No matter your income or age, saving money is always a smart idea. You probably know that. Just like you know not to eat chocolate and chips everyday if you are trying to lose weight. Unfortunately, knowing what we should do, and what we actually do, is often not the same. As a very late in life adopter of the necessity of savings accounts, I want you to know that it is never too late to learn how to find and earn extra money to build an emergency fund or save for major purchases. It isn’t as hard as you think to save money. You just have to start, be committed and not dip into it every time you “want” something new. It really isn’t complicated. It just takes work and perseverance.
You know what used to be the most embarrassing part for me when renewing my mortgage or applying for new credit(which I don’t do anymore)? The part where you have to list your assets and liabilities. They always ask you how much you have in savings don’t they? Having to answer “zero” at my age made me feel like a loser. After those conversations, I always vowed to start saving. But I never did. It wasn’t until I got my mindset about money inline that I started to save money.
Establishing A Money Saving Mindset
The biggest hurdle for me establishing and maintaining a savings account was my mindset. If I couldn’t be consistent or if I didn’t see myself being able to save $10,000 by tomorrow, I gave up. Again, just like being successful at losing weight, you have to play the long game, expect mistakes and setbacks, and learn how to get back on track quickly. You can not lose focus on the end goal and the results you want.
When I stopped being so hard on myself for not being perfect and allowed myself to go slow at the beginning, I was able to save, see the value in small gains and most importantly, I was inspired to up my game and save more as I watched my balance grow.
Even at a snail’s pace, it is so exciting once you gain momentum. And the relief you feel the very first time you have an unexpected expense and you actually have the money to cover it, is euphoric. Our clothes dryer went last month and I can’t tell you how nice it was not to be stressed or have to buy the cheapest model based on how much credit I had available. I was actually able to pick the one I really wanted, which was a gas model, plus I had enough to pay for the gas line installation. Even though the initial cost of the new dryer was high, I was able to make an informed decision AND think long term. With 6 adults in the house, my clothes dryer is almost always running. Gas is cheaper than electricity so I will save money in the future and hopefully recoup my money quickly by having lower utility bills.
If you don’t have a savings account, it is time you started one but get your money saving mindset established first. You don’t have to start by committing to $100 every pay. Especially when you are struggling and living paycheck to paycheck. Seriously, start with $25. Can you commit to $25? I bet you can.
Think of it this way: A year from now you could have $1300 or more in a savings account. That may sound like a really long time to save up $1000 but it really isn’t. The older you get, the faster the years go, am I right?
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
52 Week Budget Cutting Challenge That Will Save You $1300/year
How will you save $1300 a year? Simply find different ways, like in the examples below, to save $3.67 per day. That’s only one specialty coffee! That translates to $25/week and that can total up to $1300 each year or even more if you keep it in an account that accumulates interest. If you put your mind to it, you will likely be able to save more than $25 each week, making your total saved even higher. But remember, cutting costs is not enough. You must tell those savings where to go, either in a separate account or a cash envelope. You won’t see any savings if you just spend that money elsewhere.
Just to be clear, we are talking about saving $3.67 as in, reducing spending by $3.67 on something that you are currently paying for on a regular basis. Next, once you start spending less money each week, you can decide what to do with this Extra Saved Money! You can either build an emergency fund, start a planned spending sinking fund, pay down debt or all three.
If you are not sure where to start cutting costs, you need to do a spending analysis of your past expenses first. Check out this post for more information and free printables: How To Control Spending For Retirement
My personal spending analysis was a shocker. I spent more on groceries and eating out than on my mortgage! It was an eye opener for sure. Meal planning and shopping once a week helped me cut that number in half.
Stop eating out and watch those $25/week savings stack up fast
Breakfast/coffee at home instead of on the way to work or at work. Breakfast and coffee/tea “on the go” can cost $2-$10 depending on where you go and what you get. If you eat breakfast at home or bring it from home even once or twice a week, you can save big! My husband would spend $3 – $8 on breakfast/coffee each day. Crazy right? Having the right groceries on hand (I even purchased higher brand name coffee because he is so fussy) and committing to coffee/breakfast at home just twice a week saves from $312 – $832 each year!
