Being financially healthy is just as important as your physical and mental health. It can cause major stress if you are constantly worried about money. Or, if you can’t afford to buy things you need like food or medicine, that can also cause health issues.
Many people struggle each month trying to pay bills and buy things that they need. Saving money can seem like wishful thinking when your living paycheck to paycheck.
However, it’s actually easier than you think with just a few simple changes.
Here are 10 ways to get your money right.
1. Make a budget and stick to it.
Each month add up all your bills and subtract that from all your income and see how much you have left over. This is your money to do with what you please, sorta.
Then you have to consider all your expenses. This is where your budget comes in. Figure out how much money you actually need to spend each week on necessary things like groceries, gas, household items and fun. Decide how much you want to save. Each budget is different, but even saving just $5 is better than nothing.
If you can’t put away any money or you come up negative on your budget, then you need to look at increasing your income and decreasing your expenses. Maybe you can get a second job or maybe you don’t really need cable?
The catch about a budget is, once your spending money is gone, it’s gone. So if you spend all of your fun money in one weekend, then you can’t dip into your savings or use a credit card when you want to go out again. If you spend all your food money on fast food on your lunch breaks, then you’re going to have to eat something from home the rest of the week.
It’s tough, but once you’ve made your budget stick to it. If you end up using credit cards or taking out a loan that eventually will cost you way more than you realize. Keep your savings account where it belongs and your emergency fund for emergencies. And if you don’t have those things then you should make a budget and think about if it’s more important to you to splurge on things now, or save for the future.
2. Plan your meals
This may seem more like a diet tip, but one of the biggest places that people spend money without realizing it is on food. If you go out to eat on your lunch break 5 days a week and spend $7 each day, that’s $35 on lunch. And what about those coffees on the way to work? And when you grabbed dinner with a friend? You can spend your entire weekly budget on food alone if your not careful!
If you plan you meals then your less likely to spend more money than you’d like on food. When you go to the grocery store make sure to know what your plan is you so can buy food for the week. Try buying things like coffee and easy breakfast like bagels and cream cheese, granola bars or instant sandwiches if your need something quick in the morning and then to stop by Starbucks. If lunch at work is your issue, pack a lunch the night before or buy easy to grab meals like ready made salads. Doing just those two things can save you hundreds of dollars.
3. Stop impulse buys
Have you ever been in line at the grocery store and it was taking so long… it’s been such a long day. You’re tired and thirsty. Then, you see there are drinks on sale for a dollar! You might as well grab a couple of them. One for now and one for later. And look, candy bars on sale 2/$1.00! I had a long day so I deserve some chocolate and I gotta get two so I can get the sale.
Hmmm, it may feel like you got a good deal, but in reality you just spent an extra $3 on junk you didn’t need. If you do this multiple times it all adds up. And sometimes the items aren’t so little…
4. Don’t buy things because they are on sale.
Sometimes when you’re out shopping you’ll see a cute shirt and it’s 50% off! Wow, what a deal, right? Many stores put items on 50% off sale every weekend. Or maybe you’re at the grocery store and you see chips on sale if you buy 3 bags, so instead of just buying 1 bag like you intended, you buy 3 and end up spending more overall. But you got a good deal, right?
Sales can be good, but when you see something you don’t really need and justify buying it because it’s on sale, that can be a problem. Beware of buy 1 get one half off deals, or buy more get more off sales. They are trying to get you to buy more of something you don’t really need to get a good price and yes you do get a good deal, but you ultimately spend more. There is a right way to buy things on sale.
Especially if you feel yourself buying the item because it’s on sale, then that’s a sign that you probably don’t really need it and shouldn’t buy it.
5. Do stock up on core items when they go on sale
Sales can be a good thing. When items like toilet paper, soap, paper towels, and other core household items that you’re going to buy again and again anyway go on sale yes, that is a good time to buy them in multiples. Buy as much toilet paper that will fit in your cabinet when it goes on sale. Things like that you will use and you actually save more money when you spend $5 on a big pack verses buying $1 packs with only four small rolls again and again.
