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8 Simple Ways to Save Money


8 simple ways to save money

1. Record Your Expenses

The first step to saving money is to figure out how much you spend. Keep track of all your expenses—that means every coffee, household item and cash tip. Once you have your data, organize the numbers by categories, such as gas, groceries and mortgage, and total each amount. Consider using your credit card or bank statements to help you with this.

2. Make a Budget

Once you have an idea of what you spend in a month, you can begin to organize your recorded expenses into a workable budget. Your budget should outline how your expenses measure up to your income—so you can plan your spending and limit overspending. In addition to your monthly expenses, be sure to factor in expenses that occur regularly but not every month, such as car maintenance.

3. Plan on Saving Money

Now that you’ve made a budget, create a savings category within it. Try to save 10 to 15 percent of your income. If your expenses are so high that you can’t save that much, it might be time to cut back. To do so, identify nonessentials that you can spend less on, such as entertainment and dining out, and find ways to save on your fixed monthly expenses.

Tip: Consider the money you put into savings a regular expense, similar to groceries, to reinforce good savings habits.

4. Choose Something to Save For

One of the best ways to save money is to set a goal. Start by thinking of what you might want to save for—perhaps you’re getting married, planning a vacation or saving for retirement. Then figure out how much money you’ll need and how long it might take you to save it.

Here are some examples of short- and long-term goals:

Short-term (1–3 years)

- Emergency fund (3–9 months of living expenses, just in case)

- Vacation

- Down payment for a car

Long-term (4+ years)

- Down payment on a home or a remodeling project

- Your child’s education

- Retirement

If you’re saving for retirement or your child’s education, consider putting that money into an investment account such as an IRA or 529 plan. While investments come with risks and can lose money, they also create the opportunity for compounded returns if you plan for an event far in advance. See step No. 6 for more details.

5. Decide on Your Priorities

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