The secret to sticking to any goal is to remember your “why.” What made you want to save money in the first place? Dig deep to find the emotions underlying your reason.
For example, let’s say that when you were growing up, your parents always worried about money and argued about it. Now, as an adult, you don’t want your kids to witness the same thing. That’s pretty powerful. And those memories can come in handy the next time you’re tempted to buy something you don’t need.
Your reason may not be so dramatic, and it doesn’t have to be. Instead, maybe you’ve never traveled outside the country and you’d love to do so in a year or two. When financial temptations arise, you can remind yourself of that big trip. Even better, picture yourself walking over an ancient bridge in Venice, or hiking the rainforests of Costa Rica, or sitting at a sushi bar in Tokyo. Whatever pulls your heartstrings is your key to saving money.
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1. Create a Budget
Creating a budget is one of the most crucial steps to saving money. If you don’t have a budget, you can spend hundreds of dollars more per month than necessary.
It can be difficult to even identify excess spending without a budget. There are many popular budgeting methods to help you get your spending under control.
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2. Track Your Spending
Once you set a budget, consider tracking your spending. Just being mindful of your purchases makes cutting back almost automatic. (The same phenomenon helps people who track their eating make healthier choices.)
Many popular budgeting apps can help you track spending every week. Because you already have a budget, you will know much you can afford to spend weekly. If your expenses exceed that amount, you must make some adjustments.
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3. Reduce Housing Costs
While reducing your housing costs is not feasible for everyone, it can be a quick way to save a significant amount of money. Moving to a smaller house or apartment, or adding a roommate, can allow you to slash your rent or mortgage. Another option is house hacking, or renting extra rooms in your home and using the money to pay your mortgage.
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4. Negotiate Utility Bills
If you’re good at driving a hard bargain, you can try to negotiate your utility bills. Whether it’s your electricity, cable TV, cell phone, or internet, ask for a lower rate. If all else fails, you may be able to switch providers. (And by the way, mentioning you might switch is a great negotiating tactic.)
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5. Reduce Food Costs
There are many ways to reduce food costs, from cooking at home to meal prep. Cutting one or two of your typical lunches per week can lead to significant savings.
Cooking meals at home can seem more expensive at first if you’re not stocked up on things like spices and baking powder. But it is cheaper over time, especially if you have a large family.
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6. Automate Your Savings
Automation is a simple way to beef up your savings. Not only is automating convenient, but you might eventually forget you have an automatic transfer every month. Since you won’t have to think about the money as you move it, you’ll be less tempted to spend it on something else.
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7. Cancel Subscriptions
Subscriptions are everywhere these days. While it’s understandable that companies want recurring revenue, all those subscriptions can add up quickly. Many apps will help you find unused subscriptions and even help cancel them.
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8. Refinance Your Student Loans
Refinancing your student loans can save you a lot of money, depending on your situation. For example, if you have private student loans with high interest rates, refinancing might result in a lower rate, especially if you have a strong credit history.
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9. Refinance Your Mortgage
Refinancing your mortgage can be a good move, especially if interest rates are lower now than when you bought your house. If rates have indeed fallen, you might be able to knock two or three percent from your mortgage APR. And a lower APR can save you thousands over the long term.
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10. Downgrade Premium Credit Cards
Some premium credit cards have numerous benefits, such as airport lounge access and rental car insurance. However, these cards can also have high annual fees. If you aren’t using the card enough to justify the fee, consider downgrading to a no-annual-fee card. This way, your credit history from the card stays intact while eliminating the yearly charge.
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11. Delay Purchases
There is no limit to the number of ways we can spend our money. And while it’s nice to buy something from your “want” list now and then, feelings change. There might be something you desperately want at one moment, but after a few days, your interest has waned. You can avoid buyer’s remorse by delaying purchases by a few days or weeks.
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12. Buy Used or Refurbished Items
Used items are often much cheaper than new ones. Everything from clothing to electronics can be used, and are often in near-perfect condition. There are many places to find used items, such as thrift stores and Facebook groups.
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13. Eliminate Banking Fees
Banking fees may not seem like much, but that $20 per month service charge doesn’t make sense when so many banks these days charge no monthly fees. Both traditional and online banks offer checking and savings accounts with no monthly fees. They typically advertise their lack of monthly and service fees, too, so they’re easy to find.
