After setting up a savings account over the weekend, I decided it was time to take a better look at what my spending habits have been like over the past few months.
As luck would have it, Apartment Therapy recently featured an article with realistic tips to help everyone save money. I've listed some of my favorites here and added a few of my own. I'm by no means a great saver, but I have picked up a few things that I think work well for me.
- Catalog Your Expenses Each Month: Go back through your finances for a month and catalog all of your expenses. I think the easiest way to do so is to create general categories. I separated my expenses into the following: rent, utilities, student loans, transportation, home, groceries, eating out, clothing, entertainment, and health & beauty.
- Pinpoint Categories for Improvement: Go through your finances and figure out where you are spending too much. I found that I have been spending more on eating out and clothing (surprise, surprise) than I would like to. Try to also pinpoint small, daily expenses that are starting to add up like coffee, soda, magazines, bagels, etc.
- Make a Realistic Budget: When you first start the budgeting process, it's easy to make your plan too strict. For instance, if you currently spend $150 a month on eating out, you will have a difficult time getting down to only $50 a month. When you make more realistic goals, you will be more likely to adhere to your new budget. Try reducing your spending by 10% the first month, 15% the next month, etc. until you get to a number you're comfortable with.
- Embrace the Generics. Figure out where you can buy store brands and where you would like to buy name brands. Target's Up and Up brand is pretty great and I truly can't tell the difference on most items. Trader Joe's also has some pretty delicious, inexpensive items under their store brand. And if my father has taught me anything, it's to look for generic options for pharmaceuticals like Claritin. Often you'll find options with the exact same ingredients for a quarter of the price.
- Treat Yo Self: Sit down and determine a few things you would like to do if you meet your budget. For example, if you cut $30 off your grocery bill each week, find an inexpensive trade-off that you can look forward to, like a matinee play or a weekend of yoga. If you set a small price limit for your rewards, you will have a net financial gain and you'll be much more likely to stick to your goals.
Photo Credit: Vernacular Typography
*These goals were found on Apartment Therapy. I've added my own content, but the inspiration was directly from this article.