Saving money can be overwhelming, but there are plenty of simple habits that can make the chore more efficient. Having a plan for what you're saving for and how to do it can make the task not just simpler, but also more exciting! Read on for easy ways to save cash fast.
Wait 24-Hours Before Buying An Impulse Item
The internet has made it easier than ever to impulse buy. Doing so can put a huge dent in potential savings. Instead, make it a habit to wait 24 hours before getting something unplanned.
There's no immediate need for something that you weren't even planning on buying, and many sales last more than 24 hours. This gives you time to calm down from the initial excitement of an intriguing item and think through the cost.
Use Envelopes To Help Keep From Overspending
An oldie but goodie trick for saving money is to budget using envelopes. Credit and debit cards can make it too easy to overspend since all it takes is the swipe of a card.
Instead, allot a certain amount of money to something and only take that much out in cash. Put the cash in an envelope and use it until it's gone. Having something more tangible may help you avoid spending more than you intended.
Put Any Change Toward Savings
If you deal with cash often, then you're bound to have coins collecting all over the place. Make a habit of depositing them directly into your savings. It may not seem like much, but a little change every day can make a huge difference.
For those who hardly ever deal with cash, some banks and apps have programs that automatically round every purchase up to the nearest dollar. They then deposit the difference straight into your savings!
Build Up Your Emergency Savings Gradually
Different financial experts will advise having a different amount of emergency funds, but the general rule is to save 3 to 6 months' worth. That can be extremely daunting, especially when it's money that shouldn't be touched unless absolutely necessary!
To make the task a little less intense, break it up into bite-sized milestones. To start, focus on just getting to $1,000, or even $500. Once you've achieved that, the sense of accomplishment will make it easier to hone in on the next milestone, and so on and so forth.
Think About Cost In Terms Of Time Not Money
When debating purchasing something, especially if it's a sales item, it can be more productive to think about the cost in terms of time rather than price. For instance, that bag may be half off, but is its $30 price tag worth the hours of work it would take to pay for it?
In other words, take the amount that you make per hour and calculate how much work equates to the price of any given item to see if it's really worth it.
Save The Same Amount You Spend
Part of the fun of life is treating yourself to something extra every now and again. To prevent overdoing it and to keep up your savings, try making a habit of saving the same amount you spend.
If you indulge in a special dessert, a trip to the nail salon, or an article of clothing, put the same amount into your savings after. It can actually be even more satisfying spending a little and saving a little.
When Unexpected Money Comes In, Save It
There's nothing like finding cash in your pocket that you didn't know was there! Instead of spending it, chuck it into your savings. The same goes with any other surprise income, such as competition winnings or tax returns.
Since the money wasn't budgeted, odds are you probably don't need it. If that's the case, then it's easy savings. If you want to treat yourself, then designate a low percentage of the extra money for spending, like 5-10%.
Make Larger Meals For Added Leftovers
Recipes can call for all sorts of ingredients that may not get used all at once and can end up going bad. To save time and avoid food waste, create a larger portion than you need for added leftovers.
This way the ingredients will get used up and you'll be less tempted to eat out the next day. Portion everything out as soon as the meal is ready to avoid overeating and to ensure there's enough left over.
Create Gift Spending Limits With Loved Ones
The holiday season is one of the easiest times of the year to overspend. Trying to get lavish gifts for everyone can deplete your savings, but you still want to show you care.
That's why spending limits can be a huge help. Come up with a cap that everyone agrees on to avoid breaking the budget without seeming inconsiderate. Another idea is to do white elephant gifts or secret Santa to avoid the pressure of getting something for everyone.
Eat Out A Little Less
Eating out may save time, but it also costs significantly more than making meals at home. Whenever possible, opt to make coffee at home, bring a lunch to work, and eat in instead of out.
Instead of trying to eliminate eating out completely from your life, just try to do it one time less per week or month. Starting small will make adjusting your habits easier. Put the money you would have spent on that meal or beverage straight into your savings to feel the instant gratification.
Create A Budget
One of the more straightforward aspects of being able to save is creating a budget. Rather than guessing, look back on your bank statements and receipts to see how much you spent on what.
Break it up into categories like groceries, utilities, rent, gas, toiletries, etc. This way, you can decide where it may be possible to spend a little less. There are plenty of apps that can help you do this, as well, such as Goodbudget, PocketGuard, and Albert.
Opt For Savings Contributions Over Gifts
Major events like baby showers or weddings can be a perfect time to specify what you want as a gift. Instead of creating a registry, consider asking for savings contributions instead.
This way, everyone can contribute to the special moment without giving you a surplus of items that are secondary to strong savings. This can also be helpful during children's birthdays. Instead of accumulating more toys than they need, suggest contributing to their college fund.
Know When To Prioritize Quality Over Quantity
When it comes to saving, it may seem like buying cheaply made items makes the most sense. This may be the case when it comes to things that don't need to last, like clothes for growing children or spare rags.
However, many items will pay themselves off by outlasting the cheaper varieties. If something is high quality and on sale, then great! But some items reflect the quality in their price and won't be worth it in the long run.
Avoid ATMs That Aren't With Your Bank
When out and about, it can be easy to run to the nearest ATM when there's a sudden need for cash. However, it may be worth driving an extra few miles to get to the institution you bank with and avoid that pesky ATM fee.
While a few dollars may not seem like much, it can add up quickly. That's why it's also a good idea to avoid underestimating how much cash you'll need to avoid a second fee.
Swap Items Among Friends Or Neighbors
Over the years, it can be easy to accumulate items that are no longer of use to you. One way to make a quick dollar is to do a garage sale, but that will only get you a fraction of the value back.
