We all know that saving money is something we should do regularly. However, there are times in our life when things get tough, and paying our monthly expenses can become challenging. That’s why learning how to save money is so crucial for our finances and our wellbeing.
According to CareerBuilder, the majority of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
I tried to find the perfect recipe for anyone to save money, but at the end of the day, there is no universal strategy because it depends on our comfort zone and our habits. However, I found several ways on how to save money without impacting my daily life. I grouped them in 5 categories: financial tools, monthly expenses, extra earnings, time, and bank services.
How To Save Money Using Financial Tools?
1 – Leftover Money
The first step before starting to learn how to save money is to understand your current financial situation. It’ll show you how far or how close you are from reaching your goals. So let’s calculate your leftover money and see if you are living below, within, or beyond your means.
Your leftover money is the money that you have in your bank account at the end of the month. You can calculate it by subtracting your monthly expenses to your monthly income.
If positive, it means that you’re already saving money every month. If negative, it means that you’re spending more than your earnings.
2 – Automating Savings
A few studies have shown that people tend to use the majority of the money they have in their checking account. In other words, the more they have, the more they spend.
But there is a way to trick yourself. After receiving a paycheck, you can set up an automatic transfer to your savings account. Less money will sit in your checking account, so you’ll reduce your spending without thinking about it. Just make sure to keep enough money to pay for the essentials like food, utilities, rent/mortgage, and loans.
3 – Cash Only
For a lot of people, credit cards are the reason why they spend so much money. It’s hard to keep track of how much we spend unless you constantly look at your bank accounts.
If you find yourself in this situation, a great savings technique is to use only cash. It can help you regain control of your money by being more aware of what you spend your money on. You will automatically reduce the amount of purchases you make.
4 – Budgeting
It’s easy to pay for small purchases without even noticing it. But at the end of the month, they can become significant. It’s one of the reasons we don’t know where our money goes.
Creating a budget can help you better control your monthly expenses and get your finances in order. So follow those 5 steps to create your budget.
- Define many purchase categories
- Make a list of all your expenses from the past months
- Determine a monthly budget for each category
- Regularly keep track of your spendings
- Reassess your monthly budget overtime to perfect it
How To Save Money Cutting Expenses?
5 – Food
Cook Large Portions
Have you ever wonder how much money you’re spending on lunches? It’s pretty expensive, but a great way to save money is to cook large portions for dinner. That way, you can pack the leftovers for your next day’s lunch.
Another benefit of cooking large portions is that you can split the food into equal size servings. That way, you can eat one serving at a time and freeze the rest for the days you don’t want to cook.
Cut Back On Eating Out
Cutting back on eating out saves you a lot of money. But first you need to know the reason why you’re regularly eating out. Is it to meet with friends? Or is it because you don’t want to cook?
For each reason, there is a solution. For example, you can host a potluck with your friends. You can save money by paying food services that deliver food to your door. It will be cheaper than going to a restaurant, and the quality will be similar.
Save On Groceries
If you have extra storage at home, you can buy food in bulk. From time to time, grocery stores are making massive sales on specific items. So look for those sales and buy in bulk the items you use daily.
6 – Clothes
People love wearing new clothes all the time. Other people can’t help themselves to buy clothes. While they might feel good doing it, buying new clothes can become a big part of their monthly expenses.
Luckily, there are many ways to buy clothes and save money at the same time. For example, you can shop during sales events or in outlets that offer old collections. Similarly, you can shop in stores that sell used clothes. Some of them will also buy the clothes that you don’t use anymore.
7. Monthly Subscription Services
It’s so easy to subscribe to monthly subscription services. They are usually not that expensive, but combined they can cost you a lot of money. From time to time, it’s a great idea to go over all your subscriptions to make sure you use them regularly.
- List all your monthly services
- Cancel the ones that you’re not using anymore
- Look for cheaper alternatives for the ones you’re still using
For example, monthly services can be your internet plan, phone plan, music, magazines, streaming, games, cable TV, and apps.
8. Utility Bills
Utility bills are not the first thing that comes to mind when we try to save some money. But reducing your usage can help you save a lot of money. Since you pay those utilities every month, it can mean saving money every month!
