Now that the craziness of the holidays is behind us, and the Black Friday sales have stopped draining our bank accounts, you may be wondering how you can save a few bucks this new year. Saving money is one of those necessary parts of life (adulting), but it’s not as easy as just opening up a savings account. Here are some of our favorite ways to save money this year:
1. Use the Envelope System.
It’s so easy to swipe that debit card or transfer funds from one Venmo to the other, but having cold, hard cash in your hands can really put your financials into tangible perspective. With this method, you use cash for different categories of your budget, and you keep that cash tucked away in envelopes…and no touching! You can see exactly how much money you have left in a budget category just by taking a quick peek in your envelope. It’s super easy!
Let’s say you’ve budgeted $500 a month for groceries. When you get your first paycheck of the month, take out $250 from your bank account and put the cash in an envelope. On that envelope, write out “Groceries.” When you get your second paycheck, do the same thing again, and put that $250 in the envelope. That’s your $500 food budget for the month. Simple, right? No money—and I mean zero money—comes out of that Groceries envelope except to pay for food at the grocery store. This method takes a lot of discipline, but it’s totally worth it!
2. Use the 50/20/30 Rule.
This one is easy. 50 percent of your income goes toward fixed essential items (rent, student loans, insurance, utilities, etc.), 20 percent goes into a designated savings account and 30 percent is for lifestyle expenses (gas, going out to eat, hobbies, entertainment, etc.).
The 30 percent is flexible because unless you’re really great at living within your means, you may have less than 30 percent remaining after your 50/20. Think of those first two tiers as fixed absolutes—no budging! What I love about this method is it really forces you to reevaluate your spending habits and choices.
3. Designate No-Spend Weekends.
At least once a month, put a “no-spend” weekend on the calendar. This means you’ll have to get creative with your time and try to find activities that are free such as hiking or hitting up a local free museum. Aside from the groceries you already bought for the week, no buying additional items, including your daily trip to Starbucks. It’s an easy, small step to take in saving a few bucks each month!
4. Set a Theme to Your Months.
In January, try giving up alcohol (hear me out) and put all of the money you would have spent on wine for the month into an envelope. In February, pack your lunch every day for the month and pocket those funds. In March, commit to not buying anything new besides necessities for the month. And so on and so on. Get creative with it!
5. Download a Money-Saving App.
There are lots of options, but I really like using Qapital. It is an app linked to your debit card that rounds up to the nearest dollar every time you make a purchase. It then puts the extra change into a designated savings account that you can earn 0.1 percent interest on, which is low, but better than nothing, and you don’t have to do anything! You can withdraw the money at any time, no strings attached. A few other options to check out are Digit and Acorns!