If you all of a sudden had a large expense come up such as an auto repair, vet bill, or a household appliance breaking down, how would you pay for it? Likely you would put on a credit card and begin making payments monthly until it’s paid off, which depending on the balance, could take months or even years. If money is tight as it is, you don’t want to add more monthly obligations, so it’s a good idea to create an emergency or rainy-day fund if it sounds better, building up to a few months of reserve expenses. By changing a few spending habits, you can improve savings in no time.
Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses
Sure, easier said than done, but do you know just what you’re spending each month to even have a place to start? By taking a look at last month’s debit/credit card statement you can see line by line every charge made within the month. From there you can circle the items that probably could have been avoided. Just for fun, add them up and see what you could have saved if you would have been a little tighter with the spending.
Going forward, you can start to reduce unnecessary expenses. A good way would be to limit going out to eat and opt for going grocery shopping and cooking at home. While it may be impossible to completely avoid going out, even limiting to once a week and on special occasions, you will already notice hundreds of dollars adding up in your account by spending a fraction of the cost at home. In addition, cutting the cable cord and ditching the gym membership are also ways to save.
Don’t Miss Out on Free Money
You may be doing what you can to save, but could there be free money you’re missing out on? First, with your retirement account, be sure that you’re taking full advantage of any employer matching contributions. This could add tens of thousands of dollars to your retirement account that has a chance to grow over time.
Next, while it may seem to contradict saving, but by using your credit card for purchases you can earn points or even cashback. You’ll have to make sure you avoid overspending when you see them add up, but if you’re only using the purchases you would going to make anyways, it could earn you hundreds of dollars a year that you can put towards paying off debt, or even better, using towards a free vacation.
While keeping up with the Jones’ may boost self-esteem, it certainly can affect your wallet and really put your household into debt. By sticking to what you can afford, you can avoid risking your financial future. If traveling is important to you, try downsizing your home or auto lease so you can take a step back in that regard but still make sure you’re managing all of the life experiences you can handle. By cutting back in the areas that are less important, you can focus on what makes you happy without sacrifice.