You can have the best intentions but, when it comes to saving, even the best of intentions can be swayed by poor money habits. Even if you have the most sophisticated budget in the world, it can be crushed if you don’t change the way you spend your money.
Instead of focusing on the big picture, focus on changing small habits within your financial life. This is the absolute key to making saving easy. By focusing on the little expenses that are leaking money out of your bank account daily, you will notice a big change come the end of the month. Once you find out where you can change, start trying to change your habits. Here are a few you may want to consider changing:
Set up an automatic transfer
This is one of the easiest habits to adopt. Many banks offer an automatic transfer from checking to savings. My bank, Wells Fargo, offers a “Way 2 Save” option. Every time I swipe my debit card, $1 goes into savings. After a while, these $1 deposits add up. In addition to that, every time I get paid 10 percent of my check goes into savings. I simply pretend like the money isn’t there (unless there is an emergency) and it stacks up pretty quickly.
Make up a mantra and stick to it
Pinpoint something within your spending habits or finances that you want to change. Once you have done that, figure out a way to stick to it. For instance, you may have a credit card bill that needs to be paid off, but you spend $10 everyday for lunch. That is an additional $50 you could be putting towards your bill. Write something like “No spending on entertainment until my Visa bill is paid in full” and put it on your wall or make it your background on your phone. This will help remind you of your goals.
Don’t pay for the name
Many people don’t realize how much buying the store brand products can save you. If you compare the prices, you could be saving quite a bit of money to buy the same thing (without the name).
Stop wasting money
This seems like a “duh” point, but really, stop wasting money. This means stop buying things that you don’t need. Don’t play the lottery. Don’t stop and buy a soda at the gas station when you have 20 in your refrigerator at home.
Vow to pay on time
Stop paying late fees and just pay the bill on time. If you avoid late payments, you can save quite a bit of money (late fees are generally $25 or more). By paying your bills on time, your credit should also see an increase.
Use your ATM
Tons of people waste money every month by using the ATM. Though you would think getting your money would be free, many people use out-of-network ATMs, which come with a fee. If you use an out-of-network ATM often, your fees can stack up quickly and that is money you could be saving!
Share your goals
My best friend and I make sure we let one another know when we have a new savings goal. This keeps your friend from asking you to do things that will cost you money and it will also provide someone that will help hold you accountable to the goal you’ve set for yourself.
This one is pretty key! Making lists with your savings goals (both short and long term) will help you reach them, but other lists will help you as well. When you go to the store, make a list and commit to it. Both of these lists will help you reach your savings goal in no time (and help you cut down on buying things you don’t really need).
Work on one habit at a time. If you try to focus on more than one habit at once, it won’t likely pan out the way you want it to. Also, it takes about 21 days to completely change a habit. Don’t expect your spending habits (or your bank account) to change overnight, but don’t put off spending any longer either. Make your goals and put your plans into action! Happy saving.
Do you have a savings plan that has worked for you? What habits have you had to change?
Photo: Flickr: Tax Credits