Is it possible to save money and thrive in an uncertain economy? The way to move forward and progress financially is often unpredictable. But taking the right steps now could set you up for financial freedom down the road, even in an unsettled economy.
These 15 simple tips offer different ways to start a saving habit at any age. This can help you focus on where to begin and turn hopeful thoughts into everyday financial routines.
15 simple ways to start a saving habit at any age
Commit to paying yourself first
When you pay yourself first, you put aside money into your savings and you don’t touch it unless it’s an emergency. Then you cover your typical expenses with the money that’s left. It may seem counterintuitive to pay yourself first before worrying about necessary living expenses, but it’s a legitimate way to learn how to save money.
This financial strategy can help put you into the right mindset for saving money. If you always make saving money a priority, it’s more likely to become a habit. Once something becomes a habit, you barely have to think about doing it.
Choose the right savings account
The best savings accounts make it easy to save money over time because they earn compound interest, or interest earned on interest. For example, $1,000 in savings at a 1% interest rate will net you $1,010 at the end of the first year. If the interest stays the same and you don’t deposit or withdraw any money, you’ll end up with $1,020.10 the second year. So you’d get another $10 and an additional 10 cents because of the interest you earned the first year.
Compound interest will add up over time, but a savings account with higher than average interest rates can speed up the process. Traditional savings accounts don’t typically offer high interest rates, so it often makes sense to choose an online savings account like Chime.
Save the perfect amount automatically
Committing to paying yourself first before covering other expenses is a great way to save money. But how do you know the amount of money you should be saving? With a budgeting app like Digit, you can help take the guesswork out of your savings.
Digit analyzes different aspects of your financial situation, including your income and daily spending. Then the app automatically calculates how much money you can afford to save and makes a deposit for you based on the gathered information. For many people, it’s easier to save money when you don’t have to think about it.
Set up automatic transfers from your paycheck
If you have specific saving goals in mind, consider setting up automatic and recurring transfers from your paycheck to your savings account. You may be able to split your paycheck into different payments so a certain amount can go into your savings account. If not, it’s easy to set up automatic transfers from your checking account to another account.
This can help you build your savings consistently whenever you receive a paycheck. Also, putting money into savings before it can be used for something else is a surefire way to learn how to manage your money and start a saving habit.
Invest your spare change
It doesn’t take much money to start your savings. In fact, the spare change you collect on a daily basis is enough to get started. Investment apps like Acorns make it easy to make automatic investments into your account using your extra change.
If you use the Acorns Round-Ups feature, your everyday purchases could become an investing tool. Each purchase you make with a linked card is rounded up to the nearest dollar and the change is deposited into your Acorns Invest account. Quite literally, you’re using spare change to invest in your future.
Consider cashback credit cards
Credit cards are often an untapped resource for saving money because of their potential debt implications. However, if you make full on-time payments each month and use your cards responsibly, you likely have little to worry about.
Rather, you open up opportunities to earn rewards with the best cashback credit cards. These cards earn cash back on every eligible purchase you make. So common expenses like groceries and gas can be turned into cashback opportunities. And then it’s a simple matter of redeeming your rewards for cash and putting that money into savings.
Look into cashback apps
Cashback apps could help you save money on everyday online purchases, especially if you use them with cashback credit cards. For example, if you use the Capital One Shopping1 app while shopping online, it’s easy to compare prices between stores, find coupons and promo codes, and earn Capital One Shopping Credits.
Finding better deals or getting a discount on a purchase keeps money in your wallet, which is money saved. If you make a purchase that’s eligible for Capital One Shopping Credits, you’ll earn credits that can be redeemed for gift cards to popular retailers.
Capital One Shopping Benefits
- Capital One Shopping searches thousands of merchants to see if you're getting a great deal
- Don't miss out on a better price
- Search and apply coupon codes automatically
- Custom price drop alerts for products you've viewed or purchased
Get to know your budget
Do you know where your money is being spent? If you don’t have a clear picture of your spending, it’s likely time to look at your budget. Sit down and review your purchases for the past month or year and see exactly how much you’re spending in each category. This may include gas, groceries, travel, dining, entertainment, utilities, rent, and more.
