You know the basics of saving money – spend less than you earn. But how can you do it and stay motivated?
Sticking to a budget and putting the extra aside doesn’t need to be bland and boring. Try these snazzy saving hacks.
Thanks to technology, it's never been easier to compare what you’re spending with what you’re earning. There’s a world of apps and online budget planning tools out there that can help you easily see what you’re spending your money on – they even connect to your bank account to collect all those little wave-and-go items that you pick up.
One of the most highly recommended (and free) is Pocketbook. Another good app is Mint. There are many others, but it's worth noting - because we’re talking about budgets after all - that not all of them are free. But, if you like playing with apps on your phone, then a tool like this could make saving money fun.
If the very word ‘budget’ makes you break out in a sweat, perhaps the anti-budget is more your style. The anti-budget works by taking out your essentials and savings first, leaving the rest of your pay for guilt (and math) free spending. How?
First, set up a payday auto-debit for all the essentials like your mortgage or rent, insurance payments, car loans, and any fixed-amount monthly bills. Now, work how much you’d like to regularly put aside for savings and have that amount auto-debited to a separate savings account used only for this purpose.
Once your fixed costs are automatically taken out of your account (and out of your control), whatever is left is yours to spend on anything you choose. So it feels like you're not really on a budget at all. Except you are. Clever.
It's old-fashioned, but in the world of swipe and pay, the envelope method is a tried and tested money saving tip. It lets you literally see your money and how you spend it.
Work out how much you will need for various costs during the month, like fuel, food, and so on. Write each amount on the front of an envelope, put that amount in there and then that's all you can spend on that item for that month. Once the $100 in the clothes envelope is spent, it's spent.
These handy little sticky papers can be used to give you a number of ways to help you save money and keep your budget in check.
A super-popular way to save money, the 52-week challenge involves putting away an increasing amount each week, starting with a dollar in week one, $2 in the second week, $3 in week three, and so on. If you make it all the way to 52 weeks, you’ll have a tidy $1,378 saved by the end of the year.
Some people like to write all the numbers down and draw them out of a hat, just to add to the element of surprise. Others have flipped it around so that in week one you save $52 when you know you’ll have the money for it, that is, not right before Christmas. Whatever works for you, do it.
Another tried (but true) money saving tip is to find the motivation. It could be a trip overseas, paying off a credit card or building a sizeable nest egg. Work out what you need to achieve, how much you need to save and by when. Then that's your goal.
Stick a picture of that holiday dream on your computer or wall, or create a chart to hang up so you can mark off each little step you make towards reaching your goal.