If you’re looking to save money fast, the easiest way is to spend less. It sounds counterintuitive, but when it comes down to it, you can cut back on spending without sacrificing your lifestyle.
Some of these tips will help you find extra money in unexpected places—like that coffee habit that costs an arm and a leg daily! If you’re looking for a way to save money fast, try some of these ideas.
Set SMART Financial Goals
What are SMART goals? SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound. SMART goals help you to set aside a specific amount of money you want to save each month and how much interest you’ll earn on your savings account.
Specify what you want to achieve in detail. For example, you might say, “I want to save $500 by the end of the year.”
Determine how you will know when the goal has been reached, such as a certain amount of money saved. For example, if your goal is to have $500 by the end of the year, set up a savings account and put $50 into it every week.
Ensure the goal is within your control and not dependent on external factors like luck or other people’s cooperation. You can also set lower intermediate milestones toward achieving the ultimate objective so that not all hope is lost if something goes wrong with one part of your plan (e.g., an unexpected expense).
Don’t let dreams become nightmares by giving yourself unrealistic expectations about what’s possible given current circumstances; set goals based on facts rather than wishful thinking.
Set deadlines so there’s pressure on yourself and accountability for meeting the goal. In addition to being a motivational tool, it keeps you from procrastinating and ensures you don’t get sidetracked by other things that come up along the way.
Trim Unnecessary Expenses
You can trim unnecessary expenses by reviewing your streaming subscriptions. Do you need Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video?
If so, which is your favorite, and which would make you the happiest to use while cutting the others? Stop buying coffee while commuting to work and consider switching from name-brand products with generic store-brand versions; they taste just as good without breaking the bank.
Also, consider shopping secondhand when replacing clothing or shoes; thrift stores sometimes have great deals on name brands that are still in excellent condition!
Consider using energy-efficient light bulbs and devices when possible because they’ll save money over time by consuming less electricity than standard ones (though this may require some upfront investment).
Create a Reliable Budget
A budget is an outline of how you will spend your money.
Without a budget, your buying habits can lead to more spending, and that’s not what you want! The first step in creating an effective savings plan is to figure out exactly how much money is going out and coming in each month. This means tracking your expenses as they happen, which may sound like a lot of work at first glance.
But there are plenty of tools available online that make it easy for anyone with access to a computer or smartphone (which is most people) who want to get started with budgeting right away without having any technical experience whatsoever. You can create a spreadsheet that tracks your expenses and income, like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
If you pay bills online monthly via your bank’s website or use an app like Mint, then all this information should also be saved there. There are plenty of apps designed specifically for budgeting that will make it easy for you!
Some people keep unnecessary subscriptions to avoid the hassle of dealing with all the steps. Rocket money can help you cancel with a click of a button and often enables you to get a refund in certain situations. Budgeting apps are a great way to save money and have access to your budget anywhere.
Make Automatic Bank Transfers
You can open a savings and checking account at the same bank. This will allow you to transfer money automatically to savings easily. If you use direct deposit, you can set up automatic deposits of a portion of each check into your savings account.
It’s best to remove it before seeing how much money you made. This is an awesome sneaky saving hack. Focusing on what’s in your checking while leaving your savings alone can build up savings over time without you even putting in the extra effort.
Another helpful tip is to use the Acorn app. With Acorn, you can round up to the nearest dollar when purchasing. For example, if you spend $25.50, you’ll pay $26.00. The additional $0.50 you pay goes to your Acorn account.
It’s the same as telling the cashier to keep the change at a supermarket, but you give it to yourself instead. You can use Acorn as a place to keep your savings as well. If you want to automatically move $25 a month into it, you can like a bank.
Avoid Eating Out
Here’s an easy way to save money: Stop eating out. It’s surprising how much people spend on food they could make themselves for less money and in less time. Using your lunch break at work can be tempting to grab some food from the nearest fast-food restaurant. But those small savings add up over time.
You can spend around one to four hours meal prepping for the week on one of your days off from work. Then whenever you’re busy, you can heat it, and you’re ready to eat. If you have time to eat out for every meal, you have time to melt prep.
While meal prepping can take extra work, it saves you money in the long run. If you’re serious about cutting costs, avoiding eating out is one of the number one ways to save money, and you can’t be picky while crunching numbers.
Get More Cashback
Credit cards with cashback programs allow you to receive reward points or a percentage of your spending back in cash.
If you constantly stay under your credit limit and pay off your balance entirely each month, it’s a great option; otherwise, the benefits won’t apply to you. Although travel rewards credit cards might offer lucrative redemption options, you receive points rather than cash, and the value of those points is subject to sudden and arbitrary changes. The situation is different for cashback credit cards.
Invest in Yourself
It’s a cliché, but it’s true: you are your most valuable asset. Consider starting an emergency fund. If you’re focusing on saving up for a house or a car, you must prepare for unexpected expenses to avoid them affecting your goals. Investing in your future is just as important as an emergency fund.
Try investing in yourself by using a retirement fund. When you save for the future, you will have better Financial Security. Another excellent way to invest in yourself is by learning more about your finances. Learn as much as possible about what should be put on a credit card and how much to spend.
The more you know about your finances, the better you’ll be informed to make beneficial decisions for your savings and budgets. Invest time into your education. Not only will this boost your knowledge, but it’ll also make you more knowledgeable about specific topics, which could help advance your career leading to more income.
You don’t have to go back to school, but researching and reading can be beneficial. This can give you better chances to earn more income. You can even learn new ways to make your job more efficient or your home life more.
Taking care of your body can help your mental and physical health. Eating healthy foods and exercising will help you feel better about yourself and make saving money easier because it reduces medical bills.
Start a Side Hustle
If you have enough time to worry about bills, you have enough time to do a side hustle.
Side hustles are a great way to maximize your income and bring in some extra dough without working too hard. One neat thing about side hustles is that they can be as simple or complicated as you want them to be. Here are some ideas.
If you have a knack for writing and storytelling, you could make money blogging. You can start a blog on anything you’re an expert in, even if it’s the latest update on Gray’s Anatomy.
Like blogging, this is an excellent option if you’re a good writer or conversationalist. You can create a podcast if you have an idea for something that would make people laugh, cry, be inspired, or have any other emotion.
Youtube or TikTok
This one is more challenging to pull off than the first options, but if you’re good at making videos and have some niche that people are interested in, then it could be worth your time.
This is another good option if you have extra items and can take pictures well. You can sell several used items online, like on eBay or a local selling app like OfferUp. Make a listing with a picture and sell for a fair price.
Save More Money Than You’d Thought Possible
If managing your finances has been stressful, it’s time to make a change.
The above tips should help you get there. Regular contributions to a savings account are essential for your finances. Still, if you want to accelerate your progress, you’ll need to take advantage of all the different ways to save money.
By doing this, you’ll be able to reduce any debt you have and help ensure that your financial future is secure. You must be willing to sacrifice to make these changes, but once you start seeing results, the sacrifices won’t seem so hard anymore.
This article originally appeared on Financially Well Off.