Saving money is a great goal—in theory. But it's not specific enough to help you be successful. Especially when times are tight and saving money seems like an impossible challenge.
So, where can you turn to find extra dollars to fatten an emergency fund or save for a down payment on a house?
First, you've got to track your spending. This sounds like a pain, but it isn't. Most banks and credit card providers have platforms that will automatically show you where you spent each month, in categories such as food, shopping, entertainment, and travel. Once you have an idea of where there's a little too much spending going on, you can zero in on those categories and be more conscious of how you spend and where you can cut back.
Now that you've got a sense of some temptations or weak spots, try the following tips:
Whether you’re shopping for insurance, an internet service provider, a contractor, or even a major purchase like a car, comparing can pay-off big time. Let's say in a year you comparison shop and find a cheaper car and save $400, and switch to an internet provider that's $12 less per month—you've just freed up $45 per month savings that can go into an emergency fund. In less than two years—without cutting out anything—you'd have $1000 cash in the bank.
Delete an app.
Everybody's got an app that makes it easier for them to spend—from apps for downloading songs to buying a latte to ordering takeout without ever leaving your couch. So if you end up using Uber out of convenience when you could walk or call a friend, consider hitting delete on it. You'll be amazed at how fast that money savings can add up!
Sure, it seems old-fashioned, but what's wrong with trading valuable services? Your neighbor the plumber might help with your sink in exchange for some dog-sitting, or a handy friend could change your oil in return for a batch of your famous home-brew. Think about your professional skills as well, from accounting and writing to teaching, tutoring, and coaching. Online sites like Freecycle, Craigslist, Nextdoor, and BabysitterExchange help you hook up with people who've got what you need and want what you've got—no money required.
Save your change.
A host of automatic saving apps like Acorns help your pennies add up into serious savings by rounding every purchase up to a dollar and shuttling the rounded up savings into a separate account or investing it.
Saving money can be a challenge, but it's not impossible, and you don't need to work more or harder. With a little discipline and creativity, you can free up those extra dollars and start putting them to work toward your big financial dreams.