5 Foundational Money Saving Tips

Saving $1,000 may seem impossible. Just when you start saving money, something breaks.  And don’t get me wrong, it happens. Life happens. Stuff really does come up that you HAVE to tend to. You can’t drive around with a flat tire.

Sometimes that “have to” is imagined though. Friends drop in; you don’t “have to” feed them an elaborate meal outside your means (that’s a “want to”…impress). Here are five basic tips that have helped us save money lately:

Define necessities. We are spending only what is truly necessary. Defining those necessities can get tough, particularly if you’re married because of those “seemingly-pesky differing opinions.” Even within the realm of food – a basic necessity – we differ in opinions. Personally, I don’t think it’s wise to cut produce from our groceries. My husband, however, can get so into our “strict rice diet,” that produce is cut quite easily. Anyway, opinions differ. It’s important to define true necessities (and agree on them if you’re married).

Create a budget. To fail to plan is to plan to fail. A defined budget means you tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. For starters, try a journal or Excel. My favorite is a free mobile app, Every Dollar. If you aim for nothing, you’re sure to make it. Why not at least try? You have nothing to lose and much to gain, so start your free budget today!

Live within your means. If you’re living by a budget, you’re living within your means, right? Not necessarily. You can definitely have a budget and not stick to it. And you can absolutely still be using a credit card. Only buy what you can truly afford. If that means telling friends that you can’t go to their fun event, so be it. Live within your means.

Be realistic. You know you have a required meeting that’s 50 miles round trip, so plan your gas money accordingly. You can’t think, “I’ll just make it work,” and then run out of gas before the month’s end. For me, I have to be realistic about how much produce we’ll actually eat in a week. 🙂

Enjoy the simple things. If you’re truly living within your means, you may have to adjust your lifestyle a bit. But boy is it less stressful! Here’s my list of ways to enjoy the simple (and free) life.

Can you implement one of these today? If you’re married, talk to your spouse about what you can work on together. It’s amazing how fast money adds up…either in your savings or on your credit card. What can you do today to make a better financial future?

*A note to those in debt: these small steps matter (just see Dave Ramsey in his Total Money Makeover). However much debt you have, you can beat it! Promise. But every day you wait, it’s only getting worse. So what are you waiting for? Start today!

Photo credit: Frankieleon | Cropped