Cutting costs is not easy and can be frustrating if you are trying to save up for something special. Maybe you want to put money aside for a trip, school, a big purchase or just create a security blanket in the bank in case of emergency. Regardless of your reason to save, here are some great ways to make it happen!
Create a Budget
Creating a budget is the first step to saving. Knowing where your money is going is the best way to determine what you can cut in your spending and what are necessary expenses. A budget will also show you, after calculating your income and expenses, how much money you will have left at the end of the month for your savings or how much you will owe. If you need help creating a budget, check out our article on ”Creating a budget” and use our Personal Monthly Budget tool.
Your Monthly Bills
Every month you have bills to pay, all of which you might be able to start saving on. The first thing you should evaluate is your phone bill. A lot of people pay for minutes, data or other features they don’t use. A quick call to your service provider or logging on to your online account can help you understand the breakdown of your bill and make changes to your account.
The next monthly payment you should try to cut down on is your heating and electricity bill. You may find that by keeping your house one degree warmer in the summer time or one degree cooler in the winter you can save a lot of energy and dollars. Keeping lights off when you are not in the room or hanging clothes to dry in the summer time instead of running the dryer also goes a long way.
You should also evaluate your credit card bill. The main focus for credit cards is paying your bill on time. Not only does this ensure that your credit rating stays positive, but it also means that you will pay less in interest and other transactional fees. With credit card interest rates in the 20% range, a monthly balance of $1000 can result in over $200 of annual interest charges just on that one month’s bill. Of course if you don’t pay your monthly balance in full, a $1000 bill of new charges monthly($12,000 of expenses annually) can result in over $2400 of interest charges per year.
Be smart about your entertainment. This doesn’t mean necessarily going out less often, but it means making restaurant choices that have a “bring your own wine” option or seeing the new blockbuster on a cheapy Tuesday. Think about all the fun things that there are to do in your city that may not cost as much as a trip to the amusement park. Outdoor concerts, festivals and theater are also all fun activities, most of which will not cost you a dime.
Your transportation costs can definitely add up. If you have to drive, try to find a monthly parking pass that will be less expensive than parking on the street every day or take the extra ten minute walk to park for free. Also, evaluate if it is worth it to purchase a monthly pass for the transit system in your city rather than paying per trip. Rather than owning a car you may want to consider belonging to community car sharing network instead. Your city may also have Bixi bikes for rent.
Food and drink
Many of us spend a lot more on food and drink than we realize. If you cut out the coffee and bagel before work every morning, or prepare it at home, you could save up to $1000 a year. Doing things like making your lunch or carrying a water bottle to fill up at a fountain instead of purchasing one at a vending machine can save you hundreds of dollars. Try it for a month and you will see the difference in your wallet, not to mention the positive impact this will have on the environment. Other choices like buying less at the grocery store so perishables are less likely to go bad, also saves costs you may not have noticed before. Plan your meals and only buy what you need.
When it comes to shopping for clothing, accessories or electronics, wait for the end of season sale if you can. If you can’t wait, leave home knowing exactly what you want and try avoiding impulse purchases. If you end up walking around not knowing what you want, you are most likely to leave with everything except what you initially needed. If you are looking to treat yourself or someone else at a reasonable price, you should check the group deal programs that offer great gifts or services at reduced rates. Some of the most popular are Groupon, Living Social and Teambuy!
Avoid buying on credit
If you are learning to manage your money, credit cards can be a nightmare. Not only is it too easy to swipe your card and not see the dollars add up until the end of the month, but if you cannot make a payment, you will pay the consequences at an extremely high interest rate. Try putting a certain amount of cash in your wallet at the beginning of the week and making it last until Sunday. Not only will you think twice about spending but you will physically watch your funds diminish, keeping you aware of your spending.
Automatic savings set up
Speak to someone at your bank to set up automatic savings deposits. You can have a certain amount of money taken out of your bank account every month and put into a separate savings account automatically. This is a great way to put money aside for something special, because you don’t even have to think about it; the transaction is taken care of for you.
Making it work
The key to saving successfully is to be realistic with your saving goals and expectations. You cannot expect to start saving 50% of your monthly income over night. Saving up takes time and effort to reduce expenses and spend smart. Stay positive about saving, it’s a great thing to work towards so it shouldn’t upset or frustrate you. Rather, it should motivate you to make smart decisions every day.
TIP: If you need help creating a budget, check out our article on ”Creating a budget” and use our Personal Monthly Budget tool.