A more resourceful option may be to trade items among those you know. You can plan a neighborhood swap meet or can host one among friends or family. This way people leave with items that are of similar value to those they brought.
Set Up Auto-Pay
One way to avoid overspending is to set up auto-pay for as many bills as possible. The added pressure of not wanting to overdraft can help you stay attuned to your account balance.
Plus, it prevents bills from becoming overdue, which means no late fees. Some companies even offer an incentive for setting up auto-pay, such as a discount on interest. Auto-pay also makes finances easier since all of the bills are in one place.
Unsubscribe From Retailers
Have you ever been asked for your email at the checkout line? That's most likely because the company is hoping to send you promotions to keep you coming back. Aside from clogging up your inbox, these marketing emails can keep shopping on the brain.
Be sure to unsubscribe from them as soon as possible. While ignoring the emails may seem like enough, all it takes is seeing a deal out of the corner of your eye to throw the budget off.
Have Specific Goals In Mind
Wanting to have savings is a pretty vague goal that can make it challenging to stay motivated. Saving for specific things, like an emergency fund, a new car, or a down payment, gives you something to be excited about.
That way, when you're faced with wanting to buy something, you can take into consideration which is more important, the item or the contribution toward something else you want. It feels less like missing out on something when the money is going to something else you can imagine.
Pay Off Your Credit Card Each Month
Credit cards can be a great way to afford something before getting paid, but they can also get out of hand very easily. A good rule of thumb is to avoid spending more than you can pay off in a single month.
Using your credit card frequently can help accumulate cashback rewards and build credit, but only if the debt doesn't become overwhelming. Paying it off each month helps avoid interest that could be taking up your savings.
Set Up Automatic Savings
The idea of having a certain amount of money taken out of your account or check may seem a little intimidating when it isn't going to bills. However, automatic savings is one of the most sure fire ways to save money.
You can set aside a certain amount from your paycheck to have deposited into your savings account instead of checkings. Some banks also have save as you go programs, and there are plenty of apps that can do this, as well.
Keep Up With Preventative Care
Keeping up with preventative care can save plenty of money that could add up in the long run. Skipping dental cleanings or physical exams can lead to more complicated problems down the line that may wipe out your savings.
Even if you don't have any symptoms, it's a good idea to get checked and to keep everything maintained. Plus, insurance plans tend to cover more when it comes to preventative care than when it's diagnostic.
Refinance Large Expenses
For many people, their home is the largest expense they'll ever make. One way to save extra after buying a home is to refinance the mortgage to a lower interest rate.
Doing so can save you thousands in the long run and can help you accrue equity more rapidly. It's especially helpful during those times when an unforeseen repair pops up. The same goes for your car, private school loans, credit cards, and any other large debts.
Keep Home Energy Use To A Minimum
Keeping your home energy to a minimum can have a large impact on your bills and lead to increased savings over time. Try to keep your thermostat as high as is comfortable in the summer and as low as possible in the winter.
To help with insulation, make sure that all holes and cracks are caulked and do whatever else you can to weatherproof the home. Another idea is to get an audit to see what upgrades may cut costs.
Opt For Natural Cleaning Alternatives
Natural cleaners aren't just better for your health, but they also tend to be less expensive than their big brand counterparts. It's amazing what a little bit of baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, or borax can do for your home.
There are plenty of hacks online that show just how far household items like hydrogen peroxide can go. From cleaning your floors to whitening your clothes, these products can save you tons by being put to use all over the house.
Compare Insurance Prices
Insurance policies are vital to have in case something goes wrong like a car crash or a weather catastrophe. However, it may be a good idea to shop around each year to compare prices.
Before renewing your existing insurance plans, see what else is out there. You may be able to find a lower price for the same coverage, saving you hundreds over the course of the year. Don't stick to one company indefinitely as premiums do change.
Go Directly To Airline Websites To Check Fares
If you're planning a trip but don't want to blow the budget, it may be worth going straight to various airline websites to check fares. This may seem redundant since there are plenty of third-party websites that compare prices for you.
However, not all airlines give permission to sites to list their fares. Some discount carriers have offers that you'd miss if you didn't go straight to their website. Do some digging before you buy those tickets.
Opt For Generic Brands
Oftentimes, generic brands have the same active ingredients as name brands but are a fraction of the cost. This is true for both prescription and over-the-counter medications. It also applies to any other care products, such as lotion or soap.
Check with your pharmacist to make sure that your prescription is the generic brand. Sometimes they give you the name brand if you don't ask and you end up spending money that could be going to savings.
Do Fun Things That Don't Cost Anything
Part of why it can be so challenging to save is that it seems like the only way to have a good time is to spend money. That's why it's a good idea to set aside some time throughout the week to do enjoyable things that are also free.
Explore hiking trails, the beach, or a park. Enjoy a picnic outside. Play board games or stream a free movie. Give someone a call or watch the sunset.
Opt For Free Events
There are often free community events around that you can find out about online or through social media. It's a great way to do something outgoing without breaking the budget.
Plus, it's exposure to local artists or those that aren't yet part of the mainstream. Another way to save on events is to volunteer! Those who are helping out typically get free admission, and you still get to enjoy the music and socialize with others.
Give Yourself Reminder Notes
Once you have a savings plan, it can be easy to forget about all of the limitations while you're still breaking old habits. That's why reminder notes can be a huge help.
Stick a post-it on your credit card that reminds you what your spending limit is. Put a note with an alarm on your phone that reminds you how much money you need to transfer into your savings. You can also give yourself notes of encouragement that remind you what you're saving for.