Are you ready to get a fresh start with your finances in the new year? Ready to take charge and let this year be the year of awesome financial decisions and progress? Of course you are! And I’m here to help.
If you are willing to do what it takes in order to save more money in 2014, you’re on the right track to making this year a great one. That’s because there are two main ways to increase your wealth:
- Spend less and save more
- Earn more and save more
Did you notice they both involve saving? This may be a super-simplified way of explaining how wealth is grown and cultivated – after all, what you do with that savings does matter (hint: invest!) – but if you can get these two basic steps down, you’re well on your way to accomplishing all your big financial goals this year.
So let’s look at some ways that you can save more money in 2014. With today’s post, we’re going to cover the easier of the two to get you started. Spending less is something you can start doing immediately, with immediate results. Earning more will take a little more time and hustle, but keep in mind that it is just as possible and realistic as spending less.
Save More Money by Trimming Expenses
For the sake of this post, I’m going to assume you already have a budget set up, or at least are able to track your spending somehow. If you don’t have a way to keep track of your expenses and your money in/money out on a monthly basis, I suggest you fire up some spreadsheets ASAP.
Let’s start with your current expenses. It’s time to get mean with your spending. We’re talkin’ a slash and burn policy over here, baby. Most of us can reduce or cut at least one expense from our current budgets. Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling:
- Have cable? Cut it and go with an online streaming service like Netflix instead.
- Drop the gym membership; workout at home anytime and for free.
- Use coupons, buy generics, shop sales, and stop buying stuff like soda and snacks to reduce your grocery bill.
- Call insurance providers. Can they give you discounts? A better rate? A higher deductible in exchange for a lower monthly bill?
- Move to a cheaper location, find a roommate, or rent out your basement. Do whatever it takes to make your living situation less expensive.
Can’t think of how you could possibly cut your spending? Shoot me an email and I’ll try and help you find a place where you can reduce your expenses.
Save More Money by Switching Up Your Habits
You can save even more if you’re willing to change up some of your habits. Swap out your bad spending behaviors for positive, frugal ones that encourage savings:
- Take up a healthy hobby, like walking, running, biking, or hiking.
- Get creative with date nights. Head to the park (or take your loyal four-legged friend to a dog park) or head to a new part of town and explore. Plan a picnic and enjoy a walk together.
- Instead of having day-long shopping sprees to entertain yourself or your family, schedule in free events like art walks, craft fairs, and outdoor summer concerts or drive-in movies.
- Learn to use what you’ve got. Play your own version of Chopped and cook a few meals off the weird leftover things you find in your pantry to stretch out the time between grocery visits or swap a movie night for a family game night.
Feeling Bored? Make Saving More Money Fun
Okay, I admit – cutting the fat from your budget and restricting how many times you go out to eat or see movie doesn’t sound like a ton of fun. But don’t let that stop you from attempting to save more money in 2014. If you like a challenge where you can track your progress, or you just want to avoid associate managing your money with being lame, try out one of these savings ideas:
- The 52 Week Savings Challenge (or one of these variations)
- Have a No Spend Week at least once a month – and immediately put your surplus into savings!
- Do you have a really bad weakness when it comes to spending? (My vice: I always want to buy clothes. But I don’t! ..usually.) Try a spending freeze for a month on one item you usually splurge on. Anytime you find something you really want to buy, check out the price, walk out of the store, and deposit that amount into your savings instead.
- Get competitive and make savings a game: challenge your significant other or another family member to see who can spend the least amount of money in a month.
- Grab a Swear Jar, and play by the rules! Set up a “price list” and pay up when you slip up. Soon you’ll either have a nice little stash of cash, or you’ll quickly learn to yell “oh crumpets!” or “butterscotch cookies!” when you stub your toe.
As you can see, you can really get creative and have fun with as something as “boring” as savings. Whatever kind of challenge, game, or system works for you – set it up and put it into use!
Making the Most of Your Surplus
If you put some of these ideas into action in 2014, you should have a bit of extra money in your bank account. Don’t be tempted to spend!The next step is to wisely use that money – all the surplus you’ve accumulated – and make the most of it. Here are some common sense approved uses of your savings (and you best believe they are indeed ranked by importance, so no skipping!):
- Pay down even more credit card debt/consumer credit card debt if you have any.
- If you don’t have debt, yay you! Invest your savings (perhaps now’s the time to try an index fund).
- Start or add to an emergency fund – aim for 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses, depending on your situation.
- Save for a big purchase, like a down payment on a home, a new car, or a home improvement project.
- Replace material goods that are past their prime (if it’s not any worse than my couch, it’s not past its prime).
- Take a percentage of your savings and have some fun – just make sure you’re spending on an experience or an investment item! You worked hard to scrimp these savings together, so please don’t go nuts and blow it all.
Now you’re armed with all sorts of ideas, and I hope the above uses of the savings you could accumulate serves as a bit of motivation, too. With determination and dedication, there’s nothing that can stop you from saving more money this year!
Do you plan on using any of these tips to help save more money in 2014? Have any ideas that you think should have been added to this post? Share ’em with us in the comments!