When it comes to growing your savings account, small contributions can add up to big results. Saving for the future can seem overwhelming, but if you're patient and put away a little bit of money each month, it may be easier than you think.
Paying yourself first, trimming your expenses and tweaking your food budget all can help you put a little bit more away every time you get paid. Regardless of the approach you take, budget carefully to make sure you can afford your necessary expenses while you contribute to your savings.
Here are six ways you can save money monthly.
1. Make Saving Automatic
When you want to make saving a habit, a great first move is to set up automatic transfers into your savings account each pay period. You can schedule automatic deposits through your banking app to stash money from your checking account every couple of weeks or every month.
Even more convenient, you can often split up your direct deposit so that a portion of your paycheck gets routed directly into your savings account. Either way, putting that money away before you have the chance to spend it can make it easier to be consistent. Come up with a savings amount that works for you, and then let automation take care of the rest.
To get the most out of your savings, be sure you're storing your money someplace where it'll earn interest. A high-yield savings account can help earn more interest than a traditional savings account, while also keeping your savings liquid in case you need cash.
Find High-Yield Savings Accounts
2. Cancel Unused Subscriptions
One of the easiest ways to save more money is to stop paying for things you don't want, and subscriptions are a good place to start. You may be paying for services you're no longer using on autopilot mode.
Try combing through your bank statement or transactions in your credit card mobile app and note all of your recurring subscriptions: streaming services and live TV, online or print news, music, gaming, subscription boxes and the like.
Once you have a list of all the subscriptions you're paying for, look for any that wouldn't be missed. Even if you think you might use a given streaming service sometime in the future, there's no harm in canceling for now. If a couple billing cycles pass before you use it again, that's more money you can add to your savings.
3. Use a Rewards Credit Card
Using a cash back credit card for everyday spending can help you earn money buying the things you already pay for. Look for a rewards credit card that provides generous cash back or points in the categories where you spend the most, such as a gasoline rewards credit card if you drive a lot. You can also find a cash back card with high rewards for dining out or grocery stores across the board.
Be sure to pay your full balance before the grace period ends to avoid paying interest, which would likely cancel out the benefit of earned rewards and end up costing you overall.
4. Tweak Your Food Budget
The best places to cut back can be the places where you spend most often, because you have lots of opportunities to implement small changes. That makes your food budget a good place to start.
If you currently eat out often throughout the week, you could consider cutting back on meals out and cooking more at home. That small tweak could help you funnel more into savings. Even if you're already in the habit of cooking at home, getting thrifty about how you plan your meals can take your efforts to save even further. Incorporating low-cost staples into your menu, batch prepping meals, eating leftovers for lunch, shopping sales at the grocery store and couponing are all habits that can help you save money each month.
5. Find Cheap Ways to Treat Yourself
We all need to splurge now and then, but you can lessen the impact on your budget—and your ability to save—by finding low-cost ways to treat yourself.
You can build small treats, like cooking a nice meal at home instead of going out, giving yourself a pedicure, allowing yourself more gaming time, trying yoga or meditation, spending some time alone in a coffee shop or whatever makes you feel refreshed and rewarded, into your week. You might find that these small indulgences help you avoid burning out and keep you motivated to stick with your savings goals.
6. Carefully Consider Major Purchases
If you find that impulse purchases are getting in the way of your ability to save, try creating a new system for yourself to combat unplanned spending. A purchase waiting period is a designated amount of time, say five or 10 days, that you commit to waiting before you pull the trigger on purchase.
You could specify that you'll use a purchase waiting period for any impulse buy over $50, for example. Then, when you're browsing the web or walking by a store and something you want to buy catches your eye, jot it down or put it into a note on your phone. If you're still sure you want or need it by the end of the waiting period, you can build it into your budget.
The Bottom Line
Sticking with saving is challenging, but incorporating small changes can make reaching your goals more attainable. Start with steps like automating your savings, cutting out recurring expenses that aren't adding value to your life and pressing pause on impulse purchases.
In addition to building and tracking your savings, start tracking your credit score. Sign up for free credit monitoring through Experian for updates on changes to your report and score. Monitoring your score can help you spot areas for improvement. By making improvements to your score over time, you'll broaden the credit products you qualify for down the line. That can help you save on interest when you do need to borrow, such as when you buy a home or car.