Many people are familiar with the elated feeling of relief when the paycheck finally arrives you finally have a freedom no longer confined by an empty bank account. It seems too short lived however, and slight panic might even occur when the money is spent and the next paycheck still hasn’t arrived. This paycheck-to-paycheck style of living can be hard to deal with, and every day you just hope a surprise expense (like new brakes for the car?) does not crop up to suck you clean dry of money. As a college student and young mother I am very acquainted with this lifestyle, but I have also learned a few tricks to make it easier. Even though you might be living paycheck-to-paycheck, there are things you can do to start saving money now so that someday, it won’t just be paycheck-to-paycheck living.
Open a Savings Account
Saving money becomes a lot easier when you have the option of separating it from the regular money you spend. If you don’t see it available in your checking account, then you will be less likely to spend it. Most banks offer savings accounts that generate interest, so just by having your money in there you will be earning money, no matter how small of an amount.
Pay Your Bill
Pay your bill… to yourself! After you have opened up a savings account, determine a dollar amount you can feel comfortable with, no matter how small, and then treat yourself as a regular bill you must pay. When you get that paycheck, immediately pay yourself by putting that money into a savings account, whether it is $1 or $100 or $1000. Every dollar adds up, so be sure to remain consistent with this.
Keep the Change
You know all of those loose quarters in your sofa crevices and pennies under the mat of your car? Keep them. That loose change you got back from the store when you broke a bill? Don’t put it into the tip jar, hold onto it. All of that loose change adds up. Keep it in a jar or piggy bank of some kind, then when it starts to get full (or too heavy to carry if it is large!) roll it up and take it in. Speaking from experience, I have made a few hundred dollars just from change. Don’t discount the change just because it seems small and worthless. Every amount is significant when it comes to saving money.
Manage a Budget
Gather together all of your bills and determine what all of your expenses are within a given time period. Once you have totaled the amount of money spend, look for places to cut back. Often we find that we have things that we think we need, but are not actually necessary for surviving. An example, cable TV. When trying to save money, do you really need cable TV at this point in time? What about cutting down on your phone plan or changing to a basic phone? Also look at cutting down power and gas bills by trying to be more conservative. Cut grocery bills by only buying essentials, in most cases the bags of chips and bottles of juice can be spared in light of trying to save money.
Take Advantage of Freebies
What is an easier way to save money than to not spend money at all? Of course spending money is inevitable for some things, but for others, there are many alternatives that are relatively cheap and even free. The key is to take advantage of these opportunities. In example, getting your hair cut at the local student hair school or college often means getting a free cut. There are also ways to make your own products like soap, shampoo, and even shaving cream to avoid the cost of purchasing them. When going out for fun, opt for going to free events or hanging out at locations that don’t cost anything. Instead of paying expensive gym fees, look for opportunities to exercise around home, outside, or at free classes.
Hold On to Small Bills
Every time you happen to have a $1 or $5 or $10 in cash, throw it into your change jar. This will build up money faster than you would think, not to mention how much extra money it adds to the change jar when you finally go to cash it all in. In most cases, bills this small of a dollar amount won’t make a major difference in helping you budget, but they will make a huge difference in the amount of money you are able to save if you hold on to them instead of spending.
Become a Master of Couponing
Coupons are one of the best ways to save money, and one of the most underused. Even though most people have used a coupon at some point in their life, how many are actually taking time to look through coupons and tailor their shopping lists to match or adjusting their budget? Now, I am not saying to turn into an “extreme coupon-er” that you would see on TV or anything, but taking an extra ten minutes per week to examine the coupons and utilize them while shopping can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. There are also apps for coupons and you might consider joining a mailing list or email list from your local store so they can send you coupons. For extra points, determine how much money you would have spent without the coupons and compare it with what you actually spent, then put the difference into your savings account. Additional to couponing consider shopping consignment or used when the option is available for things you need as you will usually get decent quality for a small fraction of retail price, saving even more money.
If you take a look at your closet, there are guaranteed to be some items that haven’t been thought about, let alone used, in a pretty long time. Go through your old clothes and if they are still in good condition, take them to a thrift or trade in store where they pay you cash for old clothes. There are also consignment stores and pawn shops that you can take items or decorations you no longer use or need or care about so that you can sell them and get cash. Instead of letting your old things collect dust and cobwebs, let them work for you and make some money.
Humans are naturally motivated by tasks that provide incentives, and money saving is no exception. Maybe you want to go on a vacation, maybe you need some new shoes, maybe you want a new car, and maybe you just want to have the recommended 6 months income as backup in case anything were to happen. Whatever it is that you want, figure out the dollar amount it takes to get there so you know exactly what you are trying to save. Having this goal set provides incentive, which is encouraging to help save.
Temptation lies around every corner. For me personally, I am a huge impulse buyer. It is extremely tempting for me to dip into savings for something I want now. For this my suggestion is to stay as strong as you can, because if you can resist the splurge and resist withdrawing money from savings, you will save money a lot faster and reach your ultimate goal sooner. You might even consider that instead of purchasing the item, you put the cost of what that item was into savings because it is money you saved by not buying.
Generate More Income
There are loads of ways to make a little bit of extra money, and more money being brought in means more money that can potentially be put towards savings. There are companies that will pay people to try their products, take surveys, or use their websites. Not all of these pay a lot, but if you did one or two things a week for ten or twenty dollars each, by the end of the month you could have made over a hundred dollars more than what you would have if you hadn’t. Many people also start a side business or choose to work from home in the evenings for online companies and generate money this way. There is also the option of just picking up extra hours at work, asking for a raise, or taking some side jobs like helping someone move or doing yardwork for someone.
…………and can I just mention how much I love my Juicy Couture piggy bank? I highly recommend every princess gets a Frog Prince piggy bank ASAP…………..
Even though it may seem difficult to save money when you feel like you have nothing to start with in the first place, implementing some of these tips will get you on the right track. It is better to start small and build as you go than never start at all, so start saving now!
**This article is one that I initially wrote for a class I was taking, but now that the semester is over and I am graduated, I thought it would be some fun advice to post here too!**