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Published on July 3, 2019

20 Better Money Habits to Help You Increase Your Savings

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.

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

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Christopher Alarcon

Content Marketer and Finance Analyst

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Last Updated on July 4, 2019

25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless.

Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent free online education awaits on the following 25 sites.

1. Coursera

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    Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

    Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education, and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

    Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups.

    2. Khan Academy

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      Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

      Among the more well known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly useable, which may make it easier to keep learning goals.

      3. Open Culture Online Courses

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        If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos and podcasts from universities around the world. The site features a lot of material found only on universities private sites, all in easy to browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses, without having to visit and search each university’s own site.

        Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales and many state universities around the United States. A very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

        4. Udemy 

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          Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

          Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top quality content. This is another site however, that mixes free and paid content.

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          5. Academic Earth

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            Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources, and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

            Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

            6. edX

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              Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics.

              7. Alison

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                Unlike the previous sites on this lists, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

                It’s a great option if users need certification for their learning as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

                8. iTunesU Free Courses

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                  A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod, or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

                  Desktop users can access  iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

                  Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos, and paid content.

                  ITunesU does include courses on a pretty wide scope of topics, but does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

                  9. Stanford Online

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                    Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

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                    Stanford Online is a great site for high quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school.

                    10. Harvard Extension

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                      Like Stanford Online, Harvard Extension features free online education courses from Harvard only. This is another excellent source for top notch course material, though the course variety is less rich than multi-school sites.

                      Additionally, Harvard Extension allows you to search for courses by professional certificate. This makes it much easier if your online education goal includes certification.

                      11. Open Yale Courses

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                        Open Yale Courses echoes Harvard Extension and Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses, but learn better by watching than by reading.

                        12. UC Berkeley Class Central

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                          Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

                          13. MIT OpenCourseWare

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                            Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, plus includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

                            14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

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                              Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list, however, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics. But for the topics that are covered impressive, in-depth material is available.

                              15. Codecademy

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                                Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

                                The courses at Codecademy are well written and easy to follow and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, plus organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

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                                16. Code

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                                  Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

                                  In addition to kid friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics and Javascript.

                                  Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

                                  17. University of London Podcasts

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                                    The podcast page on the University of London website is another great source for free education. While the courses are limited to podcasts, the site features podcasts from it’s own campus, as well as eleven universities in and around London. This gives learners a wide base of topics and lectures, but still ensures in-depth material.

                                    18. University of Oxford Podcasts

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                                      Similar to the University of London, the University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

                                      The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. Another good site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

                                      19. BBC Podcasts

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                                        For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly, and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

                                        Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

                                        20. TED-Ed

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                                          Another great destination for more general learning is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all encompassing, motivational web series, comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

                                          Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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                                          21. LessonPaths

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                                            LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

                                            22. Memrise

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                                              Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

                                              Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

                                              23. National Geographic Kids

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                                                The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keeps kids interested on this site.

                                                National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

                                                24. Fun Brain

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                                                  Fun Brain is another good option for kids who want to learn online, but focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

                                                  Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

                                                  25. Whyville

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                                                    Similar to the sites for kids free online education is Whyville a destination for preteen online learning. The site includes a variety of social features, with a focus on learning materials geared for young teens.

                                                    Whyville also mixes in educational games, to make the site a well rounded option for kids too old for simple games, but too young for heavy reading based material.

                                                    More About Online Learning

                                                    Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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