Saving money doesn’t come naturally to some people. I am one of those people.
I implement habits and strategies to make saving money much easier for me. Truth be told, whenever I get a windfall of some kind, like a bonus from work or a monetary gift, I save it much easier than saving money a little bit every pay. So, for the spender in me, I’m using these 10 habits below to save money more easily.
1. Automate savings
Hands down, the best financial habit I know of to save money is to automate savings. Set up direct deposit into a savings account through your employer, if possible. And if not, set up an automatic transfer for a certain amount of money every pay period. If you never see it, you can’t spend it. You’ll still be broke at the end of your pay period, but this way, you’ll be broke with a savings account. This is really helpful for spenders (like me!). If you don’t have access to it, you can’t spend it (you’ll save it automatically). It requires the least amount of work. Set it and forget it.
- Related: How to automate your savings
2. Get on a written budget
Getting on a written budget will help you save money because you’ll be aware of exactly how much money is coming in vs how much money is going out. Setting up a budget will help you allocate your money intentionally to each expense category, which will make you feel confident in spending the money on whatever it is you’re spending it on. This way, you know where your money is going and can plan to save money.
- Related: Get a free Personal Capital account to help you budget (this is what I use)
For example, before I was on a written, thought out budget, I never felt like I had enough money to save, or to spend on entertainment. I felt guilty spending any money at all. After I started budgeting, I realized with my own spending plan, I was in control of my money and had the money to spend a little and save a little. It’s really empowering, no matter how little money you’re budgeting with.
- Related: How to start budgeting
A budget helps you feel in control.
3. Use cash (and not credit)
One of the best ways I know how to save money is to not use a credit card.
This is quite controversial – I’ve actually never had a credit card! (I have good credit from my student loan debt, but really I don’t care that much about my credit because I’m all about the cash-money.)
If you are a spender, I think this habit is SO important. If you’re a natural saver, then using a credit card and paying it off monthly may worth really well for you (especially if you maximize it for points). But be honest with yourself. If you’re a natural spender, I highly recommend not giving yourself the temptation and just avoiding using plastic.
With cash, you can’t overspend.
4. Implement a “no buying drinks” policy
Drinks are one expense that can creep up on you without you even realizing it. I love a Starbucks coffee or a glass of wine, but when I cut out buying drinks all together, I realize I actually have a lot more financial margin every month. Now, I’ll save my drink purchases for special occasions or for when I get gift cards (it’s no secret I love Starbucks)! Also, I think it’s easier to cut out one item at a time, so it doesn’t feel like you’re completely depriving yourself. If you’re trying to find more money to save, start by cutting out buying drinks during the week or buying coffee except in bulk from the grocery store.
5. Cut cable
Cutting cable a few years ago has had a huge impact on my ability to save. The thing is, I like TV, and when I get around someone who has cable, I’m like a kid in a candy store – addicted and super happy. I can’t stop watching. But without cable, I don’t notice it’s gone. I really don’t. And I am so much more productive. I still watch a few shows here and there with my brother’s Netflix login, but that’s really it. It’s my one hour of relaxing time at the end of a long week – not my prime time. When I think about living intentionally and how I want to spend my precious time, watching cable really isn’t up there at all.
I save money and spend my time more productively without cable.
6. Always pay full price (no payment plans)
An enormously valuable habit that I’ve learned is to always pay cash and to never finance. The only exceptions, in my mind, are purchasing a home, paying for education, or some other big thing that just cannot be bought with cash (some might argue a car). But for everything else, do not go on a payment plan. Things will happen in the future that you cannot predict, and by getting on a payment plan you’re taking a risk that nothing about your finances will change. If you can’t afford to pay cash, I say save up the money until you can afford it. It’s just a good habit to practice.
7. Shop generic brands
Whenever you have the option to buy generic, I highly recommend it. Think about all the times you’re in the grocery store or pharmacy and the generic brand is a few dollars cheaper and has the exact same active ingredients in it – there’s no reason to spend more on the name brand! If there is a legitimate reason to buy the name brand, then go for it. But usually, like with grocery store and pharmacy products, there isn’t.
Sticking with buying generic brands as a habit will help you free up cash every month and enable you to spend that extra money on more important things – like putting it in your savings account!
8. Cut the cords
Whenever you have the chance to unplug electronics in your home, you should do it. Same goes for turning down your heat or air conditioning in your home when you’re not there (keeping in mind freezing and heat extremes, of course). But generally, if you’re not at home, then don’t waste the money paying to heat or cool it. It just doesn’t make sense!
9. Pack lunch
Getting in the habit of eating lunch that you make can save you a lot of money. Whether you work in an office or work from home, prepare your lunches ahead of time so there’s no temptation to buy lunch. Buying lunch adds up and if you’re looking for ways to save, then this is a really big one. I pack my lunch every day and bring it to work. If you’re asked to go to lunch a lot and feel bad saying no, get more comfortable with it and explain why. I always say, I’d love to but I’m on a budget! And of course, there will be exceptions and special occasions, but let those be few and far between.
10. Feel comfortable saying no
One of the best habits you can do for yourself is to learn how to say no with confidence and without feeling bad about it. This doesn’t always come natural, so if you’re not there yet, keep practicing. Practice makes it easier. Be open and honest with people. Let them know that you’d love to, but it’s not in the budget right now. If you feel really bad about it, still say no, but deal with your feelings separately. If you decide no is the right answer for you to make, then that’s what you should make, and learn to deal with your feelings about it separately. I promise this does get easier with practice!
- Related: How to feel better about saying no
Here’s how the spender in me is finding ways to save money regularly:
- Automate savings
- Get on a written budget
- Use cash (and not credit)
- Implement a “no buying drinks” policy
- Cut cable
- Always pay full price (no payment plans)
- Shop generic brands
- Cut the cords
- Pack lunch
- Feel comfortable saying no
If I can save money, I believe that anyone can! 🙂
- Up Next: 21 Days to a Better Budget