Everyone wants to save money but even I will admit that it takes super human strength to do it. Whether you need to be saving for your kids’ college education or your own retirement or both, here are some tips to help you develop those saving muscles:
- Do nothing for 30 days! The easiest way to kick off your savings plan is to agree with your family to spend no money at all on entertainment or eating out for 30 days. Take all the money you save to the bank—you’ll be amazed at how much that is! Be sure to plan lots of free activities like outings to the park, long walks, picnics, and the like so you don’t go stir crazy at home.
- Sign up for the 401k at work or increase your contribution. Surprisingly, many people do not participate in their company 401k plan and miss out on tremendous tax breaks as well as the benefit of saving for retirement. Participating in the 401k is a great way to save because you’ll never see the money in your wallet so you’ll never be tempted to spend it!
- Open a savings account at the bank today. If you don’t already have a savings account, separate from your checking account, go to the bank today and open the account. Put something in the account, even if it is just five dollars. The most important thing is to start today; don’t wait.
- Sell something you no longer want on Craigslist or Ebay and put the money straight into savings. Not only will you get rid of something you don’t need, you’ll launch your savings plan at the same time.
- Identify three things you do regularly that you could do for less money another way with no material impact on your happiness, like having a cup of water with lunch instead of a diet soda—same calories, right? Perhaps you can choose to see movies at the 5:00 matinee rather than the 7:00 show and eat dinner afterward rather than before. Try to find $25 per week that you can give up painlessly and suddenly you’ve found $100 for your savings account every month!
- Use a daily deal offering from Groupon or LivingSocial to get a dinner you’d buy anyway at half price. Remember it isn’t saving you anything if you buy daily deal coupons for things you wouldn’t have bought anyway at full price!
- Use public transportation to get to work or run other routine errands. With gas prices where they are, you can quickly save the cost of the fare by taking a bus or train in most metropolitan areas and chances are you can relax more, too. Grab that book you’ve been meaning to read!
- Walk or ride your bike somewhere you’d normally drive. Get the benefit of some exercise, save the environment and save a few bucks. The IRS estimates that it costs more than fifty cents per mile to operate a typical car. If you walk or ride your bike for the shortest trips, the savings will add up quickly.
As you review this list, you’ll note some things that you can do immediately. Estimate the financial benefits for your situation and commit yourself to saving as much as you can this very month and then keep saving every month!