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14. Get Cash Back on Everyday Purchases
People often think of credit cards as a convenience, but they can also help you save money. The best cash-back credit cards let you earn a percentage of every purchase in money back. If you strategically use a cash-back card only on things you would have bought anyway, you can make your money go further.
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15. Have a No-Spend Day
Another way to control your spending is to have a no-spend day once per month. It’s as simple as it sounds: You must go an entire day without spending a penny. That means you can only eat food you already have on hand. If you go out, you should limit yourself to free activities, such as hiking or complimentary-admission days at museums.
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16. Open a High-Yield Savings Account
One way to save money fast is to open a savings account with a high-yield interest rate. Traditional banks might pay interest on checking accounts but usually no more than a few pennies per year. High-yield savings accounts tend to be much better, paying many times more interest than traditional banks. These banks are usually online and don’t have physical branches, but that might be okay if you only have a savings account.
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17. DIY Repairs and Gifts
These days, it’s remarkable how much you can learn to do just by watching a YouTube video. It’s likely still worth it to hire a professional for some things, such as major plumbing or electrical repairs. But for basic jobs, do-it-yourself (DIY) can be a great way to save money quickly.
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18. Automate Bill Payments
Like automating savings, automating your bill payments can have benefits that go beyond convenience. For example, paying your bills automatically every month means you won’t ever forget to pay. Hence, you don’t have to worry about the possibility of late fees.
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19. Review Your Car Insurance Coverage
Car insurance can be quite expensive depending on your situation, but it’s possible to cut back. For instance, there is likely no need to have full coverage on a 15-year-old car worth only $2,000. Or if your car is in good shape, maybe you can do without the roadside assistance option for a year.
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20. Shop Around for Car Insurance
Even if you have a newer car and need full coverage, you still might be able to lower your car insurance premium. Try shopping around with different providers and asking for quotes. Each insurance carrier has its own way of calculating premiums, so they might all give you slightly different rates.
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21. Pay Off High-Interest Debt
High-interest debt can wreak havoc on just about anyone’s budget. The most common offender is credit card debt. However, there are other possibilities, such as payday loans and personal loans. If you have any debt with at least a double-digit APR, it’s a good idea to prioritize repaying it as soon as possible.
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22. Plan Grocery Shopping and Meals in Advance
When it comes to grocery shopping and meals, planning can make a big difference in cost. For example, by checking your freezer and pantry inventory before you go, you’ll avoid buying duplicates of things you already have on hand (hello, three cans of baking powder!). You’re also less likely to buy items you don’t need, or to get too much of an ingredient that you end up throwing away.
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23. Bundle Insurance Plans
Insurance providers often have multiple types of insurance plans, such as home, auto, and boat insurance. Because they want you to insure more of your assets with them, they will often give you a discount for bundling two or three types of insurance together. However, be sure the provider offers competitive rates before you bundle.
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24. Bundle Subscriptions
Like the previous point, many entertainment companies will let you bundle plans to save money. For example, if you pay for streaming services, you can bundle multiple apps (sports + kids’ channels, for instance) to save money.
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25. Buy Store-Brand Items
People tend to prefer name-brand items. Nevertheless, store-brand items (aka generics) are often similar or identical to the name brand. While you might occasionally find that the store brand isn’t always as good, paying for the label is usually not worth the money.
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3 Money Tips
- Because online banks don’t have the overhead costs that brick-and-mortar banks have, they may offer a higher savings account interest rate. Just keep an eye out for minimum balance requirements and monthly fees.
- To get into the savings habit, consider having 10% of your paycheck directly deposited into your savings account. Or, set up a small automatic recurring transfer from your checking account into your savings account on the same day each month.
- To set up a simple monthly spending budget, consider the 50/30/20 rule. This involves splitting your after-tax income into three categories of spending: 50% on needs, 30% on wants, and 20% on savings.
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Just as there are many ways to spend our money, there are many ways to save. And saving money even on little things can have a big impact in the long run. First make a budget and track your spending. Review your insurance coverage, subscriptions, and banking fees for easy ways to save. Meanwhile, when you’re out shopping and tempted to spend more than you need to, keep your “why” in mind. That is, the emotional reason you wanted to save in the first place.
This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.
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