Saving isn’t always easy. This is especially the case after spending more than two years mostly at home due to the pandemic. Add on top of this inflation as well as higher rent and interest rates, and you may quickly find yourself in a spending hole. The first thing to recognize is that you are not alone. Particularly today, more people are finding themselves in a position where it is challenging to save.
Before you go any further, ask yourself why you want to save. Are you trying to establish better credit and be more financially responsible? Or are you saving for a big purchase such as a home or car? Or are you planning ahead for your ultimate dream vacation? No matter what you are saving up for, find your why. Having this in the back of your head will allow you to truly focus on what is important to spend on and what can wait.
Now that you have your why, it’s time to actually start saving. This can be tricky for many, and you may feel that you keep putting it off. If you find that money leaves your wallet as quickly as it enters, then you’re in the right place. Keep reading for four financially sound tips to tap into if you’re struggling to save.
1. Put Your Credit Cards Away
First things first, it’s important to focus on what you can start doing today. Sure you could think about your savings a year or even five years from now, but how are you going to get there? One of the biggest problems for many consumers is the credit card. It can feel like you aren’t really spending any money when you just have to swipe or tap your phone. However, at the end of the month, you may be struggling to pay your full bill and may even end up in debt.
Putting your credit cards away for a period of time can help remind you to think about each of your purchases. This doesn’t mean you have to carry around wads of cash everywhere you go. Instead, use your debit card, which will limit the amount you spend based on what is in your checking account. Some debit cards even round up your purchases, placing all the extra cents directly into your savings. This is an easy, automatic, and seamless way to save, even while you spend.
2. Cancel Unnecessary Subscriptions
Take a look at your monthly expenditures. How many things are you currently subscribed to? The average American spends more than $200 every month on subscription services. This includes everything from Amazon Prime to Spotify to Netflix. It also includes digital services, such as dating apps and workout streaming services.
While you may love all of these services, ask yourself what you actually need in your life. Do you really need every single television platform if you really only watch Netflix? Can you pause your Instacart subscription and go to the grocery store instead? Of course, if something brings you pure joy, keep it. Saving isn’t about limiting yourself completely. However, this exercise will help you evaluate what is actually worth spending your hard-earned money on and what you can cancel.
3. Find Ways to Earn More
Another way to watch your savings grow is to find another outlet or avenue to earn money. Think of this as a passion side hustle rather than a time commitment. Even if you absolutely love your day job, there may be something that you are good at but haven’t pursued. This could be selling your handmade pottery on Etsy or managing a business’ social media account.
In order to find a side hustle, look online and in your local community. You may be surprised who needs help and is willing to pay for it. For instance, perhaps you could become a pet sitter when your neighbors are away on vacation. Or maybe you find a small business on LinkedIn that is asking for a freelance writer. No matter what you try, remember that it doesn’t need to be permanent. You may fall in love with it, however, particularly as you watch your savings account grow.
4. Have a “No Spending” Day
Remember when you were a kid and could entertain yourself for hours on end. You wouldn’t get bored and would beg your parents to let you stay and play outside until the sun went down. Well there’s no reason you have to spend money to have an extraordinary day. If you really want to save big, plan “no spending” days regularly.
It may be a bit daunting at first to leave the house with your wallet at home, so plan ahead. Instead of going to brunch with friends, suggest going on a picnic instead. Make your own sandwich and bring a blanket and board games. You could also use it as a way to explore your home city as a tourist. Look online for ideas in your community, and you’ll surely be surprised at just how many things are offered for free.
Yes, saving can be hard, but it can also be very rewarding. By focusing on why you are saving in the first place you will have a better mindset doing it. Remember that saving doesn’t mean you can’t have a social life either. Suggest new ways to spend time with your loved ones and leave your wallet at home more often. Your future self will thank you and all your saving efforts.