Saving is not a sprint its a marathon and it takes a routine and adjustment of daily habits in order to stay focused and stick to the plan. Regardless of your income there is always room to save and improve your savings rate. Common sense is not always common when it comes to saving. We end up making commitments that we know are not in our best interest or acting on emotion and not planning ahead leaving ourselves with the an expense at the last minute.
1. Take stock of things
Many of us have no idea where our leisure budget begins and our savings start. Savings are often thought of the thing you have to do but doesn't really mean much but the first step to financial security is to have a stable savings routine. By taking stock of things one can keep an eye on things that pull away at what could be your savings. Don't get bogged down in the details so that you don't end up becoming a data entry monkey because it is unlikely you will be able to keep it up. Have an upper limit for each category of expense.
2. Don't eat out
Eating out should be more of a special occasion rather than a routine and your primary source of food. Restaurants although the make food often better than you can have existing risks that we often don't have a handle on. You know what you are cooking and you have control to manage what you eat. As with any habit that you are trying to change don't overdo the cooking. While some can manage to cook everyday for most it is impossible and unrealistic. Take a small set of dishes and improve on them. P and J sandwiches have gone out of style but with some fresh carrots and grapes can be a healthy and consistent lunch.
3. Separate your accounts
As taking stock is important separating accounts makes sure that the categories don't get mixed. It can be as simple as having a savings and checking account with a periodic transfer from you checking to your savings account. Putting some money away into several CD's although is often discouraging when considering the interest rates the main benefit is that it keeps you from dipping into your the pot.
4. Don't buy a new car
The primary reason people buy new cars is for the peace of mind but when you calculate the price difference that occurs as you drive out of the dealership and the monthly payment that is wasted on interest its almost a no brainer. In the end it becomes an issue of priorities.
5. Use public transportation or carpool
If it is possible you have to seriously consider it. The time spent driving. The risk involved is not something you can ignore. A friend once told me I often smile when I'm in a traffic jam because that means I'm not involved in an accident.
6. Take care of things when you first encounter them
This may seem obvious but it is the obvious that often costs us money. This is especially critical in the case of tickets. Traffic tickets are one of the biggest ways money gets squandered and in most cases paying them off as they come in is the only choice you have. We play the time game thinking that there might be a way out. Outside of a moving violation there chances of getting out of it or getting a discount is close to none.
7. Wash your t-shirt in the shower - Combine errands
I'm kidding but combining errands can dramatically effect how efficiently you get things done and needless to say efficiency is the key to saving. Although it seems like a no no to ask someone to run an errand with you. If you have the combining errands thought in mind it ends up working out. It takes a little resourcefulness to make it work.
8. Schedule purchases
There are weekly trends for prices for example gas is usually cheaper in the middle of the week than it is on Friday or Monday. Buy scheduling your purchases ahead of time you can rake in those deals that often require thinking ahead.
9. Don't buy a house
This is probably an article on its own because I can go on and on about the benefits of not owning a house. To keep it simple you a house is a lousy investment there is only a slim chance of you even getting your money back. Seems counter to common sense but if you do the math it just doesn't make sense.
10. Stop using credit cards
There is no limit to how high interest rates can get and you are looking at trouble every time you spend with the plastic. Credit is a risky game you get the bridge loan and unlike a business that can turn the loan into a profit you have to pay out of your existing stash.
Saving money is one of those things that is easier said than done. Trimming what you spend is really the key because your savings habbits should really be independent of you expenses. Although we tend to spend more when we know we have made more in the end you should not spend unecessarly. As long as you are realistic and don't enter into commitments that leave put you against a wall chances are you will end up saving in the long run.