save-1720971_640Sometimes saving money can be difficult, especially if you have a low income and a lot of outgoings. But even in that situation, you can still put a little money aside each month to save up for a long term goal, like a vacation, or a new car. Here are some tips on smart ways to save money.

Keep Records

The first place to start with a savings plan is to keep a record of all your expenses, and that means all of them. Note down every single purchase you make, including coffees, lunch, snacks: account for every single penny. Once you have all the information, organize it into categories so it’s easy to break down.

Make a Budget

Now you can clearly see how much money you spend each month, you can work out a budget. This means you can see how your expenses match up to your income and highlight places where you can limit your overspending, make cutbacks and start to save.

Start Saving

You should try to put aside at least 10 percent of your income as savings. If your expenses are too high and you don’t have enough, it’s time to think about tightening your belt a little. You can save money in these ways:

  • Cut out the fast food: Eat meals at home, it’s cheaper and healthier.
  • Quit smoking: You’ll save hundreds of dollar each year, not to mention the health benefits.
  • Install energy efficient lights: This can reduce your power bill significantly.
  • Stop using credit cards: You’ll save money by not paying interest.
  • Find the cheapest groceries: Shop around and compare prices, make the most of coupons.
  • Make use of thrift store and yard sales: If you need something for your home, buy used whenever you can.
  • Stop impulse buying: Delay your gratification for at least 24 hours, by then you’ll probably realize that you didn’t need the purchase anyway.
  • Cancel subscriptions: You don’t really need all those magazines and there’s no point having a gym membership if you don’t use it.
  • Make some cash by decluttering your home: Have a yard sale with all the stuff you no longer use.
  • Take your own coffee to work: Save the money you usually spend on your daily lattes.
  • Stay out of the mall: Avoid the temptation to go impulse shopping there.
  • Brown bag your lunch: Add the money you would usually spend in your local café to your savings fund.
  • Find a less expensive place to live: If possible think about relocating or downsizing your home to save money.

 

Choose a Saving Goal

You already have something in mind that you want to save up for, now you have to figure out how much you need to save. One you have a number in mind, figure out a reasonable time in which you’ll be able to save it.

Automate Your Savings

Set up a targeted saving account so that you can keep your savings separate from the money you use for daily expenses. That way, you won’t accidentally dip into your savings. Most banks offer automated transfers between accounts, so you can choose when to transfer money and how much to add to your savings.

Treat Yourself

It’s important to have a little splurge from time to time, but don’t take the money from your savings account. Give yourself a small treat to congratulate yourself on your successful savings. That way you won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself and you won’t have to feel guilty about spending a little money.

Check Your Progress

It always makes you feel good to watch your savings grow. Check your savings account every month to see your progress; it will inspire you to keep saving. If you have a month here and there where you’ve been able to make more cutbacks, add a little extra to your savings account.

Become an Informed Buyer

If you’re saving for a big-ticket item, such as the down payment on a car, make sure you are informed about the current market and the item you’re buying. It pays to look at the pricing listed at CarAdvice. There you’ll find reviews and information on all makes and models of cars, so when you’re ready to buy you will know exactly what you want and the price you can get it for.

Use these smart ways to put some cash aside so you don’t have to go into debt to buy that big-ticket item you really want.

Jasmine Hamilton works as a personal finance consultant and is a regular contributor to a range of personal finance blogs as she shares her tips with an online audience.