It may seem ridiculous to save money if you’re barely making ends meet. But even if you only have a few dollars left over at the end of the month, putting it aside in a savings account can still add up over time. And, once you have a nice nest egg, you’ll feel good knowing that you’re taking care of your long-term future.
Why saving money is so important
Saving money is important — we’ve all heard that message… But why? Let’s start with these three reasons:
1. Less fear
If you live in fear that you’ll run out of money by the end of each month or you’re worried about how you’re going to pay for an unexpected bill, a savings account can help. As your account grows over time, you can become less worried about an unexpected bill or emergency expense. After all, you’ll have the cash to fall back on for peace of mind.
2. More freedom
Without savings, you are left with fewer options financially. For example, if you need to take time off to care for a sick family member or say goodbye to a toxic job environment, an empty savings account won’t give you much to lean. Having extra cash is key so that, when life happens, you can stay afloat for a few weeks without any income.
3. Put your money to work for you
Eventually, when you have enough saved to feel comfortable, you can put your money to work for you in the form of investments. And that’s where the real magic happens. Because you can grow your savings without even thinking about it.
Tell me more 🤔 When you invest, you buy an asset that will hopefully appreciate in value. Investments include things like stocks, bonds, and real estate. While investments don’t always go up, they have the potential to increase significantly in the long-run.
9 secrets to saving money (when you feel like you can’t)
Now that you know why it’s important to save, how do you actually get started? Here are some ideas:
1. Cut back on food spending
Even if you don’t think that you spend a lot on food, go back through your last bank statement and credit card bill. Maybe you picked up a few impulse buys on each trip (those cookies near the check out looked too good!) But those little things can really add up over time.
To start, you can focus on meal planning, head to the grocery store with a list, and shop the sales. If you find yourself still struggling to stick to your list without picking up little things here and there, consider going the grocery pickup route. Order groceries online or through the store app and pick them up in the designated area of the grocery store parking lot. No need to even go inside and be tempted to make a purchase!
2. Cancel subscriptions
You know that Disney+ subscription you signed up for to watch that one movie, but it’s been billing you $9.99 ever since? Or that free trial of Obe Fitness you forgot to cancel…six months ago?
Sneaky subscriptions can cost you money, without you necessarily realizing it. Whether or not you use them, that automatic payment can keep deducting money from your bank account or charge your credit card. To give your monthly budget a little breathing room, review all your active subscriptions and cut out the ones you don’t need. Even if it’s only $10, that can add up to $120 per year!
Pro Tip: Once you cancel a subscription, set up an automatic transfer into your savings account for the same exact amount. That way, you’ll be able to watch your savings account grow each month, without needing to manually transfer any money.
3. Lower your cell phone bill
These days, there are plenty of low-cost options for cell phone plans, so there’s no excuse to stay with a big, expensive carrier. Instead, consider checking out low-cost carriers like Mint or Republic Wireless. For example, on an 8GB plan you’ll save $50 per month when you switch from Verizon ($70/month) to Mint ($20/month).
If you want to stick with your current carrier, check your current data and minutes usage. You might be paying for more data than you need. If that’s the case, you can call them to scale back on the amount of data and minutes you pay for.
4. Cut the (cable) cord
There’s really no reason to pay for overpriced cable anymore. With Hulu, Netfilx, Amazon Prime, and more, streaming your most-loved TV shows for a fraction of the price of cable has never been easier.
Say goodbye to cable for a month or two and pick a streaming service to try out instead. The money that you save can go directly into your savings account and after a few months you might realize that you’d rather have that money in the bank instead of hundreds of channels at your fingertips.
5. Workout at home
Going to the gym is so 2019! And while some people may look at working out at home as a temporary thing, if you’re trying to save money it’s a good idea to make this a habit that sticks.
Luckily, you don’t need a lot of equipment or an expensive bike to stay healthy at home. You can start with simple exercises that just use your bodyweight and free YouTube channels. If you’re into yoga, Yoga with Adriene. has hundreds of free videos. Plus, PopSugar Fitness offers a wide range of classes, including hip hop cardio classes and high intensity interval training. And there’s plenty more to find online!
6. Try a spending cleanse
If you really want to kickstart some new spending habits, try a spending cleanse. During a spending cleanse you eliminate all unnecessary spending for a certain amount of time.
You can set the rules for your spending cleanse and decide what you’re going to cut out and for how long. For example, say you’ve decided that you’re not going to eat out for an entire month — no coffee, lunches, dinners, or happy hours. If you usually pay for a coffee out a few times a week ($15), lunch a few times a week ($30), and dinner once a week ($30), you could be looking at saving $75 per week, or $300 per month.
Pro Tip: Need some inspiration to put your wallet away? This woman did an entire no spend year!
7. Find accountability
It can be challenging to stick to a budget and save money on your own. There will be moments when you want to spend more than you should. That’s where an accountability partner can really help. Find a friend who is also trying to save money and work together to encourage each other to save.
That might mean you plan weekly check-ins to review your spending or it can be as simple as texting them to talk you out of making an impulse purchase that will derail your savings. If you don’t have anyone in your life who is as excited to save as you are, join a savings-motivated Facebook group like ChooseFI, Listen Money Matters, or Forever 35 Money.
8. Sell your extra things
You don’t have to sell everything you own, but you may have some things gathering dust around your home that you just don’t need anymore. Consider selling those items online to jump-start your savings account. For example, Poshmark to sell clothes, Ebay for clothes, bags, household goods, and Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to sell things locally.
Not only will this give you a little boost, but you can feel good about giving your items a second home with someone who will use and appreciate them.
9. Borrow books
If you love to read (or are reading more since cutting cable), don’t immediately press buy on the books you want. Public libraries offer so many great books (and movies!) that you can rent.
If heading to a library doesn’t excite you, there are options to borrow e-books from your library that you can read on a phone or tablet. The Libby app by Overdrive offers options to borrow from local libraries. Check with your library to see what they use.
The secret to saving money is to start! Finding a way to cut as little as $1 from your spending and putting it away in a savings account can make a huge difference over time. It may not seem like much at first, but after a few months of cutting back and saving up, you’ll feel great having a little cash stashed away to help support your future.