Sometimes the hardest thing about saving money is just getting started. Although there are no magic tricks to make you into an instant millionaire, there are a few ways you can learn how to build your money in no time.
This step-by-step guide for how to save money can help you develop a simple and realistic strategy, so you can save for all your short- and long-term savings goals.
1. Record Your Expenses
The first step to start saving money is to figure out how much you spend. Keep track of all your expenses—that means every coffee, Movies, grocery, Restaurants/Fast food, household item, and cash tip.
Once you have your data, organize the numbers by categories, such as gas, groceries, and household item, and total each amount. Use your credit card and bank statements to make sure you’re accurate—and don’t forget any.
2. Budget for Savings
Once you have an idea of what you spend in a month, you can begin to organize your recorded expenses into a workable budget. Your budget should outline how your expenses measure up to your income—so you can plan your spending and limit overspending. Be sure to factor in expenses that occur regularly but not every month, such as car maintenance, holiday trip, etc.
3. Find Ways to Cut Your Spending
If your expenses are so high that you can’t save as much as you’d like, it might be time to cut back. Identify nonessentials that you can spend less on, such as entertainment and dining out. Look for ways to save on your fixed monthly expenses like television and your cell phone, too.
Here are some ideas for trimming everyday expenses:
- Cancel subscriptions and memberships you don’t use—especially if they renew automatically.
- Commit to eating out only once a month and trying places that fall into the “cheap eats” category.
- Give yourself a “cooling off period”: When tempted by a nonessential purchase, wait a few days. You may be glad you passed—or ready to save up for it.
- Go shopping with a list, and stick to it.
- Avoid trips to shopping malls and online buying sites.
- Leave credit cards at home. Pay by cash or debit card, so you don’t spend money you don’t have. (But be aware that if you pay your credit card bills on time and in full, a credit card can be the cheapest method of payment.)
- Reduce the credit limit on your credit card.
4. Set Savings Goals
One of the best ways to save money is to set a goal. Start by thinking of what you might want to save for—perhaps you’re getting married, planning a vacation or saving for retirement. Then figure out how much money you’ll need and how long it might take you to save it.
Here are some examples of short- and long-term goals:
Short-term (1–3 years)
- Emergency fund (3–9 months of living expenses, just in case)
- Down payment for a car
Long-term (4+ years)
- Down payment on a home or a remodeling project.
- Your child’s education.
5. Decide On Your Priorities
After your expenses and income, your goals are likely to have the biggest impact on how you allocate your savings. Be sure to remember long-term goals—it’s important that planning for retirement doesn’t take a back seat to shorter-term needs.
Tip: Learn how to prioritize your savings goals so you have a clear idea of where to start saving. For example, if you know you’re going to need to replace your car in the near future, you could start putting money away for one now.
6. Pick The Right Tools
If you’re saving for short-term goals, then consider the below options:
- Recurring Deposits
- Debt Instruments
- Bank Fixed Deposits
- Post-Office Time Deposits
- Large Cap Mutual Funds
- Corporate Deposits
For long-term goals consider:
- Direct equity
- Equity mutual funds
- National Pension System
- Public Provident Fund (PPF)
- Bank fixed deposit (FD)
- Senior Citizens’ Saving Scheme (SCSS)
- Real Estate
7. Make Saving Automatic
An automatic savings plan is a form of a personal saving scheme in which the donor to the plan automatically deposits a fixed sum of funds into his account at prescribed intervals. This type of typical structure is an automatic transfer every two weeks from an individual’s salary account to a savings or investment account.
The allocated amount is automatically transferred to the savings account of the individual each time the person receives a paycheck from his or her employer.
8. Watch Your Savings Grow
Review your budget and check your progress every month. Not only will this help you stick to your personal savings plan, but it also helps you identify and fix problems quickly. Understanding how to save money may even inspire you to find more ways to save and hit your goals faster.