Lunch at work. Making lunch instead of buying it, even just a few times a week makes a gigantic difference. Taking the time to make lunch is a pain but it doesn’t have to be. Often at night when I’m cleaning up from dinner, I can pack up some leftovers for the next day so no time or even cost is wasted. If I have a lot of leftovers from dinner, I put individual servings in tupperware and freeze them. Nobody wants the same thing the next day so by freezing leftovers and labelling them, I always have a good choice of available meals to take to work. Bringing lunch from home twice a week instead of buying it can potentially save you between $520 – $936 per year. Making lunches from leftovers, my cost is zero!
Afternoon Treat. If you are like me and need snack time in the afternoon, you can be very frugal about it. Rather than stopping to buy something, you can keep your own snack and drink supply at work and/or in the car. I keep flavoured club soda along with some snacks at work so I can grab one for the ride home and I am not tempted to make a stop for donuts. That’s not good for my waistline either. At a savings of $4 – $6 per day, this saves me $1040 – $1560 per year.
Dinner at home. Dinner out one less time per week or month can add up to noticeable savings big time. Getting take-out food is sometimes necessary due to tight schedules. But the expense can sky rocket if take out or dining out becomes your daily routine. My husband and I ate out. A Lot. It was just the two of us so I reasoned that it was cheaper than getting groceries and making dinners for just two. After one month of meal planning and not a single take out, I can verify that it is quite the opposite. Making the choice to cook and eat at home saved us over 500 hundred dollars. For one month. Needless to say, I am going to continue meal planning and banking our savings for a well deserved vacation next winter. I imagine I will be able to afford Hawaii by then. lol
Other Smart Ways to Cut Costs
I could have several posts devoted to countless ways to save at the grocery store. In short, shop smarter.
- pay attention to sales
- buy in bulk when it makes sense
- avoid impulse items
- don’t buy junk food
- buy less snacks and packaged foods, its healthier and cheaper
- cut back on soda and juices because they are expensive and bad for you
- drink tap water or make your own flavoured water
- bottled water can also get expensive, bring a water bottle instead
- meal plan
- bring a shopping list and stick to it
- go green by using less paper products (you can save hundreds of dollars each year)
Save money on gas by not automatically stopping at the closest corner gas station.
- check the prices to find the cheapest gas in your area
- use the Gas Buddy app to find the best priced gas stations
- frequent stations that let you collect points towards free gas
Also, keeping your car in tip top shape reduces the amount of gas you use. Checking your tire pressure and making sure you get regular oil changes are just two of the ways to keep your gas usage down. For more tips, click here.
For more money saving ideas, join my list at the end of this post.
Now that you are saving money, what should you do with it? You can spend less money and feel accomplished that you did. Personally, I like to SEE the money that I’m saving. My usual method is to look at my checking balance the night before each payday to see what I haven’t spent in the last two weeks. I use half of the money to make an extra debt payment. The other half, I transfer to my savings account. This way, I am accomplishing two goals, debt going down and savings increasing. Win-Win!
What to do with your extra saved money?
– Use your extra money to pay debt faster on your way to becoming debt free.
– Keep some cash hidden away for when you run out. No need to hit up the cash machine.
– Save for a special trip or weekend getaway.
– Save up for a large, necessary purchase such as a household item.
– Add extra money to your retirement fund.
– Make a rainy day fund and decide what to do with it later
If you commit to a savings plan and put your mind to it, look how much you could save each year! When I create a money chart, I love projecting ahead several years to see how much I can save. It’s good to have a goal for something special, like a huge retirement trip – paid with cash!
This cost reduction plan is not about making drastic changes overnight! This is about looking more closely at your spending habits so you can tweak them a bit. If you are reading this post, you probably wouldn’t mind having some extra spending money. Anyone would jump at the chance to save $1300 on a necessity so why not save that on your daily spending habits? By making only small changes like bringing lunch twice a week instead of buying it, you can start saving now.
You can start to save money simply by looking at your spending habits so go ahead, take a look!