The key to saving money is not really in how much you are setting aside- it’s in how you’re spending your dollars on the things you buy every day. In keeping firm track of your spending habits, it becomes much easier to save with little effort.
The best way to save money is to take a detailed look at how your money is being spent, and what it is being spent on. Bills should be a number one priority on this list, as those are necessities that should never be ignored or skimped on when it comes to saving money. Look at gas expenses, food, and luxuries- THOSE are expenditures that can be altered to place money aside.
Many people eat out for lunch on an almost daily basis during the work week. Bagging a lunch can save an individual $25-$35 A WEEK. Instead of eating out, take a sack lunch with you. Buy a 2-liter of soda and fill and empty bottle every day, make a sandwich instead of going to Subway, buy a large bag of chips and make small baggies to take to work with you. When you create your own meals from home and take them with you, lunch outings will not be so tempting and therefore won’t hurt your wallet.
Along that same note, watch your snacks, especially when you are out and about buying gas and getting groceries. How many times have you gone into the gas station for $20 of gas and left with nearly $30 worth of gas, soda, lotto tickets, chips, candy, etc? Or gone in for a pack of smokes (buy a carton, already!!! It’s like getting 2 packs free) and left with all the extras you didn’t need? If you’re buying gas, pay at the pump and DO NOT go inside. If you have to go inside, take only the amount of money you need with you into the store to avoid impulse purchases.
Impulse purchases hurt a pocketbook the most. Those are those “I don’t need it but oh, man, gotta have it now” little trinkets at the end of a checkout stand. They vary from lighters to hand sanitizers to little bags of chips, and they are tempting. Just because it says it’s a buck, DOES NOT mean you need it! Those items are deliberately placed there by the stores you are shopping at for the sole purpose of getting you to spend money on crap you DON’T need. Stick to your shopping list and ignore the odd goodies.
Speaking of shopping, scrutinize that shopping list so it can be revised as needed to eliminate frivolous purchases. Scratch of the things that are NOT needed, and if at the end of your shopping day there are a few dollars left over, grab one or two of things that are wanted most. If buying soda, buy in 2-liter instead of 20-ounce, if getting cookies, buy off-brand, chips get big bags and divide them in baggies, etc.
Carry cash. When you have cash in hand you can physically SEE what you are spending, and know immediately what you have left. Take in ONLY the amount you are budgeted at (say, $100 in WalMart) so you can’t be tempted into impulse and unnecessary buys. If you only have a $100 bill on you, you can ONLY spend $100. Whatever change you have left place it back into your bank account. Absolutely use cash whenever possible. It’s a great way to visualize your spending.
The key to saving money is to eliminate ridiculous spending. Once you realize how much money you’re spending on unnecessary things and you learn to curb the behavior, you can easily set money aside. Once it becomes a habit to spend smart, you won’t even have to think about saving money- you’re already saving, and you will absolutely get the best for your buck.