Saving money can be a tough task, but it is an important one. Daily needs (and sometimes wants) can be crazy expensive and sometimes no matter how hard you try, earning a paycheck that will cover it all comfortably can feel impossible. This is probably why one study found 62% of Americans are working with a savings account of $1000 or less.
As frustrating as saving money can be on a very tight budget there are some ways to get going now so you are better prepared for your future.
8 Tips to Start Saving Today
1. Don’t fill in the budget gaps with credit. Not all credit is created equal—especially credit cards. It can be easy to feel like using credit cards is an easy solution to solving your budget woes and make room for more savings, but the truth is it’s the quickest way to eat through your savings. The interest on credit cards can range anywhere from 15-20% and it adds up really quickly. If you are working with a small budget to start with chances are you’ll only be able to make minimum payments on the card thus allowing the interest to rack up and getting buried. Trust us, it’s best to stick with a budget that doesn’t include credit cards.
2. Small changes can make a big difference. If you have been free-for-alling it with your limited money because there isn’t a lot of it you’ve been doing it wrong. Small paychecks absolutely need a budget so you can make important decisions on spending cuts to make. Seeing what you spend regularly on rent, internet, phone, entertainment, food etc will show you ways you can cut down on expenses. Simply switching from premium cable to the standard package will make a big difference if you aren’t making a lot of money.
3. Set goals both long and short. Nothing is more motivating than having a goal(s) to hit on a regular basis. Giving yourself saving goals—a vacation, a new pair of shoes, changing apartments or buying a house are motivating tools to get you to put more money away. Create a timeline to hit whatever goals you set for yourself and watching your savings account grow.
4. Spend savvily. You see something cool and you want it right then and there. We get it. However, sometimes it is smarter to take a little time and research the product and its pricing. You might find a better deal on the exact same thing at a different store that could save you some coin. It might not seem like a lot, but shopping this way for groceries, clothes, electronics and anything else you may need or want will add up and give you more to save with.
5. Pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters…it all matters. It is so easy to tell yourself “it’s just a few bucks” but if you do that enough times that “few bucks” can turn into hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. Every little bit adds up and it is important to go into every purchase with that mindset.
6. If you don’t have a savings account, get one. Now! No, they no longer have great interest rates that give you money back on your money. However, they are still great for giving you a place to put away extra money until you are ready to invest.
7. Speaking of putting money into a savings account…10% should be the goal. If you make $3000 per paycheck you should be putting away $300 each paycheck. $1500? You should be stashing $150 of it and so on. It adds up quickly and you’ll be surprised at how little you miss it.
8. Especially if you choose automatic payments. Make that 10% instantly disappear into your savings account with automatic payments. This will keep you honest about always putting money into savings and make it more likely you won’t even notice the money being gone.