Create a budget for income and necessities

All of the money you bring in each month is called Income.  Your salary, rips and even money that you get on a regular basis from family, investments, or anything else.  Income doesn´t include gifts, bonuses, and things of that sort. So leave them completely out of your budget.

Necessity items are the items that you absolutely have to have, these include food, home, clothing, medical care, etc.

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To create a budget, you will need to compare your regular income to the cost of necessary items.  During this time,  if you should see that your income is less than you need to pay for necessities you should try to lower costs or increase income, here are some popular posts to do this here.  If you should see that your income is more than your cost of necessities, then you have money left over.

Use Budgeting spreadsheets

Budgeting spreadsheets are a perfect visual tool for keeping track of income and costs. Looking over these, you can see what you spend and how your costs compare to your income.

You will need to get all of your pay stubs and other incomes together as well as your receipts for the whole month. If you use a debit card or credit card for these necessary items then that will be on your monthly bank statement.

Keeping Track of Your Income

This budgeting spreadsheet is where you can track the money you bring in each month. If you’re not sure (because you earn tips that vary each month) you’ll need to keep a careful record for at least a couple of months. For now, though, you can estimate your tips.

INCOME SOURCE MONTHLY INCOME
Source 1:
Source 2:
Source 3:
TOTAL:

Keep Track of Your Necessary Expenses

This budgeting spreadsheet has all the bills you have to pay, although not all categories (like property taxes) will apply to all people. Many of these costs can also be reduced by shopping around. The miscellaneous categories are for you to fill in personal cost.

NECESSARY EXPENSE MONTHLY ESTIMATE ACTUAL
Rent or Mortgage
Groceries
Utilities (electric, gas, heat)
Water and Sewage
Trash Pickup
Health Insurance/Co-Pays
Auto Insurance
Auto Repairs/Maintenance/Fuel
Public Transit
Phone (Landline and Cell Phone)
Loan Repayment
Homeowners/Renters Insurance
HOA fee
Property Tax
Life Insurance
Hair Cuts
Basic Toiletries
Child Care
Clothing
Retirement
Misc #1
Misc #2
TOTAL:

Next Steps

Now you´ve written and seen how your income is with the necessary expenses, which means you are on your way to managing your budget!

Just in case you found that your necessary expenses are the same as or greater than your income, you’ll need to find more ways to save.

But, before you start cutting your costs, it is very important to get a full picture of what you really spend.  VERY few people spend only on necessities.

Most of us enjoy saving a little money to give ourselves more flexibility. The good news is saving money comes easily once you know the areas you need to hit.  You will get better at it!  Keep going!

 

What is your way to save more?  Do you have a specific system?

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How to Pay Yourself First and make it fun.

 

Firstly I just want to say, Don´t make budgeting your personal expenses boring.  Many of us go about this the wrong way!  When people start thinking of how they´ll start to put a savings plan in action they do a strict budget system that is precise, How much for groceries, gas, utilities, etc and they end up hating it.

Those in financial fields such as advisors and planners highly recommend taking a different approach.  What´s this approach? Pay Yourself First when you get your paycheck rather than going into it only paying bills and starving your savings account.

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Type A versus Type B Personality in Budgeting

Making and keeping up with a strict budget system down the exact dollar is quite a time draining task.  Especially when it comes to tracking your actual spending.  This type of budgeting system may be enjoyable if you´re a highly organized Type A. But, the rest of the population doesn´t feel very excited or joyful about sticking to this type of strict budgeting.

If you´re like me and tend to be more of the ¨Big picture¨ type of person and it seems that you´ve never been able to make a solid budgeting system or stick to them in the past, I´d urge you to try the Pay Yourself budgeting method.

Remember when you said you save money for retirement?  Or, perhaps for that vacation you´ve always wanted to take? But, whenever you get your paycheck it all just goes on bills and unexpected things and any potential savings get spent on eating out or Target for non-essentials?

You then tell yourself that it´s okay, You´ll just save money from your next check?  Only to find that it´s a repetitive cycle that doesn´t stop?  Instead of waiting to pay yourself last, when there´s nothing left, make yourself a priority and put aside money into your savings first.  That way, You can take care of your future self.

According to a recent survey by the website Bankrate.com, more than a quarter of all Americans have no emergency savings at all, and only 23 percent have enough saved to get them through six months of monthly expenses if they were to lose their income.

