In the words of Cardi B, “All I really wanna see is the money.” Building up a savings and learning how to budget are always hard, but thanks to the recent coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent high percentages of unemployment, saving money is more critical than ever. Luckily, if you’re looking for ways to save money and the best saving money tips, we have 50 right here.
If you don’t know when (or from where) your next paycheck is coming in or even if you’ve been lucky enough to keep your job during these unpredictable times, do yourself a favor and read up on some of the most effective money-saving tips, straight from the $$$ experts themselves.
10 Ways to Save Money
1. Identify what you’re saving for.
“My top tip is to find your painfully specific, one-sentence reason to save. I’m not talking about someone else’s reason—don’t save up for a trip to Santorini just because social media says you should,” Berna tells Parade. “And I’m not talking simply about, ‘Build an emergency savings.’ What do you truly want to save for, how much, and why?”
It’s totally OK if your reasons for saving are different from someone else’s. What are your personal goals? Once you identify them, you’ll have a real, tangible reason to hunker down on saving.
“Are you building $5,000 in emergency savings specifically so you can finally start that side hustle? Are you saving exactly $399.95 to buy your partner the gadget she’s had her eye on forever? Pinpointing the amount and the personal emotion behind your savings goal will keep you way more motivated than, ‘Because I should,’” Berna adds.
2. Remember that you can negotiate.
“Dedicate yourself to keeping a clean credit record and make all your payments on time. If you can’t, because… life, let your lender know and give yourself the chance to negotiate and explain your situation,” Berna explains. “You might be surprised as to how understanding lenders can be—they want your money, after all, and would much rather not deal with accounts going into collections. Your lender may be able to work out a deal for you, instead of automatically reporting your missing payment to credit bureaus.”
3. Focus on cleaning up your credit card record.
Really? Clean up my credit? But how does that help me actually save up money? Well, if you’re still paying off debt with high interest rates, you can’t really save that money, can you?
“The biggest factor that affects your credit score is your credit history—AKA are you good at making payments on time, all the time? Do you have any negative marks, warrants, or other ‘bad’ behavior on your credit record?” Berna explains. “Inquire directly with credit bureaus, such as Transunion or Equifax, and make sure there are no falsely-reported negative marks on your credit history.
4. Communicate with the banks and credit bureaus.
Have you ever found yourself hiding from the bank? Avoiding the credit bureau? Berna says that’s the wrong way to go. Instead, communicate with them. You won’t accomplish your financial goals if you choose to see the bank or the credit bureau as your enemies.
“I’ve heard of folks checking in with credit bureaus and finding out that their credit history was full of someone else’s late payments, purely by mistake,” Berna says. “Yikes. While you’re getting your errors removed, it might be worth asking if they can remove any other negative marks—your mileage may vary here!”
5. Set goals with a specific timeline.
They can be small at first in order to be attainable. But no matter what your goal, make sure you set it and give yourself a deadline of sorts. A goal of “save 5,000” isn’t never going to get accomplished if you give yourself your whole life to accomplish it.
“My top piece of advice is to set goals in order to hold yourself accountable,” Shannon McLay, Founder and CEO The Financial Gym, tells Parade. “Too often, we lose track of sticking to our budgets because we don’t have the motivation. Make your goals personal, be specific, and set a timeline. For example, if you want to save $10,000 for an emergency fund, covering 3 months of expenses, in 1 year ($10,000 / 12 = $833) you need to save $833 a month,” McLay adds.
6. Nickname your savings account.
“Savings account” as a title is pretty boring. McLay recommends specifically nicknaming your account for the thing that you’re saving for.
“I am a big fan of creating separate savings accounts to help accomplish your financial goals,” McLay says. “Nickname your savings account (ex: ‘Peloton Bike’) and have an individual account for each goal.”
7. Reduce expenses.
Assuming you have a budget (if you don’t, check out our best 100 budgeting tips ), look at your budget with a fine-tooth comb, specifically looking for areas where you can cut back. Where can you reduce your expenses? Do you spend a lot in takeout? Do you spend most of your budget on clothes-shopping? These could be areas where you cut back. Subscription services are also a big area where people tend to spend. After all, many subscriptions auto-charge, making the expense easy to forget about.
8. Pause retirement and other contributions.
Um, what?! But all other financial advice I’ve ever read in the past tells me to start contributing to my 401K or to open an IRA. You’re not wrong, but that was before COVID-19. Ask yourself where you need the money most right now.
Are you good on your savings? If you have six months worth of expenses saved up, then maybe you can afford to keep contributing to your retirement fund or other long-term contributions.
If not, pause your retirement and other contributions to focus on building up a six-month expense fund. This is sometimes referred to in the financial world as a F*ck Off Fund. You know, so you can say, “F*ck off” to the expenses that may unexpectedly come up and simply pay them off.
9. Get your F*ck Off Fund right.
Speaking of a F*ck Off Fund, it’s one of the first things you should do while aiming to save.
“After paying off my $50,000 in debt, I became laser focused on my F*ck Off Fund, and it changed my life,” says Berna. “My F*ck Off Fund is what gave me the concrete confidence to quit my job, along with my partner, and travel the world for a year.”
But again, a F*ck Off Fund is most efficient when has a specific goal (save X amount of dollars) in a specific timeline (in X amount of months).
“However, I think a F*ck Off Fund is most helpful when you have a ridiculously specific timeline and goal in mind,” Berna adds. “It’s nice to save a chunk of money for a hypothetical dream situation, but in my case, it was even more powerful to take time, do my research and build a tangible goal: ‘We need to save $35,000 in order to quit our jobs and travel through Asia for a year. If we both deposit $X into the F*ck Off Fund for X-months or years, we will be able to hit $35k and put in our two weeks in October 2018.’ Which is exactly what we did!”
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10. Work on your budget.
“Do you have some type of budgeting system? Do you know how much money you earn and spend each month to cover your essentials—and from that budget, do you know how much money you have available to invest each month, without jeopardizing the rest of your basic financial needs?” Berna says.