If you are just getting started saving money it may feel like an almost impossible task with the cost of living on the rise and income coming into the home on the decline, but it is possible to continue or start saving money.
In many cases people assume they have to make more money in order to save, overlooking the fact that if they spend less money they will have more available to put into savings or invest in their future.
If something on the following list doesn't work for your situation that is OK, the point is to take the first step toward saving money; after you start the rest of the steps should fall in place.
1. Implement the thirty day rule.
When you find yourself thinking about making an unnecessary purchase, consider holding off on the purchase for thirty days before making the decision to follow through. Most people buy on impulse and by adopting a waiting period (even if it is less than thirty days) allows you to think about-or forget about why you wanted the item in the first place. If the waiting period expires and you still want to make the purchase, at least you know that you are not making an impulse buy.
2. Make a list and stick to it when shopping.
Have you ever made a trip to the store and said you “just need” a few things, only to leave with a cart full of items? While you might eventually need these things, this is a great way to waste money and products. I don't know how many times I've “thought” I needed something from the grocery store only to discover I already have it (three times over) in the pantry. Know what you have on hand, have a strong idea of what you need and stick to that list. You will save time, money and space by not buying off the top of your head.
3. Hammer out a workable debt reduction plan.
Unless you are one of the disciplined few that have NO debt, take some time to really get a handle on what you owe and determine a solid plan to reduce debt. As long as you have debt, especially high interest debt, you are throwing money away making monthly payments. Once you commit to getting out of debt and implement a personalized plan you should aggressively work to eliminate your debt.
4. Utilize online banking and bill pay options.
Most major banking institutions offer online banking and the ability to pay bills online. The benefits are two-fold. First you can view and manage your accounts easily online which keeps you closer to your money allowing you to spot potentially costly mistakes quicker.
I use my debit card often and sometimes forget to make the deductions immediately. This bad habit could put me in danger of running my account too low and incurring overdraft fees, so I have become accustomed to checking my account each morning before I begin working for the day. I note any withdrawals and highlight payments that have been posted and balance my account accordingly. It takes less than five minutes and is well worth the time.
Secondly you will save money on stamps and streamline your payments once the initial setup is finished. Online bill pay can make paying bills as simple as “click it and forget it” which makes paying bills very easy, just make sure to note the deductions in your checkbook.
5. Shop secondhand.
Most people either love or hate the idea of shopping secondhand. What most people will agree is the fact that buying items that are used can save you lots of money. You may be surprised at the deals you can find at yard sales, garage sales or browsing internet sites that sell used items.
Reducing the amount of money you spend is not the only benefit, buying used items is a great way to reduce waste which is good for the environment. Another great option is checking out bargain outlets that sell slightly damaged goods. If you pay close attention while shopping you can discover great deals on items that may have been superficially damaged while shipping or manufacturing but retain functionality.