Trying to save money is HARD. Saving in your twenties is harder, especially if you live by yourself and are tens of thousands of dollars in debt like me. You might panic a little when a new bill shows up (those things slide into my mailbox too often, I swear they’re playin’ me). You might have student loans, rent, a car payment, and a bunch of other living expenses to take care of month-over-month, and if you’re lucky, you might have a little bit left over to spend on extra guac at Chipotle. Believe me, I’ve tried setting up a budget in Excel, downloading apps to stay on track, and logging my spending, but after a month or two, I totally fall off and forget to keep up. I do the same thing with exercise. Not my best quality. ANYWAY…
Like many financial gurus suggest, staying disciplined and learning to budget are great skills to have. They’re right! However, that often comes with cutting out ALL spending that isn’t “essential.” Frankly, it’s not entirely realistic. Don’t get me wrong…in order to save quickly, prepare to check yourself on needs vs. wants along the way. But what if I told you that you CAN go have fun with friends, travel, treat yourself, AND save money for later on? I’m no money mogul, and but I found out what works for me. Here’s how I added $1,000 to my savings account in just a few months:
1. SET UP AUTOMATIC DEPOSITS TO YOUR SAVINGS ACCOUNT
Check with your payroll department to see if you can distribute automatic deposits to more than one account. If so, put a small chunk of each paycheck into savings. Shoot for 10%, but if that scares you, 5% is a piece of cake to start. For me, I set a reminder to deposit at least $25-$50 of each paycheck into my savings on every pay day…that adds up to over $50 a month and over $600 a year! If you can manage to save more, or even explore investing in stocks, go for it. I promise, if you don’t see it in the first place, you won’t even notice it’s missing.
2. CONSULT A FINANCIAL ADVISOR
When it comes to making money moves, sometimes it’s helpful to pull in a professional. Many financial advisors offer free consultations, and you can usually find one at your local bank. Chances are, if you’re already a customer there, you may be able to receive financial advising at a low fee, or even for free. I spent an hour on the phone with a financial advisor last week and felt SO MUCH BETTER once I had a plan painted out based on my own circumstances and goals.
3. SPEND ONLY WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD TO
This is probably the golden rule of saving. Don’t spend outside of your means. OK, NOW HEAR ME OUT ON THIS NEXT METHOD…It worked for me for a little while and it’s a small variation on Dave Ramsey’s Envelope System, which could help you budget and see exactly how much you’re spending in different areas.
The day you get your paycheck, take out some cash JUST for fun spending (be careful not to take out too much. Pay your bills, boo). Whatever is in your checking account will go to your essential expenses. Be careful how you define “essential”…think utilities, rent, groceries, etc. A Sephora haul probably isn’t essential, so stay disciplined and keep it separate. The cash you withdrew will be your allowance for the fun things–shopping, going out with friends, restaurants, or treating yourself. Once the cash is gone, you’ve gotta wait until the next paycheck to replenish your spending money envelope.
Not a cash person? Consider a second checking account strictly for discretionary spending. SO LISTEN, I know this method comes with some pros and cons, like added fees or having to stay on top of multiple accounts, so be sure to consider any consequences to decide if opening another account is a good move for you. This is a very simple way to practice budgeting while allowing yourself freedom for fun spending. Just be sure to keep your sticky fingers away from funds for the essentials!
4. BUILD UP DAT CREDIT
If you’re looking to buy a home, a car, or anything else where you may need some credit behind you, it’s time to build it up, baby! Bad credit can set you back in the long run, so make this a financial priority. Get a credit card and start putting small charges on it, like groceries, gas, or small purchases and PAY IT OFF EVERY SINGLE MONTH. It’s SO important to be responsible with a credit card, because it can easily become a fast track to crippling debt. There are some great credit card options with nice rewards and no annual fees, so do your research. Staying on top of your credit will set you up for long-term success.
5. GET THE DIGIT APP
Digit really helped me save FAST (this isn’t sponsored, I genuinely like the app and use it regularly). You can create savings goals like “travel” or “new car” or “wedding planning” or connect it to your loan accounts or credit card to distribute saved money to pay off debt. It works by taking super small amounts from your checking account every day and holding it in your Digit account. You can withdraw that money at any time, pause a savings goal, or even boost a savings goal to pick up the pace. I tossed in a screenshot below so you can get an idea of what mine looks like currently. In just a few weeks, Digit tucked away almost $100 toward my separate savings goals. You can automatically get $5 from Digit here.
6. DEPOSIT LOOSE CHANGE
Loose change is like glitter, it shows up everywhere I turn…the cup holders in my car, at the bottom of my purse, on a random catch-all dish in my apartment, behind my ear, you name it. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, and as annoying as it is, saving loose change can add up. At the end of every month (or whenever you’ve acquired too much), take whatever change you have laying around straight to the bank and deposit it to your savings. I took $15 worth of change to the bank last month. Every little penny helps!
7. SELLING RANDOM STUFF? SAVE YOUR REVENUE
If you’re getting rid of things, like selling clothes, furniture, or odds and ends, you might pick up a few extra bucks. This will be really hard, but TUCK IT AWAY. Toss it into savings or throw it toward your loans for a little boost. This is where discipline comes into play. It’s easy to want to keep that cash for fun stuff, and I think it’s important to treat yourself a little bit along the way, but that $25 could pay off some interest on a student loan. Easy peasy.
8. TURN OFF PUSH NOTIFICATIONS
I have a bunch of apps on my phone for food delivery, shopping, etc. While I love seeing when the sales are happening, constant notifications often cause me to spend more money than I really need to. Turn off your push notifications for these apps and unsubscribe to store email lists so you’re not tempted to click and shop the minute you get a notification.
9. UNSUBSCRIBE, UNSUBSCRIBE, UNSUBSCRIBE
Do you have accounts with subscription boxes or services that have automatic membership renewals monthly or annually? If you don’t use them or could go without them, unsubscribe! I logged into my bank account last week and noticed I had a $30 annual fee withdrawn for a service that I totally forgot about. BUH-BYE! Unsubscribing from unnecessary services or memberships can save you hundreds every year.
10. REMIND YOURSELF OF YOUR GOALS
One of the best ways to keep yourself in check is by creating and checking in on your goals. What are you saving for? What kind of lifestyle do you want to live? What is a savings amount you may be working toward? Keeping your goals in mind and visualizing reaching those goals can help motivate you to stay on track. You can do this!
When it comes to saving, consistency is key. Of course, we all fall on tough times at one point or another when it might not be feasible to save a ton, but it’s definitely possible to set aside a few dollars for the future. The tips above are ones that have worked for me, and because each financial situation is different, no money move is one-size-fits-all. Be sure to do what’s best for you and your bank account! Don’t forget that it all adds up, even if it feels like a slow process. Do you have more ideas on how to save? Let me know in the comments.