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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 August 20, 2019

        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

        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. And 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 on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

        5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

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

        1. Be Clear About the Objectives

        Any goal (let alone financial) 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 is for. It could be anything like kid’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, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

        2. Keep Them 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 out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

        It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for 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”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

        Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

        For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

        4. Short Term vs Long Term

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

        As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as 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.

        More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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        5. To Each to His Own

        The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

        It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

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

        11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

        Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 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. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

        Ensuring Healthy Savings

        Self realization is the best form of realisation 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 monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

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

        2. Pay Yourself First

        Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

        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 then manage all the expenses from the rest.

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

        Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

        3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

        Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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        Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

        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. Rise Again Even If You Fall

        Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

        If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

        Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

        All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

        5. 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 counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

        Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

        If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

        If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

        So 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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        6. 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. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

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

        7. Maintain a Journal

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

        So 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.

        Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

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

        At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

        Making Smart Investments

        Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

        8. Consult a Financial Advisor

        Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is 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.

        9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

        Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

        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.

        Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

        It is here where that classification will help.

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        So 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 as compared to equity instruments.

        10. 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.

        So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

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

        11. 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; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

        If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

        If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

        Do 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

        This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

        As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

        More About Personal Finance Management

        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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