Saving can be hard, especially if you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck.
“A lot of people struggle to carve out funds from their monthly income to set aside for their savings,” said Baruch Silvermann, CEO and founder of The Smart Investor. “Even saving $20 a week can be a good way to put in place good habits. This is a figure that is achievable for most people and can make a big difference over time.”
It’s true. Unless you budget obsessively and track every dollar you spend, you likely have some wiggle room in your budget to find $20 you can save (instead of spend) each week. Here are five easy ways to meet your goal, even if you have to trick yourself into saving.
Cook and Make Enough for Leftovers
With this tip, you’ll likely save more than $20 a week if you’re used to buying lunch every day. You can reap the extra savings or you can choose certain days of the week to take your lunch, and buy it the rest of the days.
“One simple way to save $20 each week is to make enough dinner to have leftovers for the next day’s lunch,” said Brian Davis, co-founder at SparkRental. “It doesn’t cost you any extra time, and it costs only a little more money to bump up the ingredients, but it can save you $6-20 per day in lunches. My wife and I would each spend around $10 per day on lunches, or $100 per week, before we started doing this. It saves us hundreds of dollars each month. Best of all, you end up eating healthier home-cooked food rather than fast food or restaurant food, which is inevitably less healthy.”
Quit Making Impulse Purchases Online
Maggie Tucker, co-host of a personal finance, early retirement and frugal living podcast called friends on FIRE, gave the following tip in regards to Amazon purchases. However, you could apply it anytime you shop online to save $20 a week.
“Consider putting in place a two-week waiting period on any new Amazon purchase that isn’t an emergency need,” Tucker said. “Place the item in your cart, but don’t buy it, and then come back two weeks later. If you still want it that badly two weeks later, you can buy it, but you’ll often notice the desire or need isn’t nearly as strong, and you could now do without it.”
Skip Starbucks (Sometimes)
Depending on how much you spend on drive-thru coffee, you may be able to save $20 a week by simply cutting back on your habit instead of completely eliminating it.
“Stop buying coffee from Starbucks or other local coffee shops,” Tucker said. “Invest in some basic things you need to make a good cup of coffee at home, and stop the daily Starbucks habit. Make Starbucks a special once-a-week treat. In addition to saving money, you’ll also help save the environment with fewer to-go cups.”
Shave Money Off Your Grocery Bill
Take a close look at how much you are spending on certain items at the grocery store and see where you can cut costs. This may be an easy way to meet the $20 goal. If you shop every two weeks instead of weekly, try to shave off $40.
“Instead of buying big brand names, you can often go to discount stores and go for the non-brand names, with these products often tasting and feeling exactly the same,” Silvermann said. “You can also be shocked as to how much you can actually save by buying your groceries in bulk when possible.”
Sometimes the best (and easiest) way to save $20 a week is to trick yourself into doing it by not having to think about it.
“Financial institutions generally will let you set up automatic withdrawals from checking to savings accounts,” said consumer finance expert Tanya Peterson, vice president of brand with Freedom Financial Network. “You could ask your employer about automatic deposit into a savings account. Then record the expense like a bill every month to painlessly accumulate savings.”
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