Saving money can be challenging, to say the least! After all, you have bills to pay, and mouths to feed; and even if you do end up with a little extra at the end of the month, what's left can very easily burn a hole in your pocket until you spend it on something you don't really need.
What can help you to save money? A good start is to take the 30-day money saving challenge. Here's how to do it:
Step 1: Start with a Budget
First of all, you need to create a budget — in other words, a summary that tracks your monthly income and expenses. Write down your average monthly income, and then list out your necessary expenses (rent or mortgage, car payments, insurance, utility bills, phone bills, and so forth). Next, make a separate list of expenses for your wants — things like take-out dinners, movie rentals, gym memberships, etc.
Once you have all this information in a single place, it will be that much easier to analyze your spending and make adjustments! Speaking of which...
Step 2: Analyze Your Last Month's Spending
It's time to whip out the spreadsheet! Yes, you need to take an in-depth look at what you spent last month, and determine which expenses can stay, and which ones need to go.
You can use a spreadsheet to divide your necessary expenses from luxury spend. Then you can adjust the numbers to see how less spending in one category would impact your entire budget. For instance, if you spent just $10 less on take-out every week, then what effect would that have on your total expenses? Organizing your expenses in this way can really help you determine which areas need your attention.
Step 3: Set a Goal
Now that you have a good idea of the money that's coming in each month, and where it's going, it's time to set a savings goal for yourself. Ideally, you should be able to set aside 10% of your monthly income for your savings account, and still bring in more than enough net income to cover your expenses.
Of course, that particular goal may not be realistic for you at the moment. If that's the case, then it may be better to choose a specific amount of money for your savings goal over the next 30 days. Whether it's $100 or $1,000, if you have that goal in mind it will give you a target to shoot for.
Step 4: Create a Plan
It's time to get to the nitty-gritty! You need to develop a realistic plan that will enable you to reach your goal over the next 30 days. Granted, your plan should be unique to your specific situation. However, it may include the following components:
- Cutting out unnecessary daily spending that wasn't included in your budget
- Trimming high bills
- Canceling subscriptions (i.e., if you have both Netflix and Hulu, you may need to keep one and cancel the other)
- Selling unwanted or unused items around your home
In addition, you should plan on protecting the money you save over the course of those 30 days. It can be easy to get excited when you start to see your bank account get higher than usual toward the end of the month — but resist the urge to spend that extra money! Remember your goal, and exercise your willpower!
Step 5: Creatively Challenge Yourself
Why take the challenge for 30 days? Because committing to a month-long challenge is a great way to kick-start good saving habits for the future. It's also a real eye-opener to see just how much money can be saved with a little planning and discipline! So take what you've learned in the above steps and map out a 30 day challenge for yourself. Look for creative ways to achieve your savings goal. For instance:
- Make all of your meals at home for the next 30 days.
- Don't buy any name brand products for the next 30 days.
- Don't use a credit card for the next 30 days. (Yikes!)
- Make your coffee at home for the next 30 days. (Good-bye, $6 cups of coffee!)
- Track every single dime you spend for the next 30 days.
- Take as many toll-free roads as you can for the next 30 days.
You get the idea.
The bottom line is: if you take the 30-day money saving challenge, you'll be in a better position to pay off your debts, achieve your financial goals, and ultimately live a more stress-free life. If you'd like more information on ways to save, check out our My 360 View personal financial management tool in Online Banking or reach out to our team at Third Coast Bank today! You can also open an online account today in 3 easy steps!