Saving money. For many, that is a loaded phrase. For those on a tight budget particularly, the idea of saving money each month is an intimidating or even laughable idea. And in truth, not everyone will be able to save a lot of money each month. But most people will be able to save at least some, and some is certainly better than none. It starts with recognizing a simple fact…
…Money Saved Is Money Earned
Saving money is not entirely about avoiding spending. It’s primarily about spending money on the right things. Sometimes we build our budgets based entirely on previous experience. In other words, we say “we’re going to need X amount for groceries, X amount for gas, and X amount for entertainment,” rather than asking, “should X amount be Y amount?” Look for savings everywhere.
You can save a surprising amount on groceries, for example, by changing your approach to shopping and remaining flexible week in and week out. Many of us are creatures of habit, and that means we like buying the same products week in and week out, whether they are on sale or not. But by staying flexible and being willing to try new products, you can ensure that every receipt that prints at the grocery store is filled with sale items.
Similarly, we often pay each month for multiple entertainment services, regardless of our usage rates. Streaming services have many advantages over cable, and that means it’s easy to pause the service when you know you won’t be using it a lot (if you are taking a vacation for a week or two out of the month or not using a live TV service to watch sports as much because it’s the offseason, for example). Again, flexibility and taking manual ownership can save you money here.
Gas is a little trickier. After all, you have to drive where you have to drive. But you can track your fuel spending carefully to ensure you know what you are spending and why. And if you are driving as part of a professional role, you can look into getting reimbursed for your mileage.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Stuff happens in life. If you are saving on a budget, there are going to be times when you need to dip into your savings to pay for something unexpected. The key is to not get upset and let it affect your savings-oriented mentality. After all, the whole reason you are saving money is so you have some when you need it. So stay positive and give yourself a pat on the back for saving that money to begin with.
Keep track of how much money you take out of your savings, and, most importantly, why you withdrew it. That will help give you a better idea of the triggers for dipping into your savings, and you may even decide to establish savings pools specifically for those purposes.
Knowledge is power when it comes to your finances, and understanding your spending and saving habits is going to pay off in the long run. Combine that with a positive attitude, a little bit of discipline, and a willingness to stay flexible when it comes to your purchasing habits, and you’ll be well on your way to successful saving, even on a tight budget.