The 12 Best Ways to Start Saving Money

FT Contributor  | 

If you find that you’re one of the many who have struggled with finding ways to save money in the past, you can take a deep breath and relax. You’re not alone. Here are some simple money-saving tips to help kickstart your savings accounts, pad your rainy-day funds, and upgrade your financial status from good to great.

1. Choose Your Bank or Credit Union Carefully

An important question to ask along with how much should you have in savings is what kind of savings account you’re using in the first place. If you’re searching for how to start saving money, you may want to begin by going over your bank’s terms and conditions.

For instance, many banks will charge additional fees or pay pitifully small levels of interest. Others may offer incentives — sometimes in the hundreds of dollars — to open an account. 

If you feel your current bank isn’t doing you any favors, you may want to shop around a bit for a better bank with better interest rates and possibly a good cash incentive to boot.

2. Pick Up a Side Hustle

While there are many easy ways to save money, if you have some extra time, the best way to save money is often simply to pick up some work on the side. The gig economy has been growing at breakneck speed in recent years, offering numerous short-term jobs in a variety of different fields. A few of the best side hustles out there at this point include:

  • Photography;
  • Consulting;
  • Writing;
  • Financial controller;
  • Babysitting;
  • Airbnb host;

And that’s just a handful of the different kinds of work available. Size up your skillset and see what type of work you can pick up on the side.

3. Plan Meals

One of the ways to save money on a tight budget is to plan your meals ahead of time. If you shop for groceries with a plan in place you’re less likely to spend money on unnecessary items. In addition, if you have a meal plan you’re not going to eat out as often and you can also buy ingredients in bulk for multiple dishes. 

Planning your meals is a great way to ease your budget and leave money left over for you to squirrel away into your savings.

4. Pay Yourself First

Tradition dictates that you take care of bills and other expenses first and then save what’s left. However, the Pay Yourself First method is a fascinating way to flip the script. Rather than saving last, this strategy encourages you to save money first. 

Making your savings a priority of this caliber can be one of the best ways to actually get your savings going in the first place, rather than leaving it to the chance that you have any money left to save at the end of the day.

5. Save on Transportation

The modern era has a plethora of transportation options that can often make owning a vehicle unnecessary. While someone living in the country thirty miles from their job can’t get around the need for a car very easily, there are many other situations where transportation alternatives can save you money. 

For instance, rideshare services, public transportation, and even bikes can often get you from point A to point B with ease — and at a fraction of the cost of maintaining a personal vehicle. 

Even if you live far away from work, though, you still have options. Carpooling is always worth consideration, and requesting to work at least part of the time remotely can cut down on those transportation costs as well.

6. Invest to Save

It can be helpful to learn how to save money fast, but it’s also important to keep in mind that saving is a long-term game. Remember that sometimes the best option is to invest more money now in order to save money in the long run. 

Take, for instance, your car. Spending a bit more on a durable car now may prevent the need for some hefty car repairs down the road. A worn roof is another great example. If you put off investing in a new roof when it’s needed, you’ll likely end up paying for a new roof and water damage repairs down the road.

The point is to maintain that big-picture mindset whenever you’re making investment and maintenance decisions, as they can directly impact your power to save in the long run.

7. Keep an Eye on Used Retailers

A classic answer to the question of how to save more money comes in the form of used retailers. Never underestimate the power of a practical trip to the thrift shop or an overstock outlet. 

Even an afternoon spent thoughtfully and strategically touring your local garage sales can save you a bundle of cash. Just make sure to go into your frugal shopping with a plan in place or you’ll likely end up with a lot of things you didn’t plan on purchasing!

8. Try a Savings Challenge

If you’re the kind of person that thrives on competition, you may want to consider setting a money-saving challenge for yourself. This can be something as simple as purposefully setting aside your spare change or something as ambitious as not spending money for a certain amount of time. 

Whatever the level of difficulty, creating a money-saving challenge for yourself is a great way to set aside some cash for savings.

9. Pass on the Combo Meal

We already talked about creating a meal plan, but at some point or another, you’re still going to want to eat out. When you do, don’t take it as a license to order whatever you want because “you’ve been so good about eating out lately.” That’s an open invitation to put a dent in your hard-earned savings.

Instead, opt to pass on the combo meals, ditch that extra side, don’t upgrade to a large, and keep your choices generally lean and mean. Make your objective to simply curb your hunger until you can get home and eat a healthier, cheaper meal later on.

 

10. Get a Roommate

Having someone you can count on to share living costs with you is a great way to free up some of your mortgage, rent, and utility money. 

Having a roommate could help you move closer to a city center where lodging may have previously been too expensive. This, in turn, can have a trickle-down effect on your other savings as things like transportation costs decrease due to the availability of public transportation. Of course, as you trim your living expenses, make sure to redirect extra cash into your savings and you’ll be good to go.

11. Rent Out Storage Space

Even if you don’t have extra living space to work with, you may want to consider offering any extra storage space. 

This can have a minimal impact on your everyday life, as storage is typically kept out of sight and out of mind. Turning your extra space into a subtle source of passive income is a great way to come up with some extra money to save each month.

With this option — as well as the roommate option — keep in mind that you should always make sure that your side hustle doesn’t violate any terms in your lease, homeowners association (HOA) agreement, or other agreements that may be associated with your living space.

12. Be Wary of Subscriptions

Finally, there’s the streaming subscription. Initially hailed as the solution to the exorbitantly expensive cable bill, subscriptions have slowly become a pricey proposition in and of themselves. While each subscription is typically very affordable, it’s easy to find yourself paying for five or six at a time — and the costs add up quickly.

Pick your favorite subscription or two and then ax the rest. If you find that you want more than two, swap them out every month. Along with canceling your subscriptions, make sure to check your bank account to ensure that everything went through and you’re not still paying for subscriptions unknowingly.


Image Source: https://depositphotos.com/

This post was updated October 17, 2019. It was originally published October 17, 2019.