Are you looking to amp up your money-saving strategies? If so, that’s probably a good idea. Experts suggest having six months of savings set aside in case of emergencies, but unfortunately, most people fall short of that goal: 70 percent of Americans have only about $1,000 in their savings accounts. You’d be lucky if that amount covers one month of expenses, let alone six. With that amount saved, you may find yourself in the uncomfortable position of relying on credit cards when the unexpected happens.
In addition to building up your emergency reserves, you may want to use money saving strategies for other goals — like a milestone anniversary trip, your child’s education, an upcoming wedding and your own retirement. Or perhaps you’re simply tired of living paycheck to paycheck, even though you make a decent salary.
So, here are five easy tips you can use to save money without feeling a huge pinch in your everyday living.
Do you buy yourself coffee, lunch and even dinner each day? Have you ever stopped to calculate how much you’re draining your bank account with each bite out? Take the next week to write down every cent you spend on your food and drink so you can see how quickly it adds up. Then, start making your coffee at home, bringing your lunch to work and cooking dinner each night — you’ll be amazed how much this simple adjustment can save you big.
There is no excuse to keep clothing you no longer wear, furniture collecting dust in your attic or cell phones no one uses anymore. You can sell all this clutter for cash with the help of various apps and online sites. The Poshmark app is great for selling clothing, there are tons of local yard sale groups on Facebook to get rid of furniture, and online tech resellers like Gazelle will give you good money for old cell phones.
Lowering your home’s thermostat, reducing the water-heater temperature and turning off lights in rooms when you leave are all easy energy-savers that can reduce your energy bills. Your mom probably told you to do these things, but you might have forgotten (or chosen to ignore). Either way, these tips are good for your wallet and the environment.
Do you know how much you spent last year on clothing? If your spending matched the Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, it was about $1,800. If you like to shop but want to cut back on spending, you should check out your local thrift store — or check out one in an upscale zip code. You’d be amazed what people give away: perfectly good clothing, some with tags still on them featuring designer names. Shopping thrift allows you to build your wardrobe with good-quality pieces for cheap.
Now that you’ve got new money-saving strategies in place, you don’t want to end up spending all this cash you’ve freed up. That’s why the last (and perhaps most important) action you need to take is this one: Set up automatic savings.
If your employer will allow it, have an automatic withdrawal activated so that a percentage of each paycheck goes directly into your savings account. If that’s not possible, then open a savings account at the bank where you have your checking account. Then set that automatic withdrawal with your bank so that, with each pay period, you transfer a set amount from checking into savings. Maybe it’s the amount you used to spend eating out each week, for example.
Here’s the beauty behind these automatic withdrawals: If you never see that money, you won’t be tempted to spend it. Then, before you know it, you’ll see your savings grow, and you’ll be that much closer to your long-term savings goal.
In the end, remember that penny-pinching doesn’t have to mean starving yourself or depriving your days of your favorite things. The point is to live your life while investing in the future you.