The new year has arrived. We’re done making resolutions, and now it’s time to see how well we will implement them. Last year, I made haphazard financial decisions and barely saved anything. This year, I aim to change that. In order to do so, I have five ways to save money and spend less:
- Have or find a good job
- Create a budget
- Practice caution with credit cards
- Plan vacations in advance
- Mind your living expenses
Why It’s So Difficult to Save Money and So Easy to Spend
When we purchase an item, we can easily figure out why we are buying it, how it will be of use, or why the item is important to us. But whenever we put money into savings, we barely have any idea of how we'll use it. Perhaps that’s the biggest problem for us millennials is that we believe more in today than tomorrow.
Why It’s Important to Save
Imagine that tomorrow you fall seriously ill or have a major accident and face a huge medical bill as a result.
Saving money is crucial simply because we have absolutely no idea what the future holds.
If you don’t have savings, you won’t be able to handle unexpected expenses. The main purpose of having a significant amount saved up is to be ready financially for any big expense the future might surprise you with.
Ways to Save Money
There are many ways to save money, but two come to mind that are the most effective: establishing a source of income and budgeting the money you earn.
1. Have (or Get) a Source of Income
If you aren't financially independent and rely completely on pocket money and gift cash, then no matter how hard you try, you’ll never lead a financially happy life.
But with a good source of income, you can structure your finances exactly the way you want. So find a job that suits you and plan your savings and expenses with full freedom. With a fixed amount of money coming into your pocket each month, you can easily decide how much you want to save and how much you want to spend.
2. Make a Budget
The next big step after having your own income is to make a workable, flexible budget. There are two excellent options. The first is the 50/30/20 budgeting rule, and the second is backward budgeting.
The 50/30/20 Rule
This rule is the simplest of the two. With this method, you dedicate 50 percent of your salary to your day-to-day expenses and all other basic expenditures, such as utility bills, groceries, transportation costs, rent, and so on.
Next you pull 20 percent from your salary for your savings. You can open a savings account and get this 20 percent automatically redirected to it from your checking account on your payday. The remaining 30 percent is for you to enjoy. You can dedicate this amount to casual and luxury spending, or you can add it to your savings. Maybe even invest that money!
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The second option (my personal favorite) is backward budgeting. With this method, you set aside a specific amount — as much as you want — for savings as soon as you receive your paycheck. Then you figure out your spending from the amount that’s left.
The best way to use this type of budget is itemize your probable expenses for the month. After you set aside your desired savings amount, see if what’s left will cover your expenses. If it will, good — you’re home free. If it won’t, then assign every dollar that’s left a suitable purpose. Even factor in all your planned luxury expenses. If you’re lucky and have extra cash left, put it into your savings straight away.
How to Spend Less
An excellent way to save money is to figure out how to avoid spending it in the first place. There are a few tips and tricks that can help you cut costs.
1. Be Careful With Credit Cards
Try to use these cards only for justified purposes. As mentioned above, I‘m guilty of making poor financial decisions last year. Because I made nearly every purchase with plastic, I incurred a good amount of credit card debt. But I've grown wiser, and now I'm keeping my credit card usage in check.
Check out online debt repayment calculators to see how much you can save on your debt payments if you are someone like me, who owes money on his credit cards.
2. Plan Vacations in Advance
Vacations are meant to be memorable, so plan them properly and find ways to save enough money to make that a reality. Always plan long vacations at least a year in advance, and start saving by cutting down on costs with a frugal lifestyle. But does that mean you need to forgo fun until you go on your vacation. You can take some great, inexpensive staycations.
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3. Be Mindful of Living Expenses
If you plan to move out of your parents’ house this year, beware the hidden costs associated with renting. You’ll also have to account for many additional expenses and most likely need to change your lifestyle.
That said, I wish you a very happy and prosperous year ahead. May you be successful in your plans and get what you wish for!