When Your Savings Are At Zero, Here’s How To Turn It Around
Most of you out there probably have to think about money or your spending habits on a daily basis. Sometimes money’s tight, and saving even a single dollar can feel like a struggle. The good news is that when it comes to saving money, no amount is too small to start. Here are five basic budgeting tips that will help you save like a boss — even when you don’t feel like one.
1. Make a list of all your expenses.
No, this part isn’t fun, but it’s necessary. Make a list of everything in your life that you must pay for like your cell phone, your rent, your utilities and basic groceries. Then also write down items that you like to spend money on every month like coffee, happy hour with friends or shopping. Lastly, write down how much you have in your savings account.
Making this list of your expenses will help you manage it all every month. Essentials are the only expenses you should prioritize, but we totally understand that you’re also trying to live your best life. Put them at the top of your list to take care of before spending a dollar on anything else.
2. Create a monthly budget sheet.
If you’re like most young professionals, you think about your budget in monthly terms — you get $X per month, you have $X in expenses per month, so you have $X left over. Stop doing the math in your head and write it down. You can start by simply making a budget spreadsheet in Google Sheets.
Now tally the expenses you just wrote down and break them into three categories — essential expenses, wants and savings. Aim to have your essential expenses take up no more than 60 percent of your total monthly income, your wants take up no more than 20 percent and your savings take up at least 20 percent. This 60-20-20 budget will help you manage your income and expenses with ease. You’ll have no excuse not to know where your money’s going.
Pro Tip: Automate your savings so that 20 percent of your monthly income is moved from your checking account into your savings account before you can even touch it. You’ll save faster than you thought you could!
3. Look into budgeting apps.
Don’t want to go it alone? Join the club! Download one of these budgeting apps, which can help you get your shit together without feeling like you’re even trying. Most of these apps not only show you how much you’re spending, but even compartmentalize your purchases into different categories, like bills, food and miscellaneous. Some apps even save money for you without you noticing.
4. Be honest about your money.
Maybe the hardest part of budgeting is accepting what you don’t need to spend money on. Whether it’s Seamless, weekly manicures or that daily Starbucks run, most people have miscellaneous expenses that don’t make a huge impact on their lives. If you can’t seem to save any money, take a look at the extra stuff you’re spending your money on. You don’t have to stop enjoying life, but try cutting out just one unnecessary purchase a week. Save that money instead, and you’ll thank yourself later.
Pro Tip: After paying your bills and saving whatever you can, limit yourself to only the money you have in cash. Take it out at the ATM at the beginning of the week and then only spend this cash during the week. Once you run out, don’t spend anything else.
5. Save money at the beginning of the month.
Call our bluff, but we believe that saving money at the beginning of the month, right when you receive a paycheck, is going to be a lot easier than saving at the end. Do yourself a solid and stash some money away as soon as you’re paid, preferably to a high-interest, external savings account, so that it’s harder to access. This will also help you budget accordingly for the rest of the month. It’s a simple mind trick, but we bet you’ll fall for it.
What other budgeting tips do you swear by? We’d love to hear about them — just email us at [email protected]!