I’m a strong believer that everyone can benefit from saving a little bit more money every month. You’ve probably heard some people say things like “you can’t take it with you when you die.” Sure, spending money is fun, but that kind of thinking can land you in a bad financial situation.
Right now, three quarters of Americans live paycheck to paycheck some or all of the time. All it would take is one unexpected expense to create a lot of financial stress. Today, it’s time to put that stress behind you. Keep reading to get surefire tips that can help you sock away a little extra cash each month.
Set Realistic, Measurable Goals
It’s not enough to say you want to save money each month. The first step to saving is setting a realistic, measurable goal. You’re more likely to succeed if you start small and set a specific amount you want to save.
For example, the first month set a goal of saving just $50. Hitting the goal provides a psychological boost that will encourage you to stick with it. Each month up the amount by just $10-20 until you’re saving about 5-10% of your take home income.
Once you decide on your short-term and long-term goals write them down and share them with a friend. A study from Dominican University in California found that writing down goals and having a weekly update with a friend nearly doubles your chance of reaching the goal.
Cut Back on Monthly Expenses
When you put thought into it, you’ll be able to find lots of little ways to save on your monthly expenses. Here are some of the easiest changes with the highest return.
Entertain Yourself at Home
Going to the movies, bars and sporting events can get very expensive. Television services may seem costly until you consider how much more you save by entertaining yourself at home. For example, there are DIRECTV packages that include hundreds of channels, dozens of movies and NFL Sunday Ticket at no extra charge. The cost of going to one football game can easily cover the cost of your television service for a month or two.
Bundle Your Home Services
While you’re considering your entertainment options, look into bundling together your home services (TV, Internet, landline, cellphone). Bundling can help you get discounted rates across the board.
Bundle Your Insurance Plans
Your insurance provides another opportunity to bundle and save. Most insurance companies will offer a lower monthly rate when you sign up for a combination of car insurance, home insurance, renters insurance, boat insurance, etc. Plus, bundling your insurance plans together makes it much easier to manage accounts since you only have one payment to make.
Be More Energy Efficient
The concept is simple. Use less electricity, gas and water – save more money on your utility bill. Check to see if your electric company provides tools that analyze your energy use. This is the easiest way to identify where you’re using the most energy and how to reduce it. You may also want to switch to a time-of-use plan if possible. These plans have higher rates during peak hours, but the rest of the day the rates are extremely low.
Find Deals Online
Clipping coupons is very time consuming. Especially when you consider there are plenty of websites that can help you save money and earn extra cash when you spend. Ebates is one of my favorites because it offers both benefits. You can find discounts on thousands of items and get cash back on purchases.
Cook at Home
Going out to eat is a lot more expensive than cooking a home. Substituting just one restaurant meal a week with a home cooked meal can save a family of four about $9 per person. The Simple Dollar has crunched the numbers and found the average cost of a restaurant meal is $12.75. However, most of those meals can be made at home for about $4 a plate.
Use a Grocery List When You Go Shopping
Simply writing out the things you need can help you save money at the grocery store. When you have a list it keeps you focused and reduces the chance that you’ll buy extras you don’t really need.
Join a Carpool
Gas prices may have dropped from their high a few years ago, but filling up a tank is still expensive. If you have to commute to and from work the monthly expense can be slashed by joining a carpool. Plus, when you aren’t driving you can get work done, read or just relax instead of battling traffic.