All too often, we let our sense of self-worth get wrapped up in how we’re doing in our financial lives. We go through phases of trying really hard to save more, and then feeling defeated when we don’t see results. We rely on self-control and willpower to avoid temptation to spend, instead of creating systems that make it easy (and dare we say, fun?) to save more money each month.
No matter where you currently are in your financial life, finding ways to systematically save money each month can help you reach your financial goals faster with a lot less stress. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Master your mindset to make saving less of a struggle
Saving more money doesn’t have to be about depriving yourself of the things you love, feeling guilty about every purchase you make, or trying harder. Before you start slashing expenses left and right, start with these four mindset shifts to set yourself up for successful saving.
Stop relying on willpower
Recognize that saving is not about willpower. You may have tried and failed to save money in the past. If trying harder didn’t work then, it probably won’t work now. If you’re serious about saving money, putting systems in place that make it easy for you to save is a big step in the right direction.
When you sit down and plan out on how to save (or how much money to save) each month, make sure your plan is rooted in reality.
For instance, if you eat out most nights because you hate cooking, don’t plan to go cold turkey in order to save money. It’s likely you won’t stick to it. Making gradual changes to your habits over time will make it more likely that you’ll stick with them.
Pay yourself first
Do you include the money you plan to save in your monthly budget, or do you wait until all your expenses are paid and then move whatever’s left (if anything) into savings? If you do the latter, you’re leaving your savings up to chance. If you’re receiving a regular paycheck and know you have enough coming in to save each month, prioritize saving. Then pay your expenses using what’s leftover, adjusting as needed to make it work.
Automate your savings
Automating your finances is a great step you can take to save money with ease. You can have your employer funnel your money to two accounts instead of one, have your bank automatically move a small amount into your savings account every month, or set a Goal specifically for saving with your Simple Account.
Tip: One great way to automate your savings is to open a Protected Goals Account at Simple and funnel X% (that is, whatever percent makes the most sense for your unique situation) into a Savings Goal. This separates your savings money from your spending money and gives you access to competitive interest rates!
Whichever you choose to do, the idea is that you set up systems that don’t require manual effort to make them work. Automating your savings makes it (by definition) effortless to grow your savings and more difficult to spend the money you’ve saved.
Learn more about how to automate your budget in this post.
When cutting expenses, think big, then small.
There are many small ways to save money each month, like using less electricity or switching from name-brand to generic toilet paper. These savings certainly add up, and we’ll talk about those soon. But if you’re trying to make a more immediate (or impactful) reduction in your expenses, you’ll want to focus your attention on where you can save the most money for the least amount of effort.
Not only will you be able to see the fruits of your labor more quickly, but you’ll also get the satisfaction of a quick win, which can help you gain momentum.
Here are just three examples of ways that you could save serious cash in as little as half an hour of effort.
Negotiate your auto insurance.
If you own a car you’ll be better off negotiating your car insurance than trying to cut back on small expenses, like your daily coffee. Think of it like this: trying to decide whether or not to buy coffee everyday is a daily $3 decision whereas negotiating for lower car insurance takes one day and could save you hundreds of dollars every year.
Shop around for a cheaper cell phone plan.
Similarly, with a few phone calls, you can negotiate your cell phone plan to save more each month. Make a few awkward phone calls today and you could be saving money on your phone bill month after month into the infinite future.
Cut unnecessary subscriptions.
Streaming services are awesome, but if you aren’t using them regularly, they’re just another line item in your expenses keeping you from achieving your savings goals. Take a hard look at everything you’re paying for, and see if you can find one or two services to cut. Saving $10 a month means an extra $120 a year that you can put into your savings!
For more tips on how to save on streaming services, check out this post.
Make gradual lifestyle changes.
Once you’ve automated your savings and reduced some of those bigger monthly expenditures, consider making some lifestyle changes to save more money each month. Remember that saving money doesn’t have to mean sacrificing the things you love.
The most cliche example of this, often weaponized against millennials, is a daily latte from your local coffee shop—if that cup of coffee gives you a much-needed boost of joy, sanity, socialization, and caffeine every morning, then don’t let anyone tell you you have to cut it.
In his book, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, personal finance expert Ramit Sethi says, “Spend extravagantly on the things you love, and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.”
Of course, if you’re trying to save more, you probably don’t want to be spending extravagantly. But the sentiment that you should design your budget around what matters to you is worth considering.
Here’s why: You’ll be more likely to stick to your budget, and save more money over time, if you can find ways to reduce your expenses without sacrificing the things you really love.
That just means you’ll need to do a little work to figure out how to save money on the things that won’t affect your quality of life as much. Here are some examples of easy ways to save on your monthly expenses:
- Walking or driving a little farther to shop at a more budget-friendly grocery store
- Switching from name-brand to generic prescription medications
- Signing up for an automatic shipping subscription for your pet’s food
- Learning a few meatless recipes to help you stretch your grocery budget
- Cutting the cord/downgrading your cable package to save on TV
- Committing to drinking tap water instead of buying bottled beverages
If you aren’t already, keeping track of your Expenses with Simple is a great way to gain a better understanding of where your money is going each month. Look through your recent transactions in each of your Expenses to discover things you might be able to cut.
Brainstorm ways to increase your income.
Shifting your mindset towards saving and cutting expenses should put you on the path towards saving more money each month. But if you’re still just barely making ends meet, or you just want to have more of a financial cushion to work with, it might be time to look into ways to earn more money.
Negotiating for a raise is an option if you’re in a position to do so. You can also participate in the gig economy by driving for a ridesharing service, becoming a professional dog walker, cleaning or organizing homes, working for a food delivery service, tutoring, offering translation services, or countless other options. If you have the time or flexibility in your schedule to do so, you can also look for a part-time job, working at your favorite coffee shop, bookstore, or local grocery. All of these options can help you save extra money each month, by providing you with more income to work with.
Saving more money each month requires effort, but it doesn’t have to take the fun out of everything. Figuring out what matters most to you, and then creating systems that help you save money automatically, can help you reach your financial goals faster with a lot less stress.
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