One of the biggest struggles many of us face is finding the balance of spending less so we can save more. A great way to do just that is by cutting costs on monthly expenses. By analyzing purchasing behaviors and implementing cost-saving strategies and tactics, you’ll find extra cash in your budget in no time. Although those savings might seem small and insignificant at the moment, they can add up and provide significant savings down the road.
Here are some tips and tricks to give your savings strategy a little boost:
- Wait a day to buy that item online. We’ve all been there. You see something you absolutely love online and the next thing you know it’s in your cart. Instead of buying it right then and there, wait at least one day before clicking check out. Many of the purchasing decisions we make are emotional and sometimes our logic doesn’t have a chance to kick in to tell us that we don’t actually need that item. You might end up buying the item anyway, but more often than not, you’ll skip out and decide to remove it from your shopping cart instead.
- Cancel memberships and subscriptions. If you have more than one streaming service, receive multiple magazines or newspapers at your door and have other autopay subscriptions, it’s time to cut back. Find just one to cancel and that $10 monthly payment could turn into a $120 savings a year.
- Shop at the grocery store on a full stomach. When there’s food galore and you haven’t eaten anything, you’ll likely put more in your cart. Instead, go to the grocery store after eating a meal or snack to avoid a hefty grocery bill.
- Buy your groceries in bulk. Some think bulk items cost too much. When spread out over several months, you actually save money because the cost per unit is far less. Some of the best bulk items to buy include: mixed nuts, pastas, peanut butter, toilet paper, and paper towels.
- Buy generic when you can. Store-brand or generic grocery items cost significantly less than name-brand items. If you compare the ingredients, they’re usually very similar. Some of the best generic items to buy include: paper towels, seasonings, plastic wraps, and baking supplies.
- Pack your lunch. While it can be a huge time saver to dine out, consider other convenient options, such as making a larger portion at dinner and eating the leftovers the next few days.
- Make your morning cup of joe at home. At $3 - $5 per cup, buying coffee daily can add up quickly. You could save upwards of $100 a month by having your morning coffee at home.
- Make sure your Wi-Fi is enabled. Those quick social media catch ups might be a good way to waste time, but if you’re not careful they can quickly add up to some pretty expensive data overage charges. Take the extra step and ensure the signal icon is present. Even if you’re out somewhere or over at a friend’s house, don’t be afraid to ask for the Wi-Fi password.
- Carpool. If you have the opportunity to share a ride with someone, whether it’s on your way to work or you’re meeting up with friends, you can significantly save on gas.
- Find the least expensive gas station. Use a site, such as gasbuddy.com, to find the least expensive gas station nearest to you.
And, you can make your savings go further with these more advanced savings tips:
- Make a budget and stick to it. A general rule of thumb is to follow the 50-20-30 Rule.* Use your monthly after-tax income as your base income when making these calculations. Dedicate 50% of your income to living expenses and essentials, 20% to savings and paying off debt, and the remaining 30% to wants. Keep in mind, these percentages are the maximum amount you should spend each month; if you spend less than the allotment, you can use that money to put toward other financial goals.
- Pay down your credit card debt. Always aim to pay more than the minimum balance each month to reduce the total amount owed. Consider a balance transfer to pay down the principal and save on the amount of interest you’ll end up owing.
- Use a money management tool. Connect all your accounts and track your spending. These tools categorize all your finances and spending habits to give you an accurate pulse of your financial well-being. You can also sign up for push notifications when you are close to surpassing a budget for the month, so you know to watch your spending for that category.
- Check your bank statements. By regularly logging into your financial institution’s Online Banking or mobile app, you can stay on top of your spending and understand how you’re doing financially. By seeing the balance of your checking account or how much you racked up on your credit card, you might not want to make that impulse purchase, which could end up saving you hundreds of dollars each month.
- Set up automatic deposits. This is a great way to save your money before you spend it. This can be done in two ways. Using your direct deposit, a portion of your regular deposit is automatically transferred into your savings account. Or, you can set up automatic transfers, which is regularly scheduled to transfer money from your savings to another account. In this way, you’re not tempted to spend that portion of your savings. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Take advantage of round-up savings programs. Do a quick search online and you’ll likely find a variety of savings programs. These programs will automatically round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and add the difference to a savings account. Each program works a little bit differently, so be sure to do your research. This is a great way to save money without even thinking about it!
Try a few of these tips and tricks and the results might surprise you with some major savings down the road. Start out small by contributing a little at a time, then slowly increase the deposit to an amount with which you feel comfortable. To keep you motivated in the process, monitor the growth of your savings; it may compel you to save even more. Once you’ve completed your first goal, direct your attention to a new one. Happy saving!
* Forbes - New to Budgeting? Why You Should Try the 50 - 20 - 30 Rule