Of course, you’d love to save money. You wish you could set something aside for your retirement, but you’re barely making ends meet as it is. Your paychecks seem to disappear almost as soon as you receive them. There’s no way you’ll be able to build up a nest egg without a significant increase in your salary.
Or maybe your salary isn’t the problem. Maybe the problem is simple money management. If you manage your money badly, then it doesn’t matter how much you make. It’s never enough. But if you make just a few important changes to your spending and saving habits, you can live comfortably on what you have and still have some left over to put away for the future. Here are a few simple tips on how to save money effectively.
- Keep Track of Loose Change. Anytime you pay cash for something, you probably get at least a few coins back in change. It may be just a couple of pennies, or it may be almost a full dollar, but either way, the coins tend to disappear quickly. They sink to the bottom of your purse, fall into the couch cushions, or just get dropped on the floor and forgotten about. It’s only a few cents, after all. They hardly seem worth worrying about. But those few cents can add up over time. If you keep track of your loose change and put it into a piggy bank, or even just a jar, before long you’ll have a fair amount of money. If you can save even a quarter a day, by the end of the year it will be almost a hundred extra dollars. Get a few coin sleeves from the bank, wrap up all of that loose change, and deposit it into savings.
- Beware of Sales. The siren song of sales and coupons can be difficult to resist. It’s 50% off! How can you NOT buy it? But before you do, stop and think: Is this something you need? Is it something you would buy anyway? Will buying it now, or buying more now than you usually would, actually save you money in the long run? If the answer to these questions is yes, then definitely take advantage of that sale. But if the only reason you’re buying the product is because it’s cheaper than normal, then you’re not actually saving. You’re spending more than you would have had you just ignored the sale or thrown away the coupon. So spend responsibly, and you’ll be able to save a lot more.
- Curb Your Habits. What activities do you indulge in regularly that cost money? Do you smoke cigars? Drink Scotch? Eat out at fancy restaurants? Maybe you just smoke cigarettes, drink cheap beer, and order pizza. Either way, doing it costs money. Cutting back on the amount that you indulge in these activities can save you a bundle. You don’t even have to eliminate them entirely. Just limit how often you do them. Maybe instead of dining out every day or every week, go just once a month. Soon, you won’t even miss these former habits, and you’ll have plenty of extra money to show for it.
- Explore Alternate Travel Options. How many cars does your household own? If you and your spouse both drive separate vehicles to work, how much are you spending each month on gas? What about oil changes and other regular maintenance? Your vehicle can be a huge money pit, costing you thousands each year. But often there are other, cheaper options. Sell one car (putting the money into savings, of course), and use other methods of getting around. Carpool to work. Use public transportation. If it’s close enough, walk or bike. The more you’re able to do without your vehicle, the less it will cost you, and the more you can save.
These are just a few simple things you can do to save money effectively over time. Look at your current spending patterns and how, exactly, your paycheck is used each month. Then look for ways you can cut back or rearrange your lifestyle in order eliminate waste and save more. Make a budget that will help you live within your means and still have some left over to put towards the future. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the money starts to pile up.