Dreaming of a vacation or saving for that new Kate Spade purse? Or perhaps something bigger such as a new car or a house. What about retirement? With so many things to save for and even more bills to pay, how can you have it all? We have outlined our personal tips to help you plan for financial success.
Assess Your Personal Financial Situation and Pay Yourself First
Spend 30 minutes putting together a monthly budget spreadsheet and be realistic about your finances. Check-in with your budget regularly. After all of your bills have been listed and you have set aside a little extra for those must have luxuries, determine how much you can afford to save and stick to it. If you can switch your mindset of saving into paying yourself first, you are one step closer to forgetting about the money until you need it. Set-up an automated monthly savings plan and transfer your money into a different bank so you won’t regularly see the funds. If you put aside $200 per month, you will have an extra $2400 per year. Bonus!
Save for Your Retirement Early
Yes we have all heard this advice by now, but with fewer companies offering a pension plan and more entrepreneurs starting every day, saving for your retirement early is one of the most important things you can do for your future. Put a minimum of $300 per month into a retirement fund if you can afford it.
Eat Out More for Less
Expensive dinners or lunches out can add up quickly. Challenge yourself to eat at less expensive restaurants and you won’t have to limit yourself as much. (Bonus points if you can avoid eating out altogether!) Try to eat out only twice per week (one lunch and one dinner). Pack your lunches and make dinner at home. If you have a partner or a roommate, try alternating nights cooking in to make it more enjoyable. Bring your coffee in the morning from home and make your second cup at work. If you don’t like the brand your office provides, stock up on your favorite and make that instead. If you still can’t resist your morning Starbucks, skip the fancy coffees and order a basic cup – you won’t just save money, you’ll save on calories too.
Resist the Urge to Splurge
As the seasons change, many of us look forward to a shopping spree and a wardrobe refresh! But, what if you went shopping in your own closet first? Put away your summer clothes and pull out your fall and winter pieces. Challenge yourself to put together 2 weeks’ worth of outfits from your own closet before you go shopping. This will allow you to evaluate what you actually need to purchase. Try not to spend on expensive brand names, and if you must, shop for brand names at discount department stores. Wait until the end of the season to shop and you will get everything on sale for the following year. Look for pieces that can transition from fall into winter or spring into summer to maximize your shopping. Finally, consider shopping online so you can price compare. (Note to self, skip the monthly mani pedis!)
Depending on your morning commute, you might be able to save some money here (and put the savings into your retirement fund). In the summer, could you ride your bike to work? Not only will you save money on gas, but you will also be able to put your monthly gym membership on hold. Using public transportation is another opportunity to save money, particularly if you work in the city. Take a moment to add up how much you are paying for gas and parking each week, compared to a bus pass. Is it worth it?
Take Advantage of Your Credit Card
Contrary to what other financial advice articles suggest, don’t put the plastic away. Sign up for a credit card that rewards you with points you will actually use. Some cards will let you convert your points into money for retirement; other cards offer cash back on groceries or provide travel rewards. At the end of each month, you will be able to track all of your spending on your statement compared to using cash. (Note: if you are not the type of person that will pay off your monthly balance in full, you are better to use cash to track your spending)
Finally, take a moment to really think about why you want to save your money. After all of that hard work each month, wouldn’t it be nice to have something to show for it? Tell someone what you are saving for and get excited about it.
Although I’m not a financial expert, these tips have really helped save my hard earned money. What are your money saving tips? How can we have financial success? Please comment below.
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