You can look into your utility bills to analyze your usage and find a way to reduce your consumption. Some utility companies offer free tips on how to save money by reducing your usage. For example, take a look at the everyday tips from PG&E on how to save on your electricity bill.
How To Save Money Using Extra Earnings?
9. Tax Refunds
Most Americans tend to consider their tax refunds as money they can spend on gifts. However, there’s another way you can use your tax refunds. Since you weren’t counting on this extra cash to pay for your monthly expenses, you’ll hardly miss it. So, why not use this money as a contribution to your savings?
10. Work Bonuses
Work bonuses are the best! Your manager notifies your work, so he/she decides to recognize your effort by giving you a little something. But, similarly to your tax refunds, it’s a great idea to use your work bonuses as a savings opportunity.
If you deserve a bonus but didn’t get one for a long time, you should have a conversation with your manager. Sometimes, just talking about it can unlock one. You can ask her/him what would it take for you to get a bonus. After this conversation, you should know what to do.
11. Birthday Gifts
Birthdays are usually a synonym of presents. Some of us are still lucky enough to receive birthday presents from our friends and families. So, next time they ask you what you want, be prepared. If you’re ready to change your finances for the better, you can ask for gifts that can help you improve your financial situation.
For example, it can be an app to help you track your expenses, a book to learn how to invest, or professional services to help you make more out of your money.
We usually spend years to pay off our debts. And then we increase our monthly expenses because we have more money in our bank accounts.
However, a great way to save money is to transfer the amount of your old debt payments to your savings every month. It won’t impact your lifestyle because this money was already going to your creditors.
If you still carry debt, try to make extra payments towards it every month. It will allow you to pay your debt faster and save money on interests.
How To Save Money Using Your Time?
13. Free Activities
Per Bankrate, 68% of Americans have skipped paid activities in the past year because of their cost. However, there are a lot of free activities that you can do with your family. You can make a list of those activities for the days when you’re not sure what to do.
For example, you can checkout the monthly events organized by your city, go on a hike, visit your local library, play with your kids, or give your time to help people in need.
Decluttering can help you save money, but also make more space in your home! So take a look for items that you don’t use in your house, garage, or anywhere else, and then you can sell them online.
They are several platforms you can use to sell your items. I use platforms like Craigslist, Letgo, or Facebook MarketPlace. They connect me with potential buyers in my local area, so I don’t have to pay for shipping services.
15. Side Hustle
Another way to save money is to make more money. So why not starting a side hustle to get extra cash? A side hustle could be something you always wanted to do or something more mainstream like driver. The great benefit of a side hustle is that you are in control of when you work and how many hours you do.
16. Low-Risk Investment Accounts
Another way to save money is to make your savings work for you. And, we all know that keeping our savings in traditional bank accounts won’t make us wealthy. So take a look at low-risk investment accounts like high-yield savings account or a money market account.
How To Save Money Using Bank Services?
17. Savings Accounts
Most of the time, people open their savings account in the same bank where their checking account is. The issue with this strategy is that the money is too accessible, so the probability of spending your savings is too high.
What you can do is to open a savings account in a different bank from the one you use every day. That way, you will tend to keep your savings longer because it’ll harder to access them. Saving money can also mean not spending it.
18. New Bank Accounts
Some banks offer “welcome” bonuses to new clients when they open a new bank account. It can be a great way to earn extra cash to grow your savings. In general, those offers required you to follow a few rules like setting up direct deposits and keep your account open for a certain amount of time. So before opening a new account, make sure you can follow those rules.
19. New Credit Cards
Similarly to our last point, some financial institutions offer “welcome” bonuses to clients when they open a new credit card. To unlock the bonus, you usually need to spend a specific amount of money within a certain amount of time.
Be careful with this strategy. Your goal is not to buy more to get money, but it’s to save money. So make sure that your monthly expenses cover what you need to spend to unlock the bonus. And don’t forget to always stay in control of your finances no matter what.
In conclusion, there are a lot of ways you can use to save money. However, only you can know with ones fit the best into your current financial situation. Now it’s time for you to take action and start the first step of your financial journey.