Five best money-saving tips for America Saves Week
Saving more money is a top priority for millions of Americans, but getting ahead financially isn’t easy by any means. The sheer amount of information out there about personal finance can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to get lost navigating all of the various areas of personal finance—from spending to budgeting to saving to investing. This America Saves Week, we’re cutting through the clutter to deliver five easy, actionable tips that can help you save more money in 2019.
Easy ways to save more money each month
1. Track your spending
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and are constantly questioning where all of your money went, the first step to getting back on track with your finances is to track your spending. For an entire month, write down anything and everything you spend money on: big purchases, small purchases, bills, gas, groceries, etc. At the end of the month, you’ll have a comprehensive list of everywhere your money went, and you can begin analyzing. Figure out where your non-essential purchases (anything not necessary to maintain your day-to-day life) are and cut back on as many as you can.
Impulse purchases can also plague a savings plan pretty easily and often account for a portion of savers’ “missing” money, so take things a step further by implementing a 30-day waiting period for non-essential purchases over a certain price point. Thinking about upgrading your big screen TV to a nicer, newer model? A new flat screen can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, so instead of jumping right in and taking the plunge, sit tight and really think about it before spending any money. Your perspective may change after a month, and you might realize that the purchase isn’t actually worth the cost.
On the flipside, if you still can’t get the item or product out of your head after 30 days, you know it’s more than just an impulse decision, and you’ll likely feel less of that pesky buyer’s remorse that usually shows up after making a big purchase.
2. Set a goal
Saving money is like a road trip—you may run into some detours, but you need to have a set idea of where you’re going (and how you’re going to get there) before you can successfully arrive at your destination.
After tracking your spending for a month, you’ll have a pretty good idea of exactly where each dollar of your paycheck is going, which will make it easier to determine a realistic savings goal. If you spend roughly $300 on non-essentials in a given month, aim to cut back on your spending to, say, only $100 per month. You’ll still be able to eat out and go have some fun with that $100, but more importantly, you’ll be saving an extra $200 per month—and that small change alone will equate to $2,400 in savings by the end of the year.
You’ll also want to prioritize your goals—saving for retirement and paying off high-interest debt, for example, should be much higher priorities than saving for a vacation or putting down a down payment on a fancy new car.
3. Clear the clutter
Workers today often fall trap to a “treat yourself” mentality, and although we’re certainly not suggesting you deny yourself of all of life’s luxuries in order to fund your retirement or prepare for your financial future, it’s not be a bad idea to get rid of the extras that you aren’t utilizing fully.
Have Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Starz, Cinemax, and cable? You’re probably not watching all of them enough to make each one worth paying for—so cut back on the extras. The same can be said for magazine subscriptions, unnecessary phone upgrades, brand-name purchases, etc. And if you’ve already fallen off the wagon with your New Year’s Resolution to make it to the gym more, there’s another expense you can consider cancelling. There’s no reason to be paying a fee of anywhere from $20-$80 a month for a membership that you’re not using—even if you have the best of intentions with the membership. Instead, consider taking advantages of cheaper or free exercise options, like taking a walk through your neighborhood or using at-home workout equipment.
4. Quit bad habits
Obviously, bad habits are considered bad for a reason—usually for your physical health, mental well-being, or the like. And the reality is: bad habits are often bad for your wallet, too. Frequent eating out instead of cooking, driving places you could easily walk, and drinking in excess all are activities that take out hard-earned cash that could stay in your wallet. And don’t even get us started on smoking.
Recent studies show that that the average cost of a pack of cigarettes is $6.16, including the rising taxation imposed on tobacco products . Assuming a pack-a-day habit, the annual cost of smoking is about $2,250—which could easily be socked away in your savings account rather than in Big Tobacco’s hands.
5. Be smart with credit cards
We all spend money; it might as well be one of life’s guarantees along with death and taxes. So if it’s a necessity, why not get a kick-back on the money you’re spending already? Utilizing cash-back credit cards (in a smart way…not to rack up piles of credit card debt) can help you earn back a percentage of the money you already spend on essentials like groceries, gas, etc.
However, if you have a hard time with self-control or have struggled to use credit cards wisely in the past, it may be in your best interest to stick to cash and debit cards. We don’t necessarily recommend cancelling any credit cards you already have—as that can have a negative effect on your credit score and credit cards can come in handy in emergency situations—but if you’ve struggled in the past to maintain an appropriate balance on your card, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep credit cards out of your wallet so you’re not tempted to use them in unnecessary situations.
Saving more money isn’t easy; if it was, everyone would do it. But safeguarding your financial future by putting away some of your salary is vitally important, and who really wants to live paycheck-to-paycheck anyway? Following these five tips may help you take the first steps toward financial freedom, but if you’re looking for more guidance along the way, check any out of the helpful resources we have available online or contact our team today!
 Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/index.htm