Monday, March 10, 2014
Financially Savvy: The Best Way To Save Money In A Year
If you're like me, you're a broke college student who's trying to make ends meet. You may or may not live in NYC (the most expensive in the US) or another expensive city, but times are tough everywhere. Or you may be a young mother who's trying to make ends meet. Whatever your situation is, we could all learn to save money. Here are some tips on how to do so.
1. Use Cash most of the time
When you only shop with cash, you will find it's much easier to save. When you only shop with a credit or debit card, you'll find it's hard to save. Cash is limited, credit cards aren't. With a card, you have unlimited money; it's virtual money. You can go on shopping sprees, go into debt without knowing it, and in the long run you're forced to pay it off. With cash, once it's gone, it's gone. You have to wait to get another paycheck or until you can go back to the bank. With cash, you start thinking about prices and your purchases more. You start to ask yourself "Do I really need this? Can I wait for this? Can I afford it?". Only use a card for big purchases, such as buying a car, apartment, house, wedding, college, vacations, and to pay off loans.
2. Create a money jar (trust me it works).
I remember when I was younger, I used to put money (coins, actually) in a jar after every shopping trip. After a number of months, I had $40 in there. Why I stopped, is beyond me. I think it was due to the fact of how I was saving my money. I started paying close attention to it this year. My fiance and I want to get our own apartment and we're trying our hardest to save. I'v tired everything to save. Don't use my card a lot, save the money in the bank, save the money in PayPal, save every coin I can find, save every dollar I can find, put $20 aside every week, etc. The method my fiance and I were using wasn't working. This jar method didn't come about till a few days ago when I was researching ways to save. I found this method on Frugally Beautiful and let me tell you, it's the best idea I've found. It makes so much sense and it's a winner in my book. I'll\ be doing this forever. I don't know why I didn't do this sooner or put this idea with what I used to do with a jar sooner.
A money jar is the best way to save money. Every little bit you put into the jar, will add up. The jar method is the best way to save because every time you put money into it, you see it going in; you see how much you're saving and you'll see how it adds up quickly. The best way to do this is to put spare change in every week. If you're a little wary of putting in dollar bills, start with coins. Start off with $.25 the first week and keep adding to it. So, the first week start put $.25 in. Then the second week, put two quarters in, so $.50. The next week, add 3 quarters, and so on. By week 20, you'll have added 20 quarters and have $5 saved up. By the end of the year, you'll have $300 saved up. If you want to rev it up a bit, start with $.50 instead and follow the same steps above. By the end of the year, you'll have $600 saved up. And if you really want to challenge yourself, start with a $1. Then increase it every week; $2 the second week, $3 the third week, etc. By week 20, you'll have $20 in there and have $210 saved up. By the end of the year, you'll have $1,300. You don't have to just put quarters and bills into the jar. You can do this with pennies, dimes, and nickels. Just follow the steps above and you'll save in no time.
I once took a jar full of pennies to the bank and cashed them in. At the end, I had $15. Yes. $15 worth of pennies, just by collecting and putting them in a jar. So, if I can $15 from pennies, then this method will work for you.
You can make it fun for yourself or for your family. It doesn't have to be a chore for this method to work. If your child doesn't do something you've told them to do, tell them to put a certain amount in. After shopping or work, dump lose change in the jar. When you're out walking around, if you find change (or bills, if you're lucky) on the ground pick it up, and put in. Search the bottom of your purse, between seat cushions, washing machines (you know for those people who forget to clean out their pockets), jackets, your house, etc. You never know where you'll find lose change or extra cash lying around.
Use this method for anything. An emergency, a rainy day, a wedding, medical expenses, to pay off debt or bills, for vacation, to buy a car, to buy a house or apartment, for rent or mortgage, to pay off loans, for your children's future, etc. There are endless possibilities.
3. Cut down on spending.
Stop buying or doing certain things that cost you a lot of money every week or month. Stop eating out every day, week, or month. By doing this you can easily save $20-30 every week. Instead, cook at home more often. Which leads me to my next point, grocery shopping.
Instead of spending $100 on groceries every week or month, you can cut your bill by using coupons. And no I don't mean be extreme like that show on TLC (which I love by the way!). Start small and take baby steps. Read the store's policies before shopping and read the fine print of the coupon. Most stores limit your coupon usage to four like products. Read EVERYTHING before heading to the store though; every state and store is different. There are also a TON of sites for beginners.
If coupons are bit scary for you at the moment, shop around. Look at the different sales and prices at each store in your area or do different transactions at different stores. If you're luck enough to have an ALDI's in your area, then shop there. They don't have brand names, but because of that, they're able to provide quality items at low prices. I love that store! Plus, there's no tax! Just make sure to bring your own bags for checkout.
Hope these tips help save you money throughout the year. It's hard to cut down on spending, to just use cash, and to always remember to put your money in a jar, but once it's a habit, it'll become second nature. Try your hand at it and you'll see how much you save!