If you’d like to save more money in 2020, it can be overwhelming knowing exactly where to start. Should you invest in alt-coins? Should you pick up a side job? Is it time to ask for a raise? Well, if you’re feeling unsure of how to increase your savings, we have some lifestyle and finance tips to help you bulk up your savings account. Keep reading to learn about how to start a strong saving habit.
Americans spend a ton of money eating out each year. In fact, those between the ages of 25 and 34 spend on average $3,416 on dining expenses each year. Those under 25 spend $3,416 each year. And the biggest spenders were those aged between 35 and 54 years old, who averaged a little over $4,000 annually. With apps and services like UberEats and DoorDash, it’s easier than ever just to swipe and tap a few times to get food delivered directly to your doorstep. But if you can resist the temptation of eating out and using food delivery services, you can save some serious dough.
It’s a good idea to implement meal planning into your weekly routine, which can save thousands of dollars in dining out costs—plus, it helps you avoid wasting food.
Spend a few hours on Sunday or whatever day you have free to plan out your meals. You can use one core meal to serve as the main entrée each week and switch up the sides. For example, one week might be centered around a basic protein like baked chicken, but you can rotate in prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, steamed broccoli, and a mixed green salad to keep things interesting.
Cancel Memberships and Subscriptions
At the beginning of the year, it’s incredibly easy to get wrapped up in the fever of New Year’s resolutions. But if you’re near the middle of the year and you can count the number of times you’ve been to the gym on your fingers, it’s time to reconsider. Get rid of your gym membership and embrace free forms of exercise instead, go for a run or walk after work to get active.
If you have more than one entertainment subscription, consider minimizing and paring down to just one subscription like Netflix.
Grow a Garden
Sure, this option might be easier said than done but if you have the yard space to do so, this is a fun, practical hobby that will make you feel proud. There are plenty of resources available on YouTube and through other online tutorial pages. Need inspiration for choosing what produce is easiest to grow in your home garden? Start with beginner-friendly veggies like bell peppers, cabbage, and cucumbers.
Consider Alternative Commuting Options
This is another easy win if you live near your co-workers. Start by sending out a simple survey to your coworkers to get an idea of where everyone is located. Set up a vanpool or carpool rotation with people who live in your area. You’ll not only save money on gas and maintenance costs, but your commute might also be a little more enjoyable if you share the commuting burden with friendly colleagues.
You can also consider using public transportation or biking to work if you have a trustworthy bicycle to pedal there.
When you’re late paying your bills or credit card, you can be charged with late payment fees. To avoid these unnecessary expenses, set up an autopay system for all your major bills. This will help you save some green and give you peace-of-mind that you’re not forgetting to pay a particular bill.
Strategize Your Vacation
A summer vacation is a popular choice for adventurers and hard workers looking for respite from their 9-to-5s, but typically, lots of other people have the same idea. If you have some flexibility with the dates for your vacation, consider traveling during off-peak seasons like fall and winter. In most cases, travel will be cheaper, and you’ll have to contend with fewer crowds at popular attractions.
If you feel confident that getting a new credit card won’t tempt you into spending more, you may even want to consider applying for a travel credit card that helps you save even more cash. Although certain travel credit cards may charge annual fees, perks like free checked bags and annual companion passes may make the card a worthwhile investment.
Increase Your 401(k) Contribution
Saving for your retirement is incredibly important and one of the easiest ways to do so is by putting your money in a 401(k). If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, make sure to take advantage of it and consider putting in between 5-10% of your income. The amount you should contribute will depend on your retirement timeline, but it’s a good idea to at least match your employer’s contribution, if they offer any sort of matching.
High Yield Savings Account
If you’ve had the same bank for a while, it might make sense to shop around for a bank that offers better interest rates and lower fees. You may want to consider looking into online banking options in addition to credit unions and traditional banks.
Stay in More and Change Your Mindset
Tightening your discretionary spending is likely going to involve telling your friends “no” more often than they’re used to. But you don’t have to give up your friendships to be frugal. Instead of going out, throw a dinner party at your home and encourage guests to bring a bottle of their favorite alcohol to share. Focus your outings on free activities like hikes and free events like art gallery collection exhibits. Don’t think of this change as a cheapskate move. Instead, think of it as your transition to a wealth mindset.
Building your savings isn’t something that will happen overnight. You’ll need to be consistent in your money-saving mindset and make financial goals consistently. Living within your means and being more conscious of your spending will ultimately empower you and give you a financial cushion should an emergency like a car repair or medical expense pop up.