According to a 2017 Bankrate survey, only 31 percent of Americans have adequate savings to cover six months’ or more worth of expenses in case of an emergency need, or to plan for large purchases in the future.
To protect and build your future, it’s time to take a look at how and where you’re spending and to begin building stronger financial habits. Here are seven tips to get you started.
Start by looking at where you can trim regular expenses. This could include downgrading your cell phone data plan, eliminating cable TV or making coffee at home instead of buying it on the way to work each day. You can also call insurance providers, Internet and cell phone companies to see if you qualify for a monthly discount or a package deal.
Identify your biggest spending temptations and take steps to avoid them. If you gravitate toward online shopping in the evenings, turn your attention to a hobby, read a book or take a walk instead. Do you find it hard not to buy the latest video games? Avoid the electronics store or website altogether if you know that saying “no” is going to be tough.
Start saving extra or unexpected cash. If you get a product rebate, a tax return refund or cash back through a rewards credit card, make a habit of depositing those funds in your savings account rather than thinking of them as free spending money.
One way to save is to operate on an all-cash budget. Each week or month, set aside in cash exactly what you can afford to spend on food, entertainment and splurges. Physically seeing what you have to spend can help ensure that you don’t go over your limit. When the cash is gone, your spending is done — simple as that!
Focusing on your goals can help make it easier to save instead of spend. If you’re saving for something in particular — a car or a down payment on a house — try hanging a photo of the goal on your wall at home, or make it the background photo on your computer. Try placing a reminder of the goal in your wallet — right on top of your cash or credit card — so that you see it whenever you’re tempted to make an unnecessary purchase.
Impulse purchases can be a big obstacle to saving. If you’re tempted by a sudden purchase, tell yourself you can buy it if you still want it in 24 hours. You may find that you’ve forgotten all about it by the next day, or you might realize that the instant gratification isn’t worth compromising your long-term savings goals.
If you’re serious about frugal living, it pays to learn your way around the kitchen. A 2017 Gallup poll shows that the median American household spends $130 weekly on food. Whatever your weekly food budget, it will go further if you know how to prepare affordable meals at home rather than buying fast food or dining at restaurants. Some food-related budgeting tips include preparing meals in bulk and freezing leftovers, shopping for store-brand items and using coupons.
Once you get started, you’re likely to find that cutting down on expenses gets easier as you go. And you can really start to appreciate those savings as they build over time.
Continue reading for more information about savings accounts and how they can help you achieve your life dreams.