For most people, saving money is a goal they have in mind, it's putting it into action where they sometimes struggle…
Saving money has more to do with our financial behavior (initially) than it does our saving knowledge. However, as we form a better saving habit, the more advanced strategies we can apply!
In this guide to saving money, we will explore high and low, the necessary steps to help you save money and live better (thanks Walmart for the catchy phrase).
Let us dive in!
Guide to Saving Money
The first step in saving money is actually knowing how much money you have in the first place. Let us elaborate.
Step 1: How much money do you have?
When we attempt to save more money or create new financial goals, the first number we must consider is how much money to we take home each month.
Our monthly “Take Home Pay,” is the single most important financial vital to know.
Just like when you go to the doctors and they take your vitals – which helps them in diagnosing & solving health issues – your financial vitals matter. That is why we must first establish how much you make.
Step 2: How much money do you have to pay in bills each month?
Prior to saving and after identifying how much money you make, the next step is to identify your fixed-income expenses. Fixed income expenses refer to bills and expenses you HAVE to pay each month, things like:
- Mortgage or Rent
- Utility Bills
- Cell phone bill
While some of these are actually negotiable and can even be done for you with apps like Trim, most of these are fixed – they're set and not going anywhere. However, you want to know how much of your money goes to fixed, but also how much goes to variables.
Variable budget items vary – meaning you can control them each moth – and they typically include:
- Food costs & eating out
- Gym memberships
- Miscellaneous purchases
- Pet supplies
Some people wouldn't consider their food as a variable because it is necessary, however, while it is necessary – how much you spend each month isn't fixed. You determine how much you spend on things like food each month.
Ideas to help calculate your variables appropriately:
- Itemize your last three month average in each area
- Set a goal amount that is reasonable
- For example, if you ate out at an average of $150 per month for the last three months, perhaps a new goal of $100 is better than $0.
- Look at what areas you can eliminate or reduce spending!
The last category that you need to determine how much you're paying each month is your debt. Debt payments consist of things like:
- Student Loans
- Credit Card Bills
- Personal Loans
- Auto Loans
- Financed Items
- Other Debts
Once you have all of these numbers and the minimums determined, do the following using something like this table below to find out what your true NET monthly income is. Add up your monthly fixed expenses, variable expenses, and debt payments and subtract the total from your NET income:
|Fixed Expenses:||(- )|
|Variable Expenses:||(- )|
|Debt Payments:||(- )|
|Total Left Over:||=|
Once you have this left over number, now you can start to pick a savings amount and strategy!
Below, you can find a budget Google Sheet template that has everything laid out for you!
Step 3: How much money do want to save?
Leveraging the steps above (identifying your take-home pay and how much you have to pay each month in bills to live) has now set you up perfectly to implement the pay yourself first saving strategy.
Sometimes referred to as “Reverse Budgeting,” pay yourself first means you pay your future first, and everything else second. Here is what it looks like:
What most people do:
- Get paid
- Spend money
- Pay bills
- Save (if any is leftover)
Pay yourself first:
- Get paid
- Save money
- Pay bills
- Spend leftover
Notice the subtle difference in order? That subtle difference makes a huge impact in your life when it comes to saving money.
Yes, you can save money fast, but the key is to create a saving system that is bulletproof. A saving system that prevents you from using feelings and emotions to spend.
Pay yourself first is based on how much you make, what your monthly expenses are, and how much of that leftover amount you're willing to save. For example, if Tom and Britt make a combined take-home income of $5,000 per month, and their expenses are $3,000, that leaves them $2,000 to save, then spend.
Perhaps they decide they want to save $1,200 per month and use the leftover $800 for other things, aka spending. The easiest and most efficient way to do this would be to save $300 per week or $600 every time they get paid.
Simply setting up a direct deposit or reoccurring savings transfer does the trick and makes it automatic!
What other saving strategies can you implement?
There are countless ways to save money, here are a few other ways to help you:
- Spending Rule: Anything over $50, you must wait a certain amount of time before purchasing (aside from your grocery list)
- 30 Day Rule: The 30-day saving rule states that you must wait 30 days before buying something. Instead of buying, save money. If you still want it in 30 days, get it!
- 50-30-20 Budget: Similar to pay yourself first, this concept revolves around the budgeting premise that you use 50% of your income to pay bills, 30% for spending, and you, while the last 20% is saved (retirement, general savings, investing, etc).
- 90 Day Emergency Fund: Create an emergency fund that covers at least 90 days or three months of expenses!
- Also, see 15 Tips to Help You Save
Other helpful quick tips to save more money:
- Try a saving plan like Savology that will allow you to customize saving targets
- Speaking of targets, set monthly goals to save a certain amount
- Use percentages as your financial rule of thumb, not absolute income
- Cut the fluff (subscriptions, cable, gym, etc)
- Use Trim to help do the above ^
- Eliminate your high-interest debt first, prior to saving.
Step 4: How do you begin to learn to invest?
Once you have a frim grasp on your finances, the ultimate goal is to move into a realm of your money making money for you… investing!
While investing can be scary for some (if they're new), but also on the other hand, for some they're too over confident, either way investing is a wise thing to do! Investing just happens to be a very vague and nebulous concept.
Investing can mean many things and consist of many different ways. From…
- Stock Investing
- Stock Index Funds
- Robo Advisors
- Dollar Coast Averaging
The list can go on. In order to help you, here are two helpful articles specifically tailored to new investors or those looking to learn more:
Popular Investing Tools & Resources:
- Robinhood for stocks
- Vanguard for index funds & retirement accounts
- M1 as a Robo-Advisor
- WeBull investing platform
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