We know how it is. The idea of saving money these days can often be more fantasy than reality for a lot of people. We live our lives, do the things we want to do (keeping everything within reason), and still, the end of the month rolls around and there’s nothing left over. And the problem with us human beings is that we’re always wanting more—a car, a home, a pet, an indulgence… It’s just our nature. So how can we make these circumstances peacefully coexist? How can we start with limited funds and still do the things in life that we want or need to do? Well, it’s not exactly magic, but it can be done. So, let’s get our pencils sharpened.
Scrimp or Save—The other SOS
We probably don’t need to tell you that putting a little money away on a regular basis is a good idea. It’s not just about having funds for things you want; it’s about having money for the things you need, including unexpected expenses—because life is full of those kinds of things. But when people start talking about saving money, many start to envision extreme austerity measures like cutting back on food, and learning to do without things that make you happy in life.
We’re here to tell you that doesn’t have to be the case. Finding ways to save just a little bit here and there on a regular basis, and putting that money aside, can be a very effective way to avoid the kind of lifestyle-altering scrimping that many people fear, and can even break you out of the cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck.
Start a fund
The first step is to have a bucket to start dropping your nickels and dimes into. Metaphorically speaking. Set up a savings account that allows you to easily and regularly make small deposits and get used to thinking of it as a one-way street—you only put money in. This is not usable money until you need (or really, really want) it to be.
Find the credit union nearest you to open a savings account (credit unions often have higher saving rates and lower fees compared to other financial institutions). Once you’ve got a trusted place to put it, and a mindset of regularly adding to it, you may be pleasantly surprised as you watch that balance grow month after month.
If you want your property to look a little nicer, you don’t go after it with a chainsaw. You do some pruning. The same goes for adjusting your expenses. You don’t need to start fasting regularly or selling off your stuff. You just need to do a little financial pruning, Look through your monthly expenses and see the kinds of things you could adjust, if only so slightly. How many streaming services do you have versus how many do you actually use? How often are you going out for, or picking up food when there are leftovers in the fridge? Can you save a little by buying in bulk, or by sacrificing big name brands for generics?
Put it away
The key to all this is finding your little savings, then putting that money aside. And keeping at it. There are even apps that can help you do this in a variety of ways from automating specific types of saving algorithms to automated rounding solutions for under-the-radar saving (Chime, Qapital & Digit are just a few). Whatever your method, if you’re good about it, you’ll be amazed at how quickly a dollar saved here and there turns into a nice, reliable emergency fund, a car repair fund, or hey, even a vacation fund.