What could you do with $50 to $100 extra bucks each month? It would be that much easier to repay student loans, pay off credit card balances, save for big milestones like your first home, and contribute a greater percentage of your income to retirement.
Once you’ve established good money management habits, finding a little spare change in your budget will allow you to find the fast track to your biggest financial goals. And here’s the good news: finding ways to save more money is actually quite easy.
If you’re wanting to save more money but aren’t sure where to start, check out these five big ways to make it happen in the upcoming month:
Cut Overpriced Services
Still paying for cable? Most of us who are seeking to save more money have already made the switch to Internet streaming services like Netflix -- and are saving around $1000 per year, or close to $100 per month, by not paying for a big cable package.
This one is a pretty obvious switch, but it should get you thinking about other changes like it that can save you a considerable amount of money each month. The great thing about living in a country so focused on consumerism means we all have many choices. And there are a lot of choices that are less expensive than the ones you may be currently paying for.
For example, are you currently paying over $100 per month for a gym membership? Switch to a no-frills place to workout and pay less than half, or make nature your gym. Bodyweight exercises and cardio, via running and biking, can be done almost anywhere for little to no cost.
Sometimes, you can save more money simply by being proactive. Call up the companies that provide you with the services you’re not willing to cut. Ask about discounts, better rates, different packages, or bundling services for a lower overall cost.
Dropping down to a lower service or product tier will help you save, too, if you’re not ready to eliminate something entirely.
Another way to be proactive? Plan ahead for big purchases.
No, this doesn’t mean spending hours clipping coupons for products you wouldn’t normally buy anyway (although, if you enjoy that, feel free to continue using coupons -- only on things you actually need). But if you know you have a big expense coming up, do a little legwork and research. What store or online site offers the best deal? Are there regular sales around seasonal events or holidays? Could you use your credit card to rack up rewards points (and then immediately pay off the balance)?
Cut Back (Just a Little)
If you're out shopping for things like new clothes or electronics more than once a month, it's time to cut back. No one says you have to drop everything, but you could easily save more money if you simply didn't buy quite as much as you're currently purchasing.
Every square inch of your home does not need to look like it came out of a Martha Stewart magazine. That doesn't mean there's something wrong with what you want if this is your goal. But it doesn't have to happen immediately. Take your time. Buy things slowly and deliberately.
Apply that idea everywhere. Moderation is a good thing. Going to the movies with your significant other five times per month is not such a good thing for your wallet (at at least $20 a pop -- and don't even think about getting pop from the concessions).
Establish Healthy Habits
It’s amazing how many things that are good for our budgets are good for our health, too. Just making a few switches here and there will positively impact your health and your money.
If you’re looking to save more money, consider cutting back the amount of meals you eat outside your home. Stop buying lunch everyday, regularly treating yourself to sugar bombs disguised as coffee drinks, and driving when you could easily bike or walk.
If you smoke or drink regularly, cutting back (or kicking the habit altogether) will improve your health and save you an incredible amount of money. Even for someone who buys a cheap bottle of wine to enjoy on the weekends stands to save about $50 per month just by skipping the alcohol.
Prone to boredom spending? Pick up some inexpensive, healthy hobbies so you have a better outlet instead: try running, hiking, swimming, or biking. Or take things slow and simply enjoy regular walks through the neighborhood.
Realize You’re Entitled to Something Even Better than Stuff
Most of us have purchased something because we used reasoning along the lines of, “I deserve this.” Or, “I work hard, so I need to treat myself.” We often feel entitled to buy the things that bring us a momentary flash of happiness when we’re feeling down or tired.
While it’s true we should enjoy life, have fun, and yes, treat ourselves every once in a while, this shouldn’t become a habit. It’s not a treat if it’s a regular occurrence, is it?
It’s hard not to feel entitled to something we really want when we’ve had a rough day or week. But what you really deserve is far more important, far better, than mere stuff (or a regular stop at your favorite fast-food place, or a weekly mani-pedi).
Prioritize your spending so that your money goes to things that you really, truly value and you can reach what you deserve. Of course we should treat ourselves -- it’s when we go overboard and use this line of thinking as justification for excessive spending that it becomes a problem. Save more money by realizing there are bigger things waiting for you than a mountain of impulse buys.
Because you deserve to be financially stable and secure. You deserve to be able to reach your big financial goals and make your dreams into realities. You deserve to design the lifestyle you want for yourself.
Making small changes -- both to our expenses and our behaviors -- goes a long way toward saving more money.
What could you do this month in order to save more money?