Are all of the people around your reaching their goals? If it seems like your friends and co-workers are taking dream vacations, buying new cars, or paying off their debt, and you’re figuring out how to stop splurging on lattes, I’ve got some news for you. You can easily save for whatever goal you have!
Whether it’s sitting on a white-sand beach, investing in a new bag, or building an emergency fund, you actually can save for it – even if you think you can’t afford it. Today, I’m walking you through 8 ways, some easy and some effective, to help you save for your next goal.
If you are saving for multiple goals at the same time, be sure to read How to Save for Multiple Goals after you finish this article.
Now, let’s get into the fun stuff! Saving money may not seem easy and effective to you, but it definitely can be. I will say, we all need to be realistic. If we only make so much money, we can only save so much money. Regardless of what you are bringing in, these money-saving strategies can help you save for that goal you really want.
#1 Open a savings account specific to your goal
It doesn’t matter what you are saving for, you need an account for it. The first step to saving money is having a place for that savings to go. Opening a savings account reserved just for your goal will have you feeling inspired. Just knowing that you’ve taken the first step to saving for your goal purchase can empower you to start saving for that purchase.
When you first open the account, I suggest giving it a name that coincides with the goal you are saving for. I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it again. You are significantly less likely to unnecessarily tap into an account labeled “Dream Jamaica Vacation” than an account with no name.
I also suggest you open your account with an online bank. They have no balance requirements, no fees, and much higher interest rates than regular banks.
Once you have your account open, set up an automatic transfer. I don’t care if it’s as little as $5 a week (which we can all afford – just ditch a coffee purchase), get some form of transfer established. That $5 a week will add up. If you come into extra money, or can cut back to save more, definitely do so.
#2 Evaluate your spending to cut back
One of the biggest expenses my client face is food. Not just groceries, but dining out as well. It’s extremely easy to spend hundreds of dollars on food every month because the small amounts add up.
If you go out to eat, buy a latte, or pick up lunch 5 days a week, over the course of a month you could be shelling out serious cash. Failing to keep tabs on your spending can result in money slipping through the cracks, instead of going to your goals.
It’s extremely important to evaluate your spending. The only effort this requires of you is actually carving out the time to do it. This allows you to see where your money is actually going and how you can make changes for the future.
Trust me, the more you know about where your money goes, the more you can dictate where it should go.
#3: Live frugally today
Guess what, you can’t save money if you’re spending all of it. The key to making living frugally realistic and effective, is to take it day by day. Don’t worry yourself with what the future holds, just worry about what you can control today.
Make the decision to stay home and eat instead of ordering food. Go for a walk on a nearby trail instead of heading to the mall to “window shop”. Take the time to think through your choices that could result in you spending money. When you think in short-term actions, you are less overwhelmed and more likely to stick to it.
#4: Let technology do it for you
Technology is literally a life saver. Actually, it’s a money saver too! There are plenty of apps available to consumers to help them save and invest with no effort. If you want to get a head of the savings curve, download one of these money-saving apps. 3 Apps to Help You Save More shares 3 of my favorite apps specific to easy saving.
Remember those automatic transfers I mentioned earlier? Technology can also do wonders in the form of transferring money to and from your accounts, setting alerts and reminders for bill due dates, and keeping an eye on your account balances.
Most of these services are complimentary for bank customers, so take advantage. Anything you can do to make your life easier, and save more money, should be top priority!
#5: The earlier you start, the less you need to save right now
Your goal purchase has a price tag. If you want to reach that goal by a certain date, you need to save a certain amount each paycheck to be able to afford that goal in your desired timeframe.
The trick is to start saving as early as possible for your goal. If you know you want to take a trip or buy a new car, don’t procrastinate saving for it. The earlier you start saving for your goal, the less you need to actually put away right now.
Here’s an example: You want to take a trip next June that costs $3000. If you start saving this June, you will need to put away $250 a month to afford the trip in one year.
Procrastinating the start of saving for your trip until December means you need to put away $500 a month to afford the trip in six months! When things are tight, it’s much easier to save $250 than it is to save $500.
Moral of the story? Start saving for your goal as early as you possibly can.
#6: Use credit card rewards effectively
If you have a solid budget in place, minimal debt, and a good handle on your spending, start using credit cards that have rewards associated with them. You are already spending the money anyways, so why not get a little cash back for your spending?
If your rewards don’t come in the form of cash back, use them to assist with a purchase that you would already make. Most rewards can be used for travel. If your goal is to take a trip, use the rewards you have to help cover the cost!
Using credit cards for their rewards may not come in big pay offs quickly, but over time those rewards will start saving you major dollars. Read 5 Smart Ways to Use Credit Cards for Rewards for a few strategies on using credit cards more effectively.
#7: Go on a “spending fast”
Ok, so this one may not be as easy, but it’s very effective! A “spending fast” basically means you take a break from spending money on anything that isn’t a bill or living expense. This means you can spend money to buy groceries, but you can’t spend money on food at a restaurant.
I personally love spending fasts. Not only can they help you give your savings a quick boost, they allow you to break the vicious paycheck to paycheck living cycle. Because your money isn’t being wasted away on non-essentials, you have the opportunity to build up a good cash flow.
What helps me is not setting a specific timeframe. I try not think of spending fasts in terms of length.
I’ve found that I make my spending fast last much longer when I don’t give it a timeframe. Doing a spending fast for 30 days seems like a long time. Start a spending fast today, and taking it a day at a time, puts it in realistic timeframes.
#8: Make more money, by selling stuff!
Getting a second job is not easy, but selling your old stuff is! You can open an eBay or Amazon store in minutes and start selling the things you no longer use.
This is a great way to bring in extra money that can put directly into savings. You were living perfectly fine without prior, right? I’ve made plenty of extra cash by selling old clothes on eBay. The buyer pays for shipping, so all you have to do is take the pictures and let the bidding begin.
The most important take away is that bringing in more money will help you save more. You don’t have to do this by selling your stuff, that’s just a way that has worked for me.
There are plenty of things you can do to earn more money. Babysitting, dog-walking, errand-running, and being a referee on weekends can help you increase your cash flow. Get creative with how you can bring in more money and always put it straight to savings.
Related: 5 Reasons to Try a Savings Challenge
Make saving money fun! It’s all about your mindset. Think about all of the progress you can make, as opposed to budgeting your money. Associate saving money with positive thoughts and you will notice how easy and fun it can be.
Challenge yourself to see how long you can go on your “spending fast”, or how much you can put into savings each week. Also, remember to always keep the end goal in mind. Your goal in the future is more important than a “want” right now!
How do you stay motivated to save money? What struggles are you facing with consistently saving? I’d love to hear your thoughts, fears, and worries, so leave a comment below to share!