This exercise will give you an idea of how much you’re spending on necessities and how much you could possibly save on extra spending. Simply knowing where your money goes can help you focus on saving money instead of spending it.
Find a budgeting method that works for you
Once you know how your money is being spent, it’s time to use a budgeting method that works for you. You have plenty of ways to create a budget, so you’ll have to narrow down your options. Your goals and financial situation can help determine which method to go with.
A classic budgeting technique is subtracting all your expenses from your income and seeing what’s leftover. You could also take a deeper dive into your budget and eliminate all spending that’s considered nonessential. Whichever method you decide to use, make sure it aligns with your saving goals.
Get on the same page as your partner
It will likely be easier to commit to saving money and starting a successful habit if your partner is on the same page. Make sure you let them know what your thoughts are on starting a budget, opening a savings account, or anything else savings-related. Discuss your finances together and see which budgeting method would work best for your situation.
As you move forward with your plans, support each other in achieving your goals. This will help you both focus on your financial progress and what needs to be done to keep moving forward.
Set aside windfalls
Financial windfalls are typically unexpected and can include money received from tax refunds, gifts, lottery winnings, salary raises, and more. If you receive a financial windfall, step back and think about how you can use it to reach your saving goals instead of rushing into impulse purchases.
Making a plan for using the windfall will help you see how beneficial it could be to build or add to your emergency fund, invest in a retirement account, or save money for a specific goal. Otherwise, you might spend the unexpected cash and end up with nothing to show for it.
Think about trade-offs (regularly)
Budgeting isn’t always easy, but you can start by consciously thinking about simple trade-offs in your life that can save you money. For example, how much money do you spend on coffee or takeout each week? If you didn’t spend that money, you could add more funds to your savings account. Instead of a big birthday bash, have fun without breaking the bank by taking advantage of the many birthday freebies on offer.
This doesn’t mean you have to immediately cut out all nonessential spending, unless that’s the budgeting method you choose. Instead, consider starting small by cutting down the number of times you dine out each week or head to Starbucks for your morning fix. This can help you change your spending habits into saving habits.
Shop with a purpose
Never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry because you’ll likely end up spending more money than you were planning. This is a common financial lesson backed by scientific research and probably personal experience as well. To take the lesson one step further, plan out what you’re going to buy before heading to the grocery store.
In short, make a grocery list. If you’re heading to a department store, make a list of what you need to buy. This will help you focus on the listed necessities instead of wandering the store and throwing random items into your cart.
Establish attainable money goals (and hold yourself accountable)
A good goal is often challenging, but attainable. So saving $1 every month is likely attainable, but is it challenging? And saving $1 million every month is likely challenging, but how attainable is it? If you can find a balance between the two, it might help you save more money without feeling like it’s impossible.
To increase the likelihood of achieving your money goals, hold yourself accountable. This may involve having an accountability partner that checks in with you regularly or scheduling reminders for yourself to take actions toward reaching your goals. Find the accountability measures that work for you and stick to them.
Review your progress
If you don’t look back to see how far you’ve come, you might not realize how successful you are. This moral can apply to many things, including the steps you take to start a saving habit. It’s also a great way to hold yourself accountable for your financial goals.
When you review your progress, you’re tracking your actions, so it’s easy to see if you’ve stuck with putting money into your savings account or spending less on nonessential purchases. If you’re not seeing enough improvement, you may need to revisit your goals and make them more attainable.
It’s never too late (or too early) to implement different strategies to help you start saving money. If you feel intimidated about the process, start small and see how you feel over time. Though you have to be consistent with your methods or your actions likely won’t become habitual.
The steps you take now can help set yourself up for financial success. Soon enough, your actions toward saving money might even be on autopilot.