Are you interested in increasing your savings? Here are 13 habits you can start today that will help you reach your savings goals.
1. Plan a Budget and Stick to It
At the beginning of the year, I planned out my bi-weekly budgets for the whole year. Why? Because budgeting is fun. Seriously, I write out everything I want and put it in my budget book in the bi-weekly period that I want to buy it. Making a budget is quite simple if you know exactly how much you get paid whether it is weekly, bi-weekly, monthly etc. Since I get paid bi-weekly, that is exactly the way my intended purchases are laid out in my budget book. In addition, on one side of the page, I lay out intended purchases and on the other, actual purchases. This way, I can compare and see exactly where extra money is being spent.
2. Don’t Waste Food
If you’ve eaten it once, you can eat it again. Eating something two days in a row is not going to kill you. Plus, you can spice it up a little bit. Got some leftover rice and veggies? Stir fry it. All out of pasta and still have ground beef or turkey? Make some chili.
3. Become a Home Cook
The average cost of eating lunch out is about $10. However, let’s say you plan a work week’s lunch of savory grilled chicken over a bed of fresh spinach, topped with blueberries, sliced strawberries, walnuts, and gorgonzola cheese, drizzled with raspberry vinegarette. At my local food lion, here is what you would pay for those ingredients:
Chicken Breast – $1.99/lb (we’ll go with $3.98 for good measure)
Raspberry Vinegarette Dressing – $1.00
10 oz Organic Blueberries – $2.79
16 oz Strawberries – $2.99
8 oz Packaged Spinach – $2.49
6 oz Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese – $3.49
8 oz Food Lion Chopped Walnuts- $4.28
Total = $21.02 / 5 days = $4.20 per meal
The average cost of lunch out = $10 so $10 – $4.20 = $5.80 in savings for 1 meal
= $28.98 in savings per work week
= $115.92 in savings per month
= $1,391.04 in savings per year
Conclusion: Don’t eat out, save yourself $1,391.04
4. Be Your Own Hair Dresser
When I went off to college, my hair was relaxed. I was so used to my mom paying for my hair stylist to touch up my hair every eight weeks, it surprised me when I had to start paying for it myself and boy did I realize how expensive it was. Therefore, my sophomore year of college, I decided to transition back to my natural hair. I had no idea what I was doing (I’d been relaxed for 5 years and before that, my mom did my hair), and I didn’t want to go to a professional because… money. Therefore, I learned everything I know today from reading natural hair blogs, asking friends, watching YouTube videos, and Pinterest and since my Big Chop, my natural hair has been flourishing with my bi-annual trips to the hair salon for a trim.
Spending about $70 every eight weeks to maintain my relaxed hair, along with $45 once a month for a wash and set would have cost me $690/ year. However, even if I had to buy my pricey natural hair products (Carol’s Daughter Marula Gentle Cream Cleanser $15.76, Carol’s Daughter Almond Milk Conditioner $9.47, Carol’s Daughter Almond Milk Mask $12.34, and Garnier Fructis Curl Moisture Butter Cream $4.94) once a month, which thank goodness I do not, I would still only be spending $510.12. Plus, I get to try new things with my hair whenever I feel like it!
In addition, if I’m ever feeling strapped for cash, I go to my handy-dandy Pinterest board and see what kinds of deep conditioners I can whip up with ingredients from my kitchen.
5. Talk to Friends About Lifestyle Changes
Friends often have a major impact on your spending habits. I have a friend who invites me to the movie theaters almost every weekend. Now, I could go with her because I love her and its fun, but I’d also be spending $35 per month on tickets, not even including those ridiculously expensive snacks.
I finally told her, and some of my other friends who enjoy activities that cost money, that I am broke. I told them that I must save money in order to pay my student loan bills, keep a roof over my head, and eat. Therefore, the $40 per month that I call my ‘Fun $$’ must be allocated wisely. And they get it. My true friends never take offense when I’d rather stay in and watch Netflix (of course they are invited), rather than going to a concert, out to dinner, or to get mani/pedis (let’s be honest, you can do all of that stuff in your living room).
6. Become a Savvy Grocery Shopper
From your Whole Foods to your Aldi’s, there are definitely differences in grocery item prices. Sometimes, I’m talking dollars. You could possibly save a few by understanding what to buy when, where and how. See 5 Ways to Save Money on Groceries.
7. Buy Certain Items in Bulk
Certain things are more beneficial to buy in bulk, such as toilet paper and paper towels. These are things that you are always going to need, so buying in bulk ensures that you will not need to keep buying these items, at least for a few months. Other items you may consider buying in bulk include toothpaste and laundry detergent.