How to develop the “Pay Yourself First” System

The Pay Yourself budgeting system begins by writing down how much you bring home per month.  For example, let´s say you earn $4k each month after taxes.

Write down your savings goals for each area of your life. Example, You may want to put aside cash for some of these areas.

  • $400 a month for an individual retirement account
  • $200 a month to put towards buying your next car in cash
  • $100 a month to put towards future car repairs.
  • $200 a month towards future home repairs and maintenance.
  • $50 a month to pay for an annual vacation
  • $50 a month towards future home, auto, and health insurance deductibles and co-pays, which you might want to consider an emergency fund)
  • $200 a month (or more) to pay for your kid’s college education

As you see this example gives you $1,200 a month to decide to put into savings for Yourself and your Family’s future. Now, subtract this $1,200 from your monthly net income of $4,000. You’re left with $2,800 per month. You can spend this money freely to pay bills, get coffee every morning, eat dinner out or whatever else you need or want, without worrying over what category it falls into.

Easy budgeting

This budgeting system really is easy because you don´t need to spend any time figuring out exactly what percentage of your money is going for rent, groceries, electricity, etc. Take your savings from the top and relax.

This budgeting system is very effective and SO many have benefited!

This Pay Yourself First budgeting system is a perfect approach, rather than the traditional approach that is boring and we find ourselves NEVER doing.  Keep in mind, Personal Finance is exactly that PERSONAL, so choose which works for you!

This system is really easy because you don’t need to spend any time figuring out what percentage of your money is going towards your rent vs. groceries vs. electricity. Just pull your savings from the top and then relax and use the rest to cover those expenses.

This “anti-budget” feels antithetical to the traditional budgeting model, but it’s equally effective.

The entire point of a budget is to make sure you’re hitting your savings goals without letting overspending in other areas eat up your excess funds. The traditional, line-item budgeting model is a bottom-up approach. The “Pay Yourself First” method is a top-down approach. Both are fine. Personal finance is personal, so choose whichever style works best for you.

 

What do you think of this method?  What methods have you used?

How much money to save to retire rich.

I was reading a great article this morning from CNBC about David Bach and what he says about retiring rich and how to do it. The whole article is here.  But, you can just read on and see what he has to say.

Getting rich starts with paying yourself first, says self-made millionaire and wealth manager David Bach. In short, that means, “when you earn a dollar, the first person you pay is you,” he writes in his bestselling book “The Automatic Millionaire.”

This paragraph is just astounding.  Perfectly said, Pay YOURSELF first.

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More specifically, if you want to retire rich, he says, “save 15 percent to 20 percent of your pretax income in a tax-advantaged retirement account,” such as a 401(k), 403(b) or IRA. If you want to be “rich enough to retire early,” he adds, contribute 20 percent or more to a retirement savings account.

These percentages come from Bach’s “pay yourself first formula,” which he created to give you an idea of what your financial standing will look like depending on how much you save. Here’s the full formula:

To be …

  • Dead broke: “Don’t pay yourself first,” writes Bach. “Spend more than you make. Borrow money on credit cards and carry debt you can’t pay off.”
  • Poor: “Think about paying yourself first, but don’t actually do it,” he writes. “Spend everything you make each month and save nothing. Keep telling yourself, ‘Someday … ‘”
  • Middle-class: Save 5 percent to 10 percent of your pretax income in a tax-advantaged retirement account.
  • Upper-middle-class: Save 10 percent to 15 percent of your pretax income in a tax-advantaged retirement account.
  • Rich: Save 15 percent to 20 percent of your pretax income in a tax-advantaged retirement account.
  • Rich enough to retire early: Save 20 percent or more of your pretax income in a tax-advantaged retirement account.

Can you relate?  It´s interesting, to say the least.  Let´s move on…

Keep in mind that “everyone’s life is different,” Bach writes, “but this should give you a benchmark to shoot for or plan around.”

“When you earn a dollar, the first person you pay is you.”-David Bach, bestselling author of ‘The Automatic Millionaire’

Saving 10 to 15 percent of your income may sound daunting, but it’ll be easier to do if you make it automatic — meaning, you have your contributions automatically taken out of your paycheck and sent straight to your retirement account.

Say you earn $50,000 a year. Setting aside 10 percent of that would mean $5,000 in savings per year. “Now, if you hadn’t put anything aside over the course of the year but instead waited until December to come up with this much money, how likely is it that you’d have $5,000 sitting around somewhere? Not very,” says Bach.

