There’s a common misconception that in order to save money you have to make a ton of money. Well, that’s simply not true. You can save for the future today without a massive income. You just need to develop some responsible fiscal habits and cut excess spending. For every dollar you save, put the same amount in an interest-bearing savings account. You’ll be elated to learn how quickly the dollars can add up. Here are nine surprisingly easy ways you can get started with saving today:
Budgeting and Investments
1. Choose the Right Bank
For starters, you need to make sure you’re working with the right bank. Smaller banks tend to have better interest rates and may even give you some additional perks. It’s not uncommon for banks to offer $50 or $100 bonuses for establishing a new checking account. Seek out these opportunities and you can give your savings account a nice little foundation.
2. Set a Budget and Stick With It
You can’t save if you don’t have a plan. You need to know exactly how much money you’re bringing in each month and how much your set expenses are. Based on this, you can allocate money towards different things and identify places where you can cut back and save. A budgeting tool like EveryDollar or Mint can simplify the budgeting process and keep you honest (they even directly sync with your bank account).
3. Automate Savings Transfers
If your bank allows for automated savings transfers, take full advantage of this. What would happen if you decided you were going to have $100 diverted to this account each month. Would you miss it? Odds are you would find a way to do without. Treat this $100 (or increase the amount if you think you can) like a fixed monthly expense – not an optional payment. You may be surprised to find that you’re still able to maintain the same quality of life. After a year, you’ll have more than $1200 stashed away.
Around the House
4. Cut the Cord
Now that you’ve got your bank account and budget established, it’s time to start saving money and increasing the size of your account. One of the easiest ways to do this is by cutting the cord on cable. Using this handy tool, you can calculate just how much you would save. You can even select which streaming service you would subscribe to in order to replace your cable. Even with a service like Sling TV or Netflix, the average household can expect to save between $40 and $60 a month. That’s between $480 and $720 per year.
5. Replace Your Light Bulbs
Did you know that by simply replacing five lightbulbs in your home with energy efficient alternatives you can save $75 per year? Considering that most homes have at least triple that many lightbulbs, you could realistically save $225 each year.
6. Shop Around for Better Rates
When’s the last time you shopped around for a better car insurance rate? Asking for quotes may earn you a better deal. One expert says you can save an estimated $600-$800 annually by merely comparing carriers every two or three years. That’s certainly worth the time and hassle of changing policies.
Social and Entertainment
7. Stop Eating Out
Every time you eat out, you’re essentially throwing money down the drain. Sure, it’s tasty and fun, but it’s not cost effective. According to a study conducted by a clinical psychologist at Kansas State University, those in the top one percent income bracket spend 30 percent less of their money on eating out at restaurants. That should tell you something right there. For a family of four, cutting back on a single meal per week can save as much as $1500 per year.
8. Watch Movies at Home
One of the biggest money wasters is going out to the theater to watch a movie. These days, the average ticket costs anywhere between $10 and $15. For a family of four, that means your night out could cost $60 just to get in the door (not to mention drinks and popcorn). Waiting a few weeks for the movie to come out on DVD is much cheaper. In fact, with providers like Redbox it may only cost $1.99 for the whole family.
9. Exercise at Home
Quick: how much do you spend on your gym membership? Is it $15, $30, $50-plus per month? Most people spend anywhere from $240-$600 annually on gym memberships and fees. While you should definitely stay physically active, there’s no need to spend that kind of money. Take what you would spend in a single year and buy some home equipment. After the first 12 months, you’ll end up saving hundreds of dollars each year.
You can save money without drastically compromising your lifestyle. In fact, the handful of tips mentioned here could save you thousands of dollars per year. Redirecting that money into your savings account will leave you with a healthy financial security blanket at the end of the year. Don’t wait until tomorrow – it’s time to start saving today!
Featured photo credit: Paper Money via albumarium.com