For many Americans, retirement comes with new rewards and new challenges alike. When you’re no longer working, financial trouble may strain your already limited budget. Regardless of your circumstances, the following tips on saving money may help. Whether you’d like to alleviate debt, save up for a new electronic device, build an emergency fund, prolong your retirement savings, or simply get your money to go further, the following tips can help you develop your savings and reach your goals. Not every tip will apply to your situation, but keeping a few in mind may make a surprising difference over time.
Start with simple steps. You may not realize exactly where your money goes without careful observation. On the first day of the month, begin building a stack of receipts for everything you’ve purchased, then review those expenses at the end of that month. Found something superfluous? Consider the following idea: for every nonessential indulgence purchased, match its cost in savings. If that strawberry-banana Jamba Juice smoothie costs five dollars and you don’t have another five dollars to save, you shouldn’t purchase the smoothie.
Another way to discipline your spending habits is to assess that $40 pair of jeans in terms of your hourly wage. If you make $10 an hour, are those jeans worth four hours of work? Using this kind of mindset will help prevent you from letting your impulses take control of your budget. Speaking of impulses, give a full 24 hours to think about any expensive purchase. By the time you’ve had a day to ponder that $1200 laptop, its $900 counterpart may seem more appealing, despite perceived drawbacks. For items like a car or a house, hold off on buying for a week or even a month. Consider your purchases in the context of long-term use, but when trying to save, shoot for short-term goals such as $25 per week or per month instead of ambitious long-term goals like $300 per year. To save significant sums, one must reduce many small, often frivolous costs that accrue over months or years.
Like frivolous purchases, wastefulness can overwhelm a budget, so try to re-evaluate products and services that you never use, and consider any potential waste in your daily routine. Leaving the lights on overnight? Still subscribed to that magazine you haven’t read in a year? Only used your premium cable channels once or twice? Throwing out lots of expired food? Driving a gas-guzzler? For each issue you address, you create another source of savings to contribute to your ultimate goals.
Saving Money Can Save Your Health
When trying to cut costs on meals, consider cooking for yourself – you can also cut carbs. Rather than regretting your choices as you stare down a Big Mac or toss a prepackaged dinner in the microwave, make your dinner yourself. One hour of preparation on a Sunday evening could stock your kitchen with healthy, ready-to-go meals for the rest of the week. If you enjoy casserole and other freezer-friendly foods, make more than one batch at once. By purchasing the ingredients in bulk, you’ll save money, and by making three or four meals at once, you’ll save time that you wouldn’t otherwise have on busy weekdays. Better yet, having food prepared in the freezer means you’ll be less likely to resort to fast food and unhealthy snacks when you’re in a rush.
Speaking of healthy savings, quitting smoking will lighten the weight on your wallet – both from cigarettes and future medical bills. A person who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day spends over $2000 a year on this ruinous habit, and depending on how much damage it does to the body, thousands more may disappear from your bank account after frequent doctor visits, screenings, and insurance costs. Whether you’d like to cut your calorie count or quit smoking, frugality complements a healthy lifestyle.
For more information on saving, money management, and financial advice, check out our blog on finance.