Making and saving enough money in normal circumstances can be a challenge, but it has become increasingly difficult for families worldwide with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many individuals have lost or changed jobs and have had to make financial adjustments.
The good news is that there are several simple things that we can do to work towards putting ourselves into a more comfortable and stable financial situation.
Here is a list of some of the simple ways you can get yourself into a better financial standing without having to stress too much about the details:
1. Work on Creating a New Budget
No one enjoys the word "budget," but this is necessary for making sensible financial changes to your daily expenses. Whether you had a budget before this year or not, it is a great time to readdress it and make some changes.
Make a list of your current expenses that you pay for and come up with your monthly total. Then compare those expenses to your current monthly income. This will be a great way to see if there are things you may be able to cut back on or eliminate.
Bonus Tip: Take It Day By Day
Be sure to include things like that daily Starbucks budget that can add up quickly! If you get that Grande Caramel Macchiato each morning on the way to work, that’s $4.45 a day, or $22.25 a week. That coffee adventure will end up costing you an extra $90 a month before tax!
2. Create a Savings Plan and Goal
It is easy to start the saving process, but what are your savings goals? Setting goals will help you develop that budget for how much money needs to be put away from each paycheck. $10? $100?
It will all depend upon the other factors that we discussed above. Once you have this plan in place, it will be enriching to see that savings build up over time!
Bonus Tip: Set a Goal Through Your Bank
Several banks allow you to set savings goals right in their banking app. Some banks, such a Dobot, even allow you to set group savings goals, which is perfect for planning a wedding or family vacation.
3. Minimize Your Expenses
Now that we addressed your coffee price, do you need to grab that Starbucks every day? Could you possibly make coffee at home and only have the Macchiato as a treat once a week? If the answer is yes, then you just made a simple change to your budget!
Look over your purchases to see if there are things that may not be a necessity right now. We tend to make some of these purchases without realizing this could be money that should have gone into a saving or investing account instead.
Bonus Tip: Try a Bill Negotiation Service
Billshark and Trim are both apps that monitor your spending and work behind the scenes to negotiate lower prices. These services can lower your phone, internet, and even cable bills. Trim can even negotiate lower APRs on bank fees.
4. Save Without Thinking
When we know that we have extra cash in our pockets, we tend to spend it. So, the easiest way to save money is to not think about it.
There are ways to set up your accounts to transfer money into savings automatically. It does not have to be an exorbitant amount, but it should be something that you can afford to forget was even there at all.
If you don't feel that this will work for you, several apps have been developed that will assist you in savings! Some of these apps include Acorns, Simple, and Qapital. They also have investment options, should you choose to make a little extra money on the dollar.
Bonus Tip: Join Coupon Codes App Honey
Stop searching for coupon codes with one click; the Honey toolbar will automatically apply discount codes to your cart, saving you money on checkout. It only takes two clicks to add Honey to Chrome, Safari, or Firefox and start saving money without thinking.
5. Plan Your Weekly Purchases
It can be effortless to forget that grocery budget when you are hungry and go through the grocery store's aisles—shopping while hungry is a quick way to accidentally spend the extra cash that could have gone towards other necessities and savings.
Be sure to make a list based upon your budget and necessities, and stick to it when shopping. This process should follow all forms of necessity shopping to ensure that you do not go over your budget.
The best part about planning your shopping is the opportunity to clip coupons, comparison shop, and even purchase discounted store gift cards on sites like Gift Card Granny or Raise.
Bonus Tip: Use Receipt-Scanning Apps
Apps such as iBotta and Fetch Rewards stack with coupons and discounted gift cards, increasing the amount of money you can save shopping.
6. Switch to Generic
This is a simple one that we tend to forget! Those name brand products we purchase are known to come with an additional cost.
By switching food, necessities, and other items to the generic or store brand, you can save quite a bit of cash! The differences between the name brand and generic are relatively minimal for most items, so give these a shot and keep track of how much money you can save.
Bonus Tip: Buy Quality Generic Beauty Products
Looking to go off-brand to save some cash, but worried generic products might not be the same quality? Well, good news, there is an app for that! Brandefy helps beauty enthusiasts find the best beauty products by bringing awareness to less expensive, but similarly performing, alternatives.
7. Quality Over Quantity
While the generic brand may work well for things like food and toilet paper, it may not be the best option for other items.
For example, if you are working an office job that requires that you buy a specific wardrobe, you may want to get some better-quality items. Clothing that will get excessive use will last longer if you purchase quality items. By doing so, this will save you more money in the long run. Think long term investment!
Bonus Tip: Consider a Work Uniform or Capsule Wardrobe
A work uniform created from a capsule wardrobe can save you money by not having to go out and buy new pieces all the time because you already have a set you are confident about. This way, you also don't forget about the clothes you have and aren't tempted to buy more because you know what you have.
8. Maintain Your Home and Vehicles
Vehicle and home repair can be a costly surprise if you do not maintain their upkeep. For example, an oil change in your car can cost approximately $35-65+, depending on the type you get. Not getting regular oil changes on time in your vehicle can start to affect your engine and cause it to overheat. If you end up having to have work done to fix your engine, you are looking at an estimated $3,000-$4,000!
This same concept can go for multiple aspects of your vehicle and home. Be sure to keep a list of regular maintenance that needs to be done and do it timely. Timely care will help to avoid any expensive surprises.
Bonus Tip: Use Handy for Home Repairs
Don't let small projects turn into extensive repairs because you can't get to them in time. Instead, hire a handyman with Handy. Handy is the quickest, most reliable way to book service providers. In just a few minutes, you can book a pre-approved cleaner or handyman.
9. Dine In Instead of Eating Out
Have you ever tallied up how much you spend on dining out each month or how much you spend on ordering take out? It can certainly add up quickly if you do not pay attention!
When dining out, the average meal will cost around $13 per person, as appealing as it can be. If there are two of you, you are looking at a minimum of $26 plus tip. If you eat out or order out twice a week, that is an extra $210+ per month!
If you were to cook a meal at home, that would cost approximately $4 per person at the grocery cost. That is quite the difference! Consider reserving those fun trips to the restaurant for special occasions, or only going once or twice a month.
Bonus Tip: Become a SuperCook
One challenge to cooking at home is finding recipe ideas. However, an even more significant challenge is finding recipe ideas to use the ingredients you already have at home. Luckily, there is an app for that too! SuperCook searches popular websites to find recipes for the items you have on hand, saving you money and reducing food waste.
10. Consolidate Debt
Not everyone has debt, but with the current state of the world, many individuals do. Consider looking into ways to consolidate debt and lower those monthly payments.
The faster you eliminate debt, the more you will invest in your savings and your future. There are multiple different options for you to investigate to consolidate and lower interest percentage rates.
Bonus Tip: Get A Debt Consolidation Loan
Do you find you agonize about deciding what debt to pay first? Do you wonder if you should try debt snowball or the debt available? There are plenty of loan providers that can help you decide and plan with a debt consolidation loan.
The Bottom Line
No matter which point you decide to start with, you cannot go wrong with making any of the changes mentioned above. If you only want to make some small changes, to begin with, that is okay too. Best of luck to you on your new simple savings plans!