The simplest way to prioritize saving is to automate it, but there are countless other ways to maximize your saving potential. The key is taking small steps to ease the pain of cutting back; tracking spending requires daily budgeting and discipline. Clearly, some days are better than others. Try this simple guide to streamline savings every week.
- Sunday: Shop and Prep For the Week - Look for coupons on items that you normally buy and consider switching to generic versions of your favorite brands. They often cost less than name brand items but taste similar. Then, bring the groceries home and plan and prepare your meals for the week, designating one day per week for buying lunch. Munching a lunch you brought from home is one of the best ways to keep food costs down. Packing a variety of lunch foods will keep you from abandoning your brown-bag system because of boredom, and if this is already getting old, give yourself a break and designate one day a week for buying lunch. If you must have a daily Starbucks treat make sure to spend smart.
- Monday: Start the Week Strong by Pinpointing Leaks - Determine where you are unconsciously overspending daily and weekly by tracking where your money goes starting at the beginning of the week. This makes it easier to determine a budget and save money for special events or weekend activities.
- Tuesday: Use Less - Of Everything - If you're looking to save money, there are some obvious solutions; you might want to track your spending, avoid impulse buys, or try going cash-only. But have you ever thought that you might be throwing savings down the drain, literally? Sierra Black of Get Rich Slowly recommends taking another look at how much you really need of everything from shampoo to ibuprofen.
- Wednesday: Control Your Cravings - You've made it to Hump Day, but likely a little stressed. Don't give up and go on an impulsive spending spree: Control your cravings. Define a cooling off period to give yourself time to think about the item, and if you're still lusting after it a few weeks later it's no longer an impulse buy. Just make sure you save the money for it instead of putting it on credit and purchase it on the right day of the week.
- Thursday: Be a Homebody - Host a themed potluck. Organize a game or movie night. Re-create a favorite restaurant meal. If you plan it right, a night at home with friends won't cost you a dime.
- Friday: Reward Your Savings Account - Next time you're staring at yourself for 15 minutes in the dressing room mulling over a pair of jeans that you know you don't need, think about rewarding yourself another way. Instead of simply stepping away from the jeans take the situation a step further by moving the money you would have spent into your savings account.
- Saturday: Calculate Purchases in Terms of Hours Worked - It's tough to just say no. Especially on the weekends when you have free time to cruise and spend money. Try this trusted trick: Break down your salary (after taxes) in terms of hourly compensation. When you're debating buying that $150 pair of shoes that you don't necessarily need, compare the price tag to the number of hours you worked to earn that sum. So, if you earn the equivalent of $30 an hour, ask yourself if it's worth five hours of work.
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