“I have to save money to get a new car.”
“I’m saving up money to start my side hustle.”
“I need to save up money if I want to finish paying my student loans by the time I’m 30.”
You’ve probably said one of those phrases, haven’t you? I know I have, especially the first two. It seems like most of us are trying to save money for something these days, and it’s getting harder and harder, as life and unexpected situations get in the way. Oh, and the prices increase.
But we have to do it if we want to live the life we dream about. So saving money becomes vital. Do you know how to save?
I admit, I learned it the hard way…..and in my late twenties. In my younger years I was lucky enough to have my parents supporting me, and then lending a hand, financially, from time to time. But eventually I became completely financially independent, and so I realized I need to manage my budget better. Not only to survive and pay my bills, but also to save up for bigger, better things (home, car, etc.)
So here are my methods of saving money. It helped me pay for my car and do home renovations. And I’m saving for even bigger things as we speak.
1. Less social activities.
For the extroverts out there, this will hurt. But the first and easiest way to save money is to cut our social activities. Brunch on Sunday. Happy Hour with the team on Fridays. The weekly date night. It all adds up to a lot of money.
So if you really want to save money, you have to start saying “no” more. Try going to Happy Hour only once a month.
And invite your best friends for brunch at your place, and alternate each house, so you all get to host.
The weekly date night is pretty important for a relationship, but you could try doing it once every two weeks.
There are ways to limit social activities, but to not cut them out completely, in order to save money.
2. More meal prep.
Ugh, cooking, you don’t want to do that right? Me, neither, most nights after I come home from work, tired and hungry. That’s why I love meal prepping.
I usually meal plan for the week and going shopping for it on Saturday or Sunday. The actual cooking is done on Sundays and Wednesdays. I make food for 2-3 days for both me and my boyfriend, lunch and dinner. I don’t keep up with the habit all the time, but when I do it, it makes my week so much better.
This was, probably, one of the biggest things I learned during quarantine. We saved up so much then, because more meals at home meant less take out, so less money spent on that.
3. Smart Grocery Shopping.
I actually really like going to the grocery store, it somehow makes me feel productive. There are definitely some tricks I learned along the way that helped me reduce by spending.
Firstly, go to the store only if you have a list, and don’t go over it (except that bag of chips, it’s ok to treat yourself from time to time).
Secondly, try to pick the brand products only for the items you really love or value the taste of. For example, I have a specific brand of breakfast sausages I like, and I don’t choose another one, no matter the cost, because I really love these ones. But for things like cans of diced tomatoes, or pasta, just choose the cheaper option, it’s usually the same thing.
Thirdly, do only one weekly trip: this way, you limit the number of extra things you get and you force yourself to meal plan and use only what you have in the fridge and pantry.
4. Work out at home.
If you usually workout, this tip will definitely save you money. And I know some of you will say “But I like going to classes..” or “I workout only if I go to the gym, I’m too lazy at home…”. And I get it, but if your focus right now is saving money, you need to do this.
I saved so much by cutting my gym membership. Not only because of the actual cost for it (hello hundreds of dollars per year), but also because I counted the money I needed for gas, water, the occasional Starbucks after, etc.
So during lockdown we decided to buy a spin bike and a couple of weights and bands, and now me and my boyfriend only workout from home, and we love it. If you don’t know what routines to do, YouTube is your friend. So many options there, just try it!
5. Think twice before buying.
This is going to be hard for us, ladies, I know. But it’s important to make better shopping decisions. Which means: no impulse buying.
I have the following “tactic”:
- When browsing the stores (online or offline), I first ask myself if I really see myself wearing/using the specific item (dress, shirt, earrings, and so on).
- If the answer is yes, I start focusing on the actual product. For example, online, I zoom in on the picture and try to see the fabric better.
- If I still really like it, I add it to my cart (online or…mentally) and wait till the next day or the day after that. If I still think about the product (and I don’t forget about it, like I usually do), I buy it. You’d be surprised how many times you forget about the products you LOVED the previous evening.
The cut-throat method would be to stop going to stores altogether, but….can we do it?! 🙂
6. Make shopping lists.
If you’re a list person, you will understand this. Lists are vital, not only for remembering everything you need to buy, but also for refraining from buying other stuff you probably don’t need. So the solution is to make lists for everything you want or need (except groceries, of course), and categorize them.
I have a beauty shopping list, a fashion one, a home one and a miscellaneous list. Each month I prioritize 1 item from each list, depending on my needs. Some months I don’t get anything from a category, and some months I only buy from that one, if it is necessary. (last month was a Home-related buying month, for example, because I was renovating my bedroom)
7. Put money aside each month.
This is a no-brainer. Just allocate some of your income to your savings account, no matter what. You can go at it in two or three different ways.
- You can transfer your savings immediately after you get paid, so you don’t spend it on something else;
- You can transfer your savings a day before getting paid, so you can see how much you have left and don’t block money you could use on urgent needs;
- You can add 60% of your intended savings sum immediately after you get paid, and at the end of the month (or before the next salary) you can see how much you have left, and add the rest of 40%, or even more, if you can afford it.
8. Check your account every week.
This might be a no-brainer, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. You have to be aware of the money you have, how you spent it so far and how you plan to spend the rest.
After you receive your salary, calculate your budget and prioritize spendings, according to your savings goal (bill, groceries, $5000 for downpayment for a new car, for example, and then, the rest).
So those were the tips that helped me save money in the last few months (some have been implemented for years, even).
Just start with saving a small sum each month. The others will come naturally, when you start seeing your savings account get bigger and bigger each month.
Are you in a saving money mode right now? How do you do it? Let us know in the comments!
p.s. If you’re in a organization mode, check out my Beginner’s Guide to Wardrobe Declutter!