What if you could save money and live better in 2022? Sounds great, right?
This isn’t just another one of those New Year’s resolutions that you start and then stop a few weeks later. When you learn how to save money, you’ll reshape your life physically, mentally, and financially.
Here’s everything you must know to get started today.
How saving money helps you live better
You may wonder how saving money helps you live better if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, and saving feels stressful.
It may not feel like it at the moment, but saving money helps in many ways, including:
- Lowering your anxiety levels and provides peace of mind
- Ensuring you can cover unexpected emergencies without causing more stress
- Eliminating or decreasing arguments in your relationship
- Helping you feel more confident or happy
- Bettering your ability to achieve your goals
- Benefiting your health, especially if you feel less stressed
- Focusing on other ways to improve your life
What should you save for?
Everyone has different personal finance goals, but in general, here are some top reasons to save money.
No one can predict what happens in life. If you’re in a car accident, fall ill, or lose your job, you’ll need money to cover the expenses or to carry you through the hard times. Try saving at least three to six months of expenses in your emergency account.
Whether you’re 25-years-old or 50-years-old, you should always think about retirement. Saving as much money as you can when you’re younger will ensure you have enough money to retire or even retire early. At the very least, contribute the amount your employer will match in your 401K or max out the contribution limits for the year if you can afford it.
3. Large expenses
There are a few milestones most people experience in their lifetime that are expensive and require savings, including:
- Saving a down payment to buy a house
- Paying for your child’s college education
- Paying for a wedding
These are just examples. You may have other large expenses you want to save for, including vacations, buying an investment property, or even investing your money.
4. Irregular expenses
If you have irregular expenses or expenses that occur once a year, save money for them now, so they don’t sneak up on you. Real estate taxes (which are due twice a year) are a common example if you didn’t escrow the funds. Other examples include car maintenance, annual HOA dues, or home maintenance/improvement expenses.
Where to save money so you can live better
If you want to save money, you must learn where to invest your money to maximize its value.
Before you save money, think about your timeline and risk tolerance. If you are risk-averse, you may want to stick with savings accounts or certificates of deposit (CDs). If you have a higher risk tolerance, though, you may consider investing your money in bonds, stocks, or exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Before you decide where to save your money so you can live better, ask yourself these questions:
- How much time do I have before I need the money? Not all investments are liquid, so pay attention to how you’d get the funds if you needed them and what it would cost you.
- How much risk can I take? What will help you sleep at night? If the thought of losing any money is too much for you to handle, stick to more conservative options. If you like a little risk, though, you have a chance of greater return on your investment (ROI).
- How much do I have to save? Each investment option, including certain bank accounts, has a different minimum deposit or balance requirements. Make sure you can meet the criteria before choosing where to save your money.
Ways to save money live better
Fortunately, it’s not as hard as it sounds to save money and live better. With a few new habits and better choices, you too can be on your way to a happier, more fulfilling life.
1. Fix your money mindset
What you tell yourself about money is how you’ll treat it. If you constantly believe you don’t have enough money, you won’t. You’ll begin to believe you are financially abundant if you tell yourself you are by manifesting money. Work on your money mindset and watch your finances change.
2. Define your savings goals
You can’t save for something if you don’t know what you’re saving for. Define your goals, write them down, or make a vision board with them on there.
Make your goals known to everyone around you and keep reminders posted in places you’ll regularly see them. Use the reminders as motivation to keep striving for your goals. You’ll remember why you’re working so hard and will be less likely to give up.
3. Prioritize your budget
You can’t learn how to save money if you don’t have a budget. If you don’t have a budget yet, create one now. Once you have a budget, prioritize your spending. Focus on how much you can save and earmark it for specific goals. You can split up the funds you save for each goal too.
For example, if you have $500 a month to save and have five goals, contribute $100 to each goal every month until you reach your milestones.
4. Live on one income
If you’re married, consider earmarking one spouse’s income for savings and the other for living expenses. This takes a little creativity since you need your expenses to fit into one income, but it can be well worth it.
Make sure you’re focused on where you save the other spouse’s income, though. Create a budget for the income you’re saving, so you allocate the funds to the right categories and accounts.
5. Get a roommate
If you aren’t married, consider bringing in a roommate to cut your housing and living expenses in half. Any money you bring in from having a roommate can be allocated toward your savings goals. You’ll not only take the stress off yourself by covering the housing payment each month, but you’ll have money to set aside for other things too.
6. Automate your savings plan
Instead of paying yourself last each month (most people spend more than they save), automate your savings. Figure out how much of your income you can save each month and set up direct deposit with your employer for that amount, sending the money directly to your savings account. If your employer doesn’t offer direct deposit, see if your bank does automatic transfers—most offer it free of charge.
7. Complete a money savings challenge
Scour the internet, and you’ll find numerous money challenges. Some are simple, such as the $5 challenge. Every time you have a $5 bill in your possession, you put it away. At the end of the year, add up your savings. You might be surprised at how much you can save.
