With today’s society of heavy spending, it can seem like your money slips through your fingers as soon as you get your hands on it. This isn’t at all uncommon. Plenty of people out there feel like each paycheck is spent before it hits their bank accounts, covering bills and living expenses. Many people get overwhelmed just trying to account for how they spent the cash that was left over, much less finding ways to save more of it.
Finding out where your money is going and curtailing bad spending habits is key to not only building your bank account, but also to becoming financially independent and building toward a secure financial future.
The good news is there are plenty of easy steps you can take to identify where your money is going and redirect it into a savings account. Here are a few things that might be draining your bank account, and ways you can address them.
Girls Just Wanna Have Funds
Shopping is a favorite pastime for women (and some men), but this is one activity that can easily lead to spending more than you’ve budgeted for the month. Frivolous purchases on clothes and jewelry that you don’t need can make for a fun shopping trip, but when you check your bank account later, you’ll be disappointed in how much lower your balance is after going shopping with your friends.
Save shopping trips for special occasions, such as when you need a new outfit for a particular event or it’s time to add a few pieces to your spring or fall wardrobe. Also consider shopping at discount outlets or even second hand stores to see if you can find what you’re looking for at a much cheaper price. As fun as it is to buy something you’ve fallen in love with, it can be even more fun to make hunting down a great deal a game and revelling in the fact that you got beautiful shoes at a 75% markdown.
Skip Eating Out
It’s the age old question that drives fear into the hearts of many at 4:00 every afternoon: “What’s for dinner?” After a long work day, there aren’t a lot of people who want to go home and cook up a fancy meal for their family or even a meal at all. Stopping for takeout on the way home is so convenient; it seems worth the extra cost.
Eating out frequently not only drains your bank account, it’s not healthy. Convenience foods are loaded with fat, salt, and sugar, and can cause health problems down the road. If your family eats out frequently, you might notice your bank account balance get lower and lower, until you’re spending hundreds of dollars at restaurants each month.
Nix the eating out by planning easy meals to cook at home. Sure, Pinterest might tempt you to make seared salmon and couscous with a creamy dill sauce made from scratch, but you’re more likely to stop at a fast food chain on the way home from work if you think about how many hours it will take to prepare such a meal. Plan for simple meals that take 20 minutes or less to go from fridge to table.
Perhaps an even easier way to save money on your food budget is make coffee at home. Skipping a stop for a $3 coffee house latte every morning can add up to real savings, and saves time. A cup of coffee with your favorite flavored creamer in a pretty to-go cup costs a lot less.
Are You Using Your Gym Membership?
When you’re trying to lose weight or stay fit, a gym membership can seem like a necessary cost. However, many people find themselves going regularly for the first few weeks, only to taper off or stop going at all after a while. Gym memberships are costly and are usually on contract, meaning that you will continue to pay for the membership for a year, two years, or however long your contract is for, regardless of whether you actually use the gym or not.
Save the $20-$50 you spend each month for a gym membership and get fit at home instead. Watch free fitness videos online, or go outside for a walk around your neighborhood. You can invest in small weights if you enjoy weight training, or if you have extra space, convert one of the rooms in your home into a mini-gym. Getting fit only requires dedication, not money.
Being financially responsible is challenging, and it doesn’t come naturally to many people. This is particularly true for younger folks who have grown up in a society that says “spend, spend, spend.” Getting on track is important if you want to save up for bigger ticket items, like a car, a down payment on a home, or a vacation.
Cut out spending on the things you don’t really need and watch your bank account stop dwindling and start moving in the other direction. Over time, you won’t feel so much like you’re missing out when you see the positive changes in your finances!