Saving money isn’t just what the uber-wealthy do, and it certainly isn’t beyond your means. In fact, most people who aren’t saving are only failing to do so because they aren’t managing their money wisely. If you’re constantly bringing home new trinkets, paying for new services, and spending beyond your means, a foolproof savings plan is exactly what you need. Not only will saving help you enjoy a stable and more comfortable future, but it will also keep you protected from the unexpected. Get started now with the following guide.
Establish A Plan To Pay Off Your Debt
Like many consumers, you may be spending a fairly sizable portion of your income on interest, late fees, administrative fees, and other charges resulting from outstanding loans, credit card debt, and other debt types. Paying off what you owe will both boost and protect your credit score. It can also save you a ton of cash over time. This is money that can be put away or invested.
When it comes to deciding between paying off debt and increasing your savings, it’s generally best to do a balanced blend of both.
Start Recording Everything You Spend
One of the most common arguments against saving and having a solid savings plan is that there isn’t enough money. If you’re living from check to check, there’s a very high likelihood that you don’t have to be. Even small purchases such as a daily cup of specialty coffee can harm your bottom line.
If you’re spending $5 to $7 at the drive-thru each morning for an iced mocha and warm pumpkin scone, that’s approximately $35 that you could be stashing in your savings account each week. It’s also about $140 each month and about $1,500 each year. When you account for the interest that these accumulated coffee fees could be earning as savings, it’s even more still.
Make A List And Check It Twice
It isn’t just drive-through charges, impulse purchases that you make at the register, and unplanned, unbudgeted online shopping that might be harming your bottom line. Many consumers also have long lists of forgotten digital subscriptions that they’re paying for each month, and often without using them. Whether you’ve signed up for free trials or have multiple accounts with a major grocery delivery service, the total of what you’re spending on these things may surprise you. Spending $10 here and $14 there might not seem like a lot, but it definitely adds up. One estimate suggests that 71 percent of American consumers are wasting about $50 each month on unknown, forgotten, or redundant digital subscriptions. If you can find your wasted money by taking inventory of all your digital subscriptions, you may be able to save as much as $600 a year.
Distinguish Between Wants And Needs
Emotional spending is what causes consumers the greatest amount of harm. It isn’t the things that people need that harms their bottom lines – it’s the things they THINK they need instead. Try to make a clear distinction between wants and needs before completing any purchase. If you don’t need it, put it back and give yourself some time to mull the buying decision. Placing unplanned purchases on pause is a great way to put impulse spending to an end.
Build Savings Into Your Monthly Budget
Revisit your budget and make the adjustments that you need to start saving. Even if you’re still living fairly close to “check-to-check” after you’ve cut your unnecessary spending, you can start small. If you don’t have a budget, stop “winging it” and write one now. Taking the time to make a budget is the surest way to rein in unnecessary spending and make your money go further.
Don’t overextend yourself when creating a savings plan and adding it to your budget. Try saving $10 each paycheck to begin with, and then double this amount over time until you reach $100. As you watch your savings grow, your motivation to save will increase as well.
Reward Yourself for Reaching Your Goals
Give yourself a reward for reaching your savings goals at the end of each month or at the end of each year. This could be extra money in your entertainment budget, a plan-ahead vacation that you can pay for in increments over time, dinner out, or even just a cup of specialty coffee. When you stay true to your savings plan, you’ll eventually find that saving itself is its own reward.
Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author.
He’s been featured on Forbes, The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What’s Your Story, and more.
He loves to share his personal finance tips and money management wisdom with others on his website, ShawnManaher.com, to help them find financial freedom.