Saving money can be a real challenge. You know you should, but some months it feels like you’re barely making ends meet. And no matter how much you actually make, it never feels like enough.
Fortunately, there are some painless steps you can take to get your savings back on track. Below are a few of my favorite tips for ways you can save more money:
1. Set Your Budget. The first step to saving any money is to find out where you can get more of it. Try tracking your income and expenses. If you’re taking in more money than you’re spending (hopefully), divert the extra money into your savings or into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
2. Watch Your Spending. … So you’re NOT taking in more money than you’re spending? This is an unfortunate circumstance because you’re never going to save any money this way. Instead, take a hard look at your expenses and see what you can cut out. Remember to prioritize your wants versus needs.
3. Negotiate Your Bills. For the bills you can’t do much about, try negotiating them with the service provider. For example, call your Cable Company and see if you can get the special promotional deal they’re currently running. Try the same with your auto insurance, cell phone, and other bills. I think you’ll be surprised at how well this strategy can work!
4. Pay Yourself. When you get your paycheck, take out a certain amount in cash (say $100). Take that money and put it away in an envelope. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing cold, hard cash build up right in front of you.
5. Deduct it. Increase the amount of money that is deducted from your paycheck into your 401(k), 403(b), or other retirement account. If it comes straight out of your paycheck, then you’ll never have a chance to spend it. You’ll learn to live without the extra money and your spending will adjust to whatever is left of your paycheck.
6. Re-Direct Your Raise. When you get a raise, redirect it to your retirement account. Again, if you were living just fine without this money before, you’ll be fine again without it. Too painful? How about half-and-half. Take the percentage of your raise increase, direct half to your retirement account, and let the other half go into your paycheck (so you still feel that rewarding bump in pay).
7. Save Your Tax Refunds. Just like your 401(k) contribution or raise, you were probably doing just fine without the several thousands of dollars you got back from Uncle Same for your income taxes. When you do get your tax return, commit to depositing the money directly into your savings.
8. Sell Stuff on eBay. Or Craig’s List. Or at garage sales. We’ve all got stuff around the house that has extended its usefulness and we can do without. Remember that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. So before you throw it out, see what it could go for using one of these major re-sale methods.
9. Join a Cash-Back Program. You should make money off the money you spend. If you haven’t already, join a great cash-back program that pays you between 1% and 5% for all your everyday purchases. Click here for my recommendations to great cash-back reward programs.
10. Avoid Taxes. As you accumulate more money, make sure you keep it in a place where you won’t pay more taxes than you have to. Start by opening a Roth or Traditional IRA (I prefer the Roth). You’ll pay taxes on the money in the beginning, but all the money you make and the money you eventually take out will be tax free. Not having to pay taxes is like saving money all by itself.
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