Taking control of your money and life often starts with finding ways to save money based on your current spending habits. The money saving hacks discussed below touch on most aspect of your day to day life with the goal of helping you cut costs.
The one two-punch of saving and making more money will be the key contributor on your road to reaching your financial aspirations and continuing to move forward. Generally the saving money part is suggested to be the more accessible and fixable side of that equation to make improvements in.
However, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
According to a study from Bankrate.com via CNBC, 65% of Americans save little or nothing with the #1 reason for not saving more being expenses. So why don’t we try to identify some opportunities to save on those expenses?
Personal finances are of course personal and what works for one might not be entirely applicable to you.
But no matter how big or small the cost-savings might be or where you stand financially, there is an opportunity to reassess your current expenses. It might be a major life change or small shift in spending. The approach is to ideally make constant gains that continue to push you closer to your financial goals. Smart money moves and money saving hacks can help you accomplish that.
SETTING A FOUNDATION FOR SAVING MONEY
1. Track Your Money
You have to measure it to manage it!
The first step towards saving money is to get an understanding of where your money is currently being spent. It can be difficult to make changes without knowing where your money is going or how much your monthly bills are.
However, programs like Mint (free) and You Need A Budget (paid) are powerful resources able to track, categorize and analyze your spending habits (you can also do this manually with your own spreadsheet or system as well.
With just a couple clicks you can be setup with either of these programs on your way to tracking the flow of your finances.
Once you have established your spending history, you will be able to monitor those habits moving forward.
2. Make A Budget
Based on the income you currently make and your required spending needs you can start to build out a budget. Saving money requires a spending plan so you can begin to best understand where it’s going (above) and develop a new model of where it should be going (a budget).
The services noted earlier, Mint and You Need A Budget, are great tools to once again help you establish that. Otherwise, classic pen and paper or Excel spreadsheet work great too.
Essentially you’re just trying to formulate your cash flow from income to expenses.
The combination of tracking your money and building a realistic budget should help identify areas of improvement (and the tips below will provide ways to ensure you do that).
3. Monitor & Adjust Your Spending
As you continue to track your spending and manage your budget, monitoring and adjusting will be key. If the goal is to cut costs and save money, understanding how progress is tracking will ensure you’re making improvements.
A monthly personal finance status check can help you stay on top of your spending habits and overall money management. You need to have a system that works best for your lifestyle and financial situation.
4. Pay Yourself First
In order to save more money each month, the first priority for your finances should be you. This means that the first person or bill being paid when you receive incoming money is yourself and your financial goals. The money coming in should be automatically distributed to exactly where you want it to go. That might be some combination of your 401k, savings account, IRA/Roth or a combination of these. This tip has the potential to really help you pile up cash over the long run.
SAVE MONEY ON SUBSCRIPTIONS & SERVICES
5. Call Your Insurance Provider To Save Money
Similar to the negotiation tactic with your subscription and services, the same can be feasible for auto insurance. The first step is reaching out to competitor insurance companies to get quotes for their services based on your insurance record.
Take those quotes (if they’re less expensive) and reach out to your current insurance provider. More often than not they will compromise with you and adjust your rates to match the competitor. Your lifetime value to them as a customer is worth the slight change in price if it will keep you onboard.
6. Turn Off The Heat Or AC When Not Home
If you (and your family) are out of the house from 9-5, why keep the heat or AC set to your normal temperatures?
This article with from an HVAC technician states that “the cost of running an air conditioner can go well over two dollars per hour”.
Maintaining that perfect level of heating or cooling for an empty house is essentially throwing dollars bills away. This is especially true if you’re living in a full-size home and pumping out warm or cool air throughout the day. Plus if you live in an apartment or condo you can likely heat or cool your space in a matter of minutes after getting home from work.
7. Turn The Lights Off To Save On Monthly Bills
Another one of the simple money hacks is to flick the lights off. This holds especially true if you purchase energy efficient LED bulbs (noted below).
Depending on the type of bulbs, size of your home and other factors, the cost to light your home generally represents 20% of your electric bill. You also might want to consider geting a smart thermostat and changing out the filters on your vents and ducts to ensure optimal airflow.
8. Cut The Cord To Save Money On Entertainment
Cutting the cord has never been easier thanks to the amazing streaming services and customized (often free) options available to consumers. The days of paying for a cable package with 900+ channels you don’t need are over. According to Marketwatch, over 5 million more Americans will cut the cord in 2018 (with 8.6 combined already doing so in 2016-17).
You could potentially save over $100 monthly depending on the current cable package you have. Here are a couple articles to help you cut the cord and still get access to the media you want:
9. Unsubscribe From Retail Newsletters
Whether it’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day, Valentine’s Day, Start of Summer Sales, Back To School, etc., it’s safe to say your inbox is being hit all year long with offers.
A simple money hack to help you save money is to unsubscribe from these retailers email newsletters. Remove the temptation to click and browse or be hooked by their creative headlines, discounts and graphics.
TIPS ON HOW TO SAVE MORE MONEY ON FOOD
11. Make A Shopping List & Stick To It
Another easy money saving hack to cut costs on groceries is to make a plan and shopping list…then stick to it.
Plus you should do a quick inventory of your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what items you still have around the house.
Map out your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for all the different meals you (and/or your family) will need for the week. There are a ton of free printable templates available for meal planning and grocery lists. Here are 7 different free meal planners.
12. Don’t Shop When Hungry
It’s an old saying but it’s true; don’t shop when hungry.
You will be much more inclined to get those unnecessary unhealthy and costly items or over shop on what you actually need. It’s also easy to succumb to the tricks of the grocery store merchandisers who selectively place those oh-so tasty treats right by the checkout.
13. Meal Prep & Bulk Cook To Help Save Money
Another common recommendation, that works, to save money and make best use of your time is the meal prep and bulk cook. Based on the groceries you purchased, you can set aside time to prepare a handful of meals to cover your lunches at work, quick dinners once home or healthy snacks.
Why do people recommend this?
- Helps you avoid expensive takeout after a busy day at work knowing you have a ready-made meal at home.
- Reduces time during the week you’re having the prep and worry about food – focus your time on your side hustles, family or something beneficial instead.
- You built a grocery list with specific ingredients based on your plan – put it to work!