My husband deserves all of the credit for my stellar saving and spending habits. Before I met him, I had no long term financial goals, had no savings, had embarrassing credit scores, and alot of debt. I look back ?now, and thank my lucky stars that I made it through that time without any major disasters, because I simply did not afford myself the resources to cover the costs beyond the time until my next paycheck. ?He taught me the importance of financial planning, having an emergency fund, living within my means, and designing some sort of budget. ?Trust me, this was a difficult transition, going from being an impulsive shopper/traveler/new car owner to a responsible saver/financial planner/debt payer off-er, but let me tell you; it has been one of the most freeing transitions I think anyone can ever make. It is so wonderfully refreshing ?not having to worry about how I am going to keep up with all the debt that was starting to pile up. ?Here I have listed a few of the little changes that made a big difference in my journey to financial freedom. ?Hope they can help you too
1. Save your change.
Pretty straight forward here, but I don’t mean just tossing your change into a jar and cashing it in when it gets full. ?Give yourself a purchase goal, start small so that it doesn’t seem unreachable. ?Maybe a nice dinner at a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. Maybe you’d like a new Bluetooth speaker. Get a jar and make a label with the name of your “spare change prize” or even Mod Podge a picture of said prize onto the jar. Either way, the point is that you are teaching yourself to save for something that you’d ordinarily just pay for with the charge card. Starting small will help guide you in the direction of long term savings and cash-paid purchases. You’ll also be surprised at how fast that change can add up.
2. Meal plan.
When you decide on what to make for dinner a week in advance, you can shop accordingly and prepare ahead of time. ?For instance, you can write out your weekly menu on Saturday. Sunday you can shop for the weeks groceries and prep some of the ingredients in advance. I like to chop all of my vegetables on this day and separate them into gallon size ziplock bags. Then, throughout the week, most of the prep work is already done and I only need to focus on cooking the meal. This practice has saved me a substantial amount of money that was being spent on dining out and excess groceries. My produce is no longer going to waste, because instead of having a bunch of vegetables just sitting in my fridge, I know exactly what I need and what I will use it for.
3. Multiple bank accounts.
One of the ways I have managed to save toward multiple financial goals, is by contributing to multiple bank accounts, one for each goal. ?The way I see it, if your entire salary is all deposited into your checking account each week, (or whatever frequency you get paid) you are less likely to save a substantial amount of cash. Instead, try having the check divided and deposited into a couple different accounts. Try to put 10% into a savings account and forget it exists. Seems impossible, I know, but pretend you just got a decrease in your salary and live accordingly, easier said than done, yes. Impossible, absolutely not. Forget that account exists, let it grow. Build yourself a little nest egg. ?Some employers offer a credit union to their employees. This is a nice way to put aside some savings and have access to some of the perks that are offered to its members such as low interest rate loans, ?rewards programs, and ATM cards without the fees.
4. Take Advantage of Loyalty Programs.
Most national drug store chains offer loyalty programs to shoppers. They are free and very easy to sign up for. These programs offer rewards to its members by way of coupons, cash back, or vouchers that can be used as cash when making purchases from the store. I regularly find ways to cut back on the costs (big time) of everyday items by using my loyalty card. ?By using a manufactures coupon (from the Sunday paper inserts) in combination with a store coupon, a weekly deal, and reward points, I can usually reduce the cost of my toothpaste, shampoo, laundry detergents, etc. to mere pennies!
5. Bring your lunch to work.
Well, since you’re already menu planning your dinners, why not try it with your lunches too. Great way to save the $6-12 a day that the average person spends on their lunch break.
6. Cancel your subscriptions.
You have to be honest with yourself here. ?Are you really going to the health club enough to justify the money you are putting into it each month? Do you need all the cable premium channels? Are you even reading those magazines that are coming in the mail each month? Chances are you are contributing to SOMETHING each month, or annually, for a service that you can certainly live without.
7. Pay with a credit card.
Now this is not for everyone, and it requires some self discipline and restraint. IF you are 100% sure you are going to live within the means of the capability to pay off all of your monthly purchases IN FULL, then use a credit card. I use my credit card to pay all of my bills, automatically, each month, and I also have my credit cards paid in full each month from my checking account. By doing this, I am earning a certain amount of cash back incentives, including travel miles, gift cards at reduced rates, or a percentage of my spending deposited right into my checking account. I have used these rewards to purchase gift cards at Christmas time, to pay for vacations (in full) with my miles, or to get 5-10% cash back on specific purchases such as gas or online shopping. All of these rewards are cancelled out, however, if you are not paying the entire balance each month. The interest charged is more than the rewards given.
There you have it folks….A few little changes in the way we handle our money can make a lifetime of big changes to our bank accounts. Good luck!!