Also try buying in bulk. Things like dish soap and some household cleaners can be bought in a large container and refilled. Or buy a value packs, especially if they go on sale. Even things like shampoo and conditioner can be bought in a multi-pack and can be cost effective.
Just beware of perishable items like some food and cleaners. Even if an item will last for a year, if you buy in bulk you might not use it all within a year.
6. Save some money every month, no matter what
It may feel like you can’t save anything but you’ll regret it if you don’t. Even just $5 a week will make you feel good when you look at your saving account and see that you have $100 in there.
Plus you need a safety net. What will you do if you lose your job? What if you can’t work for a few months? What if your car needs repairs? There are so many what ifs… and it’s good to be prepared.
And also think about retirement. Do you want to have to keep working forever? The more money you save now the sooner you can retire and the less likely you are to have to work during your retirement. Yeah, it seems like a really long time away, but if you saved up one million dollars, you could possibly retire at that moment, even if you were only 45. It would just depend on your living expenses and how long you could make the money last.
No matter what motivates you to save money, make sure you do it. You will be glad you did.
7. Open a credit union account
Banks are great but credit unions tend to be better. They typically charge less fees and try to give back more to their customers. They tend to have lower interest rates and help you to get loans or financing. Banks can do all this too, but they also are in it to make a profit. It just depends on which company you choose.
It’s also a good idea to have accounts at more than more place. You can have a checking and savings account at your bank and maybe just a savings account with your credit union. You can even have some money direct deposited into both accounts depending on if your job offers that. It’s also good to have multiple accounts in different places just in case something happens to one of them you’ll have a backup and all of your money won’t be tied up in one place.
8. Pay off your credit cards
One of the best ways to have more money is to pay off your credit cards. Once you do that, your monthly payment is gone and that is one less bill to pay.
If might not seem like your credit card bills are bad, but even if your payment is only $25, that’s $25 every single month that you have to pay. And if you’re only paying the minimum your basically just paying for the interest which means you’ll be paying it for a very long time. If you pay it all off then you don’t have to worry about it anymore and can just save it for emergencies or close the account.
Yes it can seem daunting to pay off your credit cards, but take it one at a time. Start with a small one and just try to make more than the minimum payment and don’t use it. Then when the payment get a little smaller, you might be able to pay it off in one big chunk and then that’s one less bill to pay.
Paying off credit cards will feel freeing and will help your credit score increase. Getting deep into credit card debt can be a very stressful place so take little steps in the right direction now.
9. Make smart choices
One way many people are losing money and not really realizing it is by not making cost effective choices. Sometimes it’s better to buy quality over quantity. Many times buying the store brand is better than buying the name brand. Before making a purchase, do some research on the item and different places that sell it so you can get a good deal and one that is right for you.
Also make sure that you don’t buy into money sucking scams or paying for something that you can get for free or much cheaper. Sure, you can pay for an online book selection through a website, or you can just sign up with your local library and use theirs for free. You can pay someone to tell you how to lose weight, or you can just google it. Why keep buying plastic bottle water when you can buy a water filter or a filtered water bottle for a fraction of the price?
There are so many ways to save money if you just stop and think about it and make sure it’s a smart decision.
10. Decide what really matters to you
Getting your money right is tough and you’re going to have to committed to doing it or it’s not going to work. Having a reason for saving money and not spending money on things you don’t need will definitely make it easier to do so.
If you want to take a vacation, then start saving now so you can spend all that you want when you are on your trip. If you want to buy a house, start saving now so you can buy the house of your dreams when you’re ready. Just want to pay off your credit cards? Start paying a little bit extra to them and think about how nice it will be when they are paid off. Or maybe you just want to be able to go out with your friends one a regular basis and have enough money to treat them once in a while.
Whatever it is for you, whatever reason you want to get your money right, think about it and use it to keep yourself going when your sitting there deciding whether or not to use your credit cards or if you should break into your savings account. Because it’s going to happen and you need to be prepared so make sure you know what really matters to you.