Most people don’t start saving money until they’re in a hole or decide they want to save for something big. However, there’s a clever sub-section of the population who are saving all the time and when they run into financial trouble, or decide they need a new car, they have no problem dipping into their savings.
The art of saving money is a nuanced, long-term endeavor. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that involves habit-building and making thousands of everyday decisions which impact your overall financial well-being. It’s not hard to start, but it’s important that you do.
Why not make 2019 the year that you turn your finances around?
You can follow these 7 steps to start saving money in 2019.
1. Use Budgeting Tools
Life is busy in the 21st century. And many of us end up spending much more money than we intend to on a daily basis. All of those trips to the coffee shop, the grocery store, and your favorite lunch spot—while seeming insignificant—make a big impact on your bank statement when added together.
Knowing how you spend every dollar is crucial when you want to start saving money in 2019.Click To Tweet
Budget calculators help you visualize how much money you can safely spend in a given month. They consider factors like income and necessary bill payments. They also breakdown how much you can spend on everything else.
If you’re like me and prefer the effortless way to track spending, several budget apps provide similar guidance. Navigating your monthly spending without these tools is like driving through the mountains, at night, without your headlights; an unequivocally poor decision.
2. Invest Your Pocket Change
While you might not be making enough (yet!) to invest large sums of money, it’s possible to get started with the change sitting in your pocket. While small-time investment apps won’t make you rich, they can introduce you into the investing world, which will make your large investments less daunting down the line.
All of us started investing small amounts of money. The important thing is investing small amounts at regular intervals. For instance, investing $10 every Monday. Diligent investing is one reason I was able to pay off some of our loans early to be debt-free.
Two apps you should try first are Acorns and M1 Finance. Both use different methods to help you invest small amounts of cash on a regular basis.
3. Read About Saving
Many people resolve themselves to the idea of saving, steel themselves for financial gains, and then completely forget about their resolutions and continue making mistakes. One way to avoid this common slip up is to completely dive into the world of saving, and the best way to do that is to pick up a book.
Financial literature is a vast and often overlooked genre. Economists and businessmen and women spend years compiling data and offering fantastic advice, but most people don’t take the time to read their work. Buy a few books. It might be one of the smartest investments you ever make.
You might start with Dave Ramsey if you want a plan to get out of debt. But, there’s a sea of stellar authors.
My wife and I read for at least one hour a day. Sometimes it’s money books and other times it’s about a personal interest like history, biographies, or exploring the roots of our faith. YouTube videos can be good too. But there’s still something about reading a book. Especially one with fillable worksheets that give you the motivation follow through.
4. Check in With Your Bank or Credit Union
If you want to save more money, it’s worth checking in with the people who are keeping it safe. If you haven’t opened a bank account, and you live in the northeast, for example, you should run a search for “credit union Nashua, NH” and see if there’s somewhere close where you can start earning interest on your savings.
I highly recommend banking with a no-fee bank or credit union. This is what I do. If you spend more in bank fees than you earn in interest, you’re better off keeping the cash under your mattress.
5. Take Advantage of Coupons
They say there are no such things as free money, but we beg to differ. Coupons, which are free on the internet and elsewhere, knock significant amounts off of the items you buy every time you visit the store. You’ll be surprised to find how many of the items that you pick up during your grocery runs could have been discounted heavily if only you took the time to do some coupon research.
Tip: I also love using Ibotta to get even more saving offers. You can clip coupons and activate Ibotta offers to potentially get two discounts on select purchases.
6. Cancel Your Subscriptions
It’s easy to lose track of your subscriptions (I once forgot to cancel my renter’s insurance for three months), and if you don’t carefully check your bank statement every month, it’s possible that you’re being charged for services you don’t even use. If you do use your subscriptions services regularly, ask yourself how necessary they really are. Do you really need Spotify and Apple Music? Probably not.
I’m a sucker for those $10-$15 monthly subscriptions like everybody else. Having one or two isn’t bad. But when you have more than three, start thinking if you really need all of them.
This is an easy way to start saving money in 2019. If you’re not sure how many subscriptions you have or don’t have the time to cancel them, Trim will do the hard work for you. They might also be able to reduce your monthly cost for the subscriptions you keep. For instance, they have helped reduce my phone and internet bill.
7. Buy Used
Furniture, cars, clothes, utensil—it’s possible to buy nearly anything second-hand these days. There’s a false narrative that buying used things means that you’re buying items of inferior quality. When you open yourself up to the possibility of buying used, you unlock a world of overlooked, superlative items.
Many thrift stores also donate a portion of their proceeds to charity, so it’s possible to save money and contribute to worthy causes at the same time. How could you say no?
My wife and I are thrift store/consignment sale/Craigslist junkies. We sell or give our unwanted items to these places. Plus shopping here instead of buying new every time has saved us hundreds of dollars each year.
One day, you’ll look back on 2019 fondly and remember it as the year you finally started saving. Don’t wait. Every day you continue to splurge is a missed opportunity. The fruits of your efforts will inevitably show up down the road.