FI Frugality Personal Finance

How to Save a Little Each Month

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Photo credit: Josh Appel on Unsplash

This guest post was written by Lyle Solomon. Lyle has considerable litigation experience as well as substantial hands-on knowledge and expertise in legal analysis and writing. Since 2003, he has been a member of the State Bar of California. In 1998, he graduated from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California, and now serves as a principal attorney for the Oak View Law Group in California. He has contributed to publications such as Entrepreneur, All Business, US Chamber, Finance Magnates, Next Avenue, and many more.

How to save a little each month

It is simple to stop pulling out your wallet or purse every once in a while and declare triumph. However, do not kid yourself. We, and probably you too, know it is the recurring expenses, such as groceries and phone bills, which really drown you into debt. 

Did you know that the monthly expenses, such as food and rent, are what many people neglect? This is because they are used to or subconsciously trained to ignore them after seeing the same line item every month.

The best thing about saving a specific percentage of your income on a monthly basis is that it will help you grow your savings and create a safety net for the rainy days. While how much money you set aside or save each month depends on your budget and goals, every amount that you contribute—as little as $1 per day—will help build your savings.

Saving money each month is a high priority for a lot of people; however, there are times when saving can be almost impossible. This is especially true when you want to balance making responsible and prudent financial decisions and having a little fun. 

There is no doubt that saving money is more crucial than ever in 2021, especially because of the financial uncertainties triggered by the pandemic. Although personal savings rates are increasing, the savings rate (on average) has been declining since 2010

You should know that there are many areas, such as entertainment, of your monthly spending that, once eliminated, will help save you considerably money every single month. 

Related: 53 Ways You Can Embrace Frugal Living Today

Are you curious? Luckily, there are many simple and clever ways to save your valuable money every month, even if you are on a tight budget.

Get in Control and Budget

It is much easier and quicker to save money when you know and understand where your funds are going. This is why you should look at your expenses over the last twelve months and categorize them. This is important as it will help you determine what areas you would like to cut back on. 

If you have not done it already, creating a detailed and comprehensive budget is one of the first steps to saving money a little each month. 

You should make a list of your discretionary spending after you’ve budgeted for the necessities, such as food, rent, and utilities. Believe us, there is nothing better than having your actual spending data in your hands. Keep in mind that this will give you more control, making it simple to find areas where you may be able to dial down spending.

Use Direct Deposit

After looking at your spending habits, make the saving process simpler by automating it. Does your employer provide direct deposit? If yes, they might also offer the ability to designate specific portions of your paycheck to different bank accounts. 

In that case, you should earmark a percentage of your monthly pay or salary to be deposited into your savings account. Note that if the funds are not in your checking account, it will help you avoid spending them.

If you would like to give your savings account a quick boost, dividing part of the direct deposit from your salary check into a simple investing for beginners or a high-yield savings account is all it takes to put your hard-earned savings on autopilot.

As you can see, automating your savings is a simple way to get peace of mind that you are saving money without even remembering to do anything special.

Set Reasonable Savings Goals

One of the simplest and best ways to save money each month is to set a goal. It is best to start by thinking of what you would like to save for—perhaps you are planning a vacation, getting married, or saving for retirement. 

Renegotiate Your Bills

You should also take a close look at your monthly bills, such as cable, utilities, phone, insurance, and credit cards. It is another great way to start saving. First, you should browse your current plans. This will help you determine whether you can cut back.  As yourself these questions:

  • Are you currently using all the features, such as international roaming, on your phone plan? 
  • Do you really watch the expensive cable TV that you pay for every month? 
  • Are there any other providers in your area that may offer lower rates? 

While for home utilities, such as electricity and gas, you likely can’t choose your provider. However, keep in mind that you can call and try to renegotiate your rates. 

Use Cashback Apps

Did you know that cashback and rebate apps are an excellent way to save money? This is because you will save when you spend. 

This means that there is no sacrifice at all! If you are shopping online, you can click through Swagbucks or Rakuten before you purchase to earn cash back on your different purchases. You can also use apps, such as Ibotta and Fetch, even if you forget to scan your receipts for cashback.

Get Free Debt Counseling

One of the most reliable ways to manage your debt, such as credit card debt and student loans, is with a reliable Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS) counselor. Keep in mind that CCCS’ network of non-profit credit counselors will work with you confidentially and judgment-free in order to help you create a budget, determine your options, and even negotiate with creditors to pay off your debts. 

