Saving money, especially when the holidays are swiftly approaching can be a challenge. We are tempted to spend but in the months leading up to the season we often put the shopping season in the back of our minds. Out of sight, out of mind. So with that in mind we figured a putting a list together of some practical ways to help you save money.
It’s difficult and something you hear all the time, but bear with us. If you want to save money then you have to plan to do so. You’re not going to get anywhere if you just hope this month will be different. It may sound a lot more difficult than it is, take a previous look at your bank statements and make a list of all your regular monthly payments. After evaluating your spending history a little bit, you can estimate your other expenses like food, clothing, repairs, gifts, or gas. It may take a little bit of time and effort but afterwards you’ll have a better understanding of your monthly budget and how you can plan accordingly.
Actually track your spending. You’ve created your budget and now it’s time for you to stick to it. If you prefer online expense sheets or physically writing it down, go for it. You know yourself better than anyone else so if a classic pen and paper is your thing, do it. This means everything, yes it could be a little tedious at first but once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze. There are many online templates that can help you out too. Throughout the month you will be able to see how you are doing and make adjustments according to your goals. If you’re grocery budget is a little tight then maybe you can get a little creative with what you have on hand- Pinterest could be a great tool to utilize for creative meals! If you’re gas budget is getting close to running over- try to carpool or take fewer car trips. Tracking can also help if you’ve got a little room left in your budget, you can make that purchase you’ve been waiting on for awhile!
The whole point of this thing is to get to a bigger goal. You can’t get there if you don’t set small goals to help you get there. It’s important to make monthly goals- say you take a look at your budget/tracking and pick an area that you feel is a particular weakness. Maybe it’s shopping or eating out too much. Try to cut it in half. You might need an accountability partner here to remind you of your goals! Whatever your weakness is, identify it and try to cut back. Small amounts like 10 or 20% will still be savings! Achieving these smaller goals will give you the motivation to tackle those bigger goals!!
Long Term Goals
Since we’re on the topic, setting big and long term goals is important! You’re always working towards a goal and trying to reach it with whatever money you can pull together. Paying off a vehicle, a credit card, or taking a vacation, can be an amazing motivator to help you save! Next time you find yourself wanting to go out to eat try whipping something up at home instead. Would you rather have a meal out or be one small step closer to your financial freedom! This is probably a no-brainer. Find your biggest goal and work towards it!
Finding the Free Fun
This one is about the mindset you have. Finding things to do for free can be a lifestyle choice and it can be difficult to change your mindset on “missing out” on that movie or that expensive night out with the girls. It’s definitely easier said than done but at the end of the month you’ll be surprised by the savings! The possibilities are endless when you really dedicate yourself to the savings and if you’re totally stumped at how to find these free events/ideas check out the internet and you’ll be sure to find some great ideas. You just have to open your eyes and look!
Chances are you are pretty close to a Target or Walmart and it can be tempting to run in to “pick up a few things.” Those small purchases can really add up, and most of the time they are impulse buys. If you hadn’t been on the store, do you really think you would’ve bought it? Probably not. You will continue to function without those impulse buys and it will slowly add up! Bottom line- go shopping less often.
Give Yourself Time
The holidays are going to be here before we know it and you’ve got a Christmas list! Keep it in mind to help you avoid those impulse purchases. When you do go shopping, make a list and stick to it! Before you hit the checkout isle, re-evaluate your impulse purchases and ask yourself if you really need it. If it’s something you don’t need immediately put it back, and wait a week. If you still desperately want it (chances are you won’t) then feel free to go back- this strategy could be easier implemented for items over a certain price.
Get Rid of It
Those closets full of junk could be making you money! All of us have stuff laying around that we don’t use anymore. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Other people could be willing to pay for those things you don’t use. Yard sales, Craigslist, clothing resale shops, eBay or area trading groups are good resources to utilize when trying to get rid of those unwanted items. Even small items like books could be sold and put a little extra cash in your pocket!
Minimize Reoccurring Payments
When you first set up your budget you listed out all our reoccurring monthly payments. Imagine if you didn’t have some of those payments, you could have more money for other things. What are some of those areas you could improve on? Recently there has been an uprising of cutting your cable and switching to a Roku or Apple TV. Once you make the initial cut it could take a bit of adjustment but many people don’t notice a difference! What about your home phone? Most people today only use cell phones, so is your home phone just an extra cost at this point? Shop around for better internet deals and make sure whatever you’re paying for is what offers the best rates. It could take a bit of homework but it’ll be worth it in the end when you realize you could save hundreds of dollars!
Move your Money
Instead of keeping money in your checking account, move it into your savings immediately. It’s all a mind game but if you check your balance and see all that extra money available you’ll think “Oh… I can totally buy _____.” If your money is locked away in a savings account, you’ll have to make that extra step to move it into your checking account to spend it. That small hoop to go through could be just what you need to help you NOT make that purchase. Slowly but surely it’ll add up!
Your financial success is important to us and we hope that you can take some of these small lessons to help you save! Whatever you decide to do, it’s one step forward to financial success and that’s always something to be proud of! Eastex Credit Union is here for you, and we have multiple products and services designed to help you succeed!