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20 Better Money Habits to Help You Increase Your Savings

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20 Better Money Habits to Help You Increase Your Savings

Isn’t it frustrating to feel you can be saving more?

You have great intentions at the begging of each month–yet somehow you spend most of your money. Are others able to save more because they’re naturally gifted?

If you’re struggling to save money, you’re not alone. Data shows more than half of Americans aren’t able to cover a $1,000 expense.[1] Is the solution to be the average and continue saving little money?

Of course not.

You’re an action taker–someone who doesn’t settle for mediocrity. This is why you’re reading this article now.

The truth is saving money won’t be easy.You’ll have to break bad habits and learn new strategies. Most of them will be simple but will need a focus on discipline. If you’re done aimlessly spending your money, you’ve come to the right place.

But first, be clear of why you want to start saving.

Most people talk about retirement. Others save for a vacation trip. So, is there a right answer for what you should save for?

It depends.

Saving for retirement is a must, but once you’re tracking this goal, it’s time to get intentional. As you already know saving isn’t easy, and you’ll need to change your perspective if you hope to save more.

Grab a sheet of paper or use your smartphone to jot down what having more money will make you feel.

Will you be able to sleep better at night? Do you want to start a business but can’t go all in because of your current job? Do you want to feel great whenever someone talks about money?

Get intentional and think what having more money will bring to you. Use these reasons as your north start. The next time you’re tempted to spend money remember why you’re saving in the first place.

Then, start adopting better money habits. Go through this list and note which habits you’re weak and strong in:

1. Be Honest About Your Bad Habits

The most important habit you can learn is to face reality.

The reason why you haven’t been able to save for a long time is that you’ve delayed accepting the facts. I get it, it’s not easy to accept you’re not saving as much as you should. It’s easier to ignore this and spend the money you could be saving, hoping you’ll have enough left over.

Go ahead and admit to yourself you’ve been lying to yourself for some time now.

This isn’t to make yourself feel bad. Instead, be proud of yourself for being honest and show self-compassion. Now you’re aware you carry bad habits and it’s time to get to work.

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2. Recognize Your Money Mentality

When you hear “savings,” what comes to mind?

Do you get excited because you’re on track for retirement? Or, do you cringe knowing you have been spending your money poorly these past few weeks?

The truth is you’re not saving because of the stories you’re playing in your head. Set some time in your calendar to interview yourself.

Figure out what money stories you’ve been telling yourself and challenge them. For example, if you believe you should spend your money as it comes–ask how this has resulted in the last few years. Your goal is to challenge bad money stories to create better ones.

3. Define Your Needs and Wants

It’s okay to like expensive brands. The problem is trying to buy everything because you want to keep up with friends and family. As Paula Pant states “you can afford anything but not everything.” This is why you need to define what your needs and wants are.

Create a list of items you truly need. For example, cell phone, and food, house are needs. Then, create your list of wants for items such as high-end shoes, latest smartphone, etc.

You shouldn’t buy everything from your wants list immediately. Instead, pick one and create a budget for it. Save money first and reward yourself with an item from your “wants” list once you’ve reached a savings goal.

4. Understand Your Cash Flow Using Top Tools

You may believe you understand your cash flow (money coming and out of your account.)

You get paid twice per month and spend an approximated amount of your salary on expenses. The rest sits on the same bank account without a purpose. This is a recipe for disaster.

Instead, use money tracking apps to better track your cash flow. Sync up all your accounts and let Personal Capital do the rest.

5. Learn How to Set SMART goals

You already know that saving without intention doesn’t work.

But, stating you want to retire happy isn’t enough. You need to set SMART goals. Think of SMART goals as ones you can take action on and track.

For example, “I want to be rich” isn’t SMART. Neither is “I want to be a millionaire.” But, “I want to save $500,000 within the next 10 years” is SMART.

The purpose of creating SMART goals is to be able to track your progress. How else would you know if you’ve reached your saving goals? Review your current financial goals and make them SMART.

6. Use Tools to Track Your Expenses

If you can’t manage your money well, you’ll always spend it poorly.

