Getting ahead each month is tough. It takes significant discipline in order to keep spending down so that you have more leftover of what is coming instead of going out. Sure, it seems like common sense, but it takes more than seeing is lyft cheaper than uber to save, but really taking stock in your entire finances and actually looking at every dollar going out and figuring what is important as a necessary expense vs. unnecessary, essentially a need instead of a want. You always hear about how most are living paycheck to paycheck, not have much in savings, and aren’t contributing to retirement, but don’t just be another stat and reduce expenses so you can free up extra money each month and put that money towards building an emergency fund for a cushion if you need one, and really put serious contributions so you have money to live off when you do finally retire.
Take a Look at Money Going Out
You can take all the guesses and assumptions that you want when it comes to money you are spending but until you actually sit down with the bank or credit card statement from the previous month is when you can actually go line by line and see every dollar that you are spending, whether it’s good or bad, but it’s a good first step in admitting you have a spending problem when you start to see all of the unnecessary purchases you are making in a month and understand the need for a real adjustment in spending.
Get Rid of the Gym Membership
Sure, it was a great idea at the time, probably just after Christmas and, like most, want to make an improvement in their health, which is great, but after a few months of going the visits start to become less and less and pretty soon you are paying every month and not setting foot in the gym. If you can cut out the gym membership now, at least it’s saving money, and you’ve already gotten through probably the worst part of winter and in no time, it will be nice out to get more exercise outside.
Go Grocery Shopping
This is probably where you still see instant relief, if you are able to reduce going out to eat, start grocery shopping, and preparing your meals, snacks, and even brewing coffee at home to take in your traveler mug on the way to work. By having your meals prepped at home you will save on the high markup on going out to eat, which you have to factor in cooking, serving, not to mention cleaning up after you. So, if you can make the sacrifice and save going out for special occasions, you will see the savings add up.
Pay Off Debt
Whether it’s credit card debt, a personal loan, or student loan you are still paying on, the earlier you can get rid of debt the better, and give yourself a little financial freedom without the debt obligation, not to mention interest you’re paying every month. With a credit card, if you don’t payoff the statement balance by the due date you will be charged interest, so depending on the balance on the card, not to mention the interest rate, that could be a significant payment, and the smaller the payment, little it chips away at the balance.
Use a Credit Card Efficiently
That’s not to say that using a credit card is a mistake. In fact, by using responsibility and paying off the statement balance by the due date you can take advantage of probably the best parts of using a credit card, and why you can use it for every purchase you make: the rewards. Whether they’re in points you can redeem for gift cards, airline miles, or even a check once a year, you can earn money on the purchases that you would be making anyways. Now keep in mind, you need, again, pay off the full statement balance because otherwise the interest you are paying would outweigh the rewards you are getting back.
Try Going Without Cable
It’s not to say that free up extra money doesn’t come with a few sacrifices. If you are looking for even more saved each month you can look at your monthly bills, specifically cable. If you sit back and think about how much live TV you watch, what you DVR, and what you watch and pay for to get Netflix, it may not even be a question about if you are going to miss cable and maybe it’s time to cut the cord.