Since you made the resolution to start saving, how much have you actually saved? No judgment. But I can take a wild guess and say you haven’t saved much. Saving can be a herculean task, especially if you don’t know how to go about it. A lot of people sincerely want to save; some even set goals. But eventually, it doesn’t work out the way they thought it would. Is this because they don’t earn enough to save? Or are they simply not cut out for saving?
No, I would say they haven’t gotten the hacks of saving.
To effectively save and even meet your goals, there are habits you need to form. Honestly, saving isn’t easy, but there are ways to make it a little less difficult. There are probably personal habits that people have that help them save better. These habits might be peculiar to people and wouldn’t work for others. But there are simple habits that will work for a vast majority of the populace. Here are three simple habits that will help you save money.
As humans, we tend to favor immediate gratification when making decisions; it’s a natural bias. You’d rather spend money on “important” things you want instead of actually saving. We all tend to do this. Because what you’re saving for seems to be far off, you’ll come up with a billion and one things you need to spend the money on right now. I mean, there’s always the next salary, right? And you vow to save next month. It’s called the present bias.
The present bias can be a real problem if you’re saving for something like retirement. For some people, retirement is so far off that it’s easy to keep putting it off to spend on other things they need in the present.
The way to get around this is to automate your savings. Automating your savings takes away the chance to choose between saving and spending it all. You can’t spend what’s not even in your account to start with.
There are two simple ways to automate your savings. First, you can use a mobile app that is set to deduct a particular amount from your account at the same time, every month. If you have a set time when you get your monthly paycheck, it is better to set the deduction date very close to when you get your paycheck. The second way is to split your paycheck into two accounts; a savings account and a checking account. This way, you only have access to the money for your expenses and your savings go directly to a different bank account.
Once you set up the automation process, you completely eliminate the temptation to spend all of your income or spend your savings on something that can, in all sincerity, wait.
Cut back on eating out (Starbucks included)
If you’re a fan of Starbucks, this isn’t a personal attack. Or maybe it is. How often are you grabbing a Venti drink at the local coffee shop? Do you find yourself eating out on a consistent basis? You probably feel like eating out a lot isn’t affecting your savings, but let’s do a little calculation. If an average fast-food lunch costs about $7, and you eat out five days a week for a whole year, that totals about $1,800. So, you spend this amount on lunch alone in a year. This might not look too bad until you realize that most people spend money on groceries too. That’s like paying for two meal servings and wasting one. It gets even worse when people order take-out for dinner too.
Personally, you should calculate how much you spend on eating out, and how much you spend on the groceries that you end up wasting because you eat out a lot. Don’t you think the money is better saved? If you spend on groceries and still eat out, that’s like an extra $1,800 you could be saving every year.
One of the major reasons why people eat out is the fact that they are tired of going through the same seven dishes every week without fail. It gets boring and people want something different for a change. So, off to a local restaurant they go. If this is the case, then making a resolution to stop eating out might not solve the problem. You might want to consider spicing things up. Not literally though. Consider adding side dishes, or adding new dishes to the others. Anything to make eating at home less boring.
If you’re going to effectively save money, you need to know where your money goes. Especially if you feel like you can barely even survive on your income. You get your paycheck and before the month ends, you can’t tell where all the money went. You definitely spent it, but on what exactly? Are they unnecessary expenses you’re making? Or are there subscriptions you’ve forgotten about that are being deducted from your account?
If you don’t track your savings, you can’t know where your money goes. It’s that simple. And if you want to save, you need to know where you can cut back your expenses to save more. There’s no way to do this if you don’t even know what expenses you make each month.
There are simple ways to track your spending so you know if there are cutbacks to make. First, you can track your spending with mobile apps. There are free apps that let you record every expense you make, allow you to set spending limits, and see what you’ve been spending on. You can also check your bank statement to see purchases and payments you’ve made with your debit card. The downside is that you won’t be able to see payments you made in cash. Or you can simply write down your expenses. This might be a bit strenuous but it helps you build the habit of tracking your expenses.
So, what do you do with the details of what you spend on? Check to see what unnecessary expense you’re making. What can you spend less on? Or even completely eradicate? Do you really need both Hulu and Netflix subscriptions?
To make the most of your tracking, make a budget and see if you’re keeping to it. Making cutbacks won’t do much if you just end up spending the money on something else instead of saving. Making a budget ensures that you don’t redirect all that spare cash to some other unnecessary purchase and that you actually save as much as possible.
If you can be disciplined enough to form these habits over time, you will definitely have savings on lockdown. Consistency is the key to forming habits. Honestly, it’s not going to be a walk in the park but with time, it’ll become just another part of your life. And you’ll be proud of how much you’ve achieved by forming these habits.
Written by Matthew Delaney