No matter how well you manage your personal finances, there’s always room to put a little more away. Here are seven time-tested tips to help you keep more of your
1. Pick your savings goals.
The very first step is to determine what you are saving for, how much you need to save and by when. For example, are you saving for retirement, a child’s college education, a new car, a “rainy day” fund or some combination of things? Once you have your goals in mind, you can determine how much you need to save each year, month or pay
period to get there.
2. Create a budget.
You may have a good sense of what’s coming in; a budget gives you a good sense of what’s going out, and how much you can save towards your goals as a result. For each month, set an amount that you can afford for mortgage or rent, food, transportation, healthcare, clothing, entertainment, cable / phone / Internet, charitable contributions and other recurring expenses. Don’t forget to allocate money for expenses that may not come monthly, such as insurance or education bills.
3. Sweat the small stuff.
Track your actual expenses, to the penny, for a month to see where your money really goes. You may be surprised how much you spend on coffee, or videos, or music downloads, or any other category where you spend small amounts (or maybe even not so small amounts) frequently. Once you’ve tracked your real spending activity, compare it to the budget you’ve created to see if your budget is realistic, and revise it as needed. You can also use this review to make tradeoffs — for example, you can decide if your daily vanilla latte is worth postponing the purchase of a replacement vehicle by a month.
4. Check your objectives.
That cruise you saw advertised on TV may look great, but is your vacation goal to impress people by saying you went on a cruise, or to spend time with your family? If it’s the latter, a camping trip or visit to a national park might be just as rewarding, and much more affordable.
5. Look for ways to buy in bulk or bundles.
For example, you may find that the membership fee of a wholesale club is worth the savings on groceries and household items, especially for families. Likewise, your phone,
cable and Internet service may offer a “triple play,” where you can save by bundling all three services together. Be careful of accumulating additional video services in particular. It’s compelling to be able to binge-watch the new season of your favorite show in one weekend, but be sure that all of the video, voice and data services you want fit within your budget.
6. Instead of simply renewing annual contracts such as insurance plans and maintenance agreements, get competitive quotes each time.
You may find that there are better deals available each year than what
your current provider is offering for renewal terms.
7. When you shop online, be sure to check multiple sites for the same item.
You may be surprised at the price difference from site to site,
as well as differences in shipping costs and timing. Google an item or store
name followed by the word “coupons” to see if there are any discounts you
can take advantage of.
With the discipline to stay on your budget and the effort to comparison shop,
you may find yourself reaching your savings goals sooner than you realize.