If you want to lose weight, all you need to do is eat healthy and exercise. There are no quick fixes; you just have to do it. There are different ways to eat healthy and different exercises you can do, but you still have to do it yourself and there are aren’t any tricks.
Same goes for money. If you want to save money, all you have to do is put your money in the bank and not spend it. But there are so many ways to accompish this (especially if you need to figure out how to have extra money at the end of the month). Here are 31 ways to help you do it!
- Setup automatic direct deposit (or transfers) so money goes directly into your savings account every pay period (learn how to pay yourself first).
- Set yearly savings goals (learn how to set goals first). Set a reward at the end of the year for when you reach your goal.
- Buy generic brands at the grocery store.
- Always use coupons.
- Maximize retirement contributions (401k, Roth, etc.) (Learn how to save for retirement first).
- Create multiple savings vehicles for your specific long-term and short-term goals.
- Live on a cash-only budget (download 21 Days to a Better Budget (my free budgeting eBook) here).
- Track the extra money you have from cutting things out of your budget. Make a commitment to save your savings. For example, if you start buying generic and save $20 on your monthly, commit to increasing your investments by $20/month.
- Do not rely on a credit card for emergencies. If you view debt as an option, you’ll always be in debt (learn how to get out of debt).
- Trim your technology expenses. I always thought I couldn’t live without DVR, let alone without fancy cable. But after getting rid of both, I figured out that you adapt to your environment quickly, without noticing the difference really. I save a lot of money this way.
- Use energy efficient light bulbs in your house (compact fluorescent lightbulbs). CFLs cost a little bit more, but they last longer and will reduce your electric bill.
- Grow your own vegetables. Gardening can turn into a hobby that actually reduces your grocery bill and is fun.
- Start a side hustle and commit to saving or investing all proceeds from your chosen hustle.
- Get in the habit of saving money. We are creatures of habit. It’s more important that you are in the habit of saving money than it is that you save a certain amount. If you get in the habit of saving money (every pay period, for example), you’ll create supportive financial habits that will last a long time.
- Never use credit cards that have fees. This is a no brainer that I learned from Suze Orman.
- Tell someone your financial goals and check-back in with him or her to hold yourself accountable. Often we care more about not letting other people down than we do about letting ourselves down. Having someone you’re accountable to will help you stay on track. (Like people have physical trainers they’re accountable to, this is like having a financial trainer to keep you on track.)
- Wait 30 days before buying something you don’t need. If you want something, giving yourself 30 days to think about it will make sure you don’t impulse buy (and you may find you don’t even want it anymore).
- Sell your stuff online (you can really make a killing on sites like Craigslist). Use your earnings to open up a new savings account or to add to your emergency fund. Purging and de-cluttering will get you organized and feeling better, too.
- Reduce your credit card interest rates. I don’t have a credit card, but after listening to Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman, not to mention reading it in the blogosphere, I’m convinced that you can lower your credit card interest rate by calling the company.
- Don’t order drinks when you dine out. Instead, ask for a water. You’ll spend less over time and have more money to save.
- Try to rent or borrow books. With the internet and libraries, there are lots of options out there.
- Price compare at different grocery stores. I love Luna bars and have one every day for a mid-morning snack. At Giant Eagle they are $1.25/ea. But at Target I can get 5 for $5.85 (sometimes $5 even if they’re on sale). So, I never buy Luna bars at Giant Eagle.
- Don’t spend when you’re emotional. Sometimes, a shopping spree really makes you feel better. But that doesn’t mean it’s good for your financial life! Instead of splurging if you’re upset, notice the temptation and emotion and opt for exercise instead.
- Shop for things when they’re out of season. Buy coats in the summer, for example.
- Commit to lowering your grocery bill by $25-$50/month. Do this by cutting down on the drinks and meat you buy.
- Track what you spend on gifts and reduce the amount by making creative, thoughtful gifts instead (Pinterest is a great resource).
- Catch yourself if you ever say “I deserve X, Y, and Z”. This is an entitlement attitude that is dangerous when it comes to money! You may deserve a vacation (heck, doesn’t everyone who works hard?), but that does not mean you can afford it. Deserving something and being able to afford it are two completely different things. Go on vacation or buy something only when you can afford it, not when you think you deserve it.
- Create a list of inexpensive or free activities that you can do with your friends or family, instead of going out to eat or shopping (examples: hiking, fishing, and game night).
- Pack your lunch if you work outside the home. Buying lunch everyday adds up fast! This is another supportive daily habit that is easy to make a part of your routine.
- Create a money mantra. Write it down. Say it with confidence at night and in the morning. Your money mantra should describe your financial vision for your life and how you expect to achieve it. This will instill in your mind what you’re working toward and why.
- Get wealthy friends. I’m not kidding! One of the best life hacks out there is that you are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time. If you want to save more money, start hanging around people who are good at saving money. You’ll be amazed at what happens: you’ll be saving more money than you ever have.
A Final Note!
Do whatever you can to help yourself save money. This list of 31 ways is just a start! Another helpful resource that I use to monitor my savings is Personal Capital (sort of like Mint.com but better). It shows my income, expenses, and savings in graphs and charts, which makes it super easy for me to track my savings – I’m obsessed.