In my life, money is a hot topic. My friends and I often start discussions with “Man, if I could just have a little extra income…” Sometimes, it’s easy for me to pick up extra shifts working local events on the weekends, create a new side job opportunity by networking and finding more copywriting jobs, or help a friend’s business in exchange for cold hard cash. But often, there’s just not enough time. We’ve all been there. Whether you’re working to get out of debt or are creating a new savings goal, it’s possible to save, no matter how large or small your income level is. Start with these five simple ways to save a little extra.
1. Condense your wardrobe (and sell what you don’t need)
For me, going to the mall is dangerous. I go in for one thing and come out with five. How exactly does that happen?! When you’re on a small budget, all those extra purchases that you didn’t exactly need start to weigh with regret.
Before heading to the store, take inventory of your closet. Make a note of what you could really use and what would be excess. When you need a wardrobe item, purchase it, and when you go to hang it up, look through your closet and discard an item you rarely wear. Add it to a “sell” pile and head to a local consignment shop, or try selling online on ThredUp, The Real Real, and Poshmark.
2. Plan meals in advance
I’m always on the go. Each day, I hop from my office to coffeeshops to the gym to social activities. This means that my meals are eaten on the go as well. When evaluating my budget, I realized that I was excessively spending money on food. Restaurants, even cheaper ones, can really add up! Instead, sit down on Sunday and take time to plan out your meals — decide how many you’re willing to eat out and how many you need to prepare ahead of time or eat at home. Stock up on items that travel well, like fruit and nuts, so if you can’t run home yet, you’ll be able to snack, resist the urge to spend extra money, and avoid becoming “hangry.”
3. Automatic savings transfers
A few years ago, I made a trip to my local bank branch office and asked for recommendations on how I could start saving money. I couldn’t add new income, but I knew there had to be a way that I could save more, and there was! Most banks can set up automatic savings transfers to ensure that you save part of your paycheck. Even if you can only save $50 a paycheck, let them know, and they’ll automatically put that in your savings on whichever day you specify. For example, if you get paid on the 15th, you can move $50 into your savings account on the 15th. This way, you can save money without even thinking about it. It’s a great way to set aside money for special purchases or an emergency fund.
4. Make a budget
Making a budget is a tried and true way to save money. Sometimes you just need to be aware of how much you are spending before you can become more frugal! Sites like mint.com, countabout.com, and powerwallet.com can turn the daunting task of creating a budget into something more manageable. Start savings goals, watch your spending trends, and track your progress as often as you can.
5. Take advantage of money-saving technology
If you like to shop online, downloading Honey will be well worth your time. Honey is an extension for the Google Chrome browser that scours the internet for coupons and discounts and automatically applies them to your order. When it’s time to check out online, Honey will work to apply any codes and promotions it can to save you money. It’s so easy!