No matter how much you make, it never seems to be enough. You struggle just to make ends meet, much less put anything away for later. How can you start saving money and preparing for your future? Here are five things you can begin doing today.
- Limit Your Credit Card Use. Ideally, you want to work towards eliminating credit from your life entirely. Every item you use your cards for, you end up paying more for in the long run—sometimes a lot more, depending on how long it takes you to pay off your bill. However, becoming completely debt-free is more of a long-term strategy. For now, use the card only when you have to, and, if you can, pay it off at the end of each month. You’ll owe less in interest and be able to save more over time.
- Buy in Bulk. There are a number of “bulk clubs” around the country, which offer significant discounts to paid members buying their groceries in large amounts. By shopping there, you can save money on food, clothing, toiletries, and much more. Some even provide low prices on gasoline. As long as you limit yourself to items you use regularly, and which won’t expire before you need them, then your savings in one of these stores can be well worth the price of membership.
- Properly Maintain Your “Money Pit” Items. You need your car to get to work and back every day. It also costs you a fortune in gas. Your heating and cooling system is necessary to keep you comfortable during the summer and winter months. It also drives your energy bills up. If you want to limit the amount of money these items cost you, make sure they’re properly maintained. By changing your oil regularly, keeping your tires properly inflated, and making sure your engine is tuned, you can improve your gas mileage, fill up less, and save money. If you have your furnace and air conditioning professionally inspected once a year, you can make sure it’s running at optimal energy efficiency. Look at the items in your home that cost you a lot and see if regular maintenance can help you save.
- Save Loose Change. You spent $4.84 and paid with a $5 bill. What do you do with the 16 cents in change? It’s not much money. If it got left on the nightstand or fell between the couch cushions, you’d never miss it. Over time, though, that money adds up. Get a jar and put your loose coins into it whenever you pass by. If you only manage to put away 50 cents a day, you’ll have saved $182.50 by the end of the year.
- Track Your Spending. Making a budget is important, but it also requires a bit of planning and preparation. If you want to start saving money today, a good first step is to look carefully at what you’re currently spending. Examine credit card statements, bank statements, receipts, etc. What did you buy? What are you purchasing regularly? What are you spending too much on, and what can you do without? By getting a clear picture of your current buying habits today, you’ll be in a better position to create a budget for the future that will help you save.
Saving money isn’t easy. It’s a long-term strategy that requires commitment and self-control. Most importantly, it requires a carefully crafted plan. It’s not something you can do overnight. However, with a bit of determination and a push in the right direction, you can take the first few steps towards saving money today, to prepare you for the future.