Most Americans take home an income well above the poverty line, yet statistics show that over half of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and over 73% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings account. Here are some simple and practical ways to save money every day and take control of your finances on any income. Following these simple easy tips can help make your money go further along the month.
Set a Budget
You need to create a new, unique budget at the beginning of the month, every month. Some expenses occur on a bi-monthly or quarterly basis, and you will want to capture this within each unique budget you create. Remember, some expenses are fixed, while others vary from month to month. Your budget should be based upon your net income (after state and federal taxes, employer deductions, and insurance premiums). Whether you are paid bi-weekly or weekly, this figure, too, will vary from month to month. Creating a budget that highlights your expected income, expenses, and savings goals is the starting point to saving more money and increasing your net worth.
Automate Your Finances
Essentially, every month, your salary hits your account and then is automatically split up and sent off to pay off your credit card in full, pay for any recurring expenses like your cell phone and to make sure that a certain percentage is put towards your investments. That way, there’s no temptation to spend more than you have – as you simply don’t have access to any more money.
Be Aware of Your Own Consumerism
At any given moment, companies are fighting for your attention to make you think you need something that you don’t. It’s the modern world we live in. Be aware that advertisements and commercials are there to persuade you to think you need something so you buy it. Notice this and stop yourself from believing it.
Pay All Your Bills First Each Month
One of the worst things you can do is to get to the due date of each your bills and realize that you don’t have enough to make the minimum payments. Not only is it terrible for your credit score but it can cost you literally tens of thousands of dollars in extra interest and late fees. So make sure that you pay at least the minimum payments of each bill before you spend money on anything else. That way, not only will you be avoiding costly late fees, but you’ll know exactly how much you have left over for the rest of the pay cycle.
Compare Prices Online
It’s so nice that we can use technology to help save money. Before just going to a store and purchasing all of your supplies, browse ads online. If you see something that you think is a good deal, always do a quick price comparison.
Sometimes it’s actually more affordable to do your shopping online. Some stores have few sales in store, but will frequently have up to 40% off online. If you need new things, this can sometimes be the cheaper option. Our friends at Pack n Ship advise you to make sure when you’re figuring out if in store or online is best for you, that you add in potential shipping costs.
Cut Your Energy Bill
Electricity usage and costs continue to rise. Cutting your energy consumption and avoiding wastage can easily save you money every year. Easy ways to save on energy include:
- Lower the thermostat
- Upgrade your home’s insulation
- Wash clothes with cold/warm water instead of hot
- Use a smart power strip
- Use a timer on outside lights
- Utilize solar energy
- Upgrade home appliances with Energy Star rated ones
- Replace incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs
By unplugging unused appliances you can cut down on your energy bill. People don’t realize that when they are not watching TV or charging their phone they are still using energy. This is called vampire power. You won’t save hundreds each year but this is a very easy task for you to do.
Slow Down, Don’t Drive so Fast
Many freeways throughout the country have raised their maximum speed limits. Do you know what comes with this? Increased use of fuel. Your mileage drops considerably when you go over 60 mph. According to studies backed by the Department of Energy, cars mpg ratings are marketed and sold at 55 mph. As speed increases you pay about 20 cents more per gallon for each mph you go over 60. Over time, that’s a lot of extra fuel, and cash.
Buy a Gas-Friendly Vehicle
The average cost of fueling a car for each year is over $2,000. However, there can be wide variations in the gas mileage for different vehicles, making room for significant savings when you buy a gas-efficient one. You should consider buying a hybrid, electric vehicle or simply go with a smaller car.
Immediately Save any Tax Refunds
Receiving a tax refund can be like winning the lottery, but it’s best if you pretend that you never received it instead of running out for a new pair of shoes. Immediately put it towards your credit card or straight into your emergency fund. Future you will thank you.
Get the Right Insurance Coverages
It’s important to have the right insurance coverages in place to protect you and your family financially. This includes property and casualty insurance, medical insurance, life insurance and disability insurance, just to name a few types. It’s easy to overlook insurance, but if something tragic or unexpected happens to you, it would be even more devastating without the right insurance.
Pay your Insurance Upfront
Some insurance policies (but particularly car insurance) charge you a fee if you pay month-to-month. So save your money and pay every six or twelve months instead, depending on what your policy allows.
Eat Out Less
It is tempting to eat out, especially when you’re too lazy to think of what to prepare. Next time, just resist the urge! Eating out is expensive. Not only do you have to pay more for the food, but you also have to pay for the food service. Try to not eat out anymore and save hundreds a month by just preparing meals at home.
Pack a Lunch
There are many of people who have no problem dishing out $10-$15 a day on a lunch during work week. But if you are trying to save money this is not helping you. By packing your lunch you are guaranteed to eat healthier and less likely to hit up the vending machine when you are feeling hungry. By bringing your food you can save at least $100 a month, this adds up to a whopping $1200 a year.
Cut Down on Daily Coffee Runs
A way to combat this is to find a coffee that you can easily make at home that you find to be tasty, and then maybe spice up your at home drink with some syrups or creamers that you can buy at the store. Putting the initial money out for this, will still save you money every single month in the long run. That isn’t to say you have to stop 100% of your coffee shop trips, just make it more of a special thing maybe to help hype you for you Mondays, or treat you on Fridays. Just cutting it down like that will help you save really quickly. When you consider 20 cents per cup compared to up to $5 at the coffee shop, you can save hundreds of dollars per year by making your own coffee.
Buy Generic Medicine
In addition to the point above, you should almost always buy the generic brand of medicine instead of the brand name as they’re identical, just much cheaper. Check with your pharmacist the next time you need to pick up some medication. Generic medications have to contain the same active ingredients by law, so they work as well as brand names.
Cutting out this expensive habit can save you loads of money every year. Smoking costs the average smoker at least $1.1 million over a lifetime. Quit smoking and save the money spent on purchasing cigarettes. You will also spend less on medical bills and pay lower home and life insurance premiums.
In order to only ever buy an item at its lowest price, you must buy enough of it while it is on sale to last until it goes on sale again. This is key. Most items go on sale every 6-8 weeks, which means you need to buy enough to last your family that long. If you buy only a weeks worth, you will be forced to pay more the next time you need it because you didn’t buy enough. Because you are shopping the sales each week, you will be buying a larger quantity of a smaller variety of items, which means your overall grocery bill will still go down. The goal is to build up your own mini-grocery store in your pantry which you can then use to plan your family’s meals.
Visit Garage Sales
Garage sales can be a great avenue to buy equipment, tools, toys and other things you need occasionally at a great price. To avoid buying what you don’t really need (and becoming an hoarder), keep a wish list of what you are looking for and cross them off once you get a good deal.