It doesn\’t take a lot of effort to save money. Here are 11 proven ways to cut costs this year and put cash back into your budget to reach your goals.
Saving money is a lot like going on a diet. You know it’ll make you feel better in the long run, but that doesn’t make it so easy to put off.
Similarly, whether you want to save money or lose weight, the allure of instant gratification is hard to resist. Those unhealthy meals and sugary snacks can prove too tempting – as can splurging on unnecessary purchases.
Thankfully, just as making small dietary changes can have a big impact on your waistline, slight shifts to your spending habits can improve your financial position before you know it.
Real Ways to Save Money This Year
Today, we’re going through 11 tried and tested saving tips that deliver the desired results with minimal fuss. Let’s dive in.
1. Make Things Automatic
Transferring money to your savings account manually each month is a recipe for trouble. You may forget to do it, for example. Or, if you overspend by accident and finances start feeling a little too tight, you might “forget.”
Ultimately, the extra effort increases the likelihood that you won’t hit your savings goals (more on these later).
That’s why it makes sense to set up automatic transfers. Take that tack, and you’ll save money on autopilot. The bank will move funds from your checking account to your savings account without you having to think about it.
An online bank like CIT Bank is a terrific option to do this. They have super competitive rates and no hidden fees.
2. Start Using Cash
With digital wallets, credit cards, and debit cards at your disposal, spending money has never been easier. Furthermore, those credit cards let you spend cash you don’t have! Unfortunately, this convenient access to capital is a double-edged sword when trying to save.
That’s why some aspiring savers revert to using cash. They’ll withdraw a lump sum at the beginning of each month (or week) and take from it whenever they have to purchase something. Watching the money leave your wallet is a simple incentive to live more frugally!
3. Make Online Shopping Harder
For similar reasons, another effective way to save money is to purposefully make online shopping more difficult. Think about the “buy now” button on Amazon, for example.
If your bank details are already saved, you’re literally a click away from purchasing something that could be delivered the same day! It puts instant gratification at your fingertips, which is a recipe for impulse shopping.
Combat that financial risk by making the checkout process more arduous. This can be as simple as deleting your bank details and shipping address from your favorite online retailers.
Having to input them again manually next time could be enough extra effort to dissuade you from hitting “buy.”
4. Set a “Cooling Off” Period Before Purchases
If the time it takes to type in your details wouldn’t stop you from making impulse purchases, you could also enforce a longer “cooling off” period. In this case, you’d add the item to your shopping cart, then force yourself to step away for a set period of time.
Whether it’s thirty minutes or thirty days, having that time to think will help you realize if you really need the item or not.
An added benefit of this approach is the potential to receive coupon codes from the retailer when they realize you abandoned the cart. Because they want you to complete the purchase, they may offer a discount to compel you to do so.
5. Cancel Pointless Subscriptions
When did you last take full advantage of that expensive gym membership, watch a Netflix series, or listen to something on Spotify? If it’s been a while, then a quick way to save money would be to cancel those subscriptions.
This single step could free up a surprising amount of capital you can redirect into a savings account. Indeed, CNBC found that over 50% of people “underestimate their monthly subscription bills by at least $100.”
Furthermore, 42% forget they pay for subscriptions they never use.
Here are a few others you may be able to cancel:
- App upgrades, such as meditation or finance apps
- Cloud storage
- Meal kit boxes/plans
- Online newspapers and magazines
- “Premium” upgrades, such as Fitbit Premium
- Cable packages
- Online gaming services, such as Xbox Live
A service like Rocket Money can help you identify such subscriptions you no longer use that are fit to cancel.
6. Set Savings Goals
One of the best ways to stay motivated and save money consistently over time is to set realistic savings goals. Think about what you’re trying to achieve.
What positive end result are you willing to make financial sacrifices for each month?
For example, maybe you want to pay off your credit card debt, put down a deposit on a house, set yourself up for retirement, or go on a big vacation with your family.
