Learning how to save money and work within a budget is critical for your financial goals. The more you save and the faster you do so, the quicker you’ll reach your goals. Whether that’s building an investment portfolio, buying your first home, or paying off debt.
If you’re just getting started with saving money, the thought of doing it for many years can be overwhelming. Just like any task, it can help to break it down into more manageable parts.
Setting a shorter timeline makes it much more doable and less overwhelming while helping you establish the foundation for better saving habits. Kickstart your savings by using these four hacks for one year:
Use money-saving apps
Most people use their money to buy food, shop, study, get news, socialize, and more. So why not use it to help you save money?
There are so many free financial apps that can help you achieve your savings goals. Some apps offer rewards and cash back for shopping at specific stores. Others help you find coupons you can apply to your purchases. There are also budgeting apps, apps that can automate your bills payments and savings, and help you track expenses.
Commit to a cash-only budget
Swiping your credit or debit card is convenient, but it can also cause to you spend more since you don’t see actual money leaving your hands.
For the next 12 months, try to pay for all of your expenses using cash. This helps you become more aware of how much you have, and how much money is going out. In addition, it also curbs overspending because you can’t spend more money than the cash you have on you.
For this to work, you need to keep all your cards at home. You may even want to give them to someone you trust for safekeeping. Before going out for the day, plan your expenses. This way, you can bring just enough for your planned purchases instead of giving in to impulse buys.
If cash doesn’t work for you, there is an app called mint that will allow you to set budgets for each expense, and will also notify you if you have gone over your budget.
Reduce your utility bills
Some people assume that there’s not much you can do to decrease your utility bills. However, there are several changes you can make to reduce this part of your budget.
Note that a few of these strategies do require some investment, but they pay off massively in the long run. For instance, install low-flow faucets and showerheads to conserve water. Replace what appliances you can with inverter versions, since they consume much less electricity. You can also call your cable company and renegotiate your monthly bill. If you spend more on utilities during certain months, you can ask to be put on a plan that allows you to pay the same amount each month over 12 months. The utility company will look at your total annual spend over the last few years and then determine the monthly amount based on that average. All these steps will add up to significant savings in just one year.
Start doing meal prep
How much money do you spend on food? Probably more than you’d like, especially if you frequently find yourself eating out or ordering in.
One of the most effective ways to slash your food budget is to meal prep. You can do this one day a week, so you always have something to heat up and eat.
To save even more, plan your meal prep around sales in your local market. Buy ingredients that are cheaper in bulk, like rice and beans. Stock up on seasonings that will go a long way towards helping you create delicious meals for cheap. Not only is this a great way to save, but also helps you keep track of what you’re eating.
Using apps, spending cash, reducing utility bills, and meal prepping may sound like small steps to take towards saving. But their effects do add up over time, especially when you fully commit to the process. The best part is since they are such small steps, they don’t take much effort to integrate into your lifestyle and beyond the first year of jumpstarting your savings journey.