If saving money was easy, we would all be millionaires. Instead, most families today are finding it harder and harder to stretch a buck. How can you ever get ahead?
While we could all use a big raise, there are a lot of small ways to bolster your budget, and most of them start with getting organized. Adopt the ultimate, systematic approach for organizing your life to save money.
Bank Account Management
More and more financial advisors are telling their clients to set up multiple bank accounts to better manage their finances. While the most disciplined among us can stick to a tight budget no matter what, many people find it easier when their income is divided into multiple buckets.
Most important is to have one checking account from which you pay all your bills. Start with a bit of a cushion and make sure enough money from each paycheck winds up there to cover everything you will have to pay that month. Then set up automatic bill pay whenever possible. Such a system will help ensure you’re never hit with late fees or overdraft charges. The same concept works for savings goals, both in terms of permanent savings and short-term objectives like your next vacation or big-ticket purchase.
Keeping a Better Calendar
A lot of our day-to-day financial blunders are the result of being overwhelmed. That fancy, expensive latte we treat ourselves to is often because we simply need a reward after dealing with three unexpected meetings, picking up the dry cleaning and running to the store to pick up a birthday gift for mom. Some things are unavoidable. But other times it’s our own fault. Our stress levels would be lower, and our impromptu buying decisions would be better, if we could just keep a better schedule.
While some people still prefer pen and paper, try out some life management-style apps on your smartphone. You have your phone with you at all times, so turning it into your calendar and task organizer only makes sense. Google Calendar or a similar provider is great for maintaining a schedule while digital to-do list app Tick Tock is super-handy and Evernote offers a powerful way to create everything from voice notes to memos to grocery lists.
Cleaning Out the Closet
One fundamental way to overhaul the organization of your bedroom is by installing a top-notch closet system that aligns with your personal needs and wardrobe. Sometimes closets turn into a cluttered space where you tuck away extra items.
Go through your closet. The process will also help you rediscover “lost” items that you forgot you had. Now, knowing that you already have three different brown belts, you’ll be less likely to impulse buy another one.
Given the amount of time we spend eating — at least three meals per day — it’s surprising how little mental energy we devote to the cost of our food. While most people try to limit their expensive dinners out, there a lot of food that goes to waste just sitting in your fridge and on quick, on-the-go lunches. From food that gets thrown away to unexpected stops for a midday sandwich, almost everyone could save money if they planned their meals better ahead of time.
One especially good way to make progress is using a grocery delivery service if one is available in your area. This way, you can get just the ingredients you will need that week and avoid later throwing away spoiled, unused vegetables. As a bonus, the time you save not stopping at the store means you’ll have more time to cook, which will allow you to make a larger meal on an evening when you have more time in preparation for later in the week when you know you will be swamped at work.