Budgeting your money probably isn’t the most fun item on your to-do list. But financial management is a lot easier when you use a few simple savings tricks. So whether you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, or you have a little money stashed away for a rainy day, here are 7 easy budget hacks to help you save money.
1. Review your accounts daily
Have you ever experienced a situation where you had to make a big purchase, only to find that you’re out of money? If you’re not careful, the funds (or lack of funds) in your account can creep up on you. Instead of spending money without knowing your limits, review your accounts every day. A quick look at your phone’s banking app as part of your morning or evening routine can help you keep track of how much money you have for expenses.
2. Avoid expensive budgeting software
Budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated, and it most definitely shouldn’t be expensive. Spending money on an expensive program designed to help you save money just doesn’t make sense. So grab a pen and paper, open a free app or a new spreadsheet, and get to work. Create a few budget categories, allocate some money to each, and then track your purchases. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Besides, you’re much more likely to stick to a budget of your own making.
3. Cancel your subscriptions
If you look at your spending and there are subscription expenses you never even use, cancel them. Companies love selling subscriptions. It’s automatic money for them and a constant drain to your account. So take inventory of your subscriptions like Netflix, online newspapers and magazines, and even gym memberships. If you’re not using the service, cancel it. Or, at the very least, call and ask for a discount if your introductory rate has expired.
4. Calculate purchases in work hours, not dollars
Before making a big purchase that you might not really need, try this trick. Calculate the expense of the item in the total number of hours it takes you to earn it. Finding out that a big screen TV equals a full week of work at your job might make you think twice before pulling the trigger.
5. Make saving a game
Saving money isn’t exactly fun. In fact, the opposite is usually true. Instead of finding the fun in getting rid of your money, make saving a game. Challenge yourself to put away a certain amount of money, and then reward yourself for achieving your goals. It’s a great way to “earn” those discretionary purchases, and you’ll be saving money in the process.
6. Upgrade technology only when necessary
For whatever reason, technology is hard to resist. It’s human nature to want the latest and greatest. And it seems like there’s always something new on the horizon. Instead of caving to every mid-generation tech upgrade, look at your old technology a little differently. Take pride in your last generation equipment. Own your love for all things retro. And wear your used car, old phone, and second-hand computer and TV like a badge of honor. Only upgrade to a new model when the old one no longer works the way you need it to.
7. Pay savings first
If you’re like most people, you’ve spent most of your paycheck before payday even arrives. As part of your budgeting process, take the first 10% of your paycheck (or more if you can afford it) and put it into savings. Doing so will help you avoid the temptation to spend that money later in the month. In fact, most employers that offer direct deposit will let you route part of your paycheck into a separate savings account, so you don’t have to do the work yourself.
Saving money isn’t easy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use a few tricks to make it a little more manageable. Practice these simple budget hacks and you’ll be on your way to achieving your savings goals in no time at all.