Saving money isn’t easy, but some financial situations make saving money significantly more difficult than others. No matter how frugal you are (or aren’t), putting money back is always possible. The trick is to start exactly where you’re at–and don’t delay.
Even if you’re not able to put money back every month, look around. Assess all of the ways you could cut costs. Pay extra close attention to when and how you splurge. Where does most of your money go? It’s time to cut back where you can.
For a while, money may be very tight. But by being consistently strict with your budget, you’ll start saving. If you stick with it, you’ll be in a more stable financial place than before, and you can grow your savings from there.
Here are 11 great ways to start saving money when there’s no immediate room in the budget.
Go With a Fee Free Banking Account
In recent years, overdraft fees have seemingly skyrocketed. But they’ve always been pretty high. If you’re looking to save money and dodge financially detrimental bank fees, it might be time to make the switch to a fee-free banking account. If you sometimes find yourself in the negative, it’ll be a worthy switch to ditch the overdraft fees alone.
To get you started, check out this helpful roundup of great fee-free bank accounts, compliments of The Penny Hoarder.
Cancel All Unnecessary Subscriptions
You might think you’ve already canceled every unnecessary subscription you’ve ever had. But you could be wrong. Frankly, many subscription services can be downright sneaky when it comes to keeping your business, especially when your payments are automated. But it’s certainly not just on those providing the service.
Think back. Have you signed up for any free trials that have now run their course? Comb through your bank statements and see if there are any recurring payments you don’t recognize. “Two-thirds of consumers admit to forgetting about at least one recurring payment they’ve signed up for in the last year,” per CNBC.
Ultimately, even if you think you’ve left no subscription uncancelled, double-check. In the end, you could save some hard-earned money that you didn’t even realize you were still spending.
Get a Lower Interest Rate
Credit cards have been getting people into money trouble from the start. These days, credit card debt is a crippling financial burden for millions of people. And it’s easy to make mistakes with credit cards, especially for first-timers. But the biggest problems tend to be tied to interest rates, obviously.
Interest rates can have a way of rapidly and steadily rising before you realize you’re in over your head. So once credit card companies tack them on, you’ve got a well-known recipe for financial strain, anxiety, stress, and all too often, the feeling that you keep digging a financial hole deeper simply by trying to pay the debt down in a timely manner. And credit card companies are not exactly sympathetic about it.
If you’re struggling with credit card debt, getting a lower interest rate could be an immediate game changer. It’s a simple and effective solution that should always be considered. As noted by Bankrate, “a lower interest rate can ensure you pay less in interest over time, so it’s worth asking. You may even be able to qualify for a 0 percent APR on a credit card for a limited time, although you’ll typically need good or excellent credit to qualify for that type of offer.”
Know The Best Place to Stash Money
Knowing the best (and the worst) places to keep your money can make a huge difference in how much you manage to save. Keeping it in a shoe box under your bed is asking for trouble. But putting it into a basic savings account might not be enough.
It’s important to consider various options that yield interests and/or returns. If you can get your savings to grow, why wouldn’t you? Look into high-yield savings accounts if you want money you can reach in a bind. You’ll have easy access while earning interest. Here’s a list of some of the best high-yield savings accounts from NerdWallet.
If you’re looking to invest, familiarize yourself with stocks and bonds. Even if you don’t feel you’re in a position to invest, investing apps like Acorn, Stash, and Robinhood are designed with budding (and budgeting) investors in mind.
Invest in a Home Energy Audit
To free up space in a household budget, getting utility bills under control is often essential. You may want to consider an energy audit. By doing a thorough energy usage assessment, you’ll be able to start living in your house more efficiently. Also, you’ll be to figure out how energy efficient (or draining) your appliances are.
While many utility companies offer this service for free, even those often come with a catch. You may get talked into the latest products or services, but you’ll have the information you need moving forward. You could also take the alternative route: do an energy audit yourself.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some simple DIY measures from The Penny Hoarder. Plus, I bet if you went around your house searching for the things that suck up the most energy, you wouldn’t need a trained professional to identify them for you. If we really think about it, we all know where our energy goes. So start evaluating your surroundings to distinguish between your energy-savers and those pesky energy-suckers.
Stick to the Shopping List
We’ve all heard that it’s a bad idea to go grocery shopping when hungry. Roaming through each aisle, our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs. And our wallets often pay the price. For this reason and countless others, it helps to have a shopping list.
Make a shopping list and stay as close to it as you can. Build weekly meal plans that help you build a list that both reflects the things you need and how much your grocery trip is going to cost.
Keep your shopping list in a place that works best for you. To avoid misplacing, your phone’s notes app might be one of your safest options. If there are other people in your household, make it a shared note. Having everyone on the same page can also help you stick to the list.
Don’t Ignore Price Match Policies
If you still haven’t looked into price-match policies, you’ve probably been missing out on your fair share of savings. But there’s no time like the present to change the way you shop.
“Price matching refers to matching a lower product price from a store in the competitive market. For example, a retail store that sells you the same product for a lower price,” per Prisync.
This strategy allows companies to save time, make money, and keep customers from going to another store for a better deal. In addition, if an item you’ve bought drops in price within a designated timeframe, most businesses offer a refund for the difference.
Here are some of the best price drop apps that send alerts and track need-to-know price changes.
Shop Locally (and Seasonally)
It might surprise you just how much you can save by shopping for produce at your local farmers’ market rather than the nearest grocery chain. Not only will you be saving while shopping, but you’ll also be contributing to your community’s economy and supporting local businesses.
Even if you don’t have a farmers market nearby (or you don’t like farmers’ markets that much), you can shop seasonally in the grocery store. Do a little research, and you’ll find tons of roundups of the best times of year to buy various fruits, vegetables, meats, and more.
Check Out Other Grocery Stores
If you want to start saving right now, immediate changes will need to be made. In addition to certain sacrifices, you’ll need to keep an open mind. When it comes to your spending routines and habits, you might be more stuck in your ways than you can see right now.
For instance, we all have our favorite grocery stores. And that kind of loyalty is hard to break. But there could be some hidden value in shopping around, especially if you’ve been going to the same grocery store for years. Get out there and see what other stores truly have to offer.
Don’t Forget The 30-Day-Rule
Impulse purchases can really put a dent in our budget, no matter how well we might’ve been doing. That’s why it’s key to take a moment’s pause and decide if it’s really worth the money. There’s no exact timeline for how long you should wait before you buy whatever is in your shopping cart. However, there’s no harm in stepping away before you buy something you can’t actually afford.
If you’re trying to save, it’s time to pace yourself. Put the potential purchase out of your mind. Make a note or set an alarm on your phone that lets you know when to check it. Whether you buy it or not, you’ll return with a clearer head, and if you still want it, you can still buy it at the end of those 30 days.
Track Your Spending
This saving tip might seem like the most obvious, but it’s one of the most useful things to do for those serious about saving. If you want to save money but you’re still waiting on that raise, it’s time to know where your money goes, where it’s been going, and do something proactive about it.
Start by looking at your money spent over the past few months. See what patterns you notice, if any. At first, this might feel like a daunting task. Or it might seem unnecessary. The reality is, you may not like what you discover about your spending habits. But you need to be prepared to face your financial reality if you really want to improve it.
Ultimately, being fully aware of your money habits can help you develop better ones. With a few constructive, strategic tweaks to your typical spending routine and tendencies, you’ll likely save way more than you thought was possible on your current budget.