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55 Practical Ways To Save Money Efficiently

55 Practical Ways To Save Money Efficiently

There are many ways to save money and as you start discovering more ways to save money, you will find that it becomes easier as the days pass. If you are efficient and wise with your money, you can probably save thousands each year.

Saving money does not have to be hard. I was able to save my money and pay off around $40,000 in student loan debt. You can save money to lower your budget, pay off debt, and increase your savings too.  Here are a few practical ways to save money efficiently.

Ways to Save Money on Food

1. Buy groceries in bulk. You may be able to save per item this way.

2. Bulk cook your meals. This can save you money because you are less likely to waste ingredients.

3. Make your food at home.

4. Know which grocery stores have the cheaper items.

5. If you eat out, bring a coupon.

6. Create a menu plan before you go grocery shopping.

Ways to Save Money on Insurance

7. Ask if you can qualify for any further discounts.

8. Shop around for the best insurance rates.

9. If you are confident that you can save money, raise your deductibles. You can raise it from $500 to $1,000 and save some money. I’ve seen some people have $0 deductibles who are wasting a lot of money.

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Ways to Save Money on Transportation

10. Know when to buy airfare. Certain days are cheaper, and flying on certain days are cheaper.

11. Do you really need all of that car insurance coverage? When you have car insurance, there are usually a lot of extras in there, such as towing, rentals and so on.

12. Determine how many cars you really need. Cutting out one car can lower your transportation expenses significantly.

13. Know where to buy gas. Near my house there is a gas station that is almost always 20 cents cheaper than everywhere else. It’s not a large savings, but I don’t even have to go out of my way to go to this gas station, so I might as well go there.

14. Get your tires rotated. Tire rotations are cheap and can really extend the life of your tires.

15. Get an oil change. You might not need one every 3,000 miles though.

16. Clean out your car. Extra weight can mean worse gas mileage.

17. Buy a better air filter. Some air filters have a lifetime warranty and can also improve your gas mileage.

18. Know when to buy a car. There are good and bad times to buy.

19. Use public transportation to save even more money.

20. Ride your bike. If you already have the bike, then everything else after this is nearly free (except for bike maintenance of course).

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Ways to Save Money on Personal Items

21. Ask for generic drugs.

22. Buy store brand. When it comes to medications, store brand is almost always identical to name brand.

23. Buy clothing when it is on sale. Clothes almost always go on sale.

24. Buy second hand. There are many second hand stores that carry the latest styles.

25. Take care of the clothing that you buy. Washing something incorrectly can cost you money because you may have to buy the same item again.

Ways to Save Money on Your Home

26. Keep your furnace in good condition. Have someone check it if you do not know how.

27. Buy efficient windows if yours are no longer efficient. If you have old windows, then you may just be throwing money away because cold air is just flowing right inside.

28. Buy the house that you need. Do you really need 8 bedrooms when there are only the two of you?

29. Shop around for the best interest rate.  1% difference in an interest rate can be a big difference for your monthly mortgage payment.

30. Before you buy, know what the property taxes will be like. There were many homes that we were thinking about buying until we saw how much there property taxes were. A similar house at the same price would only have taxes of around $3,000 per year, but some houses that we found at the same exact price had taxes of nearly $7,000 or $8,000 each year.

Miscellaneous Ways to Save Money

31. Keep track of what you spend. If you are not good with your budget and always spend more than you make, then you need to closely keep track of what you are spending.

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32. Start a budget. Make it realistic and know exactly what you are spending in each category. You will probably be surprised.

33. Little amounts add up. If saving an amount such as $200 per month seems too high for you, aim for something such as $50 per week. A different mindset can help a lot.

34. Don’t spend money on interest. Remember to pay your bills.

35. Avoid ATM fees. Look online to see where you can use an ATM for free.

36. Check to see if you are allowed any discounts. If you belong to any organizations, then you may be able to get a discount on certain items. We receive a 20% discount on our AT&T bill, which is nice and it only took 5 minutes to do, and that was over 5 years ago.

37. Save your coins. Throw all of your coins into a jar and empty it out after it is full.

38. Before you buy something, think about how long you have to work in order to actually buy it. Is that $100 dress worth hours of your time?

39. If you are a bad credit card spender, then leave your credit card at home and only carry cash.

40. Round up. Each time you spend an amount such as $1.33, round up to $2.00 and save the rest.

41. Before you buy something, put it down and think about it while you are shopping for other things on your list. If you still want to go back to it, then maybe you should buy it.

Ways to Save Money when Having Fun

42. Find a coupon before you go out. There are entertainment books available in most cities with many coupons.

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43. Look for free festivals in your area. In many cities and towns, there are plenty of them.

44. Go for a bike ride.

45. Camp out instead of staying at a hotel.

46. Use Netflix instead of cable.

47. Visit the library. You can borrow books and even the latest movies at some libraries.

48. Look for free tickets. For many events, you can find free tickets being handed out.

49. Do a secret Santa this year instead of exchanging gifts with everyone. Buying just one present instead of 10 can easily save you money.

50. Have dinner at a friends instead of going out to eat.

51. If you go out, drink during happy hour.

52. Watch amateur sporting events instead of professional ones.

53. Watch a movie early in the day instead of at night.

54. Have a babysitting group if you had children.

55. Buy season passes. Yes, the upfront cost may be high, but you may be able to save a lot of money as well.

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Michelle Schroeder

Michelle is a personal finance expert. She earns $1 million per year while sailing.

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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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