Your goal should be to keep your expenses as low as possible while having a high income. The problem is you may not review your finances regularly. Because of this, you might be overpaying for your services.

Again, you can track expenses using a money tracking app, showing you the amount you spend each month.

7. Learn How to Negotiate Your Bills

Once you’re tracking your expenses, take it a step further.

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Odds are you may be overpaying for your services or pay for ones you don’t need. Negotiating your expense isn’t hard. I was able to reduce my cell phone bill $10 per month with a 5-minute phone call.

You can do the same. Saving money with your bills means you’ll have more money to save.

Organize your expense from the most expensive to the least. Then, start calling your most expensive service providers to negotiate your bills. If you fail to negotiate the first time, hang up and try again.

Most of your service providers will be big companies, so you’ll work with a different person each time. You also have the option to use services like Trim, who negotiate on your behalf. Regardless, don’t settle for what you’re paying now and negotiate your expenses.

8. Start Automatically Saving Instead

Stop trusting yourself to save money.

You’ve already seen where this has gotten you. But, don’t feel bad, we’re all human and prone to mistakes. Instead, create an automatic budget.

For example, have your money automatically transferred to different accounts. Take it a step further and open external savings accounts. This way you make it more challenging for you to withdraw your money.

Now when payday comes, your money is automatically saved.

9. Be Frugal with Your Money

It’s okay to use your money to buy things that make you happy.

But, if you’re not saving enough after cutting your expenses, you need to take a different approach. I’m against adopting frugality for the sake of doing so.

But, being frugal isn’t binary– there are different levels to frugality. If you’re having trouble saving look for areas where you can cut more. For example, instead of paying for Netflix, watch free videos on Youtube.

Repeat this process until there are no more areas left. Cutting services and being more frugal than you’re accustomed is only temporary. Once you’re able to save more, you can go back to the services you love.

10. Switch over to No Credit Card

Debt is often the reason most of us can’t save.

You may earn a decent income, but once you factor in your rent, car note, and credit cards, you’re left with little. T

he average credit card debt is around $16,000.[2] The best way to avoid credit card debt is to stop using it altogether.

Forget about earning points. Leave your credit card at home somewhere out of sight.

11. Review Your Financial Progress Daily

You need to review your finances daily

With money tracking apps, you’re able to do this with no problem. But, even if you don’t review your finances daily, create a reminder to check where you stand once per week or month.

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To encourage this habit, make reviewing your finances fun. For example, review them while eating your favorite food. Or, reward yourself with something small from your “wants” list. Once reviewing your finances becomes a habit, you’ll be in a better position to save more.

12. Shamelessly Use Coupons in All Places

You don’t use coupons only when you’re broke.

Get into the habit of using coupons to save as much money as possible. Don’t shop for your groceries and then search for coupons you can use. Instead, review the coupons available and buy the items on sale a given week.

Even if you’re able to save $5 per week, this is money you would’ve spent.

13. Pack Your Lunch to Save Money

A $10 meal doesn’t seem like a lot. It may even feel like a bargain depending on how good your food was. The problem is doing this 5 times per week, sometimes even twice per day. All a sudden, your $10 meals cost you $200+ per month.

Instead, make it a habit to pack your lunch to work. Pick one day during the week to meal prep for the entire week and watch your savings grow. Here’re some ideas for you: 25 Ideas for Delicious and Healthy Lunches You Can Take to Work

14. Leverage Tools to Cut Junk Mail

If you’re like most people, you check your email a few times per day.

Companies spend a lot of money to ensure you know about their latest sales. This will only make you want to spend more.

To avoid the temptation to spend, unsubscribe from most of these companies. Or, create a separate folder within your email provider that’s out of sight. Use services like unroll.me to easily unsubscribe from promotional emails.

15. Adopt the 30-Day Rule

Have you ever purchased something only to regret the sale a few days later?

If so, the 30-day rule is for you. Each time you’re going to make a new purchase, set it aside for 30 days. If after 30 days you still want to buy this item, do it. This won’t stop all bad purchases but it will cut the most irrational ones.

