Kathy is a freelance writer who worked as a financial advisor in a large Canadian bank for almost 15 years.
Save More Money This Year
If you're living paycheck to paycheck, or spending as much (or more) than you earn each month, you may find it impossible to ever put any money aside for savings. But having some money available in the bank for emergencies and unplanned expenses can give you some much needed peace of mind.
Also, if you have goals like taking a nice family vacation, purchasing a new vehicle or buying a new fridge, it's good to have money saved up so that you don't accumulate more debt.
In order to be able to save more money, you need to either increase your income or reduce your spending. If you can do both of these things, then you'll have more money left over every month and your savings will grow faster.
If you don't already have a family budget, the first thing you'll need to do is to understand how much money is coming in and going out of your household each month. There are many online tools and software packages available to help you track your monthly income and expenses, including Quicken, Mint.com, and Budgetpulse.com.
These tools can help you identify areas where you are spending too much money and create a plan to reduce your debts and increase your savings.
Free Online Budgeting Tools
Mint.com - Free online financial management tool that allows you to track all of your financial accounts in one place, set a budget, manage your finances, track spending and monitor savings goals. A free iPhone app is also available.
Budgetpulse.com - Free online personal budgeting tool that allows you to monitor your income and spending, set savings goals and more.
Set a Savings Goal
When it comes to saving money, that old adage "a failure to plan is a plan to fail" comes to mind. Saving money is not likely to happen, unless you have clear goals and a plan for achieving those goals.
Whether you would like to save money for an emergency fund, to buy a new car, for a family vacation, or for buying Christmas presents next year so you don't have to put them on credit, you should ask yourself a few questions.
- What are you saving for?
- How much money do you need to save?
- When do you want to have the money available?
Once you have a clearer idea of your savings goal, it is much easier to come up with a plan to achieve that goal.
Let's say your goal is to save $1000 over the next year to pay for flights for the family to visit your relatives. To make the goal more achievable, break this figure down to monthly, weekly amounts or even daily amounts.
$1000 in a year = $83.33 per month = $19.23 per week = $2.74 per day
This will help you visualize ways that you might be able to save the money.
Ways to Decrease Expenses
If you haven't already done so, take a look at your bank statements and credit card bills to get an idea of where your money is going each month. It is often helpful to group the expenses into different categories when you're looking for ways to reduce your spending. For example:
- Housing costs - mortgage or rent, utility bills,
- Food expenses - groceries, take out, restaurants, coffee shops
- Entertainment expenses - movies, cable or satellite TV, concerts, etc
- Communication expenses - home phone, cell phone, internet, data plans
- Shopping - clothing, books, hobbies, toiletries, kids
- Transportation - gas, car insurance, car loan or lease, transit, parking, car maintenance
- Travel - vacations, getaways
- Other - bank fees, school trips, pet care, etc
Evaluate each category and look for possible ways to save in each area. For example,
- Instead of buying books or movies, borrow some from friends or the library.
- Reduce gas and parking costs by walking, riding your bike, car pooling or taking public transportation.
- Talk to your financial institution to renegotiate your mortgage or loan rate.
- Consider a debt consolidation loan to reduce interest costs on credit cards.
- Call your cell phone provider to see if you can negotiate a better plan, or shop around with other providers for the best deal.
- Look into other providers and costs for your phone, internet, gas, electricity and other monthly expenses. Often your own provider will be willing to give you a discount if you let them know you are considering moving your services.
- Reduce the amount of take-out meals you eat each month by bringing your lunch to work more often and cooking more dinners at home.
- Make coffee at home or at work instead of visiting coffee shops as frequently.
- Use coupons when you do your grocery shopping.
- Use online discount codes for online shopping purchases.
- Switch to a no-fee banking account.
Ways to Earn Extra Money
In addition to looking at ways to reduce your monthly expenses, you may also want to consider ways you can bring in some extra income to help you achieve your savings goals faster.
Here are a few possibilities:
- Get a part time job. You may be able to get a job working a few hours a week at a local store or small business, doing some cleaning or babysitting or even working from home.
- Sell items that your family no longer uses or needs, such as children's clothing and toys, tools, books, DVDs, appliances, furniture, or jewelry. You can either sell them online, through a local consignment store or at a garage sale.
- Freelance sites such as Elance or ODesk offer a variety of jobs in areas such as writing, admin support, translation, IT and programming, accounting, photography and graphic design. Even picking up one project every month or two can make a difference to your bottom line.
- If you like to write, you can earn extra money by writing for sites like HubPages.
- Your kids can help to contribute family savings, especially for things that are important to them, like a vacation. Possible income sources for kids are paper routes, yard services such as raking lawns, weeding gardens, shovelling snow or babysitting.
Where to sell things you no longer need for extra cash
|Item||Where to Sell Online||Other Places to Sell|
Amazon, eBay, Half.com
garage sale, used book store
Craigslist, eBay, Kijiji
consignment store, yard sale
Kids toys and games
eBay, Craigslist, Kijiji
kids' consignment stores, garage sale, childrens clothing sales
Lots of online gold and jewelry buyers to choose from
pawn shop, gold buyer, gold parties, jewelry shop
auction, garage sale, estate sale
garage sale, auction, local newspaper classifieds
Craigslist, Kijiji, eBay
auction, estate sale, garage sale
Important Savings Tip:
Be sure to set up a separate account for your savings, so you can allocate money saved on monthly expenses, or extra money you receive, to that account so that it doesn't end up getting spent on something else.
If you have reduced a regular monthly expense, you can set up a recurring transfer to your savings account for the amount you would have regularly paid, and you won't even miss it.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2012 Kathy Sima
Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on March 04, 2013:
Thanks Marie! I'm glad you found some tips you could use in here.
If you need more ideas you can also check out this hub I wrote on 101 simple ways to save money: https://toughnickel.com/frugal-living/101-Easy-Way...
Good luck with saving money!
mariexotoni on March 04, 2013:
great article! i love that you use your own pictures! I have been on a bookmarking spree for saving money articles (especially saving money when it comes to living in an apartment!) thanks for the great tips. the library is a good tip for me, as well as the bringing lunch with you instead of ordering food (so when I live off campus, I can save some extra dough by bringin' a lunch)
Great tips. Some of these I wouldn't have thought of!
Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 22, 2012:
Thanks very much MKayo! That sounds like a great philosophy. I appreciate your visit and feedback!
MKayo from Texas on November 21, 2012:
Wow, great advice and a well-written article with tons of detailed information on family finances. Our family has been cutting back lately and we are doing many of the things you mention here. There are some good ones that we have yet to try. I also agree that setting goals and budgets are essential. Our philosophy is to know where every dollar is going before it gets spent. Great read, voted useful!
Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 31, 2012:
Shasta Matova from USA on October 31, 2012:
These are great tips on creating a budget, and working to increase revenue and reduce expenses at the same time. It is easier to save when you have the motivation of a defined goal, and working on both sides helps you achieve it faster. Voted up.