Saving money is a top priority for many Americans, but it becomes even more important during times of economic turmoil. Luckily, there are many simple steps you can take to eliminate wasteful spending in your daily life.
Here are eight easy strategies to start saving more money now:
1. Track your personal expenses in a notebook or spreadsheet for 30 days. Doing this is as easy as writing down what, where, when and how much you spend on every transaction. It is only after you know what you are spending your money on that you can wisely choose where to reduce or cut.
2. Ask for discounts and use coupons when shopping for essentials. When possible, select non-branded products, which are often found at a lower price than name brand goods. But be savvy and check for a trial price or return/refund guarantee.
3. Make major purchases using credit cards that offer product assurance guarantees and make filing disputes easy. If a product is defective or damaged, you may be able to get it repaired or replaced for free.
4. Check your bank and credit card statements or online account information for any automatic charges you are paying for services that you no longer use. A $5 charge per month for a service that you don’t need is equivalent to throwing away $60 every year.
5. Contact service providers to confirm there are no other contract options that offer lower monthly service charges. Many companies offer varying service levels and contracts at different prices, but they won’t tell you about them unless you ask. For instance, you could avoid a $190 cable bill by paying only for the channels you most frequently watch.
6. Learn to say “no,” at least sometimes, to your kids and grandkids. Spending money, mobile phone plans, car insurance, gas money and car payments are a few things you may be supplementing for a child or grandchild that you might consider cutting out or at least reducing.
7. Set up different checking accounts for your non-discretionary and discretionary spending. Arrange for monthly bills to be paid from the first account by a bill-pay service or electronic fund transfer. Conversely, use a debit card for personal spending. With two separate accounts, you can better manage and monitor your discretionary spending.
8. Consider creating a separate savings account at a different financial institution from where you have your checking account(s) so it is harder to transfer money. You can set up a direct deposit or auto-draft from your paycheck to do this each month without any effort on your end.
A Certified Financial Planner professional can also help you audit and discover expenses that can be reduced or eliminated. To find a CFP professional near you, visit letsmakeaplan.org.
These simple steps may seem small, but they can add up to big savings for you and your family.