Most people, if asked, would probably tell you they want to be better about saving. What that means to you can vary, of course. You might want to put away for retirement, set up an emergency fund, or simply pay off your debt. Maybe you just want to pay all of your bills and still have a little left at the end of the month. Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that you will have to "do without" in order to successfully save.
Luckily, you don't have to deprive yourself to save money. There are simple ways to cut back on expenses without having to revamp your lifestyle or move to a shed in the wilderness. Here are six simple steps to get you started on the road to living a great life while still saving money.
Establish Your Priorities
This is exactly what it sounds like. You need to know what is important to you and the rest of your family to know where your efforts need to focus.
Start by having every family member list their top ten priorities for their life. There are no right or wrong answers here. Help younger kids if they need it. You may be surprised to learn that even the youngest family members find experiences, having a purpose, and helping others are more significant than having a new car.
Once you know where priorities are, work to establish a set that everyone can agree on. you are looking for a consensus here, so make your case but be willing ot listen to what will and won't work for others.
Cut Out the Frivolous
Now that you have your list, compare it to your actual habits. If travel sports aren't high on the kids' priority list, why are you pushing them? Cut out the extras that you really won't miss.
That is important because you don't want to feel like saving is making you miserable. It should be a natural and normal part of your routine, not a secret method of torture.
Cutting out the extras and, in hindsight, frivolous things you spend money on is a nice idea, but you'll also need a plan to move forward. Get back together as a family and brainstorm some alternatives.
Would it be better to invest in a streaming service and popcorn machine instead of going to the movies every week? It could certainly save you a bunch of money, while still letting everyone indulge in a weekly movie night.
If the only reason you keep your family gym membership is to use the pool, consider how using pool loans can help you invest in upgrading your backyard. You'll have a great place where everyone can gather, and will probably spend more time together as a family without the hassle of driving back and forth to use a public pool.
Replace Debt With Savings
Now take steps to eliminate your current debt. That might be credit cards, student loans, or even your mortgage. The fewer bills you have every month, the more you will be able to save, so give this step your full attention.
Try using the debt avalanche method to pay down your highest interest balances first. This will save you the most amount of money in the long run, but it can be frustrating for some savers. In that case, consider the positive-reinforcement friendly debt snowball method.
Once you have a handle on your debt and expenses, start putting a little money aside each month. You can start small, but be consistent. In other words, don't skip saving because you really wanted to hit that great sale.
Reap the Rewards
You've worked hard, and now is when you get to sit back and watch your savings grow and enjoy your efforts. Saving has become natural, you don't miss the things you gave up, and you are enjoying the things that mean the most to you and your family.
You have successfully managed to change your spending habits, reaffirm your priorities, and work together as a family to set goals. Congratulations! You are living your best life without breaking the bank, a feat many people only get to dream about.