If you are disappointed in your money saving habits, you are not alone. Last year, researchers found that over two-thirds of Americans made a New Year’s resolution to improve their finances last year. For many of these Americans, this equates to saving more money. But if you are notoriously terrible at socking away cash, you might be wondering just how you can change your habits. Below are ten simple strategies to save money each month.
1) Ramp up your 401K contributions
The retirement specialists with Principal note that a person making $35,000 per year can increase their monthly retirement income simply by bumping up their 401K contribution by 1%. Increasing your savings rate is usually easy, and many employers will allow you to change your contribution percentage at any time throughout the calendar year. And your monthly savings are even more attractive if your employer matches a percentage of your contribution.
2) Save a portion of your stimulus check
Are you one of the many Americans who are eligible to receive an IRS stimulus check in 2020? If you meet the eligibility requirements, you could receive up to $1,200 if you are a single tax filer or up to $2,400 for married couples who file jointly. While you may need every bit of that unexpected payment to help cover basic expenses, try to set aside at least $100 of your check. If you have time on your side, you can invest your savings and watch your $100 grow to $400,000.
3) Shop for groceries on Wednesdays or Thursdays
“The best overall shopping days are Wednesday and Thursday, according to research from the cash-back shopping app Ibotta. Certain items, such as bread and beer, tend to be priced lower on Wednesdays. Bread typically costs 2% less, and beer discounts average out to 1%. Thursdays are when deals on snacks abound.” – Doug Whiteman, Editor-in-Chief, MoneyWise
Many people are surprised to learn that they can save money just by doing their grocery shopping on another day of the week. For example, you can save as much as 2% on bread and other products by shopping on Wednesdays. If you spend $500 per month on groceries for your family, that amounts to an extra $10 in savings if you can shave 2% off your food costs.
4) Pay your property taxes early
If you are a homeowner, you can save some money by paying your property tax bill early. For example, Kentucky and other states offer a 2% discount to residents who pay early. For a homeowner whose property tax bill usually runs around $2,500, this equates to savings of $50. And if you own a more sizable estate, you could end up saving hundreds of dollars just by paying a little early.
5) Consider a cash back credit card
“If you pay off your balance each month, a cash-back card can save you money. Last year, cash-back cardholders earned an average of $278 back, according to a recent report from Lightspeed Financial Service Group.” – Megan Leonhardt, CNBC
Today’s top cash back credit cards offer a host of enticing benefits. With the average cardholder receiving $278 back each year, that equates to monthly savings of over $20 per month. Just remember to pay off your balance in full each month and avoid the temptation to overspend. Otherwise this strategy could end up backfiring and costing you money.
6) Work from home twice a week
The closure of non-essential businesses has caused the number of Americans working from home to skyrocket. In some cases, employers are finding that they are pleasantly surprised by the performance of their remote workers. And if you are among the millions of Americans who is able to do your job from home, you can save money each month by working from home 8-10 days per month. For instance, if you spend $5 on gas each day you head to the office, this could equate to another $50 in the bank if your employer approves of your proposed remote work schedule.
7) Cut your own hair
The average haircut costs $43 for women and $28 for men. This equates to $71 per month for a married couple, or $852 per year. And if you pay for haircuts for your children, your savings could exceed over $1,000 per year. While only a small percentage of our population is trained to style hair, many people discovered that they have a hidden talent for hairdressing during the coronavirus outbreak.
8) Ditch the gym
Just as the COVID-19 lockdown helped some people realize they could actually trim hair, others discovered that they could create their own at-home workout routines. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many fitness buffs have developed helpful guides on exercising from home. And with monthly gym memberships averaging $58, you put away the money you save each month on your gym membership alone and have over $700 by the end of the year.
9) Find a side hustle and set aside your earnings
Nearly one-half of Americans under 35 have a side hustle, or second means of earning income. With the typical side hustle producing $200 per month, a second job or side gig is a great way to generate some cash that you can set aside. And if you don’t have a side hustle, there is no better time than the present to begin exploring options. Some of the most popular options include content writing, web design, and blogging.
10) Develop a savings mindset
The best way to regularly save money each month is to develop a savings mindset. You need to make saving money a top priority and map out a plan to meet your savings goals. There is no single “correct” way to achieve this, but setting a monthly goal is a great start. Be sure to post your goal in multiple highly visible locations so you will avoid the temptation to overspend and erase your gains. With a driven mindset, you will be much more likely to achieve your savings goals.