“But when you pay yourself first, you don’t wait. The 10 percent is taken out of your paycheck and automatically invested for you before you ever see it.”

And that $5,000 a year can really add up over time, thanks to compound interest. If you invest $5,000 a year for 35 years in an account that earns an annual return of 7 percent, for example, you’d have more than $750,000. Over 40 years, with an annual return of 7 percent, you’d have over $1 million.

Keep in mind the contribution limits for tax-advantaged retirement accounts: In 2019, employees who participate in an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan will be able to contribute as much as $19,000 per year. The limit on annual contributions to an IRA is $6,000.

 

What are your thoughts on this?  Do you Pay Yourself First?

Weekly Meal Plan, and Thanksgiving.

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Today is the day for the Weekly Meal Plan and this week is Thanksgiving.  Therefore, Monday – Wednesday I’ll make normal meals then Thursday a huge, wonderful Thanksgiving meal Friday – Sunday … Leftovers? Pretty much sums up the week so here it goes.

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Monday – Burritos (Rice, black beans, corn, salsa, sour cream, cheese, steak strips, green peppers, red peppers, yellow peppers and onions cooked on the stove)  I’ll take a picture of my beautiful burritos this week to show you.  Price = $12.50

Tuesday – Chicken Alfredo with broccoli and carrots.  Delicious and I do make my sauce homemade so the total comes to $13 for everything.  Not bad and really really tasty.  I do add in rolls.

Wednesday – Baked Spaghetti is a hit with the kids.  A little garlic bread and salad on the side, it’s nearly perfect.  We spend around $11 on this meal.

Thursday – Thanksgiving!  Roasted Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Classic Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Warm Rolls, Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie, Pecan Pie.  I feel like I’m forgetting something … Not sure.  But I can’t wait!  Price = $35 ( I know I’m forgetting something)

Friday – Sunday is leftovers from Thanksgiving.  If our stomachs can even handle more food. I’d really like to help others this Thanksgiving also.

This weeks menu is going to cost us $71.50. I’m not complaining.  I think this is very nice.

When I was younger my Mother and I would go to homeless shelters and make food and pass it out all day for those in need and it was a memory I’ll forever cherish.  It was so nice to be with them during the holidays and I’d love to do that again. We have all kinds of memories of Thanksgiving, as I know you do also and I’d love to hear some of yours.

I feel so blessed to be able to have my family together on Thanksgiving, God willing.  Enjoying our food, and spending some great moments together.

We will definitely play some board games!  That is always fun and I’m sure they’ll be a game on TV to watch.  I need to check in and see if there is anything local that would be fun to do, like a parade or something.

What are some things you love to do on Thanksgiving?  Any favorite memories?

50 Great Ways to Save Money

Here are 50 Great Ways to Save Money.  I’ve compiled a list that I think you will really benefit from!  Let me know what you think!

