Growing your savings doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. Just like any project, when you break it into little chunks, the end result starts to seem a lot more achievable. The same goes for saving — when you tackle small changes to your spending, you will start to see your savings grow. Follow these seven easy steps and you’ll start saving instantly.
1. Plan before a grocery trip
How many times have you made a trip to the grocery store for a carton of milk and eggs, but found yourself leaving with the milk, a large bag of Doritos, and a 12-pack of cinnamon buns? Oh, and you forgot the eggs. It’s okay, it happens to the best of us.
That’s why making a grocery list before heading out to the store will save you from spending on impulse purchases and help you remember the essentials. Preparing before a grocery trip — checking your fridge and pantry, making a list of items you need for the meals you plan to cook, and checking for any coupons or discounts at your favorite stores — will help you save tens of dollars each month.
2. Set an eating-out budget each month
Going for the double cheeseburger combo twice a week at lunch breaks can be tempting, but it quickly adds onto your spending. Eating out every day will dwindle your savings, so a good way to cut back on eating out expenditures is to plan your meals out for social events, and bring lunch for work shifts.
According to USA Today, the average American spends 4.2% of their gross income on eating out a year. Using this as a benchmark for your budget, don’t forget to account for taxes and tips when eating out. And yes, delivery pizza counts as eating out too.
3. Set up automatic bill payments and transfers
Forget relying on memory when you can set up automatic bill payments so you never have to pay a late fee again. Interest charges and late fees on bills are a burden you can avoid. Many banks offer free bill payment features so you can set it, and forget it!
Setting automatic transfers between your checking account to a separate savings account for small amounts each paycheck is also a good way to start saving, without really thinking about it. Over a few months, you’ll start to notice your savings grow.
4. Anticipate major purchases
When we don’t plan for all the major purchases each year, we often cut through our savings quickly. Keep annual sale periods in mind when shopping for gifts, large household items, and electronics. If the purchase can wait until Boxing Day or Black Friday, your wallet will thank you later. Planning ahead also allows you to scout for deals online.
5. Review your subscriptions
If you’re like most of us, you probably have subscriptions for Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime, and more. Make a list of all the subscriptions you have and evaluate if you really need them. Cutting back on some of your monthly subscriptions will easily keep tens of dollars off your credit card bill each year. This also goes for cell phone plans — are you fully utilizing the 8GB data plan or could you scale back?
6. Skip the macchiato
A survey found that 50% of working Americans spend approximately $1,000 a year on coffee. Most of us can’t start the day without our cup of joe, so why not actually start your day by brewing your coffee at home and taking it on your commute to work? Instead of spending the $1,000 on buying coffee, you could cut your spending to less than $50 a year by purchasing beans to brew at home.
7. Stop paying interest
If you’re not fully paying off your credit cards, this is a slippery slope and you may find yourself wound up in debt. Prioritize paying off credit cards with high interest on time, and as quickly as possible. Every dollar you pay on interest is a dollar you could have saved.