How to Save Money When You're Broke
April 26, 2016 / Sara Davis / Save Money for My Future
Saving money doesn't just happen overnight, especially when you're not accustomed to doing it.
Even though it can be difficult, it's important that you make putting money aside a regular practice. Luckily, there are some tricks many adults use when trying to save money that could work for you.
Make a budget, and actually follow it
You’ve heard this advice a million times, but this time you are going to need to stick to it. How can you plan for what to spend if you don’t have a budget? Just winging it paycheck to paycheck is no way to make sure money stays in your bank account.
Give yourself goals when you budget: 10 percent this week; 20 percent next week. Whatever makes you comfortable, but just as long as you are spending less money than you are making.
Cash runs out, credit does not
A simple way of tackling your day-to-day spending is to pay in cash. And if you don’t carry cash, maybe it’s time you started. After setting your budget you will have allotted for your purchases, so pay for those with cash. Obviously your bills will not be paid with paper, but when you go to the store don’t even bring your plastic. Take the amount of cash you need and you won’t even allow yourself to go over. Call it cheating if you want, but if not having the option to spend is the only way to keep money in your bank, then cheat away.
Choose A Monitoring Tool
To begin, you'll need to determine what tools you're going to use, the simplest might be a pen and paper.
Even just a spreadsheet with a few equations can make a big difference.
But if you want something more involved, there are plenty of apps that can help.
According to DailyWorth, Mint is a great choice, especially for someone whose primary payment method is a credit or debit card. This free app will keep track of all of your accounts in real time. You can also enter cash purchases if you need to keep track of those, too. Plus, the app will give you alerts when you have low balances in your account or when you go over budget.
Other apps, like Mvelope and GoodBudget will help you stick to a budget and monitor your cash flow.
Do A Weekly Challenge
The American Grandparents Association listed a couple of challenges that'll boost your savings significantly. Choose which one you want to do based on whether you want to start out slow or fast.
In the first one, you'll start out slow. The first week of the month, set aside $1. The second, $2, and so on. At the end of the month, you'll have saved $10.
You can then choose to either start again at $1 the following month, or keep it going by increasing it by a $1 again & paying yourself $5 on the first week.
The second challenge starts out big and goes down. On the first week of January, set aside $52. In the second week, $51. On the last week of the year, you'll set aside only $1, but that dollar will bring your total savings that year to $1,378 - not a bad goal.
Round Up Your Purchases
It's pretty rare that a purchase you make will come out to a perfect dollar amount.
Next time you make a purchase, take a look at the change after the decimal point and figure out how much it'll take to round it up to the next dollar amount.
For instance, if you buy something that costs $6.12, it would take 88 cents to get to $7 even. Direct that 88 cents to your savings account right away.
There are even apps and services your bank will offer that will automatically perform this for you.
It may not be much, but once you get into the habit of doing this for every purchase, you'll start to see it add up.
Stash Your Savings
Are you a bargain hunter or a coupon clipper?
That's a good start to saving money, but spending the extra few bucks you saved on something else isn't doing much for your financial situation. Next time you lower the cost of a purchase using coupons and deals, figure out how much you would have spent if they weren't on sale. Some stores will even print this amount at the bottom of your receipt.
Once you've determined the amount, transfer it straight into your savings account.
Get A Change Jar
Putting coins in a change jar might be the most old-fashioned way to save money, but it's effective. Every time you get change back from a purchase, put the change into the jar and don't touch it.
When it's full, bring it to the bank and put it into your savings account. Boost your savings even quicker by always paying with the highest bill in your wallet.
Don't Spend The Raise
Getting a bonus or a raise at work can feel rewarding and might tempt you to spend it right away.
Instead of getting carried away with your spending, re-route that money directly to a savings account. It's money you're not used to having, so you won't miss it anyway.
Saving it can bolster your finances in a big way, and your future self will be glad you didn't spend it right away frivolously.
Eliminate The Exemptions
Now that tax season is over, most people don't want to think about filing until next year.
But paying attention to what your W-4 says now can affect how much your return will be next year. The Simple Dollar pointed out that by adjusting your exemptions, you can determine how much you'll get back every year.
You have to file your taxes every year so the government makes sure it is taking a fair amount from you. If you owe money, it means you weren't taxed heavily enough, and that check you write makes up for that amount. If you get a refund, it's the government's way of paying you back for overcharging you throughout the year.
The Simple Dollar pointed out that the fewer exemptions you claim on your W-4, the higher return you'll get, because you'll have paid more taxes than you should throughout the year.
Do this now, and when you get your return next spring, put it directly into a savings account or put it toward a purchase you've saved up for throughout the year.
When you begin your journey of financial discovery, be sure you are committed. Get Rich Slowly noted that keeping track of your spending for a whole month can be difficult to commit to, and not because it’s tedious. Rather, it can be emotionally difficult to actively record every purchase you’re making and calculate the money that won’t go into savings.
It’s important not to look at your results negatively.
What you discover might not be encouraging, but finding out where you are being frivolous or in which areas you can improve can be a great starting point to begin working toward better financial stability.
Once you start realizing where your money is actually going, instead of dreading to even check your bank account, you realize how easy it is to start saving.
You’ll see what you can afford to cut back on and what is truly important and necessary.