On paper, debt seems simple: It’s an imbalance that occurs when people spend more money than they earn. The solution, then, would be figuring out how to reduce spending so as to avoid racking up debt—which would also allow consumers to beef up their savings.
Sounds simple, right? Well, not exactly. Life tends to complicate things by introducing unpredictability and temptation into the mix. It’s impossible to predict every expense before it occurs, especially costly ones like auto repairs, medical bills and short-notice travel. It’s also hard to say no to spending money when products and services are more readily available than ever. With a few clicks, you can have nearly anything sent to your doorstep. It’s easier than ever to open a credit card. Advertisements are everywhere, vying for our attention and hard-earned money.
Long story short: It’s often easier to spend than it is to save. But building your savings account, emergency fund and retirement account is the foundation of long-term financial security.
Here are five basic ways to stop spending and start saving.
Install a Budgeting App
People are relying increasingly upon their mobile devices. There’s an app for almost every purpose you can imagine—organization, communication, productivity, and, yes, even money management. Consider utilizing one or more personal finance apps to help you with tasks like budgeting, investing and saving.
One of the primary advantages of using an app to help you manage your money is that you can set push notifications, so you remember to check in regularly and complete certain actions.
Eliminate What You Don’t Need
If you’re like most consumers, you’re spending some money each month on something you don’t really need or value. The kicker is that you may not even be aware! Debt relief expert Andrew Housser recommends consumers scour their credit card bills to find recurring charges for services they’re not regularly using. Examples include gym memberships, music subscription services and more. This simple action alone can free up extra money to put toward saving or paying down dmistralebts.
Use Cash; Leave Your Cards at Home
Paying in cash may seem outdated in our world of plastic cards and digital wallets, but it’s an excellent way to limit expenditures. Budget what you need for various categories, then withdraw that amount in cash. Use this allotment in lieu of pulling out your debt or credit card at the register. As one Forbes contributor writes, “By using cash only, you will physically see the money leaving your hands, and studies have shown this will teach you to value it more.”
Plan Meals in Advance
Food constitutes one of the most consistent expenditures in all our lives. Since we must eat regularly, how we go about doing so has a huge impact on our overall finances. The difference between grabbing lunch from a restaurant during the workday vs. packing a lunch may not seem huge on a daily basis, but it certainly adds up.
Plan your meals in advance and prepare as many at home as possible to reduce the portion of your budget you devote to food. Then allocate your savings to, well, your savings.
Automate Your Savings Strategy
Setting up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings, emergency fund and retirement account ensures a healthy percentage goes toward building your safety net. The underlying principle here is “out of sight, out of mind.” You’ll be less tempted to spend what’s already tucked away.
Want to get serious about spending less and saving more? Start with these five strategies, meant to help you trim the fat from your budget and develop sustainable money-related habits.