The beginning of the year is a great time for making positive life changes. People make a number of resolutions each year but for many, saving more money consistently ranks at or near the top of the list. Saving money is a combination of reducing spending and making positive steps toward savings goals. This year, make those goals a reality. Start saving more with 10 steps for saving more this year.
Get a grip on spending.
Spending money is so simple, people often spend while hardly taking notice. As painfully revealing as it may be, tracking spending to the dollar will help establish a clear picture of where the money goes. Computer software, a ledger, and a financial professional are all great resources for tracking spending.
Start making the big cuts.
With an account of spending, it’s time to prioritize. Start large; take a look at monthly expenses for opportunities to save. Annual gym memberships can become black holes for savings and monthly subscriptions add up. Turn lights and water off to reduce utility spending and think about dropping cable or satellite television for a streaming service instead. Slashing just two or three annual or monthly spending obligations can add up to significant savings.
Tighten the belt a little further.
After addressing the big fish, start finding ways to save each day. Making coffee at home, bringing lunch to work, and other simple changes will lead to more savings. Eating out too often can become a costly habit. Take a walk or bike rather than driving and save on gas while adding exercise. Reduce prompts to purchase by unsubscribing to sales emails.
Drop a bad habit.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for some, picking a habit to bid “goodbye” to can put more in your pocket. The numbers vary, but all signs point to significant annual savings when smoking, drinking, or other habits get the boot. Sound excessive? Rather than dropping a habit, start by cutting back. Over time, it may become easier to separate once and for all.
Review banking and insurance accounts.
Some banks charge more than others for the same services. Those living far from a home branch may be paying more at a competing ATM to make simple transactions. Find a bank with branch locations, interest rates, and costs for services that make sense. This is also a good time for reviewing insurance accounts to see if better policy options may be available by switching carriers.
Get on a budget.
Having saved money, it’s time to think about how to spend it correctly. A monthly budget designates where the money is going, helping create smart spending. It’s still possible to have fun while saving. Budgeting entertainment and dining can cure cabin fever while keeping spending under control.
Ever go to the grocery store for milk and leave with a cart full of groceries? Tossing extra items in the cart can create unnecessarily large grocery bills. Creating a list before heading to the store can help keep shopping trips on track, and the checkout total under control. Spending too much online? Place items in a wishlist and revisit it a day later. Outside of the initial moment, many impulse purchases lack the same allure as before.
Set a savings goal (or several).
Ask yourself what saving more means to you. Is the goal to start a retirement plan or contribute more to an existing one? For some, creating an emergency savings account is the right place to begin. Create a college savings account or start smaller with short-term goals. It’s much easier to create a plan for saving with a goal defined for achievement.
Equipped with defined savings goals and lean with spending, it’s time to start making savings progress. Having established goals and the right vessels for arriving there, make the active decision to save. Most experts recommend setting 10-15% of income aside for savings. Easily led astray? Set up automatic deposits and let the bank save for you. For those struggling to set a savings amount aside, find out why. Most likely there is an imbalance between income and spending that will have to be addressed.
It’s much easier to stay the course with someone else holding us accountable. Family and friends can be great motivators for staying on track. For an extra advantage, a financial professional can help with saving, planning, and management of savings goals. Whatever your best resource for getting and staying on track, utilize it.
Take control of spending and start saving more today. For more information on making and pursuing financial objectives, contact one of our Wealth Advisors today or visit OverlandShanahan.com.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.