Saving money is high in everyone’s New Years resolutions. Do you take action to ensure it happens? If you are struggling with where to start, here are 16 things that will help you save money in 2016.
1.) 50 ways to live for free
Before jumping in and making a purchase, have you considered all the ways you might be able to get what you need for free? Entire sites and communities are dedicated to bartering, freegan lifestyles, being environmentally friendly and sustainable. Other sites have freebies, samples, giveaways and more all the time.
Check out these 50 ideas and feel free to add your own.
2.) Make more money
Saving money is great, focusing your energy on making more money then saving all the extra money you make will make your savings grow significantly faster. Whether you work full time, need ideas to work from home, around your kids or other commitments, there is something for everyone in the post 101 ways to work from home.
3.) Menu plan and shop accordingly
Groceries can make or break a budget. Menu planning and shopping with a list needn’t be difficult. Work out all your meals for the week, do it with in-season food, shop where the specials are, at markets and in bulk where possible and you can slash your groceries in half.
4.) Go over your spending with a fine tooth comb
Track your spending to see where you are spending, what little leaks you have and how you can stop them. Go over bank statements, get out receipts and look through your purchasing history everywhere.
$5 here and $10 there doesn’t seem like much. Those amounts add up quickly and can cost you thousands over the year.
5.) Change your mindset
Instead of saying ‘I can’t afford that’ or “I’m broke/poor…” change the way you speak about yourself and your finances.
If it is something you really want, ask yourself ‘how can I afford that?” instead of “I can’t afford that”. How long would you need to work to pay for it with cash, no going into debt for whatever it is?
Viewing yourself as financially stable and capable helps you keep a positive attitude towards money instead of feeling like money is controlling you.
6.) Try a savings challenge
The $52week savings challenge has been around a while, where you save $1 the first week, $2 the second week, $3 the third week and so on all year. At the end of the year, you will have $1,378. Another option is to do it in reverse, so save $52 in week 1, $51 in week two and so on all year. If you are putting money in a high-interest savings account, this will net you more money at the end of the year than the first option.
$2 coin challenge – put all $2 coins in a 2L bottle then bank it when it’s full. $5 note challenge – save all your $5 notes and bank regularly into a high-interest savings account
Alternatively, pick an amount a week to save, have it deducted from your pay and put into a high-interest savings account before the rest of your pay hits your bank if you payroll will do that. Otherwise set up automatic deductions from your bank the day of or day after payday.
7.) Aim for an extra amount each day
Set yourself a goal to make or save an extra amount every day for a month or even the whole year then go over everything you can think of to make or save money in your budget. With each tweak you make, the extra money you have come in or money you save, transfer those savings to your high-interest savings account.
I did this last year for a month with the goal of $100 extra a day. I didn’t last the whole month. I did make an extra $7,000 within two weeks though. I will be revisiting this soon.
8.) Set a goal
Saving money without a reason to save is difficult. Without a goal, you do not have a purpose or strong motivation to stop you from spending on small things and wasting your money. Set a goal to save money for an emergency fund, house deposit, once in a life time trip or whatever it is that you want to save for. Give yourself a realist goal and work towards it.
9.) Save with other people
Get your partner on board with your savings goal, join a money group or save at the same time as your best friend (not to the same account. Keep your finances separate!). Doing it with someone else gives you someone to bounce ideas off, let off steam with, hang out with who is on the same wavelength and someone to be happy for you when you hit your goals or milestones along the way.
10.) Sanity money
Do not make your budget so tight in an effort to save more money that you neglect yourself and don’t have any spending money. Sanity money is a set amount each pay you can spend on whatever you want. Budgeting in this regular money to spend on anything helps prevent major blowouts later on.
How much you allocate for sanity money is up to you. It needs to work with your budget. Some people start with $20 a week, others $100. Whatever it is, it is yours to spend however you like with no guilty feelings.
11.) Find the budget that works for you
Budgeting is pretty basic – spend less than you earn. List out your expenses, list your sources of income and if you are spending more than you earn you have two things you need to do – spend less and earn more. Do both because if you learn to live below your means (income), anything extra you earn can be saved and invested.
As simple as that approach is to budgeting, variable income, different personalities and habits mean different things work for different people.
A few good articles and budgeting options you might want to check out: How to start a budget when you suck at budgeting by the Busy Budgeter, Budgeting with the 50/20/30 rule by Frugal On The Prairie, The Beginners Guide To Budgeting by The Budget Mama, How and why to use a zero-based budget on The Simple Dollar and How to budget when you don’t make enough money by Mark and Lauren.
12.) Plan ahead
Write on your calendar all the things you need to buy gifts for, travel or plan for such as birthdays, parties, teachers gifts, Easter, Christmas, anniversaries, school holidays, public holidays, festivals and events. Mark when they are on the calendar and plan ahead to get what you need or budget for it properly.
With your planning, sign up for reward programs and birthday freebies, check out sale sites such as Groupon for deals and set a budget for everything you are doing.
13.) Plan a holiday
The anticipation of a holiday, along with the planning has been scientifically proven to provide a lot of enjoyment. On top of that, I personally have found having a trip to save for helps me save more and it is a great reward for achieving other goals.
Not having a break or something to look forward to can lead to burnout, which costs you more in the long run. Plan a holiday, even if it is a ‘staycation’ where you get a week or more off at home to relax if you don’t want to or can’t afford to go away. Plan a break for yourself.
14.) Learn a skill that will save you money long term
Skills such as sewing, basic repairs and cooking save you money long term and are worth learning. Even though you can outsource pretty much everything these days, doesn’t mean you should. If you are looking at saving long term, having a more sustainable lifestyle and want to be able to teach your children things your ancestors did, learn the skills. You can learn through friends and family, do a course or look up how to do things online.
15.) Delayed gratification
We live in a world where so many things happen instantly or extremely fast. Numerous stories of multi-millionaires under 30, young, successful CEO’s and we have reality TV skewing our perceptions of how people really live. With more access than ever before to the lifestyles of the rich and famous, too many people want everything and they want it now. Learn the art of delayed gratification. If you want something, put it on your list and look at buying it in a month or so. Look at how you can save to afford it. This goes for food and health too. Instead of having every treat or food you want to eat right there and then, pick a few times to have these treats, maybe one day a week instead of eating them every day. You value things you have to wait and work for higher than things you get instantly or with little to no effort. You will often find that at the end of the month you probably don’t want most of the items on your list and will have saved yourself a significant amount of money over the course of a year.
16.) Declutter your life
I did an experiment of sorts recently. I have often read that if you own less or declutter you will desire less. I cleared out almost everything I own and it was an eye opening experience.
My desire to shop and buy things is gone.
Adding up the amount of money spent on things I was getting rid of vs how much I got for them showed me how much money we wasted, how much stuff we hold onto for ‘one day’ and how easy it is to have more than you need especially when you have the space for it.
We implemented new rules as a result. Now if we bring something new into the house such as kids toys or books, new shoes or tech equipment, something else has to go. It doesn’t need to be a toy for a toy. We select which item or two we want to get rid of in exchange for the new item. Viewing purchases in this way also cuts down on the desire to spend on new things.
I need less than I thought. I am living with very little at the moment. My kids have played more intently with the toys they have, they are more engaged in imaginative play in a way I have never seen them do. We are more relaxed and cleaning is much easier.
Go through your home, your car, your life and declutter everywhere. You can make money from selling off your things and save money by changing your mindset.
What will you be doing to save more money in 2016?