Saving money is never a bad idea, but like many things, it’s a lot easier said than done. We all have a good reason to count our pennies. Sometimes it’s for saving up for a big purchase like a new car or simply trying to increase the amount of our cash squirreled away. But it’s difficult to sock money away, mostly because saving for tomorrow often means doing without today.
There are as many good reasons to build your savings as there are ways to save. Most of us can think of a handful of different strategies that would easily enable us to slowly and steadily fatten our piggy banks—but none of them are likely to sound like much fun. It’s a lot like sticking to a diet—there are plenty of excellent reasons why you should, it’s good for you, and there are a lot of easy ways to do it when you put your mind to it.
Saving money and dieting are similar in another way—you have to keep doing it to make much of a difference. That kind of sacrifice can be awfully hard to maintain. When it comes to saving money, it can be hard to build the habit when you constantly feel like you’re missing out. The following list presents a variety of ways you can save money and minimize suffering at the same time, which will make it easier for you to build and maintain the habit.
1. Break the Impulse Purchase Habit
Many of us have those things we buy over and over without thinking much about it. We’ll pick up a candy bar at the checkout when getting groceries, or go into a gas station minimart to pick up a soda and a bag of chips while filling up the tank. For others, it’s a daily stop by a coffee shop on the way to work or eating out for lunch every day.
These often impulse purchases that we don’t take the time to analyze. It can be surprising how much we spend on these things—and how little we might miss them. When you don’t really think about buying something like a pack of chewing gum or a magazine, that just goes to show that they’re not that important to you. You won’t miss those trivial things because they don’t really add that much enjoyment to your life, and the habit should be easy to break.
2. Don’t Upgrade Unless Absolutely Necessary
While not many of us rush right out and get the latest and greatest cellphone, we may still upgrade things that don’t, strictly speaking, really need to be replaced. The same goes for laptops—like our cellphones, most of the time they do everything we need them to do for years after we buy them. Before spending thousands getting the new model every year or even every other year, first, ask yourself if the one you have does everything you need it to do.
3. The One Degree Difference
Lowering your thermostat by one degree in the winter and raising it one degree in the summer can make a difference in your monthly utility bill. Over time, it adds up, and because it’s only one degree from what you’re used to, odds are you won’t even notice it. Being energy efficient isn’t just good for your savings—it uses less energy, and that’s good for the environment, too!
4. Home Cooking
Many of us eat out—or order delivery in—more often than we might realize. Sure, it’s easier, but it’s much more expensive and the food is usually as bad for your body as it is for your budget. Cooking at home is easier than you might think, once you develop the habit. It’s a lot cheaper than eating food prepared by a business that has to pay overhead like rent and wages, it’s much healthier, and it can be a lot of fun. We have many recipes to help!
5. Budget Carefully
Budgeting doesn’t have to involve math you may not have used since high school or entering lots of data into a spreadsheet. It can be as easy as writing down the amount you pay in recurring bills each month, keeping track of these regular expenses, and looking for potential savings. Many of us are subscribed to things like streaming services that we don’t get much use out of. Ask yourself if it feels like you’re getting your money’s worth. If not, cancel the subscription.
Savings can come in many different and unexpected ways. Perhaps you can make do with slightly slower internet or fewer cable TV channels. There can be opportunities for savings even in things we don’t think of as monthly subscriptions, like auto insurance. Check out the best way to shop for auto insurance and see if you can do better, or ask your insurance provider if they offer discounts to safe drivers.
More Than Just Money
Having more money in the bank brings more than just financial benefits. It’s comforting to have a little money put aside in case of emergencies, and simply taking small steps to decrease your spending can do wonders for any worry or anxiety you might have.
Less stress is a good thing, and changing some of your purchasing habits might have some surprising benefits to your wellbeing. The feeling of living paycheck to paycheck is pretty miserable, and changing a few small spending habits can feel rewarding all by itself.