For your convenience, many of the products I link too are affiliate links which means I may earn money if you purchase a product I recommend.
As a financial advisor, I often find myself in the awkward position of telling people what they don’t want to hear.
No, you can’t buy a yacht on a minimum wage salary.
No, you can’t eat avocado toast every day and still have enough for a down payment on a house.
And no, you can’t ignore your finances and expect everything to magically work out.
But fear not, my dear reader, for I come bearing good news.
There are simple steps you can take right now to start saving money, and they won’t require you to sell your soul to the devil or rob a bank (please don’t do either of those things).
So, without further ado, here are three steps you can take to start saving money:
Step 1: Make a Budget (Yes, It’s as Fun as it Sounds)
I know what you’re thinking. “Ugh, a budget? That sounds like something my parents would make me do.”
Well, guess what? Your parents were onto something.
Making a budget is one of the most effective ways to get a handle on your finances and start saving money. And hey, it can even be kind of fun. No, seriously.
To make a budget, start by writing down all of your income for the month. This includes your paycheck(s), any side hustle income, and any other money that comes your way.
Next, write down all of your expenses for the month. This includes your rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, transportation, entertainment, and any other bills you have to pay.
Once you have all of your income and expenses listed, subtract your expenses from your income.
If you end up with a positive number, congratulations! You have money left over to save or invest.
If you end up with a negative number, it’s time to reevaluate your expenses and figure out where you can cut back.
Now, here’s where the fun part comes in. Once you have your budget set up, you can start tracking your spending and seeing how much you’re actually spending in each category.
You might be surprised at how much you’re spending on things like eating out or subscriptions you don’t use. By tracking your spending, you can identify areas where you can cut back and start saving more money.
And who knows, you might even find that you enjoy budgeting. (Okay, maybe that’s a stretch.)
Step 2: Automate Your Savings (Because Let’s Be Real, You’re Lazy)
Let’s face it, we’re all a little bit lazy when it comes to saving money. It’s much easier to spend money than it is to save it. But fear not, my lazy friends, for there is a solution.
Automating your savings is a great way to make sure you’re consistently putting money away without even thinking about it.
Many banks and financial institutions offer automatic savings plans that will transfer money from your checking account to your savings account on a regular basis. You can set up the transfers to occur weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, depending on your preference.
Another option is to set up a direct deposit into your savings account.
This is a great option if your employer offers it. You can designate a certain percentage of your paycheck to go directly into your savings account, so you never even see the money in your checking account. This can help you avoid the temptation to spend the money and make sure you’re consistently saving.
The key to automating your savings is to make it as easy as possible. Set it up once and forget about it. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your savings can grow when you’re consistently putting money away.
Step 3: Cut Back on Your Expenses (Yes, Even the Fun Stuff)
I know, I know. This is the part you don’t want to hear. Cutting back on your expenses means saying goodbye to some of the fun stuff, like eating out or going to concerts.
But if you’re serious about saving money, this is a step you can’t skip.
Start by taking a look at your budget and identifying areas where you can cut back. This might mean cutting back on eating out, canceling subscriptions you don’t use, or finding a cheaper gym membership.
You don’t have to cut out all of the fun stuff, but finding ways to save money on the things you enjoy can add up over time.
Another tip is to try a “no-spend” challenge.
This is where you commit to not spending any money (other than necessities like rent, groceries, and bills) for a certain period of time, like a week or a month. This can help you identify areas where you’re overspending and find creative ways to have fun without spending money.
One thing to keep in mind is that cutting back on your expenses doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your quality of life.
There are plenty of ways to have fun and enjoy life without spending a ton of money. Look for free events in your area, take advantage of discounts and coupons, and get creative with your entertainment options.
The Bottom Line
Saving money isn’t always easy, but it’s an important part of achieving your financial goals.
By making a budget, automating your savings, and cutting back on your expenses, you can start building up your savings and working towards a more secure financial future.
And who knows, you might even find that saving money can be kind of fun (or at least, not as terrible as you thought).