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Can we be straight up with each other? Saving money is hard work. It’s a skill—maybe even an art. Without a financial plan, you’re setting yourself up to fail. You have to approach saving money like any other new project: start slow until you find your stride. Only then can you set obtainable goals and ultimately reach them. If you’re wondering how to save money and don’t know where to start, follow my steps below for a savings guide to financial security.
Identify why you are saving.
Many of us have a hard time saving money because we have no motivation; we don’t know what we are saving for. Ask yourself, “What is my end goal?” There is no right or wrong answer, and you probably have multiple reasons to start saving. The key is to identify the reason(s) and then set a dollar amount goal for them (e.g., vacation: $1,000, emergency fund: $5,000, etc.). When you know what you are saving toward, the process simplifies and you can take it more seriously.
Set a budget.
Don’t know where to begin? Start by setting a budget. Once you know how much money you have coming in every month and what you are spending it on, you will have a clear picture of your financial saving potential. When we take an honest look at how we spend our money, we have the opportunity to change or continue spending in the same manner. We get to decide what’s most important to us and how our money can support those decisions. Your budget should allocate funds to your savings first, then expenses. If you need more help setting up a budget, check out my post, “The Right Way to Set a Budget and How to Crush it Every Month.”
Automate your savings.
We have a million things going on in life, so why would we add one more task to our list? We don’t have to! Once you have organized a monthly budget and know how much you can comfortably save, automate it every month! Set up a transfer after every pay period and automatically send the funds to a savings account. When you pay yourself first, the money will start to accumulate before you know it.
Find ways to cut back on spending.
To maximize the amount of money you can save every month, find ways to cut your expenses. As you set your monthly budget, you may find that you are spending money frivolously. Buying a daily morning coffee or eating lunches out could be cutting into something you’ve identified as a greater priority, like your vacation fund. There are plenty of simple ways to save money every day, but sometimes cutting back is a bigger task. You may need to change your mindset about money and spend more wisely to break your bad financial habits.
Time is money.
Placing a value on your time can help you understand the relationship between time and money and ultimately assist you with saving more of both. How much time do you spend running around trying to get a good deal? The time you spend trying to “save” money, may be a waste of valuable time. We save money so we can have peace of mind, but if you are stressing yourself out in the process, consider a different approach. Unlike money, when you spend your time, you cannot get it back.
Even if your goal isn’t to retire on an island somewhere, you should still take your money-saving goals seriously. Hold back on impulse buys and you could retire earlier than you’d planned. There is no better time than the present to start saving.