Whatever it is, keeping that goal in mind should guide your spending habits and compel you to maintain a more frugal lifestyle.
Tip: The most effective goals follow the SMART framework (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound). So instead of “saving for retirement,” you could aim to “save $10,000 in an individual retirement account in 18 months.”
7. Track Your Spending
Tracking your expenditure is like tracking the calories you consume. It’s far from scintillating! Yet it provides the data you need to hit your goals.
By subtracting what you’ve spent from what you’ve earned, you see what’s left to save. You can then compare that figure to your goals to check your progress. If you’re not, you can adjust your spending accordingly next month.
Consider the previous goal to save $10,000 in 18 months, which equates to a monthly saving of around $556. Now imagine you earned $2,000 this month and, after tracking your expenses, realize you spent $1,650.
With only $350 left to save, you could spend a maximum of $1,238 next month ($2,000 – $556 – ($556 – $350)) to stay on track.
8. Tackle High-Interest Debt
Debt can hamstring your efforts to save money – especially when the interest rates are high. After all, you’re forced to repay the lender funds that could otherwise go into a savings account.
Throw late payment fees or penalties into the mix, and you can create a vicious spiral that hemorrhages money from your account.
If you’re in this predicament, try paying off those high-interest debts using the avalanche method first. Over time, you’ll have to spend less and less on pesky debt repayments, freeing up cash you can put into savings.
9. Reduce Your Bills
Bills are another major money drain that can make saving seem impossible. Many people have nothing left after their electricity, mortgage, car, and phone payments. Thankfully, there are some effective ways to reduce these unavoidable expenses.
Let’s start with electricity. Tracking your usage with a smart meter, investing in energy-efficient appliances and lighting, improving the home’s insulation, and limiting your heating/cooling use can all lead to significant savings.
Mortgages are harder to tackle, but refinancing may be an option to put hundreds of dollars back in your pocket each month, thanks to a lower interest rate. And why not downgrade your car and mobile to access cheaper repayment plans?
10. Leverage Annual Sales
Some purchases are both significant and essential. But do you really need them now? Or could they wait until the next annual sales, when you can pick up both splurges and necessities for the best prices?
Time things correctly, and you can save hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to put into a savings account. According to U.S. News, the major sales events to look forward to include the following:
- New Year’s Day
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- Presidents Day
- St. Patrick’s Day
- Mother’s Day
- Memorial Day
- Father’s Day
- Fourth of July
- Amazon Prime Day
- Labor Day
- Black Friday and Cyber Monday
- Super Saturday
- New Year’s Eve
11. Be Strategic With Groceries
On the subject of shopping, another significant expense in most households is the weekly trip to the grocery store. And it’s been even worse recently, with groceries becoming 11.3% more expensive between January 2022 and 2023.
Consider buying the cheaper store-brand and generic products rather than name-brand ones to keep costs down and recoup some potential savings.
Better still, avoid going to the store unprepared. Decide what meals you’ll cook in advance, check what ingredients you already have in the fridge or pantry, and then write a list of what you need.
This should stop you from making impulse purchases and ensure you only buy items you’ll use. Sign up for the store’s loyalty program as well, and your grocery bill should soon start to fall!
Try These Ways To Save Money
Like going on a diet, most of us could benefit from reducing our expenses and saving more money each month. Unfortunately, postponing what you want now for the promise of future financial gain can feel off-putting.
Also, when financial times are tough, knowing how to save money in the first place can seem like a mystery. If you know the struggle, we hope these ideas will help you get started.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
What’s the first thing you look to cut when trying to save money?
About the author: Danny Newman is a digital nomad from the UK who has been writing and travelling his way around the world for the last six years. Alongside his work as a freelance writer, Danny’s the founder of travel and lifestyle website, What’s Danny Doing, as well as the lifestyle and entertainment site, Wise Healthy n Wealthy.