You want to save money, maybe so that you can pay off a debt, or for a down payment on a home, or maybe so that you can start investing. Perhaps you are building an emergency fund. Whatever the reason and even the amount, the methods are the same. If you're struggling with improving how you manage your personal finances, the tips below can help you save a little or a lot.
The first necessary step in any money-saving endeavor is to make a budget so that you know exactly what is coming in and where your money is going. You can do this any way that makes you comfortable, from using a low-tech cash-only system and making notes on paper about your spending, to using spreadsheets, to downloading apps that will track your spending for you. More important than how you do it is that you spend enough time doing it. Two or three months will start to give you a good idea that includes things you spend money on less frequently, but don't forget expenses that come along just once or twice a year, like vacation, birthdays, or holidays. Once you know how much you normally spend, you can start taking steps to reduce that spending and put the money into savings.
There might be some obvious ways to spend less. If you tend to spend a lot on eating out and delivery, you might want to cook and eat at home more. If you have a habit of indulging in retail therapy, you might want to consider a lower-cost stress-busting activity, like watching your favorite box sets. However, there might be additional ways to save as well. For example, you could refinance student loans with a private lender. This could mean that you pay less each month. You could also look into rolling credit card balances onto cards that offer zero interest for 12 or 18 months. Moving to a cheaper place or getting a roommate can also help you save. Set up your bank account so that the amount you save is automatically moved to a different account to avoid the temptation to spend it.
At a minimum, you should put your savings in an interest-bearing account so that it can increase in value. However, one thing you should keep an eye on is that some low-interest accounts could be outpaced by inflation. On the other hand, in general, a higher yield is often correlated with higher risk. The best solution to this is having your money in a variety of places, including a no-risk emergency fund that you can access instantly if needed. Mutual funds carry some risk but are generally low-risk places to watch your money grow over time even if the market is a little volatile in the short run. With the money that you can afford to lose, you can invest in stocks and other higher-risk investments that also carry the possibility of a good return.
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