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9 Surprisingly Easy Ways To Save Money Starting Today

9 Surprisingly Easy Ways To Save Money Starting Today

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

 

Money

    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

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    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

    Light Bulb

      4. Cut the Cord 

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      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.

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      Social and Entertainment

      Cooking

        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.

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        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

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        Schuyler Richardson

        Content Writer

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        Last Updated on September 2, 2020

        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

        Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

        In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

        4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

        Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

        1. Be Clear About the Objectives

        Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

        It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

        Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

        2. Keep Goals Realistic

        It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

        It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

        3. Account for Inflation

        Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

        Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

        For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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        4. Short Term Vs Long Term

        Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

        As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

        By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

        How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

        Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

        • Ensuring healthy savings
        • Making smart investments

        You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

        Ensuring Healthy Savings

        Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

        This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

        1. Track Expenses

        The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

        Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

        If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

        2. Pay Yourself First

        Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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        Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

        The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

        Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

        3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

        Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

        Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

        At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

        Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

        You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

        4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

        In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

        Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

        • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
        • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
        • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

        The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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        5. Talk About It

        Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

        Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

        6. Maintain a Journal

        For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

        If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

        When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

        Making Smart Investments

        Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

        1. Consult a Financial Advisor

        Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

        Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

        2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

        Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

        Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

        As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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        3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

        Einstein once remarked about compounding:

        “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

        Use compound interest when setting financial goals

          Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

          Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

          4. Measure, Measure, Measure

          All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

          If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

          Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

          The Bottom Line

          Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

          and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

          More Tips on Financial Goals

          Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

          Reference

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