Save like an expert in 10 easy steps

Now that the New Year is here you are likely looking for ways to save. While crafting your own savings plan can work, sometimes a little expert help is in order. So, without further ado, here are 10 easy (and sometimes fun!) ways to save money like the experts.

1. Lock in small wins

The easiest way to start saving is to evaluate your daily habits and see where you can eliminate unnecessary spending. For instance, buying a coffee on the way to work could add up over time. To save a little bit of cash, just make it at home. Or, if you can’t live without your favorite to-go java, try ordering a smaller size or registering for your coffee shop’s rewards program.

2. Look for big wins

While the small wins are nice and provide immediate gratification, it is really the big wins that move the needle. Eliminating cable and saving hundreds of dollars per year is an example of a big win. Negotiating your rent or salary and saving the extra cash is another example. Sometimes, big wins take longer to achieve but they make a huge difference.

3. Check your retirement plan

A long-term retirement savings plan is a key tool in a smart saver’s toolbox. But there are ways to save money even within a retirement account. If your account is an employer-sponsored 401(k), check the investment options and fees to ensure you’re not paying too much. And if your employer offers a match, by all means contribute enough to earn the match. Finally, if your company provides a service or consultant free of charge to analyze your retirement plan, hear them out. 

4. Set up an automatic transfer

One of the easiest ways to save involves a little technology. Setting up an automatic transfer to occur each time you get a paycheck puts the onus on the bank’s technology and not you. So “set it and forget it” and let your automatic transfer help build your savings.

5. Eliminate debt

Carrying debt at a high interest rate can put a damper on your savings goals. Eliminating debt and paying off credit cards will free up cash that you can save immediately. To do this, create a plan and set a debt-free date. Make it realistic and start putting your efforts toward decreasing that debt.

6. Put extra cash to good use

Remember that rebate check you received after purchasing that washer and dryer set? What did you do with it? Those irregular cash payments can seriously help you pad your savings. Instead of spending those checks, deposit them directly into your savings account.

7. Spend now to save later

Sometimes spending some extra cash now can actually save you money in the long run. For example, a paid membership to a discount warehouse can save hundreds on regular grocery shopping. Even if you do not have a large family, you can save on non-perishables and stockpile the savings.

8. Keep your change

Small change adds up. Keeping the cash that makes noise makes a difference. Each day, put those coins into a jar and watch it fill up. Then you can either roll the change by hand or visit a machine that allows you to exchange your change for dollar bills. There might be a small fee but that will save you the time of counting and rolling.

9. Live like a college student

If you want to save like an expert, you have to be willing to make certain sacrifices. One of those is to choose how you spend the money you have. Living like a college student means that you avoid lifestyle inflation as your income increases. You might earn enough to purchase that luxury vehicle, but your reliable vehicle will work just fine.

10. Mind the gap

Spend less than you make and bank the remainder. This step is crucial to saving even more money and it is one that experts are very familiar with. The gap is the difference between what you earn and what you spend.

These tips will have you saving money like an expert; however, there will come a point where you can no longer save any more. At that point, the only way to increase the gap is to earn more money. Look for ways to increase your salary or find a need that you can service and put your skills to use.

Saving money may require you to sacrifice and you might have to change your thought process when it comes to spending. But if you follow these simple steps, you will be saving money like an expert in no time.