An unexpected event can happen to anyone at any time. It might be the death of a loved one, an unfortunate hospital visit, or a job layoff. What’s important is that you’ve planned for these unexpected events by having an emergency fund. This is your financial cushion in case something goes wrong and you need to access money quickly.
Saving money is hard. Sometimes it just down-right stinks. My good friend from high school, Lisa Park, runs very helpful blog called Saving Cent by Cent. Her blog has store deals, coupon info, budgeting tips, and even cheap recipes and crafts. She’s the budgeting queen! I subscribe to her weekly posts because she sends the Wal-Mart ad-match list for my area right to my inbox. I love it! Anyhoo, today she is sharing her best advice for saving money while I prep for my big move. Learn and save, my friends . . .
Top 5 Money-Saving Tips
Did you know that saving money is one of the best habits people can have to increase happiness? By saving money, not only will you have more money for your goals and dreams, but you’ll also have money for those unexpected emergencies. Here are my top five money-saving tips I want to share with you.
1. Create a Spending Plan
You know you have to spend money every month, but by having a spending plan you’ll be smarter about how you spend your money. A spending plan, which could also be called a budget, will help you identify wasteful expenditures, avoid going into debt, save more money, and achieve your financial goals.
Be sure to write down specific short-term and long-term financial goals you want to achieve. This could be buying a new home, getting out of debt, starting a family, taking a family vacation, or purchasing a new vehicle. Once you prioritize your goals, break them down into bite-size pieces that are achievable by determining how much money you need to set aside weekly or monthly for your goal.
Creating and maintaining a spending plan isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but this work will pay off big time in many areas of your finances.
2. Build an Emergency Fund
Fewer than 1 in 4 Americans have an adequate emergency savings cushion, and 27 percent have no emergency savings at all.
It’s recommended that you have 3-6 months of living expenses in an emergency fund. If you have debt, the first step is to save $1,000 in an emergency fund, then start eliminating your debt. Once your debt has been eliminated, then you can continue to build your 3-6 month emergency fund.
3. Eliminate Debt
You won’t be able to save money if you carry a large debt burden. By adding up how much you spend servicing your debt each month, you’ll quickly see how much money could easily be placed into savings.
For many households, credit card debt is typically the most costly debt. When prioritizing which debt to pay off first, start with the highest interest rate card and focus on paying off the balances in descending order.
As you begin to pay off one credit card, break down the goal of paying it off into bite-size goals so it is more manageable. For example, if you want to pay a credit card off in two years, then figure how much money you need to save each week to put toward it.
4. Do Your Grocery Trip Right
The average family spends more than $6,000 on groceries a year, which is about 13 percent of their household income. That makes groceries one of the largest monthly bills for families.
One of the most important tips that will save you money and make a big difference in your grocery budget, yet most people don’t even do it, is to plan your family meals each week before heading to the grocery store.
If you don’t plan out family meals, you are more likely to run to the store every few days, if not daily, to pick up items for dinner. The more you enter the store, the more likely you will add extra items to your shopping cart that you don’t need. And you’ll pay full price for the items rather than picking them up when they are on sale.
Another big way to save money on groceries is to watch for a sale on a product, preferably when it is at its rock-bottom price which is the lowest price you’ll see it, and then purchase it using a manufacturer coupon and/or an in-store coupon. For those of you not big into couponing, another way to save is to price match weekly grocery deals at Walmart and Target.
To learn more ways to save money on groceries, read my Buying Groceries on a Budget Series here.
5. Splurge Smart
Don’t think that you can’t have fun or enjoy life while trying to save money. You can! It’s important to have balance and breathing room in our lives. And it’s okay to splurge strategically on something that you love or that means a lot to your family. Yes, it is important to be focused when paying off debt or saving for something, but don’t scrimp and save so much that you don’t have room to enjoy life.
For our family, sometimes we do less expensive, yet fun, activities that don’t cost a lot of money so that we can periodically go out to eat or do a family activity that costs a little more money. When we do this, we aren’t stressed about splurging every so often.
Even though we can’t have everything we want in life, and we’ve had to make sacrifices along the way, our family is happy. I would contribute part of that happiness to being debt free (except for our mortgage) and having a savings cushion. Because we have tried to implement these money-saving tips into our life, we are able to spend our money on things we love and that are important to us.
Lisa is a stay-at-home mother of two girls, and a wife to an amazing husband. Because it was a challenge to go from two incomes down to one when their first child was born, Lisa founded Saving Cent by Cent, a blog that provides money-saving tips to help families save more money, live frugally, and achieve more of their financial goals so that they can do more with their families and enjoy life more fully. Lisa enjoys cooking, organizing, reading, playing the piano, ballroom dancing, and providing money-saving tips and deals for families on her blog, Saving Cent by Cent.