DIY Your Grunt Work

There is no need to pay someone for things like fixing a leaky faucet when you can DIY (do-it-yourself) for free? If you are forking over a lot of cash for a cleaning service, you are making a mistake. You can instead save that money and simply clean your house for a while.

Related: How to Reach FI on One Income, With Kids, in a High Cost of Living Area

Pack Your Own Lunch

While it might seem inconvenient at times, this is perhaps the most valuable daily change that you can make in your life without feeling much discomfort. Keep in mind that the average deli meat and cheese sandwich, a cookie, a bag of chips, and iced tea costs about $11.50 a day. On the other hand, if you make a nearly identical lunch at home, it will cost you around $700 per year.

Unsubscribe

You may be paying for things, like smartphone apps or gym memberships that you do not even use anymore. You can use Unroll.me and TrueBill to help you find your subscriptions and even eliminate those you do not use. 

You should also avoid temptation by unsubscribing from both marketing emails and texts from the retail stores and outlets where you spend the most money. 

Purchase in Bulk

This is another easy way to save money each month. You can buy certain items in bulk. For example, you can buy toilet paper, cleaning supplies, paper towels, and canned food in bulk, making them much cheaper. 

Enjoy the Convenience

You may think that curbside pickup and grocery delivery are a luxury, but this can help save you money as well as precious time. 

For example, by having your groceries come to you or by simply picking them up curbside at the convenient store, you will avoid impulse purchases, which can easily add 20% or more to the grocery bill.

Pay off Debt

Like many people, you may pay only the minimums on your debt each month without ever taking the time in order to figure out what your debt costs over time. Did you know that credit card debt is soaring

According to recent Experian data, the average US household carried about $5,338 in credit card debt. Unfortunately, this may lead to paying hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars in interest expense each month. As interest payments do not go towards the principal of your debts, this is essentially money down the drain.

If you would like to save money, you should pay off your debt, especially credit card debt. For example, if you’ve $10,000 in credit card debt at a steep 18% APR, you will pay $200 each month. At this rate, you will pay an additional $8,623 in interest. In addition, it will take more than 90 months to pay it off. That is nearly eight long years! 

In contrast, if you could repay your $10,000 in credit card loans quickly by slashing your spending, you could avoid about $9,000 in interest while freeing up $200 in additional cash every month. Whenever you pay off high-interest debt, such as credit card debt, you just cannot lose. This is where credit card settlement can be helpful.

If you’ve high credit card debt, you may be able to settle your debt for less than the full amount. If you rely heavily on credit cards in order to get you through, you might feel like you will never get out of credit card debt. However, with credit card settlement, you can enjoy the following benefits.

  • You will pay less overall on your credit card debt in a shorter amount of time. 
  • Credit card settlement is less detrimental to your credit than filing bankruptcy if your credit is not already poor.

Compare Your Prescriptions

You can also avoid overpaying for your prescriptions. It is best to opt for generic drugs over expensive brand names. Did you know that generics are equally effective but cost much less? Whether you’ve health insurance or not, it is possible to save money on your monthly prescriptions with apps like GoodRx. You should also shop around, as prices can vary between pharmacies.

Related: For even more money-saving tips, check out the How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life interview series

Final Thoughts 

You may convince yourself that you are saving as much as you can or there is nowhere left to cut. However, the truth might be you have become so accustomed to certain things that you do not even question some expenses anymore.

You have to question every expense and save money. Saving on monthly expenses can be very rewarding in many different ways. For instance, it will help you put aside cash for emergencies, slim down your debt, and allocate more funds for retirement. 

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Bob Wen
    December 18, 2021 at 7:48 am

    Those are great tips. For us, asking ourselves “do I really need it?” before buying something was a game-changer. Having said that, this has now evolved to “do I need it or does it add lasting value to my/our life?”.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      December 18, 2021 at 11:43 pm

      Hi Bob—“Do I need it or does it add lasting value to my/our life?”. Wow, that’s a fantastic tip to add to the list! So many would benefit from pausing and asking themselves that question before making a purchase. I will remember that and share it whenever I can!

  • Reply
    Maria @ Handful of Thoughts
    January 6, 2022 at 2:56 pm

    With everything there is available for free on YouTube DIY your grunt work is a great tip.

    I would also add searching for a coupon code anytime you make an online purchase.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 7, 2022 at 10:44 pm

      Hi Maria—I’m sure, as a landlord, you’re very aware of how much DIYing grunt work can save money!

      Ah, yes, I agree that coupon codes are an excellent addition. They’re getting harder and harder to find, but when you find one, it’s sooo satisfying!

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