Whether you are saving money to stock an emergency savings account, create a college tuition fund, or finance a vacation, coming up with extra money can be challenging. We tend to get caught up in urgent bills and meeting monthly expenses without saving for the future.
When trying to save to reach financial goals, it is vital to create a budget and stick to it. It is also essential to pay attention to the little things because those details add up and can make or break your ability to save. Here are some budgeting and money-saving tips that could help you come up with the extra cash you need, create peace of mind, and reach those goals you’ve set.
1. Sell Unnecessary Items from Around Your Home
If you’re like most people, you probably have items in your house, perhaps in your closets, cabinets, or garage, which haven’t been used in years. Rather than allowing them to add clutter and stress to your life, you can sell them to create extra income. Then, you can use that income to reach your financial goals.
Try to organize your things every 3-6 months and use any items you don’t enjoy or find useful anymore to raise extra funds. You can use web services like Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook Groups to sell your items quickly and easily. You could also hold a garage sale or yard sale if you have a lot of miscellaneous items you’d like to sell, but the online services will give you a more extensive reach.
2. Ditch Your Credit Cards for Cash
If you are trying to save to reach a financial goal, debt is your enemy. Therefore, using credit cards is not going to do you any favors. Using a card tends to make spending easier. It disconnects you from the feeling of spending real money and has been shown to increase spending by 15-20 percent.
Using cash also allows you to take advantage of the envelope system of budgeting, wherein you set aside specific amounts of money for each bill in envelopes. You then only use the cash in each envelope to cover expenses in its respective category. This habit can make staying within your budget a lot easier.
3. Treat Your Savings as a Bill
If you are trying to save to reach a financial goal, it pays to treat those financial savings as a bill. You pay that bill on the same date every month or the same number of days after each paycheck. That way, you stay on track and consistently make progress toward your goal.
You pay your rent or mortgage. You pay your cell phone bill. You pay your internet bill. But do you pay yourself? Maybe it’s time you started to. Rather than viewing saving as an optional thing that you do if you can once all other expenses have been paid, think of it as your most important bill and try to pay it first instead. That way you won’t be tempted to spend the money you should be saving on less essential things. Remember, making small sacrifices now can lead to big payoffs in the long run!
4. Switch to Cheaper Phone or Internet Plans
Many of us set up phone and internet plans once and then leave them in place for many years. We may set up autopay and not even look at the monthly bills. Often, we end up overpaying for services, or worse yet, paying for services we don’t need.
Check to see if your carrier or provider has a cheaper plan that still contains the vital services you use. You may not need all the services you currently pay for if you aren’t using them all each month.
Whether or not your carrier or provider has a cheaper plan, you might want to check with competing providers to see what programs they offer. If you can save a significant amount of money each month by switching carriers, it might be worthwhile. Even small monthly savings add up!
Another thing to consider is whether or not bundled telecommunications services are for you. Some people may legitimately benefit from bundled services and save money by not purchasing related services separately. However, we live in a time where many of us only need standard internet access. Yet companies frequently try to sell us bundled service plans that include landline telephones and cable TV packages that are obsolete and no longer necessary.
Online subscriptions like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, among many others, have rendered cable TV a relic. Many of these newer services have fewer if any, commercials. If you haven’t considered simplifying or consolidating services, now might be a good time to do so. Most smart TVs can access these services directly without using a top box, and if not, devices like Roku and Amazon Fire TV allow you to retrofit your existing TV to work as a smart TV.
5. Negotiate Your Bills or Switch to Competitor Services
This one follows along the same thread as the previous tip. Most of us overpay for a lot of our bills each month. Credit card companies often charge far more interest than they need to, and sometimes you can negotiate a lower rate and lower monthly payments with a simple direct phone call.
Often cellular and internet bills can be negotiated lower, as can car insurance premiums. Check your coverage and policy to see if you are paying for more than you need or services you don’t use. If you have roadside assistance but are already covered by a competing service, you can drop one.
If your car insurance policy is more expensive than an equal from another company, you could switch companies to save on your policy premiums. This change could save you hundreds of dollars a year to add to your goals fund.
Hopefully, you can incorporate these ideas into your finances in a way that helps you save money. If you have any tips of your own that could help others, we invite you to share them in the comments below.