reasonable amount of time.
If you are 20 years old, your only goal should not be to retire at age 50. That is too far in the future and it will be hard to stay motivated. Retiring early can be one of your goals, but have more attainable ones along the way.
One idea might be a goal of saving 5000 dollars. This is something that can be reached in a reasonable time period. When you reach this goal, reward yourself and then make another target.
Setting small goals that lead to a big one will help keep you motivated on your long term savings journey.
5) Set A 30 Day Spending Rule
Before you make a major purchase or impulse buy, wait 30 days. Instead of spending the money, transfer the money over to savings and then wait for a month. If you still want to make the purchase after that time has passed, go ahead and buy it. More often than not, you will find that you keep the money in savings.
What is a major purchase though?
For some, a major purchase might be anything over 100 dollars. For others, the limit might be 300 dollars. Every person will have a different spending limit, depending on your income.
6) Add An Extra Source Of Income
If all else fails, an extra source of income can help you start saving. Just about everyone has extra time on their hands to make some extra money, use it.
One way to do this is to simply pick up a part time job. Even in a tough job market, there will be somebody hiring. One prime example is the grocery industry. Stores like Walmart are always hiring and they have shifts 24 hours a day. Picking up just 2 part time shifts a week could add up to 500 dollars or more in your savings account.
Not interested in retail or shift work, consider starting your own side gig. Cut lawns, clean houses, do website design or even recycle scrap metal. There are lots of ways to make a few extra dollars if you have the drive to do so.