Saving up money, especially in today’s economy, feels like an impossible task for many of us. Whether you want to build an emergency cushion or raise funds to travel, saving money can feel like a downward slide on a slippery slope. The past few years have been challenging, y’all. If you’re struggling financially, I hope it brings you comfort to know that you’re not alone!
Financial habits tend to follow us like dirty socks in our gym bags. My Achilles’ heel is going out for food and drinks, and - now that I’m dating someone in the big city - shopping. Ugh.
The funny thing is, our weakness at home will often travel with us abroad. Yet, saving up is easier than you might think. As daunting as it can be, I’ve found that little gains here and there really add up. Here are a few ways to stash some cash as painlessly as possible.
Disclaimer: While there are many ways of generating extra income, such as real estate investments and side hustles, this article focuses on simple ways to improve management of future earnings
and to cut down on wasteful spending habits.
1. Evaluate and refine your finances.
It’s not as boring or as scary as it sounds. Ask yourself these four questions:
How much of my paycheque goes to housing, food, utilities, transportation and play? Don’t speculate or guess; track where, and how much of, your money got spent over the last 30 days. Download a travel budget template if need be.
What expenses are unnecessary? Approach this with a simplistic view. If you have multiple streaming services, keep only your absolute favourites. Cancel any subscriptions you pay for but aren’t using. See if you can reduce your cell phone bill by cutting data. If you want those jeans, hold off on buying them for a week, then decide whether or not to purchase them. Unsubscribe/cancel accounts to online stores where you tend to buy impulsively.
How much can I afford to set aside on a regular basis? Open up a travel savings account (more on this later) and transfer as much money as you reasonably can into it; watch it grow!
How much could those savings eventually amount to? A daily cutback of just 5.00$ for that coffee you buy every morning allows you to save roughly 150.00$ a month - just make sure you actually transfer it to your savings. Cha-ching!
2. Count Backwards
If you’ve got a date or a deadline set for a trip or a big purchase, having a clear number of how much you need to save every month/paycheque will help you reach that goal.
Divide your financial goal by the number of pay cheques you’ll be receiving from now until that date/deadline. I want to save 5,000.00$ over the next 9 months, and I get paid twice a month. So 5,000$ divided by 18 paycheques = 278.00$. That’s how much I have to put into my savings every paycheque.
3. Curb Your Eating And Drinking
Eating and drinking are my biggest moneysuckers. Anyone else? When I curb my restaurant and outdoor patio habits, my savings account grows. Simple as that.
That coffee I splurge on every morning? 60$ a month. That steak supper I had at the fancy restaurant for no reason at all? That could have paid for three nights in a hostel in Spain.
By all means, keep going out for birthdays and anniversaries. Don’t stop celebrating, just cut the unnecessary spending. Keep it simple: Have a regular pizza or taco night at home. Learn how to make fun cocktails and have friends over. Cook a romantic supper. Check the sales items at the grocery store and search online for a fun recipe. Bring your own lunch to work, and pack some snacks for running errands. Plan your meals every week and make a grocery list of what you’ll need; cut back on unnecessary splurges.
4. Make Your Money Grow Effortlessly
When you set up your new savings account with your bank, make sure it’s a high-yield savings account. This type of account pays you higher-than-average interest on your deposits than traditional savings accounts and is best for short-term goals. Research different banks and compare their initial deposit requirements, interest rates, minimum balance requirements and fees.
5. 50 / 30 / 20
A popular savings allocation is the 50-30-20 rule; 50% of your net income goes to necessities (mortgage/rent, food and bills), 30% goes to wants (clothes, books and restaurants), and 20% goes into your savings. When saving for a trip, flip the 20% and 30% to save even more money, faster.
But this kind of savings allotment is unrealistic and discouraging when you’re living paycheque to paycheque. So start off with 3%, or 5%, and add 1% as you can. Hey, it’s still money saved - something is better than nothing.
Most importantly, set up a direct deposit so that your chosen allocation gets transferred automatically to a high-yield savings account - you’d be amazed at how seamlessly that money gets taken out of one account and starts piling up in another.
6. Round It Up!
At the end of the day or week, keep your regular chequing account at a round number and transfer the extra to your savings.
My chequing account is at 78.00$. To keep it at a ’round’ 70.00$, I’ll transfer 8.00$ to my savings. I won’t even miss it and my savings will slowly grow.
My word of the decade. Getting rid of used or unwanted possessions clears out your home (and your mind). Join your local Buy and Sell group on Facebook, or bring your things to a consignment store to sell them. Every penny you earn should get transferred straight into your savings account.
8. Seek Out Free or Cheaper Alternatives
Take advantage of what’s free out there. I quit my expensive but lovely gym and started working out at home, going for (even more) hikes and doing Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. Use your library card instead of overindulging at the local bookstore. Buy generic brands for staple food/household items that are almost always just as good as name brands: salt, flour, pasta sauce, yogurt, sour cream, sugar, baking soda/powder, canned beans, rice, cleaning supplies, medicine, etc.).
9. Pay With Cash Only
If you have difficulty curbing your shopping habits, leave your visa at home. There's a reason that paying with cash feels more ‘real’ and hard-hitting - you're paying with real currency as opposed to credit. Credit is not currency and you are much less likely to spend when using cold hard cash. Or alternatively…
10. Pay With Credit To Accumulate Points
If you’re good with not overspending with your credit cards, charge everything to them so that you can earn points towards free flights, car rentals and more. This only works if you can pay off your credit cards at the end of each month and avoid paying the exorbitant interest fees. Over the course of a year or so, I had accumulated enough points to earn a free flight to Kauai, Hawai’i; it felt like winning the lottery!
Don’t deprive yourself of simple pleasures or swing to extremes - this will discourage you from consistent, satisfying savings. Psych yourself up by keeping cool pics of your travel destination or new purchase on your computer/phone/fridge. It might be a bummer to quit drinking at your favourite watering hole every Friday night, so keep yourself motivated with photos, Post-Its, quotes… Whatever works.
Good luck! See you out there.
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