If you’re like me, those links that pop up about saving money for retirement seem like a waste of space on the computer screen. The simple fact is when you’re in debt today, how in the heck are you supposed to figure out how to save money for tomorrow? Sure, you’re paying into social security because the government makes you, but there are no guarantees that money will actually be there when you retire.
Many Americans under the age of 50 face significant debt in the form of credit cards, mortgages and student loans, so just keeping up with those bills alone erases any thoughts of saving in the long-term. However, there are a few tips you can use to save money now, even if you’re broke. Times are tough, so make every penny count.
This should be the No. 1 goal of every money-saving plan. The consensus believes it’s best to target accounts with the highest-interest rates first. One thing that will help is to consolidate debts, which means combining all debts into one loan to lower the overall interest rates. There also are websites to help with debt elimination or reduction, which is working with creditors on settlements to lower the total amount owed. The general rule is the only time that saving money should take the place of getting out of debt is to build up an emergency fund, which can help you survive for 3-6 months in case you lose your income.
Set attainable goals
You want to see results from your savings, so set some short-term goals that can be achieved. Those are the easy ones, but it’s also important to set long-term goals, like buying a house or a car in two years. If you set too many long-term goals, it’s easy to get frustrated by not seeing the results that can come with setting and reaching short-term goals. Once you set your goals, determine how much money you need to save each week, month or pay period to attain those goals.
Yes, don’t be too proud to clip coupons or utilize discounts by frequenting websites like RetailMeNot, FatWallet, CouponCabin, Groupon and Coupons.com. These sites offer coupon codes, promotional rates and printable coupons for everything from household appliances and oil changes to travel deals and groceries. Things we all use that we can save money on. No matter how fat your bottom line is, a dollar saved is a dollar earned. By using these websites, the savings will quickly add up. Also, be sure to check out weekly sales at stores like Publix, which posts its fliers online. Matching coupons with Buy 1 Get 1 Free deals will lead to huge savings.
Get a second job
Perhaps you work 40–50 hours, with all of the time taking place between 8–5 on weekdays. Whatever your shift is, check out part-time job ads that fit around your regular work schedule and still allow you time with the family, which is priceless. Even a couple of extra hours a week at a side gig can generate the extra money needed to make a serious dent in your debt, or help to save for that nest egg. Like with couponing, don’t be too proud to pick-up a job delivering newspapers at night or working at a convenient store. Sure, you may be a professional with a major college degree, but you have to pay off that student loan somehow.
There are two basic columns that should appear on any individual or family’s budget. What is earned (how much you have coming in) and what is spent (living expenses). Because most of your bills involve monthly payments, it’s usually wise to keep a monthly budget listing how much is owed and when the payment is due. To save money, it’s essential to take a serious look at your expenses and spending. Don’t overlook the little stuff, even those $10 trips to Walgreen’s or McDonald’s. It all adds up. Having a plan and knowing exactly where every dime is spent will make a major difference in your ability to save on things you may not actually need.