Although it may seem like a good idea to buy foods that you love in bulk, this is something you may want to give a second thought. I once bought potatoes in bulk because, at the time, I was on a potato kick (Lol). But after a week, I wasn’t at all interested in eating potatoes anymore. A full bag of potatoes (less one or two) went bad on me, and I felt so bad that I had wasted that money. Other items that you should not buy in bulk include condiments, nuts, and spices (unless you run a well-trafficked Italian restaurant).
For more things you should and shouldn’t buy in bulk, see The Best and Worst Things to Buy in Bulk
8. Entertain Yourself for Cheap
Most cities, especially the large ones, have a bunch of free events that you can attend every day. Have you ever Googled the phrase ‘Happening in [insert your city here]?’ This should give you links to calendars and upcoming events in your city, some of them free. It turns out, there’s free gardening class in my town this weekend.
There are also sites like Meetup.com that connect you with different groups of people in and around your city with similar interests. I, myself, am part of a social meetup that is hosting an interactive murder mystery event for $5 per person. These groups have recurring events that, if you join the group, you are always welcome to participate. And joining is often free.
Thrifting is a great way to get the things you want for nearly half the market price. Whenever you feel the urge to buy something like clothes or electronics, first, think about it for a few. If you still have that urge, look around and see if you can find it cheaper somewhere else; thrift shop.
It has been over a year since I last stepped into a mall. Why? Because when I feel like I need clothes, I do some online thrift shopping with ThredUP. By sorting my search by my custom sizes, then by ‘new’ and ‘new with tags,’ and lastly, by ‘Price: Low-High,’ not only can I easily compare all of my options, I can also get the best quality clothes for the lowest prices! New customers get a 20% discount with code NEW20 and you can always check out Honey for their most up to date promo codes.
I have also been able to Turn My Balcony From Drab to Fab for Under $65 by thrifting at Goodwill and a local thrift store and buy a used (but awesome) camera by comparing prices on eBay!
10. Quality Over Everything
I am the store brand queen. I believe that most store brand items are just as good as name brand items. Catch me with the store brand pancake mix; yum! However, In some cases, quality is more important than the price of an item and there are just certain things you should pay more for. For example, trash bags. Sure you could get the cheap, store brand trash bags, but in the long run, they will cost you more. These trash bags may be more likely to tear, causing your trash to spill all over the place and costing you your time, energy, and yet another trash bag to clean up that mess. Other items you should probably buy name brand over store brand include aluminum foil, paper towels, and toilet paper… and clothing.
That top you got from Forever 21 or H&M (I’m totally not knocking these stores), it’s cute. But how long will it last before it starts fading, thinning or pilling? How long before you have to buy another one just like it? Think about it and maybe invest in the higher priced, higher quality Forever 21 or H&M items.
11. Avoid Lifestyle Creep
Lifestyle creep happens when, as your income increases, your spending increases as well. Avoid this at all costs. Once you start making more money, don’t go new clothes, a new car, or a new apartment. You should put this extra money in your savings instead, especially if you weren’t thinking about any of this on your previous income.
I have been guilty of this myself. After college, I was working for a company making $30,000, living with a roommate and paying rent of $490/month (utilities, cable, and internet included). Almost a year after accepting that job, I accepted a new job that paid $39,996 a year (that’s only about $417 more per paycheck). Tell me why I thought it was time to ball out? I moved into my own apartment, paying $540/month and got a dog (which, let me tell you, is WAY more expensive than I ever expected). I also had to pay electricity bills and internet bills. The costs were way more than I expected, so I opted out of cable and decided to use my parent’s Xfinity, Netflix, and Amazon Prime subscriptions.
12. Learn to Live Without
Check out your monthly expenses. Are there some things you can live without, such as that makeup box subscription or premium cable package? What is cable good for anyway? The News? You can read that or even watch it online. A subscription with Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime would probably save you at least $90/ month. In any case, try to see if there are certain subscriptions that you can cut out of your monthly expenses.
13. Set up Automatic Saving and Put Your Money in an Account with a Higher Interest Rate
Saving money is great and all, but it’s even better when your money is growing noticeably. Whether it’s $5 a week or $100 a month, set up automatic savings for an account with a higher interest rate, and put whatever you’re comfortable with in there.
According to NerdWallet.com, some of the best savings accounts with high interest (1% – 1.60%) include Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Discover Bank, and Ally Online Savings.
I challenge you to go one week without spending on anything that isn’t absolutely necessary (gas, groceries, emergencies). Compare this spending to what you spent last week and what is the difference? Now, put that difference into your savings account and you’ve just built up your savings!