WELL, that’s a title that promises a lot, no?
Seriously though, how to make saving money easier is all about making saving money a habit that you don’t even really think about. I remember reading something similar and thinking ‘no, the issue is I DON’T HAVE ANY SPARE MONEY TO SAVE’. I genuinely believed that. I didn’t want to be a hermit, I wanted to eat out occasionally and not live on pasta.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO.
You need to set yourself up for the win. Make little life changes that will enable you to make saving money an automatic part of your routine. So here we go:
1 – Get organised
This is something that will vary from person to person. You may already be organised. You may need to dedicate your next day off to tidying your house and clearing out your clutter. GET IT DONE. You may wonder how this will help you save money, and it’s basically a psychological trick. When our environment is neat and uncluttered, our brains are happier and we can think more clearly. Also, you’re more likely to want to cook in your clean kitchen and hang out in your own lovely, tidy living room.
- Organising your paperwork and getting some kind of filing system all reduces your chances of missing a bill payment or forgetting to budget for something like a dentist appointment.
- Meal planning or prepping decreases the likelihood of you going out for dinner and wasting food.
- If you’re really organised, you won’t be caught out with last minute gifts – instead you’ll have bought something great from Amazon, and it’ll be wrapped days before the event. Maybe. I’m yet to climb this particular mountain.
2 – Get up earlier
Ugh. What’s so annoying about this tip is how freaking effective it is. Honestly. And I say that as a non-morning person. I can’t cope with anything strenuous first thing, so I reserve this time for coffee and scrolling through Twitter. This is also when I fill up my Boardbooster secret boards for Pinterest.
How does it save you money? Well, this may be specific to me, but I find that when my day is planned out ahead of me, I can get by with spending very little. I’ll take a salad to work rather than buying one because I had the time to prepare myself something tasty.
You could do your exercise if you fancy, a bit of meal prep, clean your house…getting up early and accomplishing tasks really gives your day a smug glow. It feels great. Also, you can go to bed at 10ppm with a cup of herbal tea and a book, like a granny, which is one of my fave things to do 🙂
3 – Automate
- Bills – companies often offer bonuses and preferential treatment to people who automate their phone, utility and credit card bills. When you pay by card but not by direct debit, there’s usually an extra charge. Make it easier for yourself by paying by direct debit.
- Savings – subtract your expenses from your income and save what’s left. As soon as you’re paid, send some money to a savings account. If you don’t see it in your account, you won’t miss it.
- Food – hate meal planning? Join the club. It may sound boring, but if you make one month-long meal plan, just repeat it next month. And the month after. Repeat cheap meals. Change it up if you want to, but you’ll always have a backup plan.
4 – Have a loose-change game plan
All those pennies that lurk in the bottom of your bag have value. Do something with them. Give them a purpose. Get a piggy bank or something similar and empty out your bag, pockets, sofa cushions every night. It needs a purpose – it could pay for all of your 2017 parking, or Christmas stamps or something. It depends on how much change you have, but the point remains the same: it has value. Don’t let it fall through the cracks. If you don’t want it, I’ll have it.
5 – Stop making excuses…
Make your budget, don’t spend all of your money. If you don’t have enough money to save, you need a way of making more, or you have to cut your expenses. I can’t give you some magical solution (comment below if you have, though!) – you have to sort yourself out a budget and stick to it. It may mean an end to those daily lattes. Or Sky. You may have to eat less caviar and gold. Or have a staycation. It won’t be forever – once you form those habits, saving money becomes addictive -it’s disappointing when your little nest egg isn’t growing.
6 – …but don’t be too rough on yourself
Learning how to save is the mother of all learning curves, You’ll have good weeks and bad ones. It’ll take a while to learn how much you can realistically save (I personally like to set the bar slightly too high – it works wonders for making you think about how much you really need a new handbag…) and how to make the world of organisation and meal prep and the like fit in with your life.
BTW, these tips also work for paying down debt – I’d definitely recommend paying off any consumer debt (credit cards and personal loans) before saving money.
I know it sounds boring and a lot of hassle, but knowing that you’re not living on a financial precipice is pretty swell. I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, well-off, but my little weeny savings account really helps me sleep better at night (even when I have to get up at 4.45am for work :|).
On your next free day:
- Take an hour or so to sort your budget.
- Spend a couple of hours tidying your house.
- Sort any paperwork you have lying around.
- Get your bills set up to go out as direct debits – write down the date they go out on your budget.
- Pour yourself a glass of wine and eat a pack of shortbread.
- Set your alarm for 6.30am.
If you want to do this over the course of, say a week, go for it. If you’re not currently in the position where you can set up direct debits (if there’s not enough in your account), maybe hustle a bit – get some stuff on eBay, have a spending freeze or rework your budget. See if you can set up the direct debits to start in a couple of months, to give you a bit more time.
Live long, prosper and be good – Caroline.