It can be tough to save money.  By the time you pay the monthly bills, leave some for food and gas, not to mention keeping an emergency fund, while trying to save for your future, you are lucky if you are able to take care of all of them.  That leaves saving money all more important to free up extra money to avoid wasting money on unnecessary items and putting towards what is most important.  By making a few changes you can start saving money now and improve investing in yourself, which is the most important thing you can do for your future.  It shouldn’t rest on your shoulders; get your significant other, family, or friends that you can trust to help get you there.

Take Advantage of Employer Contributions

If you are taking part in your work 401(k) account that is a good start, or if you’re not you need to start now.  What you should take a look at though is that many companies will over matching contributions up to a certain level, so let’s say they will match up to 6% contributions, you should at least be contributing 6% so you get the full company match.  By investing any less, you would be leaving free money on the table that will be missing from your retirement account and not earning compound interest over the next few decades, which could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Avoid Touching Retirement Account

As you continue to build up your retirement account it can be tempting to see that large balance and want to withdraw the money to pay off debt, buy a house, or even use for fun like a vacation, but you are doing yourself a great deal of harm in the long run if you wipe out that account.  By removing what’s in there, there is nothing there to gain over time, so you could be setting yourself back years from retirement depending on how much you are taking out.  Avoid the temptation and leave that money alone.

Track What You Are Spending

Now that you have automatic contributions to your retirement account you can now focus on where the money is going each month.  Obviously, the goal would be to start with having more money coming in than going out, but taking it a step further it’s nice to know exactly where every dollar is going.  If you take a look at your bank and/or credit card statement, you can actually go line by line to see where your money is going.  From here if you can use to eliminate unnecessary spending by adding up what you could have saved if you didn’t make those careless purchases.  It could be scary.

Compare Prices

It used to be that you would have to drive around town looking for the best prices, burning gas, not to mention your entire day, just trying to save a few dollars (which after all of that was it even worth it?).  These days you can search a handful of websites in the matter of seconds, trying to score out the best price to add to your cart, with free shipping no less.  Kind of makes you wonder why you would even leave your house again to go shopping.

Use a Rewards Credit Card

It can be argued that credit cards should be used for every purchase.  In addition to the fraud protection they offer, you can also earn money back just on the purchases that you were making anyways with a rewards credit card.  Purchases can earn you rewards in a number of ways, such as miles, points, or dollars, which when you see that amount add up, you would be leaving free money on the table if you don’t use your rewards credit card.  The only thing you have to watch out for is making sure you don’t use your card solely for the rewards, which could get you in trouble with a balance.

Try Using Cash Only

If using a credit card scares you too much, or you find yourself charging too much where the interest outweighs the rewards, then it may be beneficial to allot a certain amount of cash each paycheck to spend, and when it’s gone, it’s gone until the next check.  That way you can only spend what you have, and at the same time it could be helping you spend less when you see the cash leaving your hand and going into the register.  It might make you second guess each purchase.