Just like every area in life, saving money is about building good habits. Once you’ve implemented the right habits, you can move onto the road to financial freedom. You’ll be amazed at how small changes to your spending habits can lead to massive amounts of saving.
No matter where you are on your financial journey, don’t be overwhelmed. Always know that it is possible to not only begin saving, but to turn your financial life around completely. Yes, you can save your credit score! Others have done it before you, and you are just as capable.
All it takes is small steps, small changes, and habits built over time. Once these habits become ingrained, you’ll find yourself in a peculiar situation—financial literacy.
The New Habits to Implement
Do You Have a Budget?
It all starts with a budget. If you don’t have an idea of how much money you have and how much money you are spending, you don’t even have a starting point.
There’s easy solutions to implementing a budget, and many smart apps like Acorns and online tools like Mint simplify the process.
The fitness world has turned meal prepping into quite the trend, and besides the health benefits of planning ahead with healthy meals, you’ll save a lot of money in the process. Pick up some meal prepping containers and fill them at the beginning of the week so you have all your food planned out and budgeted.
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When you meal prep, you’ll be more conscious to only buy as much food as you need. The other goal of meal prepping is to eliminate eating out, which eliminates unhealthy options and saves money in the process.
Make Your Own Lunch
Pack a lunch for work or school. Very similar to the meal prepping approach, much of the unnecessary funds we spend come from lunch.
Though you might not be a crowd pleaser with coworkers who eat out, packing a lunch will save you money. Your packed lunch can be a part of your meal prepping, or you can prep separately for the lunchtime hour.
Programmable thermostats like the Nest are modern home automation devices that learn the habits of homeowners. After recognizing patterns, these thermostats adjust the temperature according to a homeowner’s lifestyle.
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Turning down your thermostat by just three degrees will save you nearly 10% on your energy bills. This is a tradeoff that will result in much needed disposable income.
Wait Before You Buy
Quit buying unnecessary products (well, at least wait). It may not be a useful strategy to encourage to quit buying altogether—though the minimalist lifestyle is trendy—but at the very least, before you buy, pause for a few days. Give yourself time to reflect and see if this purchase is a necessary expense.
This is especially useful with large expenses, but even the small things you want to pick up while you’re out and about. Take a second. Pause. Think. Do I really need this or is this an impulse purchase? Many of our impulse purchases are the ones that add up, and $75 of impulse purchases is $75 that could have been better spent at the grocery store or on a gym membership.
Start Thinking Long-Term
For many people, saving money is difficult because they don’t think about the long-term. They don’t consider the expenses they may need money for in the future, and since there isn’t anything pressing now, they assume that spending their money is a fine course of action.
What about the appliances in the home that may be close to breaking? Are you considering graduate school? What about future expenses for your kids?
Looking toward goals, activities or expenses that will arise in the future will help give you the perspective you may need to begin to save money.
Find Free or Low Cost Entertainment
Take advantage of the library or your friends. We all have friends, coworkers, and family members who likely enjoy the same forms of entertainment that we do. Instead of going to purchase a book, film, magazine, or other entertainment sources, consult your friends first and see if you can borrow from them.
The same works with public libraries. Public libraries are a wonderful resource of books, films, CD’s, and other forms of entertainment. You’d be surprised to find that libraries often have new items, but you’ll often find a gem of an old item as well.
Stay In for a Night
A budget can be wrecked on a night out. You often set out with good intentions of only spending a set amount on drinks and food, but before you know it, the night carries you away. You realize you’ve spent the evening purchasing drinks for friends, buying more food than anticipated, and Uber hiked up their rates just as you needed to head home.
These types of nights are fun and they can be budgeted for, but to save money, take a few nights a month to simply stay in. You and your friends can enjoy a house party with games, a potluck meal, and you’ll save money on all of the overpriced drinks from the bar.
Cut the Cable
Cable companies charge a lot of money for a service that is slowly becoming outdated. If you’re still using cable, you should reconsider. Most channels on your cable subscription likely aren’t being used, and the programs you can watch can likely be accessed on other platforms, like Youtube, Apple TV, or other systems. Switching to things like Amazon Prime allow you to access TV shows as well as books at a fraction of the cost
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Not only will you save money by cutting the cord with cable, but you’ll also have more free time if you’re watching less TV. This time that could be used for side hobbies, activities, and other areas of life.
Always Have a Shopping List
Before you go shopping, write a list. We’ve all been at the grocery store with a few items in mind. You know you need milk, eggs, vegetables and a few snacks, but before you know it, you’ve left the grocery store with all of these items that you never planned for. What happened? Well, you were enticed.
Maybe some of that enticing happened while you were checking out and saw all of the snacks that you just knew you needed. Instead of being aimless when you go shopping, before you leave the home, create a list. Make a list of all of the items that you need and only buy those. The important thing with a list is to actually stick to it. If you go to the grocery store and bypass your list, then it will be useless.
Don’t Overspend to Entertain Children
Don’t spend so much money on entertaining your kids. Children can be easily entertained, and healthy hobbies and activities will benefit them in the long-run. Instead of spending large amounts of money on the latest games, entertainment systems or toys, buy your kids books. Play games with them outside. Force them to go outside and play with each other.
Not only will this build the good habit of your children knowing how to entertain themselves without the need of technology, but you can also use this a means for quality family time, and to save money.
Have Things You Don’t Need? Sell Them!
Don’t be a hoarder. There’s no need to hold onto items that are collecting dust and heat in the attic, closet, or cabinets. Whether you have old toys, books, clothes, jewelry, or whatever the case may be, these items are not only taking up space in your home, but they could be turned into extra cash.
Gather these items and collect them to sell in a yard sale, or go to item specific stores that will pay you to sell them. Many stores that buy old items don’t necessarily give the highest prices, but they’ll give you some side cash and spare you from clutter around the home.
If you’re a smoker, quit! If you’re smoking in the year 2017, there’s no chance that you haven’t been informed of the health risks involved. These health risks won’t only wreak havoc on your body, but your finances as well.
You may be young now, but eventually the health issues from smoking will catch up, and you’ll be acquainted with them in your medical bills. In the interim, smoking is still an extremely costly habit. You may not be able to quit cold-turkey, but weening yourself off slowly with other nicotine products will be cheaper now and in the long-run.
It Takes Time To Build Habits
Remember, even if you have the best intentions, it takes time to build habits. You likely won’t be able to implement all of these strategies in one week, or in one month. Don’t be frustrated if you mess up a few times. Cut yourself some slack.
Do you best to move forward with these money-saving habits, and before you know it, the days of wasteful spending will be long behind you.