Saving money is probably the number one topic when it comes to personal finance. But if you want to get serious about learning how to save money, we have three words for you: budget, budget, budget.
The great thing about following a budget is that it doesn’t mean can’t spend money. Instead, it’s all about making sure you’re spending it the right way.
Yes, the prospect of putting together an emergency fund or going off credit sounds daunting, if not wholly impossible. Still, you’ve seen others do it. Everybody started somewhere.
So, how to go about saving money? We’ve prepared a few money-saving tips to help you get started on your budgeting journey.
1. Start tracking your expenses
If you’re trying to figure out how to save money, there’s no way around this cardinal rule: you need to track your income against your expenses. Creating a budget and accurately listing all of your payments is square one. Why? Because, at the end of the day, the only way to save is to make sure your bills are not outweighing your paycheck.
There are many ways to budget and save money such as using spreadsheets, budget tracking apps, or following popular spending rules. The important thing is to get to know your spending habits so you can understand where your money is going. Onto the next point.
2. Get to know yourself (spending-wise)
The problem with expenses is that there are too many of them. Small ones, big ones, and mandatory ones. Before you know how to save money, you need to know from where to save.
Just because you’ve put forth the intention to save your pennies doesn’t mean more pennies will appear in your account to fill up your piggy bank!
Instead, start paying attention to how many times you eat out, go for a coffee run, or find yourself shopping for things that seemed necessary but then never used.
And, of course, keep track of those expenses so you can review them later. Track your spending for one or two months to get a full picture of what’s going on. That should be enough to give you an x-ray of your own spending habits.
3. Make amends
So, after staring at your bank statements and keeping track of everything you’re spending on for a month, you’ve realized your electricity bill is too high. Great, it’s time to shut off those lights when you’re not using them, unplug your appliances, and switch out your bulbs for low-consumption alternatives.
Spending too much on coffee? Invest in a Moka pot. Even though the up-front price is higher, you probably spend more on coffee in a month than the price tag on that coffee maker. Trying to save money on groceries? Go through your supermarket receipt, analyze the most expensive items and review your priorities. Of course, you can apply this same rule to any other money-spending activity.
4. Sell things you don’t use
In many cases, we might not have enough wiggle room to start saving or make small investments like low-consumption bulbs.
To help you get started, sell things you don’t use anymore.
Throw a garage sale, online or on your property, and either invest the money in things that will help you save—like that Moka pot—or put your earnings into an emergency fund. At the same time, it pays to start learning about financial terms and what the best options are for investing this extra money.
5. The Emergency Fund
You’ve probably heard it all before. Everyone needs an emergency fund. Get yourself an emergency fund. But, here you are, waving your hands to the sky and shouting, “in this economy?!”
No matter how uphill the battle, securing an emergency fund needs to be your top priority. It’s not only about finding the best ways to save money. It’s also about making sure the money you save helps you in the long run.
Urgent matters will always come up: an unexpected illness, a surcharge, school tuition, you name it.
But, as they say on every airplane ride, you need to put on your oxygen mask before you can help others.
Having an emergency fund enables you to operate from a more level-headed perspective. It makes you more willing to invest and less likely to become anxious and stressed when dealing with day-to-day expenses.
6. The Pay, Save, Spend rule
Saving money is more a mental game than it is a mathematical equation. There are many excuses—and extremely valid at that—that can get in the way of moving those few dollars into a separate account. That’s why it’s important to waive any easy formulas and to adopt realistic ways to save money.
So, next time you get paid, try the Pay, Save, Spend rule.
First, pay all your bills (preferably through automatic payments that immediately deduct the amount when your paycheck rolls in).
Then, put away the amount you decided to save.
Finally, take stock of what’s left and divide it by weeks. This is now your weekly allowance. This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to save money.
If an unexpected bill throws off your expenses, you can take a moment to gauge whether it is sustainable to put away the same amount you had expected to save.
Sometimes, you might be able to share the burden by sacrificing some of your savings and some of your weekly budget.
We hope these tips have brought you some clarity when it comes to saving money. Do you have any other pressing financial questions that need answering? Drop us a line at Twitter or at LinkedIn. See you there!