16. Work on Important Tasks, Not Everything

“How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr.Seuss

Time is the only resource you have that money can’t buy. This is why you need to protect it at all costs. If you’re honest with yourself, you’re not being productive with your time.

Watching useful Youtube videos or spending time with friends isn’t time wasted. The problem is doing only these.

If you’re already financially well off, then this isn’t a problem. But, if you’re looking to save more money you have to be productive with your time. How?

Like money, you have to track it. Use time tracking apps to get a clear idea of how you’re spending your time. Aim to spend some of your time managing your money better and searching for different ways to grow.

17. Be a Voracious Reader

One of the reasons you’re not saving enough money is because you don’t know the potential each dollar has.

For example, if you’d invested $1,000 in the stock market, it would double within 10 years. Many don’t know this and would rather put their money in a regular savings account.

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You don’t need to be a financial expert, but you need to understand money fundamentals. The best way to do this is by reading. Go to Amazon or your favorite book store and buy any book related to money. Here’re some recommendations for you: 19 Best Finance Books That The Richest People Read

Read and apply action on anything new you learn. Eventually, you’ll know more ways to put your money to work and choose to save more.

18. Get Educated on the Go

You can learn more from subject matter experts on podcasts. Find some of the top podcasts in business, money and other important areas.

Listen to them to and from your commute to work. Listen while you’re working out at the gym.

Little by little you’ll learn new things. And one day, you too will be a subject matter expert.

19. Choose to Invest in Yourself

You are your best investment. Why?

The more you know, the more you can apply. But, you can’t grow alone. Coaches are great to have because they can view your blind spots.

Yes, they cost money but can save you time in avoiding problems most people make. During your early stages as an entrepreneur or in your career, you may not be able to afford to hire a coach and this is okay. Read and listen to podcasts to grow. Or you can practice these 3 Valuable Ways to Invest in Yourself.

Eventually, your income will grow and you can use this money to invest in coaches.

20. Improve Your Money Skills to Grow Your Income

There’s a limit to how much money you can save but not how much money you can earn. This is why you need to start a side-business. The internet has made it possible to build a business on the side while working a full-time job. Choose to start a business in an industry you’re familiar with.

Will it be easy? No, but worth the effort. If you’re still clueless about where to start, here are some business ideas.

Bonus: Know What to Do with Your Saved Money

Once get traction with saving your money, you’ll need to put it work.

At the very least, ensure your money is getting a high APY (annual percentage yield.) Search online for “top savings accounts” to find banks offering competitive savings rates.

Next, open separate saving accounts for your different saving goals. And use money tracking apps to track your progress.

Final Thoughts

Saving money isn’t easy. Many of the habits you currently have are ones learned from childhood. So, to expect them to disappear in 30 days is unrealistic. Instead of trying to master all the habits covered here, start with one.

Then, start small with your first habit. It may seem to contradict to what you’ve done in the past, but this is most likely why you haven’t made progress. The reason you’d start small is to build a strong foundation.

Imagine building a house with cheap materials to support it. It wouldn’t be long before this house collapses. Trying to build fast habits is like using cheap materials to build a house.

The reason for starting small is to avoid triggering your amygdala’s fight-or-flight response. All this means is you’d be less likely to feel stressed as you’re forming new habits.

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You can save more if you commit to do so today. More important, you’ll live a happier life. Isn’t this worth all the sacrifice?

More About Saving Money

Featured photo credit: Eric Muhr via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Christopher Alarcon

Finance Analyst and Founder of the Financially Well Off Blog & Podcast

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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

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33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

In a difficult economy, most of us are looking for ways to put more money in our pockets, but we don’t want to feel like misers. We don’t want to drastically alter our lifestyles either. We want it fast and we want it easy. Small savings can add up and big savings can feel like winning the lottery, just without all of the taxes.