You can do the same thing with spare change, dollar bills, or any other increment of money you think would work.
8. Cancel memberships & subscriptions you don’t use
Scroll through your most recent debit and credit card statements, and you’ll likely find subscriptions or memberships you pay for but don’t use. Cancel as much as you can and earmark the money you save for other financial goals, such as your emergency fund or retirement account.
9. Find ways to save on utility bills
Don’t assume your utility bills are set in stone. Talk to your providers and find out ways you might be able to save. Depending on where you live, you may have choices for your utility providers, allowing you to save money on rates. Alternatively, you may be able to sign up for a budget plan that evens out your utility costs throughout the year rather than paying excessive increases during months of heavy use.
For example, you may be able to set up a budget plan with your gas provider. Rather than paying higher gas bills in the winter with excessive furnace use, you pay the same cost every month, but it covers the higher use in the winter.
10. Lower bank fees & higher interest
Shop around for the best bank accounts. Some banks charge you if you don’t keep a minimum balance or don’t have a certain amount of direct deposits each month.
There are hundreds of online banks since many operate nationwide, so look for one that offers terms you can meet and pays better interest rates than the typical brick-and-mortar banks.
11. Rent or download books
Rather than buying books and then letting them sit and collect dust, rent or download them. Your local library is a great source for free books, and many libraries even have online options allowing you to browse options at other online libraries too.
12. Repair old clothing
Rather than buying new clothes all the time, repair your old clothing. If something rips, needs hemming, or is missing a button, have them sewed. You can even find a new life for other items, such as pants you no longer like—turn them into shorts. T-shirts can become tank tops, and old sweats can become pajamas.
13. Earn money from your car or use public transportation
Your car can earn you money in a few ways. Some companies pay you to wrap your car, driving around to advertise for the company. You can also use your car to drive for Uber or Lyft or shop for Instacart or Shipt.
If you don’t have a car or don’t want to use it to make money, consider using public transportation to save money. The cost of public transportation is usually much lower than what it costs to fill a car with gas, maintain and insure it.
14. DIY your gifts
Gifts don’t have to be extravagant or expensive. It’s the thought that counts, and often, a DIY gift has a lot more thought in it than a store-bought gift. Think of ways you can gift your recipients that come from your heart, whether you’re crafty, you bake, write, or can help them with a chore they can’t do themselves.
15. Start a side hustle
One of the best ways to save money to live better is to start a side hustle. Start it with the intention of saving every penny you make. Think of it as a way to improve your life and find something you love to do.
A side hustle could be something crafty, technical, or a service you offer other small businesses, such as data entry, freelance writing, being a virtual assistant, social media management, or bookkeeping. Think about what you’re good at and what companies or individuals may want from you and see if you can make a side hustle out of it.
16. Get rewards & cashback when you can
Turn your smartphone into a money-making machine by downloading cashback apps. Apps like Fetch pay you just to upload receipts every time you shop. GetUpside pays you to get gas, and Rakuten pays you to shop online.
If you have reward credit cards, use them responsibly, and you could earn cashback. Find out what categories your credit card pays you the most for and use the card for those expenses, pay the balance off in full each month, and reap the rewards.
17. Meal plan & prep
Stop eating out by meal planning and prepping. You can meal plan weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. It depends on your lifestyle and how often you like grocery shopping.
Meal prepping is the key to not eating out. When you have the chopping, major cooking, and preparation done, it’s easier to come home after a long day and throw a meal in the oven or on the stove. You’ll save money by not eating out and have more money for other purposes.
18. Skip the daily Starbucks run
Starbucks is great, but it can add up fast. Even at $5 a drink, if you stop there daily, you’ll spend $35+ a week or $1,820 a year! Instead, make your coffee at home. If you have a taste for the sweet drinks at Starbucks, head to Pinterest and find your favorite recipe. Many DIY copycat recipes taste great.
19. Plan free activities
It’s easy to plan family fun for free. The simplest way to find out what’s going on around town is to follow your local bloggers. Millions of bloggers post about free and cheap things to do in major cities. Get to know the blogs and get the scoop on the latest happenings so you can entertain your family without going over budget.
20. Get an accountability partner
There’s no shame in telling someone else of your goals to save money and live better. You never know—your friend or loved one may want to join you. Just knowing you have someone to answer to when you spend money or don’t save like you planned may help keep you on track.
21. Don’t be afraid to say no!
Don’t think you have to say yes to everything. Not only does saying ‘no’ help you save money, but it also enables you to keep a clearer mind and stay true to yourself. Think about what’s offered to you and how it would (or wouldn’t) benefit you before saying ‘yes or no.’
It’s time to grab the bull by the horns and find ways to save money and live better. Life will keep flying past us at lightning speed. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t do what’s necessary to make more money, have better savings goals, and learn how to save money to reach our financial goals.