By: Lidia Staron
Do you struggle at saving money?
If your answer is yes, you are not alone.
45% of American people have nothing saved for their retirement while 38% don’t actively save for it at all.
If you want to be more financially smarter, taking the baby steps is the key. Here are seven effective ways to boost your savings:
- Drive less.
Did you know that an average driver buys about 11 gallons of gas a week? That’s equivalent to $1,400 a year. Now what if you can put at least half of that money in your bank account?
Every time you get in your car, you’re spending money on gas and your car is depreciating, getting closer to needing repairs. It may be impossible to get rid of your car altogether, but there are simple things you can do to reduce your expenses.
For example, if you drive daily to go to work, look for the shortest route to your destination. If you have errands to make, plan your trip ahead so you get more done in one trip. Drive when the traffic is light so you don’t waste time and gas. Consider commuting to work if traffic is always an issue. Turn on the AC or heater only when needed and make sure your tires are properly inflated and your engine is regularly maintained.
Cycling does not only leave you feeling refreshed, it can save you money too. What’s more, you won’t have to pay parking fees! Heading to the grocery? Consider walking if it isn’t too far. It’s a great workout that saves you some cash too.
These are small sacrifices, but they can add up and lead to bigger savings over time.
- Downsize your home.
The biggest house isn’t always the best house. The bigger your home is, the higher your expenses will be. If on average, you spend $250 on gas and electricity for a 2,000-sq. ft. home, you’re paying 0.12c per square foot for utilities. By moving to a 1,000-sq. ft. house, you can save half of the bill, at 0.06c per square foot. That’s a total savings of $1,500 per year. Add this to a couple more hundreds of dollars for home repair and maintenance.
Not only does downsizing and decluttering can help save you money. It can also make your life happier and stress-free. Think about having a smaller space to clean and maintain.
Got a bunch of stuff you haven’t used for a long time? Sell them on eBay and up your savings even more.
- Cook more often.
It’s pretty obvious that cooking your own food at home is cheaper than eating at restaurants. But how much exactly can you save?
According to the latest report by the USDA, restaurant purchases this year is 2.5% higher than last year while food-at-home only increased by 0.4%. The inflation for grocery store foods has remained minimal over the past years as many food-at-home items like pork, dairy products, and seafood have decreased in prices.
Limit dining out. Not only will you save money, you also get to choose healthier options and eat whole foods that contain less salt, sugar and other preservatives.
- Get rid of your data plan.
According to statistics, Americans spend $120 and $148 per month on their cell phone plans. Unless you work from home, it’s a great idea to get rid of your data plan and access the internet through free Wi-Fi hotspots, which are widely available in public places especially if you use your phone internet mainly for leisure.
If ditching your data plan isn’t possible, check if you can downgrade it to a cheaper package. Many people subscribe to expensive data plans they don’t need, which leave them in a difficult financial situation later.
To save even more, consider downloading apps that let call and text for free. These include Skype, Viber, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp.
- Pay your bills on time.
Another way to boost your savings is to pay your dues on time. Many people choose to pay only the minimum charges in their monthly credit card bills. This might seem convenient but your debt could pile up and becomes hard to manage over time. Do track your personal loans and credits and make sure you pay on time too to avoid penalties.
- Find a housemate.
Young adults struggle with home ownership these days. In fact, only less than half of millennials will have their own home by the age of 30, according to a study.
If you live alone, it won’t make sense to rent a huge apartment. House sharing is a cheaper alternative for people who can’t buy a house just yet, working at a different location or state, or don’t want to live with their parents. When you live in a house with people you like (such as your friends or co-workers), you get to split the bills and rent. Choose a home or apartment where you can have your own room and share common areas like the living room and kitchen to others.
- Axe the big vacations.
You need not go to Maldives for an extraordinary beach experience if you can’t afford it yet. There are so many vacation spots in the country that cost way less than international trips.
If you love to travel, consider offseason travels. Book your flights and accommodations early on and take time to avail of discounts. Find a decent and affordable hotel or apartment, and research on the budget-friendly restaurants in that area.
Think about the times you spent without a budget, your lack of investments, bills unpaid on time, and the expensive purchases you’ve made in the last couple of years. Think about your monthly rent at an upscale apartment, the luxury car you just bought, and your yearly travel abroad.
I’m not saying you let go of all these comforts. You only live once (YOLO), they say. But saving up for retirement should be one of your long-term goals. Because there will come a time when even the strongest person in the world would be unable to work and earn a living.
With these little sacrifices, you can go a long way towards achieving your financial goals and making your future even brighter.
About Lidia Staron
Lidia Staron is a part of Content and Marketing team at opencashadvance.com. She contributes articles about the role of finance in the strategic-planning and decision-making process. You can find really professional insights in her writings.