Some easy ways to save money:

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  1. Online rebate sites. Many online sites offer cash back rebates and online coupons as well. MrRebates and Ebates are two I like, but there are many others.
  2. Sign up for customer rewards. Many of your favorite stores offer customer rewards on products you already buy. Take advantage.
  3. Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. The extra cost up front is worth the energy savings later on.
  4. Turn off power strips and electronic devices when not in use.
  5. Buy a programmable thermostat. Set it to lower the heat or raise the AC when you’re not home.
  6. Make coffee at home. Those lattes and caramel macchiatos add up to quite a bit of dough over the year.
  7. Switch banks. Shop around for better interest rates, lower fees and better customer perks. Don’t forget to look for free online banking and ease of depositing and withdrawing money.
  8. Clip coupons: Saving a couple dollars here and there can start to add up. As long as you’re going to buy the products anyway, why not save money?
  9. Pack your lunch. Bring your lunch to work with you a few days a week, rather than buy it.
  10. Eat at home. We’re busier than ever, but cooking meals at home is healthier and much cheaper than take-out or going out. Plus, with all of the freezer and pre-made options, it’s almost as fast as drive-thru.
  11. Have leftovers night. Save your leftovers from a few meals and have a “leftover dinner.” It’s a free meal!
  12. Buy store brands: Many generic or store brands are actually just as good as name brands and considerably cheaper.
  13. Ditch bottled water. Drink tap water if it’s good quality, buy a filter if it’s not. Get 
      a reusable water bottle and refill it.
    • Avoid vending machines: The items are usually over-priced.
    • Take in a matinee. Afternoon movie showings are cheaper than evening times.
    • Re-examine your cable bill. Cancel extra cable or satellite channels you don’t watch. Watch the “on demand” movie purchases too.
    • Use online bill pay. Most banks offer free online bill paying. Save on stamps and checks, and avoid late fees by automating bill payment.
    • Buy frequently used items in bulk. You get a lower per item price and eliminate extra trips to the store later on.
    • Fully utilize the library. Borrowing books is much cheaper than buying them, but in addition to books, most local libraries now lend movies and games.
    • Cancel magazine/newspaper subscriptions: Re-evaluate your subscriptions. Cancel those you don’t read and consider reading some of the other publications online.
    • Get rid of your land-line. Do you really need a land-line anymore if everyone in the family has a cell phone? Alternatively, look into using VOIP or getting a cheaper plan.
    • Better fuel efficiency. Check the air pressure in your tires, keep up with proper auto maintenance, and slow down. Driving even 5MPH slower will result in better fuel mileage.
    • Increase your deductibles. Increasing the insurance deductibles on your homeowners and auto insurance policies lowers premiums significantly. Just make sure you choose a deductible that you can afford should an emergency happen.
    • Choose lunch over dinner. If you do want to dine out occasionally, go at lunchtime rather than dinnertime. Lunch prices are usually cheaper.
    • Buy used:  Whether it’s something small like a vintage dress or a video game or something big like a car or furniture, consider buying it used. You can often get “nearly new” for a fraction of the cost.
    • Stick to the list. Make a list before you go shopping and don’t buy anything that’s not on the list unless it’s a once in a lifetime, killer deal.
    • Tame the impulse. Use a self-enforced waiting period whenever you’re tempted to make an unplanned purchase. Wait for a week and see if you still want the item.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask. Ask to have fees waived, ask for a discount, ask for a lower interest rate on your credit card.
    • Repair rather than replace. You can find directions on how to fix almost anything on the internet. Do your homework, and then bring out your inner handyman.
    • Trade with your neighbors. Borrow tools or equipment that you use infrequently and swap things like babysitting with your neighbors.
    • Swap online. Use sites like PaperBack Swap to trade books, music, and movies with others online. Also, look for local community sites like Freecycle where people give away items they no longer need.
    • Cut back on the meat. Try eating a one or two meatless meals every week or cut back on the meat portions. Meat is usually the most expensive part of the meal.
    • Comparison shop: Get in the habit of checking prices before you buy. See if you can get a better price at another store or look online.

    Remember that saving money is not about being cheap or stingy; it’s about putting money into your bank account rather than giving it to someone else. There are many ways to save money, some you’ve never thought of, and some that won’t appeal or apply to you. Just pick a few of the ideas that sound doable and watch the savings add up. Save big, save small, but save wherever you can.

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    Featured photo credit: Damir Spanic via unsplash.com

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