Realizing that your bank account is so low that you pretty much can’t afford to leave your house for a good week is an awful feeling. You wonder where all of the money you thought you were saving has gotten to, and suddenly you’re being bombarded with a pile of bills and payments, so what on earth are you supposed to do next?
Saving money is one of the things that I can confidently say I have gotten good at. I got my first part-time job almost a decade ago and from the day I started, I made it my mission to save my money and put away as much as possible. I became obsessed with opening my account every payday and putting a lump sum away safely in a bank account and then never touching it again. I was able to pay off tons of stuff in the years to follow- my car, my schooling, go on some great trips. Becoming frugal isn’t just an overnight thing, for some it can take weeks, months, even years to perfect the art of frugality. I still sometimes struggle with saving when I realized I overspent on food for the week, or when I had one too many beer specials at local restaurants.
Here are some tips to help you on your frugal journey:
Determine a Budget.. and stick to it!
Before you even start to think about saving money, you need to factor in how much money you are making versus how much you are spending. Make two lists; one with all of your expenses in a week and one with what you make in a week. Include any money that you owe people, to your credit card, etc. I usually subtract my expenses and what I owe from what I’m making, and I see what the difference is. From there, you can give yourself a reasonable amount of money to be allocated to certain necessities during the week, including groceries, entertainment, etc. If you find its too hard to create a budget with what you’re making, you could always consider alternate streams of income such as blogging, selling some old possessions, having a garage sale, etc.
Open a Savings Account
You can only start to save money if you can confidently say you’re okay with letting some of your hard earned money sit in a bank account that you can’t touch. If you already have a savings account, you need to determine how much from your paycheck each week that you can store into your savings account. This is why it’s important to make a budget first, so that you can work with the leftover money and see what a reasonable amount is for you to put away! Personally, I take a flat amount from my paycheck each week to put away because I know how much I need to save for bills and expenses. If you can only save 20 bucks a week, that’s $1,040.00 that you can save in a year (AKA a vacation, a huge shopping spree, some Christmas presents, etc.). The point is to put away something, ANYTHING that you think you can afford. You can also speak to your bank and talk about other account options such as a tax-free savings account, or accounts where you lock money away for a certain amount of time and watch your savings grow. Of course, this differs by location and by bank, but there are many different ways that banks can help you achieve your financial goals.
Create Goals and Pursue them!
Saving money becomes a lot easier when you actually know what you’re saving for at the end of the day. Seeing that pot of gold at the end of rainbow is what makes the process of budgeting and saving money so much more rewarding! I usually make a few goals and decide where I want my money to go. For example, my boyfriend and I are trying to go on vacation by Fall 2017, and we created a budget to know exactly how much we need to put away weekly in order to afford the vacation. I also want to buy a new camera, so I’ve started budgeting for that as well to see how much I can put into an account weekly in order to buy it in a month or so. Calculate how much money you want to have saved by this time next year and make sure you’re putting away enough money to match that goal.
Believe me, I know how difficult saving money can be. You’ve probably read the three steps above and thought to yourself that the process of actually going through with everything is a lot more difficult. You’re absolutely right- the tough part really is sticking to your budget and making sure you’re not going over every week. However, once you actually get going and realize that saving money is possible, it will become easier and easier to save money. Seeing growth in your account and gaining confidence that you really can do it, is what makes the process that much more bearable!