9 Easy Money-Saving Tips for Everyday Use

Here is a simple truth: there are no secrets when it comes to how to save money. You can ask any financial expert, and the answer will always boil down to two simple concepts: increase your income or reduce your overall spending — preferably both.

So why do so many of us rely on credit cards when cash is tight, instead of building an emergency fund we can dip into? Because we didn’t plan for the unplanned. And life will forever be throwing unplanned events at us, some of them good, some of them bad, and lots of them expensive.

Many people also believe that their income is so low that they can’t possibly save anything; that paying their routine monthly bills, there will be nothing left over to save. This is simply not true. What is true is that with enough mental commitment and discipline, anyone can build substantial savings over time, no matter their income! The key is to keep focused on the long-term gains: security, financial stability and resilience, i.e. being able to respond to and bounce back from life’s many unplanned events. And for that, you need savings.

Try these 9 tips and tricks below, and commit to setting aside at least 3 months’ living expenses.

1. Sell your unused personal belongings

How many things have you bought that you never used or worn? Or tools just sitting in your garage. If you haven't worn it or used it in the last year or two, you should consider selling it. There are dozens of online marketplace sites you can use, like eBay (for anything and everything), Poshmark and ThredUp (for clothing), and Swappa (for tech); no matter what you have, there is somewhere you can sell it that buyers are searching. There is a time commitment involved in photographing the goods and writing the descriptions, but it’s time well-spent when it turns into sales and money in your pocket.

2. Pay yourself first.

When your paycheck deposits, you always make sure to pay your other bills, so why not think of yourself as a bill with the highest priority? The best way to do this is to set up an automatic deduction from your paycheck that will disappear into savings before you even see it. But even if you’re just gathering $5 or $10 into an envelope every time you get paid (and putting the envelope somewhere you won’t easily grab it and empty it), it will add up faster than you know it. And as you become accustomed to this new budget of fixed savings, you can increase the amount you put away over time and accelerate the growth.

3. Cancel monthly expenditures.

Take a few minutes to roll through your last six months of bank account statements and credit card statements with a highlighter in your hand. Look for, and highlight, any recurring expenses you see. Chances are good you are paying for a few things you forgot about: an app you don’t use anymore, an old gym membership, some tiny charge for a robocall blocker. Once you’ve identified the regular expenses, think about how many you can knock off for good. Then cancel away, for instant savings.

4. Look closely at your bills.

Since you have your credit card and bank statements out, let’s take a closer look: what monthly bills can you lower or eliminate entirely — even if just for the short term until you build up an emergency fund? Six months without cable TV will give you some serious savings, or at least drop the number of special channels you have. Are you and your partner on different phone plans? Merge them for savings.

5. Track your miscellaneous spending.

All of us engage in mindless spending from time to time, but making yourself aware of exactly how many of these “leaky” cash habits you indulge in is a must. To do this, write down — or record in your phone — every.single.thing you buy for seven days. Pack of gum? Write it down. Extra cup of coffee? Make a note. Then at the end of the week, tally it all together and see how much you could have saved. Set an amount you can spend on “here and there” stuff — say, $18 a week — and keep tabs. Those savings will add up fast, guaranteed.

6. Download a personal finance app.

A budgeting app is another easy way to see exactly what you spend. We, of course, are fans of Firstly, the money management app owned by our parent company; it automatically calculates a monthly budget for you, based on your spending and bill-paying activities it can track from your bank account once you’ve connected it to the app. These apps make it super easy to see where you’re spending and when your bills are due. Even better? Firstly lets you set savings goals and will help you automatically direct funds toward that goal. Give it a try!

7. Find your side hustle

Side hustles have two benefits. One: you earn more money. Two? You are busy working a few extra hours a week—and so you aren’t spending money! These days almost everybody has something they do on the side, whether it’s a hobby you end up selling in a marketplace like Etsy (jewerly and knit sweaters, anyone?), or just picking up a few extra hours’ work a week using a skill you have (yard cleanup? accounting? towing?). Even just four hours a week can generate reliable income you can count on.

8. Stay in on the weekends.

And we don’t mean living a boring life. Just because you're saving money, doesn't mean your life needs to be boring. But be creative! Once or twice a month, host a potluck with friends in combination with games and wine. Or host a mini film festival (all the Star Wars films, or everything The Rock ever made) and invite friends to join you several weekends in a row. These kinds of gatherings are easy on the wallet and make the most of the your home.

9. Learn How to DIY.

There are hundreds of ways to save yourself money if you learn a little DIY. Make a gorgeous birthday cake instead of buying one. Swap out a new light fixture yourself. Refinish a beat-up piece of furniture instead of buying a new one. With the sheer volume of DIY videos on YouTube, there’s literally no end to what you can teach yourself to do, which provides satisfaction of its own. The savings are just a great bonus.

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