A few weeks back I shared my experiences on how I budget my finances on a freelance writing income.
While I still have some challenges and hurdles to overcome, I am learning how to become a better saver. I have learned to become a less impulsive spender and I often consider what my financial status may be like in the next 30 plus years.
One of the basics to saving is to obviously spend less, but creating a budget and knowing where your money is going on a monthly basis is extremely important. Whether you create your own personalized spreadsheet, or prefer to use tools like Mint.com, it's a must to write down where you spend your money. You just may be surprised to find out you're spending way too much on restaurants and eating out, or discover you're not saving enough compared to how much you're spending. (The general rule suggested by money experts is to save 20 percent of your income.)
Here are some tips to help you become a better saver.
Pay Yourself First
Always make sure you think about your financial stability first. Take a portion of your paycheck and use the automated direct deposit feature to transfer it into a savings account. Direct deposit is the better option to deter from temptation of spending money.
Keep a Budget
We've all heard money experts advise keeping a budget. This is to track where you're spending and how you can curb those habits.
You may not be aware you're spending $500 a month on eating out. Track your spending and then try to cut corners in one area where you're spending too much money.
Set a Realistic Goal
If you’re disciplined enough to save money consistently on a monthly basis, start off with a small budget. Don’t feel like you have to put off saving because there isn’t enough money.
Saving $500 per month may not be in your budget, but $100 is. After saving those small increments, increase the amount of money you're saving.
As a rule, you should be saving 20% of your take-home pay. It’s a good idea to set up alerts as a reminder to stay on top of your savings goals.
Shop Online for Rates
Comparison shop for the best and highest interest rates online. You want your hard earned money to work for you and mature in the meantime.
The new InterestPlus Savings account offered by Capital One is a good example because it offers an above-average interest rate, along with receiving a 10% bonus quarterly.
Wait 24 Hours
This tip relates back to impulse shopping and frivolous spending habits. If you’re out shopping and thinking about making a purchase, walk away from the items and give yourself 24 hours to cool off.
If you feel after this time has passed that you still want the item then go back and buy it. Some will be more inclined not to buy anything after walking away. This is a good way to train yourself to curb away from impulse buying.
After receiving any excess cash such as tax refunds, bonuses, gifts or any additional income, deposit it into your savings account before you get the urge to spend it.
Change to Spare
Every time you break a bill and get change back, put it in a jar to act as a piggy bank. When the jar is full, take it to the bank and deposit it. Some banks offer free coin counting machines which alleviates the task of counting coins on the dining room table.
Sacrifice and brown bag your lunch to work several times a week. Whatever amount you usually spend on coffee or a meal at a restaurant during lunch, throw it into your savings account. You could potentially save hundreds to thousands of dollars annually.
Kaia Zawadi is a professional freelance journalist/writer/editor. She regularly writes stories about banking and personal finance for MyBankTracker.com.