Clamp Down on Your Spending Habits
If you're trying to increase savings, remember that savings are directly tied to spending -- the less you spend, the more you have to save. Some tips to help you clamp down on your spending include:
• Analyze your spending for a month. Are you surprised by how much you spend on dining out, groceries, entertainment, or clothing? Give serious thought to your purchasing patterns, looking for ways to reduce spending. Clean out your closet and really assess whether you need new clothes. Cut back on how often you dine out or at least go to less-expensive restaurants. Rent a movie instead of going to the theater. Make a list before grocery shopping and don't deviate from it. Look for coupons and sales before shopping.
You may scoff at these ideas for saving money, thinking you can't possibly add much to your savings. After all, you're just spending a few dollars here and there. But over a long time period, even modest amounts can grow to significant sums.
• Go over major expenditures also. When was the last time you comparison shopped your auto or homeowners insurance? Have you checked mortgage rates lately to see if you should refinance? Have you reviewed strategies to reduce your income taxes? Take a look at all major expenditures, looking for ways to save money.
• Make a spending plan and put it in writing. Budget for all major expenditures and resolve not to purchase items that aren't in your budget.
• Throw out your credit cards (or at least hide them for a while). Most people find it more difficult to spend cash than to charge a purchase. So, for the next couple of months, make sure to only purchase items with cash.
• Don't purchase items over a fairly low dollar amount on your first shopping trip. How often have you purchased something on impulse, only to realize when you got home that you really didn't need it? To control those impulses, compare price and value on your first shopping trip. Then go home, think about whether you really need the item, and purchase it on another trip. Often, you will find that you realize you don't even need to make the purchase.
• Think carefully before making major purchases. Often, upkeep and maintenance can add significantly to your costs. Consider a less-expensive car or a used car. Keep your car for four or five years instead of getting a new one every two or three years.
• Figure out the maximum amount you can afford for a house and then buy one substantially less expensive than that. Not only will you save on your mortgage payment, other costs associated with owning a home will be lower. Living well within your means is one of the best ways to ensure you have money left over for saving.