Ways to Build Your Savings

You probably already know how important it is to save. Whether it's for retirement, an emergency fund, or a special purchase you want to make, routinely putting money into some type of savings account is a crucial component of any solid financial plan.

But what if you're barely making ends meet? How do you find extra cash to squirrel away each month when you're basically living from paycheck to paycheck? The answer may be as simple as making small changes in your spending habits. Almost anyone's budget can be fine-tuned to eliminate unnecessary purchases and better control necessary expenditures.

One of the best things you can do to improve your financial situation is to get in the habit of saving. If you've never seriously done it before it may seem like an impossible undertaking. Don't worry if you have to start small. The most important thing is just to start.

The following suggestions may seem trivial at first glance but over time they can add up to big savings.

Simple Ways to Grow Your Savings

  • Follow your own financial path. Trying to keep up with your friends and neighbors in the possessions department is an exhausting and fruitless pursuit. The odds are they may not be in the best financial shape either so trying to emulate them really doesn't make any sense. Work towards your own personal financial goals by learning to spend (and save) your money wisely.
  • Forego the expensive coffee. If your morning routine includes stopping by the coffeehouse every day, those drinks could be costing you a lot of cash! A $5 latte adds up to $25 a week or $100 a month. You'd be a lot better off stashing away that money in a savings account. Brew your coffee at home for a fraction of the cost and take it with you.
  • Brown-bag your lunch. Try bringing your lunch from home a few days a week. On average this will probably save you around $20 per week. You obviously will need to buy some food items from the store but it will still be cheaper than eating in a restaurant or grabbing fast food (not to mention better for you).
  • Do away with impulse purchases. Spur-of-the-moment shopping can destroy a budget. This holds true whether it's at a retail store on online. If you know you are an emotional shopper, stay away from the mall and avoid online sites. You will never make financial headway if you continue to make impulse purchases.
  • Lose the land line. You probably use your cell phone for just about everything. Why keep paying for a land line that is never used? Most home security companies now offer services through cell phones also. Stop paying for services you don't need and aren't using.
  • Combine errands. Plan your schedule so that most of your routine errands can be combined in one trip. Visits to the grocery, drug store, dry cleaners, and the bank can drain your gas tank if you do them all separately.
  • Reduce your energy bills. In the summer, use curtains or blinds to darken your rooms and keep them cooler. Ceiling fans are a great way to circulate both warm and cool air, depending on the season, and use much less energy than conventional air conditioning and heating systems. Change your HVAC filters regularly to keep everything running efficiently. Unplug appliances when not in use. Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs to reduce your electric bill.
  • Plan your meals. Going out to eat is almost always more expensive than preparing meals at home. Make a weekly meal-plan and write down a specific grocery list. Leftovers can be used for lunches or perhaps made into an additional dinner entree. Learn to be creative so that nothing is wasted. The savings can really add up.
  • Grocery shop with a list. We've all done it. You go into the store for a gallon of milk and come out with a shopping cart full of bags. Grocery shopping when you're in a hurry is never a good idea‚Ķ and shopping when you're hungry can be disastrous to your wallet! Always keep a running list of what you need and stick to the list. Food prices are expensive enough without wasting your money on things you don't really need.
  • Cut the cord with your cable company. Look over your monthly statement and see what you're actually paying each month. Cable can be expensive especially if you add on premium movie channels. Many companies now offer movies and television shows over the internet at extremely reasonable monthly rates. Check out the options available and see what it can save you.
  • Re-discover the local library. Instead of buying books, why not get a library card and borrow some of those wonderful tomes for free? Many libraries also offer movie rentals and newspapers and magazines are usually available to browse.
  • Take advantage of free entertainment. Most cities offer a wide variety of free entertainment. Information about concerts, art festivals, museums and other cultural events can usually be found in the local newspaper or online. For example, Bank of America offers its customers free admission to many museums across the country on the first weekend of every month.
  • Keep up with your bank account balance. People use debit cards to pay for nearly everything these days. It's sometimes easy to forget a transaction or two if you don't check your account often. With easy access via the Internet or your mobile device now available to most banking customers, there should be no reason to overdraw your account (at about $35 a hit) or forget about purchases. Logging in to your account at least once a day should keep you up-to-date on your balance and all recent transactions.

Small changes can truly result in big savings. By eliminating a lot of little expenditures which may seem insignificant at first, you can begin to watch your savings grow. This, in turn, will help reduce your total debt and get you started on a secure financial path.