Are they all earning salaries in the hundreds of thousands? Did they win the lottery? Well, for some people … yes. But for the rest of us who have managed to save our money even in tight times, you might be surprised at the tricks we use to build up those all-important savings accounts!
Tips for saving your money (even if you don’t have a lot)
(1) Set a goal – My first year of marriage, my husband was the only one working, and his salary for an entry-level job was less than we thought we could live on. But we decided that we were NOT going to end the year with debt. So we set a goal to save 10% every month — no matter how hard it seemed to do that. And drum roll … we made it! (Almost better than sex.)
(2) Create a budget – For me, visions of budgets dance in my head. But I know that not everyone finds them an easy thing. I get that. So here’s a post to help you build a simple budget for yourself:
(3) Find fun ways to save a few extra $$ – Sometimes we forget just how good simple things can be. One of our ways to save money was our “BIG night out”. During the week our meals were homemade, which is a great way to save. But every Saturday night, we treated ourselves to dinner at the local (not fancy-schmancy) pizza place. And we loved it.
I ordered a slice (he had 2), a can of soda with two cups (back when I drank soda), and a share of golden brown fries. And we enjoyed every bit of it. Not just because it was our way of grabbing hold of our future, but because it was actually fun. The way you look at things goes a long way toward having a good time — and saving money without pain. 🙂
(4) Get familiar with your cash flow – In addition to having a budget (plan) for the way you use money, it’s good to have a clear picture of what comes in and what goes out on a month-by month basis.
This will help you get a better handle on where you might find savings, but also where you might get into trouble should an unexpected expense come up. This sample cash flow chart can be used as a template to help you create one for yourself:
(5) Make a commitment to yourself to stick to your budget no matter what – Of course there are times when things no one can predict will put a dent in the best of plans. But I find that if you make this commitment, you will somehow manage to find the savings over time — even if you have absolutely no choice but to step back for a short period of time.
Being aware of and focused on your budget will help keep you on track. And, should uncontrolled events get in the way, a strong commitment to yourself above all other things means you will get back up and try again – and eventually find a way to get to your goals.
Find ways to earn more money
Very early on in my marriage, when finances remained tight, I was having trouble finding a good first job after college. So, despite my degree and whatever dreams I had of that ideal first job, I took some part-time work in a yarn goods department of a well-known department store chain.
When I told them I was moving on, they actually offered me 25 cents an hour more to stay. I politely declined. But funny thing is that it was one of my favorite jobs of all time. (A story for another time.)
Another thing I did to get us extra money was I went on a Game Show. And I won some cash, which I gladly took home with me! (FYI: I rejected or sold the prizes I didn’t want, since you have to pay taxes on your winnings at the same rate as regular income. Ouch!)
Learn your own weak points
Just like on New Year’s Day, it’s easy to set goals. And just as easy to let them slide. So pay close attention to the tricks you use to get yourself to give in to spending more than you need to. And the places where “leaks” happen.
Perhaps you can begin a notebook or even a blog (creating online support) to help you get a handle on what stops you from saving. Or, a little like a diet buddy, you can ask friends and/or family to help you make it.
But you better use a safe word to avoid someone getting hurt when they try to intervene! 🙂
A few more thoughts on saving money
As with anything, saving money is as much a matter of attitude and determination as it is the very real circumstances that can make it so hard. I spoke about the importance of making a strong commitment to yourself. But also key is the way you look at yourself that comes with this commitment.
If you take on this mission (not impossible) with full determination, you can go from a feeling of “I never have money” to “I DESERVE to have money. I will finally make friends with money and welcome it into my life.” May sound hokey, but since I’ve seen it make a difference at least worth giving it a try!