I know I’m not alone when I say I’m completely terrified of trying to save for the future.
Whenever I sit down and do the math about how much money I need to save for a home, future children, or retirement, I feel like none of those financial goals are within my grasp—at least not all of them.
Part of this insecurity stems from the fact that I have no idea how much money I’ll make over the next few years. My sister is a teacher and has a chart that shows her exactly what she’ll make throughout the rest of her career. Obviously, this is subject to some change, but it must be comforting being able to map out your future financial plans in such a clear way. But my job doesn’t work like that! So, for now, my strategy is to save as much money as possible and I’ve picked up a few tricks over the year that make saving not feel so difficult.
Review Your Grocery Budget
Potential Savings: $65+
I spend no more than $50 a week on groceries. And that includes some rather luxurious purchases like avocados, pomegranates, and coconuts. There are a few ways I stick to this budget. To start I eat a mostly whole foods plant-based diet. I buy very little processed food and absolutely nothing that includes meat, dairy, or eggs. In the past, I would spend $20 for a few days worth of steak fajitas. Now I opt for bean and rice tacos that cost only a few dollars. I also don’t ever start a work week without knowing what I’m having for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that week. That way I only buy exactly what I need and don’t take multiple trips to the grocery store. The more I go the store, the more food I buy that I don’t really need. So it’s best for me to steer clear as much as possible. I also try to stick purchasing in-season produce, very little packaged or pre-made food, and I rarely buy alcohol. Millennials spend $83.25 a week on average for groceries. By cutting back to a $50 a week grocery budget, which the USDA considers a low-cost plan , you can save $67 over the course of two weeks.
Rethink Your Commute
Potential Savings: $20+
What I save on groceries, I easily spend on my commute. It costs me about $20 a day to go to work via train because I live pretty far from the office (and California’s public transportation options can be pricey) but in the long run it still saves me money. Because between gas, parking, and wear and tear on my car, it’s still cheaper to take the train. Try taking public transportation or carpooling to work for a week and see how you like it. You’ll save money and be less stressed if you’re reading a book on the metro or have someone to ride in the carpool lane with!You can save an average of 30% to 40% by commuting via public transit. Use this calculator to learn how much! And as a bonus, you can use pre-tax money from your paychecks to cover mass-transit passes. This includes the train, subway, bus, ferry, and even parking. This is very exciting news to me, as I’m estimated to save over $750 next year—about $30 every two weeks—if I sign up for a Commuter Transit Account
Threaten To Cancel A Service
Potential Savings: $10+
Something interesting happened when I went to cancel my subscription to Photoshop. As soon as I hit cancel, I was suddenly offered three free months. And when my parents recently decided to cancel their landline (that is through their internet and cable provider), they were told that they could keep the landline free of charge if they just didn’t cancel it. It somehow benefited the company to keep more phone service customers. Monthly memberships and some services can be way more flexible than you think. Sometimes you just have to show you’re considering your options and you might just get a better deal. So consider chatting with your gym, cable provider, or cell service and you may just shave some money off your monthly expenses.
Take Control Of Your Social Life
Potential Savings: $30+
I’ve already shared a few ideas of how you can save money without destroying your social life, but this is just a friendly reminder that friends can be expensive. So don’t forget to plan free or inexpensive activities like hikes, host dinners at home (my favorite way to save and still spend time with friends!), or plan a movie night where you provide the film and cozy couch and your girlfriends bring their favorite movie candies to share.
Skimp On One Luxury
Potential Savings: $15+
Just because you’re trying to save doesn’t mean you should scrimp on luxuries completely, but can you think of just one you can cut out? I stopped getting my eyebrows threaded every month. And even though that’s not a huge expense, it’s still one less expense I have to pay. Do you really need Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go? What about sticking to drinking water at restaurants or only having one cocktail at happy hour. You’d be surprised how much cutting one recurring splurge out of your life can save you in the long run.
We’re always looking to save a little extra cash, so let us know if you have any go-to budgeting tips!
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Categories: Money Matters