If you're like most 20-somethings, then you probably need more cash. And if you need more cash, then you probably know how difficult sticking to a budget can be. So, in an effort to make us all the slightest bit richer, let's look at some ways you can to trick yourself into saving money.
I say "trick" because the usual money-saving tactics don't always work. I'm talking about things like the classic "save 10 percent of your income" rule. In theory, setting aside that much makes a lot of sense, and it would obviously create a pile of dough over time. But who has that kind of spare income, much less the willpower to set it aside? (If you do, please report back so the rest of us can learn your magical ways.)
Of course, not following the ten percent rules isn't the way you're messing up your finances. Oh, no. There are all sorts of reasons why you might be struggling to save. As Holly Perez, consumer money exert at Inuit and Mint spokeswoman, says in an email to Bustle, "People often get distracted by spending on wants versus needs. Coffee, a shopping trip, and one additional happy hour out with friends can quickly add up and throw a budget off course." See? It's so easy to go off track, but it can also be pretty easy to get back on — if you know what to do. Below are some sneaky tips for saving money, so you can better stick to your budget.
1. Keep Your Change
How much change do you have clinking away in your purse, or rattling around in your car? Gather it all up, and start keeping it in a jar. "It may sound crazy, but we sometimes forget that coins carry value," said Alyssa Goldman on Real Simple. By keeping them all in a jar, you can see the stash grow. It will feel like a growing fund of magic money.
2. Leave Your Credit Card At Home
If you have trouble controlling the urge to whip out the ol' credit card, then do yourself a favor and leave it at home. This will prevent you from succumbing to impulse buys, according to Stacy Johnson, CPA and President of Moneytalksnews.com, in Reader's Digest. From now on, only venture out with real money, which you can see depleting before your very eyes. It will make sticking to a budget 100 times easier.
3. Tell Your Friends
When sticking to a budget, it can help to shout it from the rooftops. Or, at the very least, inform all your friends. "They can help keep you honest and support you every step of the way," Perez says. Being honest will also give you guys more time to come up with cheaper, or free, activities. (Instead of, say, your usual trips to the mall.)
4. Divvy Up Your Paychecks
Did you know you can sort your money before you even see it? All you have to do is ask your company's human resources department to divide your paychecks between your savings and checking accounts, according to Nicole McDermott on Greatist.com. That way, cash will be in your savings account before you can even spend it. Pretty neat trick, right?
5. Make Spending Super Obvious With An App
Get yourself an app so you can see exactly how/where/when your money is being spent. "Apps like Mint simplify money management by helping you understand your spending habits and make smart financial choices," says Perez. Witnessing in real time how your spending habits affect your budget can be incredibly eye-opening.
6. Divide Your Dough Into Envelopes
This one may take some getting used to, especially if you are all about the plastic. But dividing your cash among three envelopes can really help you save. "To stay organized, you can divide cash into envelopes ... with categories like 'food,' 'rent' and 'fun,'" McDermott suggested. "When an envelope goes empty, it's time to stop spending in that section (or swap funds from another one)." Again, seeing that cash dwindle will help your spending feel more "real."
7. Lower Your Thermostat
Sometimes all it takes is throwing on a sweater and adjusting your thermostat, and you'll miraculously be saving money. "Unless you get hit with a polar vortex, you probably won’t notice a change of a few degrees," noted the editors at HuffingtonPost.com. "You should also lower your thermostat a few degrees before you leave the house and before you go to bed." Easy as that.
8. Don't Wander Around Hungry
Everyone knows the rule: don't go grocery shopping hungry. If you do, you'll end up buying way too much, and totally ruining your budget, according to the Huffington Post. So snack beforehand, and go shopping armed with a grocery list. That way you'll prevent yourself from buying delicious-looking snacks, and only get exactly what you need.
9. Bring Lunch To Work
Food costs a lot, especially if it's from a fancy cafe or restaurant that you go to every day. (Cough.) So do yourself, and your budget, a favor and start bringing your lunch to work. If you usually spend $12 a day, that'll be a savings of $240 a month. Amazing, I know.
10. Buy In Bulk
All the necessities of life — toilet paper, trash bags, toothpaste — add up fast. That's why buying in bulk, whenever you're able, is a really really good idea. So the next time toothpaste goes on sale, stock up. You may be spending a little bit more up front, according to HuffingtonPost.com, but you'll save in the long run.
11. Skip The Name Brands
There's no need to go for the brand name for every single product you use. Usually, the cheaper generic is just as good. "In fact, generic house brands are often identical ingredient-wise to name-brand products —they just lack the fancy labeling," Goldman said. A little change like this can make a huge difference, and help you get on your way to saving money.
But above everything else, don't get discouraged as you make these changes. "Money management is a marathon, not a sprint," Perez says. "Adjust your budget as needed or when circumstances change." And you should be much better off in no time.
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