If there is one thing most Americans want to be better at, it’s saving money. Saving money grows your safety net, increases net worth, and improves your financial stability overall. Unfortunately, saving money isn’t easy. Life is expensive, and making ends meet is hard enough. If you would like some tips on saving money, here are five rock solid principles to help you add some green to your account:
Set a realistic budget
Budgeting can feel like pulling teeth, but it remains the most effective way to track your money and control where it goes. The key to a good budget is making sure that it allows for you to have some fun. Make three separate lists divided between needs, wants, and luxuries. Things like rent and food are, obviously, needs. But if you want to build your savings, that needs to be in the need column too.
Wants can be a little more of a gray area and are up for debate, but it is a debate you definitely should be having. Finally, luxuries are those things that you’ll miss but won’t kill you to lose. Once you’ve budgeted out the needs, then you can go and fill out your wants and luxuries list with a little bit of allotted cash. Being too stringent on a budget, like a diet, can kill your resolve.
Set savings goals
Not everyone has the dedication to save just because they should. Sometimes it helps to have a goal in mind. A down payment fund, a Europe trip, or a new furniture fund can be great ways to keep you excited about your savings. It is just important to give yourself an endpoint to build toward. Sometimes even something simple, like a desired amount in your account, can be a good enough goal.
Pay Yourself First
This step should be before assigning money to your wants and luxuries. Once your paycheck arrives it should already be allocated into your needs section, savings included. Fortunately, online banking gives you complete control over where your money goes. You can set it up to automatically divide your money into your savings accounts.
While it is important to put money into savings, if you want to help that money grow ahead of inflation, you need to invest. Once you have a good base of savings, you can put a chunk of that money into stocks, bonds, and other investments to help it grow in value.
Use Credit instead of Debit
This is a pretty interesting little bit of advice. While credit card debt can be crushing, using credit cards can also save you money. The trick is paying off that credit card immediately to avoid accruing any interest. Credit cards often have cash back options and other perks that can help you save money on everyday costs and expenditures.