Saving money is always a hot topic, no matter your income or budget, everyone needs to save their hard-earned funds! At the beginning of each year, I always try to find something that I can do to achieve an improved financial situation.
There are a few simple changes you can make to start saving money each year. A few times a year I check in to see how I am doing and what can be improved. You may need to re-balance or go in a completely different direction, that is OK, life is like that. So let’s start at the beginning.
Why should you be saving money?
You may be wondering why is saving that important? What should you save, even if you make a ton of money, or hardly any at all? There are a few main reasons to make sure that you have savings and are continuing to save money from your paycheck each year. No matter your paycheck size, all the items on this list affect everyone.
- For emergencies
- Meet a planned goal (travel, a large purchase, new baby, new home, etc/)
- For a large expense (new car, college for the kids, transitioning to SAHM/D)
- So you have money to use for living in retirement
Each of these categories helps you achieve something in your life. Having money set aside for emergencies means you do not need to potentially go into debt because you do not have the money to cover the cost. Have funds set aside to take that trip you have always wanted to take or buy an updated washing machine so save money on water and electricity. Being able to make these purchases with money you already have earmarked can mean the difference between being deeper in debt and meeting your goals.
Retirement is an obvious reason to save. As we age, eventually you will not want to (or be able to) work in the job you now hold. That is not to say you may not have a side hustle or part-time job, but the bulk of how you will survive should come from what you have saved while working full-time.
How to Save
I always choose to use one idea from the four main topics below to save:
- Saving money from my paycheck
- Cutting out something I no longer need or use
- Spending less on specific budgets
- Add a side hustle
They are the basis of each year to savings.
Saving Money From My Paycheck
One of the easier ways to accomplish additional savings is to make small savings accounts that you commit a very small amount to each day, week, or month. I set up multiple accounts for each savings goal.
Each year, I complete the 52-Week Money Challenge, but in reverse. Below is a link to the chart that you can download and follow along to achieve over $1,400 in one year!
52-Week Savings in Reverse
Cutting Out Something No Longer Needed / Used
This is probably the hardest step of them all. Same as in dieting to lose weight, cutting out items excessively or altogether can be difficult and cause a relapse! Saving money is not only about setting funds aside. It is better to take a look at what you spend your money on first. Once you know where your money is going, then you can make decisions on what to cut.
Examples of things I have cut in years previously include:
- Gym Membership, meal plans, or other auto debit items
- Credit Cards with annual fees (this depends on whether there are significant bonuses that make it make sense to keep the card.)
- Buying everything new (looking for good second-hand options for clothes, etc.)
- Dining out
- Starbucks – daily lattes are WAY too much money. I did not give up my latte habit. I instead revised it to make coffee at home with this (affiliate link) awesome machine and then I added my own homemade syrups. You get the idea, what is the one thing that you spend too much money on? Try to find a solution to cut it out OR make your own.
Giving these items the heave-ho, or at least cutting them waaay down, has been key to our family saving extra money, year to year.
Spending Less on a Specific Budget Line Item
When I say spend less it sounds like a vague idea. You say to yourself, well Sara that is a great idea, but HOW? I have a very simple answer, pick one item from each major category and reduce it by 2 – 5%. It is small and in some cases hardly noticeable, however, it adds up quickly.
here is an example of 3 specific budgets that I have used to cut in years past:
For example, I look at my grocery spending from last year and work to reduce it by 2 – 5%. So, if my entire budget was $5,000 last year, then I will try to reduce this budget by $125.00 – $250.00. By giving a range it makes it easier to work with.
If you are looking for a great way to knock your grocery budget down even further, I would recommend taking a look at Grocery Budget Makeover. I took the course and our family was able to decrease our food costs by $1,200 for just 9 months!!!!
For the gas budget, I pledged to only fill up at Costco, as it is the cheapest choice in my area. Additionally, I only used my Costco credit card, it gives me 4% cash back. Finally, I ran my errands together in one trip instead of making multiple trips as a strategy to save gas. I expect to save $100.00 – $150.00
The insurance budget will be a bit more difficult. But I called and asked for 3 – 4 quotes from different insurance agencies for our Car and Home insurance. I hope to save at least $250.00 – $350.00 from this.
Once you have those savings in place, make sure to put them in a savings account, not spend it! I put mine into my vacation account and new car fund.
Add a Side-hustle / Another Income Stream
Now, I know you may be thinking any one of the following – I have no time, energy, or money to start a side hustle. Please remember, this does not have to be a second job if you do not want it to be.
It can be as simple as:
- Joining Ibotta to save money on groceries. Investing in a plan to help you save money on Groceries.
- Join Swagbucks to get gift cards to cover your holiday costs or even everyday costs. Check out my post on how I make over $300 in gift cards each year with Swagbucks. It pays for Christmas and most birthdays in my family!
- Joining Mintvine for Amazon gift cards or just put cash in your bank account!
- Selling something you no longer need or use on eBay / groups on Facebook
- Sell something from the Dollar Store or garage sales
- Making something to sell on eBay or groups on Facebook
- Start a Blog
The sky is the limit on what your side hustle can be. Just look for a way to make a bit of extra money on the side.
Taking even one of these ideas, will save you and your family money and help you get that much closer to meeting your goals! With a little work and planning, you and your family can work to find the extra money you did not even know you had. Now I think we can all get behind that.
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