Everyone wishes they had more money. I know I do. But how do you go about getting more? How can you save more money?
Saving money is a result of two factors: income and expenses. To save more money, either increase your income or reduce your expenses. It’s that simple.
So, how can you go about reducing your expenses? This can be a tough thing to figure out, especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. Fortunately, these tips on how to save money are here to help:
1. Change your mindset
First and foremost, if you want to change your spending habits, you need to change the way you think about money. All of the budgeting and blog posts in the world won’t help you if you can’t change your mindset.
The change you need to make is to start thinking about needs instead of wants. Sure, we all want a new Lamborghini with butterfly doors. Do any of us really need it? No. In fact, none of us really need a new car at all. A used car still gets you from A to B.
It’s important to also change your mindset about wealth. Wealth is not having fancy cars and big houses. Being wealthy means that you have enough money to live freely. Reject the appearance of wealth and strive for tangible wealth. Stop worrying about what others are doing.
Hard truth: living paycheck to paycheck is not an excuse. Even if you are making minimum wage, you can still save money. To escape an abusive marriage, my aunt with two children saved $200 a month on a school teacher’s salary. If she can do it, you can do it, too.
2. Track your spending
After you get your mindset right, tracking your money becomes the next highest priority. In order to get better at saving money, you need to know where your money is going.
Everyone has different expenses. Some people–like yours truly–drink scotch and go to concerts on a regular basis. Others might like golfing or travelling the world. These things, if they are important to you, should remain a part of your life.
Tracking your expenses allows you to pick out the unimportant items. After looking at and analyzing your expenses, you should be able to pick out the extraneous expenses. Once identified, these expenses should be eliminated.
In addition to picking out the unimportant expenses, tracking your money helps reinforce the saving mindset. Simply being aware of where your money goes can help you save money.
3. Get rid of all debt
If your goal is to save money, getting rid of debt is paramount. The effects of compound interest are extremely powerful–especially when you are the one paying the interest. Eliminating all of your debts early can help you twofold: (1) you no longer have the monthly payments and (2) you pay less in interest in the long-term.
The average payment for a new car in the U.S. is $554 per month. If you pay this off early, you end up saving yourself thousands of dollars in interest payments. Plus, then you get the added bonus of having an extra $554 dollars in your pocket each month. Win-win.
4. Plan all of your meals
Food is one of the biggest expenses for any household. It’s fun to eat and terrible to buy. What makes it a little bit better is having a plan when you enter the store.
I used to go grocery shopping like I go shopping for scotch: I’d enter the store not knowing what I wanted, and I ended up just picking up what looked good. This method, while fun, was devastating to my wallet. I ended up picking up a whole bunch of food and ate only 80% of it. The other 20% went to waste. Not a good practice.
I fixed my problem by making meal plans for myself. At the beginning of the week, I figure out what I need to get for this week’s meals and write it down. Then I knew exactly what to buy when I got into the store. Nothing more, nothing less.
5. Review your monthly subscriptions
Monthly subscriptions are a modern convenience. For only a few dollars a month, you can have everything you ever dreamed of… if you use it. With all of the subscriptions available today, it’s easy for a person to pay for something–or many things–and never use it.
A person in the modern day can have subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Spotify, New York Times, Planet Fitness, Dollar Shave Club, Stitch Fix, Blue Apron, Robinhood, and Uber Eats.
This person could be spending $200+ every month on all of these subscriptions. That’s $2,400 a year. Those measly $10 monthly fees add up quick.
6. Use the 30-day rule
Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen an ad for a new gadget, then bought it the same day.
I’ve been there, and every time I did, I ended up regretting my purchase. I realized that I didn’t actually need that shiny new toy. I was just infatuated with it at the time.
Use the 30-day rule to counteract this problem. Whenever you feel like buying a new toy, take 30 days to think it over. Really think if you’ll actually use it or not. Figure out if it is actually worth it before you buy it.
7. Only use cash
If you have a problem spending money that you have, using only cash might be your key to success. Using physical cash is much easier to control than a debit or credit card. There’s no overdraft protection for cash.
Dave Ramsey’s envelope system is great for this. The idea is to take out only enough money to cover your expenses. This cash then gets separated into categories (gas, food, car payment, etc.). Each category has an envelope. Once the envelope runs out of money, you don’t get to spend any more money.
If you want to save money, don’t take it out in the first place. Let it sit in your bank account where it’s safe.
8. Set up an automatic savings account
An automatic savings account is a savers best friend. In fact, it’s beneficial to people who don’t like saving as well. Automatics savings makes possible to save money without doing any extra work.
This can be done multiple ways. You could set up automatic transfers within your bank, or you could have your employer split your paycheck.
My favorite way to save automatically is using Acorns. This app invests the spare change from your credit or debit card transaction. Say you spend $2.09 buying a Mountain Dew at the gas station. On this transaction, $2.09 will go to the gas station and $0.91 will go into your Acorns account.
9. Quit watching TV
If you really want to save money, throwing out your TV is a great way to do it.
TV can be fun, but when you’re in a pinch, it can easily be eliminated. It’s not a necessary expense; it’s a luxury. If you are paying for cable and other streaming services, getting rid of all of that can save you $100+ per month.
Then, there’s the added benefit of not exposing yourself to advertising. Which leads me to my next point…
10. Delete your social media accounts
“But Drams, what will we do without Instagram??”
You’ll live a better life. Aside from Twitter (which I use to promote my website), I deleted all of my social media accounts in 2019. I’ll never go back.
After I got rid of all of my social media accounts, I noticed two things: (1) I stopped caring how people perceived me and (2) I was sheltered from the constant onslaught of internet advertising. It was amazing. I no longer felt the need to keep up with the Joneses, and my impulse buying stopped completely.
This played a huge role in changing my mindset. If you’re serious about saving money, consider getting rid of your social media accounts.
They say money doesn’t buy happiness, but, as Daniel Tosh puts it, “It buys a WaveRunner. Have you ever seen a sad person on a WaveRunner?”
It’s meant to be a joke, but there’s an important point here. Money doesn’t buy happiness directly, but it does buy you freedom. Money buys you opportunities and makes life a whole lot easier. Save as much as you can and take control of your life.