We are living in perilous economic times, with a record number of people living from paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet. The amount of people taking on significant debt is also on the rise. Of course, Christmas and New Year, as beautiful as they are, often leave us with an empty wallet, as well. One sure way to break out of the cycle is to start saving money. This does not have to be an elaborate operation where you give up on all and any luxury, but rather is a collection of things you can do differently every day in order to trim a few bucks off your monthly budget.
Learn to Budget
The biggest step you can make towards saving some money is to be aware of exactly what you are spending it on. Although it might sound tedious, anyone can write a monthly budget. An effective budget takes into account all of your expense while taking into account fluctuating bills, like larger heating bills in winter, for example. Writing down a budget, and actually, budgeting is two different things. Budgeting requires accounting for all of your expenditures and having the foresight to stop spending when a predetermined limit is reached.
Emergency Funds, Business, And Freelance
Having an emergency fund is the first most important step. A small emergency fund is simply $1,000 dollars in savings. A better emergency fund is three to six months of income. To start saving money you must have a different mindset. You must want to save money and have money more than your desire for “stuff.”
You may have to find a “side gig.” A small freelance task that you can do to earn some extra money is great ways to start saving money. If you need to save money in your business then make sure you don’t cut out items that affect your business. Save money on business travel and items at the office. Don’t make cuts that impact the bottom line.
With a little planning and discipline, you can save a lot of money on your shopping without lowering your quality of living. Shopping in bulk is definitely a good tactic, as goods are cheaper this way. Instead of going to the shops every day, do one big shopping trip every two weeks or so. Be on the lookout for coupons and spend some time looking for deals on the web, you might be surprised by the number of things you can get for extremely low prices if you put in the research. Thrift shops, garage sales and classified ads sites such as Craigslist are a great resource for shopping on a tight budget.
You need the MVP of every item. You don’t need extra benefits. Once you have a more established budget and income you can have nicer things. Saving money is about finding “deals” and knowing what you need out of what you are buying. To begin with, you need the minimal viable product. This is a startup term. Think of it as you having just enough to get the job done. Then shop for that item. Don’t spend carelessly and don’t “get sold.”
When counting pennies, driving a car is definitely not the economically sound option. Car payments, insurance costs, and rising gas prices can all adversely affect your bottom line. If possible, look into cheaper forms of transportation. If you live relatively close to your work, you can do both your body and wallet a favor by cycling or walking to work. If not, public transportation is a great alternative, with costs going down if you buy a monthly or yearly pass. If driving a car is unavoidable, carpooling will not only cut your fuel and maintenance costs but will also get you where you want to go faster if there is a carpool lane.
You also don’t have to get the most expensive car out there. Be happy driving a 10-year-old car that is in good condition. It is the MVP (minimal viable product) needed for your transportation. It cost way less (typically paid for all at once). This is a huge budget saver. If you want to start saving money then start by not having a car note.
Stop eating out, Start Saving Money
Dining out costs the average family a significant amount of money. There are a lot of great resources and recipes online for a weekly food prep. Take the time during weekends to shop for and prepare meals for your work week. Your effort will be rewarded both by saving money and the fact that you can choose and control exactly what you are eating, without resorting to junk food. The same applies to coffees and other hot takeaway drinks. You might think that this small luxury is an insignificant treat, but all those daily overpriced lattes, mochas, espressos, and cappuccinos add up in a costly way. Brew your own, put it in a thermos and take it wherever you want. That way you do get your dose of caffeine while keeping your budget in check.
Just eat Peanut Butter and Jelly. Dave Ramsey talks about beans and rice as well. Saving money is difficult with a high or very fluctuating food bill.
So, you have bought all the things you will need in the following period, but how economically do you use them. If you think about it, we are using a lot of consumables, cleaning products and most anything else rather inefficiently. As soon as something starts to run out, the automatic response is to throw it away. Changing this mindset can not only save you money but also minimise your effect on the environment. Start with small stuff like using less toothpaste every time you brush and mixing hand soap with water to repurposing and revamping old furniture instead of buying a new set. If you become frugal like this you can start saving money on a ton of items.
Get The Hard Steps Started Now To Start Saving Money
The hardest step when saving money is actually starting, but once you have made up your mind to be cost conscious, all you need is motivation and self-disciple to keep it going. If you put in the time and effort, you can save a significant amount of money without sacrificing your level of comfort.
Set your goals and focus. Have accountability partners. Tell others your goals and have them check in on you. Finances are often semi-secretive. Make sure you are not “losing” out by not having partners hold your feet to the fire.