Don’t think that having troubles with saving money is a unique problem. Everyone, from the highest paid CEO to the just hired intern, could be saving more money. As you finish college, pay down those loans, and start establishing a family and a career, your earnings will certainly go up. But so will your expenses, making it seem hard or impossible to save as much money as you should. Fear not: there are some simple and straightforward steps you can take now to start saving more money, even if it seems like ramping up those savings isn’t possible. Here are our ten practical tips to increase your savings.
1. Automate your Savings Account
Most employers have options for direct deposit for your paychecks, and one of the smartest things you can do to boost your savings is arrange for part of your paycheck to be deposited directly into your savings account. That way, you won’t have to think about how much to save every month or when you should be swapping money between accounts.
2. Monitor Credit Spending VERY Carefully
If you like to use plastic to cover daily expenses, keep a keen eye on how much you are really expanding, and how much is being added to your debt every month. Saving is made even harder, or downright impossible, if your debt obligations get out of hand.
3. Don’t Take “Freebies” for Granted
While you probably spent a lot of time in college looking for freebies and cheap alternatives, the search for free stuff usually comes to a halt once you have a more established income. But don’t take freebies for granted: the less you spend on things like entertainment, which can be enjoyed at no cost if you keep an eye out for free festivals and spend more time in the great outdoors, the more you can save.
4. Eat Out Less
For many business professionals, grabbing lunch or dinner out is a convenient habit. But it can also be a huge daily expense, and cutting down on eating out means you can up the savings. Just think about the math: if you spend five dollars on supplies for a homemade meal compared to ten dollars in a restaurant, you could save an extra hundred a month.
5. Balance Debt and Savings
Yes, it’s smart to have as little consumer debt as possible, and not run those credit cards up. But if you have no emergency savings fund, all the free credit in the world might not be able to help you. Pay off your debt as you can, but don’t skip the savings entirely in pursuit of living debt free.
6. Use Online Banking
By belonging to a bank that has online banking options, you boost your savings potential in several ways. First, with everything online you won’t be as tempted to stop by the ATM and potentially withdraw more than you need. Second, online banking lets you monitor your finance closely, so you can always know how much you can transfer into that online savings account.
7. Look for Extra Income Opportunities
With part time jobs like Lyft and Uber available to almost anyone, and other internet economy based ways to earn money like Etsy and Airbnb, it’s easier than ever to find opportunities to earn a little extra cash. And every extra dollar you earn could be an extra dollar saved, as long as you don’t up your spending habits.
8. Track Your Expenses Closely
There are a lot of flexible online and computer based tools to track your income and expenses these days, with options like Mint.com and YouNeedaBudget.com making personal accouting easier than ever. Or, if you prefer to keep it old school, set up a ledger spreadsheet, and keep a close eye on exactly how much you are spending on what. By doing so, you can get a realistic idea of where you can cut down your expenses, freeing up more money for that savings account.
9. Spend Cash
For many consumers, cash has become obsolete, as more and more transactions are made online or with credit and debit cards. But if you switch to spending mostly cash when you do spend money, you’ll have a better idea of where your money is going. Cash is tangible, and you won’t be able to overdraw accounts or run up credit cards if you budget out cash allotments and spend accordingly.
10. Start Now
Saving can be hard. We get it. But the longer you put off setting up that dedicated savings account, and the longer you wait to get your spending habits in check and get those savings built up, the harder it will be.
Still stressed out about saving money? Don’t worry about it too much. Instead, pick one of the practical tips we offered above, and see if it helps you boost those savings. Then, incorporate more and more of our ten tips, until you are utilizing all of the power on this list. If you do, you’ll see those savings numbers skyrocket.