Have you ever felt that no matter how hard you try to budget or save money, you’re still barely scraping by at the end of the month? Maybe you’re actively trying to save money, or you generally think you’re being frugal — but then you have a dentist bill, or your car needs new tires and any extra money you had saved up is gone in an instant.
Learning how to save money is not only beneficial for your bank account, but for yourself as well, creating a ripple effect of positive changes in your life. For example, spending less money on fast food will not only improve your health, it provides the most obvious benefit of spending less, which leads to acquiring more wealth.
Budgeting, tracking, saving, doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it can actually be freeing, empowering, and by the end of this article, you’re going to know how to achieve both of those.
How to Save Money
If you feel overwhelmed with knowing where to start with budgeting your money or learning how to save without making significant sacrifices, you are in the right place.
We can tend to think that saving money is entirely about restricting and limiting ourselves – not taking vacations, not buying a new coat, denying ourselves our favorite takeout dinner after a hard week of work. But saving money is about more than being prudent with your spending. It’s about mastering your finances instead of being enslaved to them, finding freedom in money instead of stress, fear or frustration.
It can be discouraging that despite your best efforts, you just can’t ever seem to save enough. So here are four simple, perhaps even surprising, ways you can save more money this month.
Pay yourself first
What most of us learned growing up was how to pay bills. Not how to save, invest or budget, but simply how to pay our bills. The result of this tends to be adults who are not only stretched thin financially, but often end up unhappy because of it.
Paying yourself first is the practice of setting aside a certain amount of your earnings each month, or each paycheck, towards yourself. Whether that means putting it into a vacation fund, a high-investment savings account or something else entirely, it’s a habit you establish that is prioritized just as strongly as paying your bills.
The greatest benefit of paying yourself first is, regardless of what your purpose is for creating this separate account (or accounts), you are establishing a hearty financial cushion, not only for pleasure, but also in the case of an emergency.
Buy generic brands
This is, hands down, one of the easiest ways to significantly cut down on your expenses. Most brand names are not actually higher quality, but rather just have better marketing — more vibrant colors, a fancier design, but the same ingredients or product components.
So next time you go to the grocery or drug store, take an extra minute to compare a name brand item you might normally buy and the generically branded item sitting on the shelf right next to it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much money you can save this way.
Reduce energy costs
Many of us have, at some point, walked into a room, turned on a couple of lights, done a few things and then left — without turning off the lights. Sometimes we leave our house or apartment for the day, but we still leave on the air conditioning or the heater. Maybe we leave the water constantly running when we’re washing dishes, instead of turning it off in between scrubbing each plate.
Subconscious habits like these often develop because we’re distracted in the moment, or we are simply unaware of how much these habits can raise our bills at the end of the month.
Practice awareness when you’re doing chores around the house and become more in tune with how much you’re using each utility. Practicing awareness in your home will be key in helping you save more money.
Minimize subscriptions and memberships
It can be so easy to subscribe to one service here, and become a member of another service over there, that many of us lose track of where and how much our money is being scattered.
Oftentimes though, if you sit down and track how many subscriptions and memberships you have, you might be a little shocked. It can be hard to know which to keep and which to get rid of, but a good rule of thumb is to look at which ones you use on a regular basis, and which ones you haven’t used in the last month.
Need additional support?
If you’re feeling like you’ve just barely begun to scratch the tip of the iceberg with budgeting and saving and the thought of proceeding overwhelms you, you might feel tempted to abandon the entire practice. If this is the case, you might consider seeking additional support, a specialist who can help you align your finances with your vision for your life.