11 Ways to Save Money When You’re Just Getting Started

Saving money is necessary for growing your personal wealth, but sometimes it can be hard to stretch your paycheck enough to put a little aside. If you can’t put money aside on what you’re already making, you need to find another way. Either earn more money or find ways to save. Once you find a few ways to save money, take the difference between what you spent and what you would have spent. Put that money aside in a savings account. You’ll find your savings growing quickly.

Here are a few simple ways to get you started.

Use customer rewards programs.

Many stores offer a rewards program. These cards usually offer a variety of discounts and coupons. Sometimes they even offer cash back. At the grocery store, for instance, purchase your normal items, although be sure to purchase a different brand if it’s on sale, and then use your rewards card when you check out. Look at your receipt to see how much you saved than take your savings and put it aside in a savings account. It may only be a few dollars each time, but over the course of the year you’ll be able to save hundreds of dollars. Plus, it makes going to the grocery store fun when you can compete against yourself.

Avoid fast food.

Simple, healthy dishes are not only better for you, they are usually less expensive than fast food, too. You can make the equivalent of three or four meals for the price of one drive-thru dinner. A whole roast chicken can provide two to four meals, depending on how many you’re feeding. Other dishes are like this, too. Think of beans, rice, and other cheap and healthy foods. What other dishes can you make that will provide several meals? Tell us your favorites in the comments below.

Master the 30-day rule.

Impulse buying is costing you more than you know. It’s the most common way people spend money without knowing where it went. Avoid impulse buys by waiting at least 30 days to make a purchase. If you still want it, go back for it. But often, you’ll find that you are no longer interested.

Make a list before you go shopping.

Then stick to it. By shopping for just the items on your list you’ll avoid impulse buying. Create your grocery list in advance to save you from buying things you don’t need or already have. Additionally, meal planning before grocery shopping will help reduce unnecessary items and unnecessary trips to the store later on in the week for the one thing you forgot.

Make your own gifts.

You can still give beautiful gifts on a budget by making them yourself. Baked goods, soap, jewelry, and many other things can be made easily and inexpensively. Pinterest has lots of ideas and inspiration for affordable, high quality gifts that you can make from home.

Clean out your closets.

Get rid of anything and everything that you no longer wear or use. Have a big yard sale, sell it online or take it to a consignment store. Put whatever money you earn into a savings account or invest it in something that will bring in more money, like a small side-business, or put it towards paying off your debt!

Skip the night on the town.

Have friends over instead. Going out can really put a dent in your budget. It’s much less expensive to stay home and create your own entertainment. Plan a game night or movie night. Ask your friends to bring a dish to share so you can all share the expenses and save money. If you do plan to go out, order appetizers instead of full entrees and water instead of soda.

Cut out an expensive habit.

Do you have an expensive habit, like using tobacco or alcohol? If so, stopping that habit will help you save money, in addition to being healthier for you. Double win there.

Use your public library.

Instead of spending money on books and movies, rent them from the public library or borrow from a friend. If you’re like me, you’ll only watch that movie or read that book one time, so no need to purchase it! If you decide you really like the book, follow the thirty day rule (see above) after finishing it. If 30 days later you still think it’s a book you’d like to keep, then (and only then) you can buy it.

Get your finances in order.

Avoid paying unnecessary late and overdraft fees by balancing your checkbook and paying the bills on time. Additionally, reducing debt, especially credit card debt, will help you save money on interest. Interest is just wasted money!

Reduce housing costs.

Can you rent a smaller apartment or bring in a roommate? What about temporarily moving in with your parents? It takes some sacrificing but can help you save money on housing expenses. One of my friends moved in with her mom for two years after she graduated college because she was making a meager salary, and she was able to pay off $17,000 of debt in a little over a year thanks in part to the money she saved by living at home.

What other ideas do you have to spend less and start building your savings?

Emilie is the brains, the brawn, and the beauty behind Burke Does, inspiring millennial women to live financially, physically, and professionally fit lives. She writes about overcoming debt, while balancing trying to eat healthy, stay fit, and have a little fun along the way. Read more about her journey here.

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