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General Savings Tips

  • Build an emergency fund.  This can make all the difference!  Low-income families with at least $500 in an emergency fund are better off financially than moderate-income families with less saved up!  It’s hard to imagine that being true but it certainly is.  Learn more about emergency funds here
  • Establish your budget.  Are you looking for an easy way to start? On the first day of a new month, get a receipt for everything you purchase. Stack the receipts into categories like restaurants, groceries, and personal care. At the end of the month you will be able to clearly see where your money is going. Find out more about this beautiful category here.
  • Budget with cash and envelopes. If you have trouble with overspending, try the envelope budget system where you use a set amount of cash for most spending. And once the cash is gone, it’s gone. Find our more about this here.
  • Don’t just save money, save.  There’s a difference between saving money and saving money for your future. So don’t just spend less, put the money you save into a savings account to plan for college expenses, retirement, or emergencies that can leave you financially better off. Find more information on this here.
  • Saving automatically.   Setting up automatic savings is the easiest and most effective way to save, and it puts extra cash out of sight and out of mind. Every pay period, have your employer deduct a certain amount from your paycheck and transfer it to a retirement or savings account. Ask your HR representative for more details about how to set this up, Or every month have your bank or credit union transfer a fixed amount from your checking account to a savings or investment account. Learn more about automatic savings here.
  • Aim for short-term savings goals.  Make a goal such as setting aside $20 a week or month, rather than a longer term savings goal. People save more successfully when they keep short-term goals in sight. This is a great way to save more.
  • Start saving for your retirement as early as possible.  Few people get rich through their wages alone. It’s the miracle of compound interest, or earning interest on your interest over many years, that builds wealth. Because time is on their side, the youngest workers are in the best position to save for retirement.
  • Take full advantage of employer matches to your retirement plan.  Often as an incentive, employers will match a certain amount of what you save in a retirement plan such as a 401(k). If you don’t take full advantage of this match, you’re leaving money on the table.
  • Save your windfalls and tax refunds.  Every time you receive a windfall, such a work bonus, inheritance, contest winnings, or tax refund, put a portion into your savings account.
  • Make a savings plan.  Those with a savings plan are twice as likely to save successfully. That’s where Frugal Overload comes in. I’ll help you set a goal and make a plan.  It doesn’t stop there. Frugal Overload will keep you motivated with information, advice, tips, and reminders to help you reach your savings goal. Think of us as your own personal support system.
  • Save your loose change.  Really! Putting aside just 50¢ over a year will get you 40 percent of the way to a $500 emergency fund. And some banks and credit unions or apps offer programs that round all your purchases to the nearest dollar and put that money into a separate savings account. Great information here.
  • Use the 24 hour rule.  This rules helps avoid purchasing expensive or unnecessary items on impulse. Think over each nonessential purchase for at least 24 hours. This is particularly easy to do while shopping online, because you can add items to your cart or wish list and come back to them a day later.
  • Treat yourself, but use it as an opportunity to save.  Match the cost of your nonessential indulgences in savings. So, for example, if you splurge on a smoothie while out running errands, put the same amount into your savings account. And think of it this way, if you can’t afford to save the matching amount, you can’t afford the treat either.
  • Calculate purchases by hours worked instead of cost.  Take the amount of the item you’re considering purchasing and divide it by your hourly wage. If it’s a $50 pair of shoes and you make $10 an hour, ask yourself if those shoes are really worth five long hours of work.
  • Unsubscribe. Avoid temptation by unsubscribing from marketing emails to the stores you spend the most money at. By law, each email is required to have an unsubscribe link, usually at the bottom of the email.
  • Place a savings reminder on your card.  Remind yourself to think through every purchase by covering your card with a savings message, such as “Do I really need this?” Write the message on a piece of masking tape or colorful washi tape on your card.

 

Banking, Credit, and Debt Savings Tips

  • Pay off credit cards in full each month.  The miles and cash-back are only valuable if you’re not falling into debt or paying interest.  Learn more about debt and credit here.
  • Start with a goal of reducing your credit card debt by just $1,000. That $1,000 debt reduction will probably save you $150-200 a year in interest, and much more if you’re paying penalty rates of 20-30 percent.
  • Use only the ATMs of your bank or credit union. Using the ATM of another financial institution once a week might seem like no big deal, but if it’s costing you $3 for each withdrawal, that’s more than $150 over the course of a year.
  • Check your credit report for free once a year. Use your annual free credit report from the three credit reporting bureaus to look for inaccuracies or opportunities to raise your score. Credit scores are used by loan providers, landlords, and others to determine what they’ll sell you, and at what price. For example, a low credit score can increase the cost of a 60-month, $20,000 auto loan by more than $5,000.  Learn more about your credit score here.
  • Pay all of your bills on auto-pay.  This ensures they are paid on time, in full to avoid late charges. As a bonus, some loan providers offer a small interest rate deduction if you enroll in auto-pay.

Entertainment Savings Tips

  • Take advantage of your library.  More and more libraries are offering e-books, so you don’t even need to visit in person. Many libraries are also part of an intra-library loan system where you can borrow anything you want, but that they don’t have, for a minimal shipping charge. Just ask. And some libraries allow you to borrow things like tools and sewing machines. We absolutely love our local library and go on a regular basis for DVDs, CDs and books.
  • Get unadvertised theater ticket discounts.  Call, email, or tweet your nearby theater to ask about discount options that are often not well-advertised. Many theaters offer discounted seats for seniors, students, and young adults, such as pay-your-age or pay-what-you-can programs. Or they’ll offer rush discounts of any unsold seats immediately before a show.
  • Volunteer at local festivals.  Cultural festivals and events often offer free admission to event volunteers. Contact the organizers of your favorite event to ask about volunteer opportunities and benefits.

 

Family and Friends Savings Tips

  • Create a family spending limit on gifts.  Discuss placing spending limits on gifts within your family and/or a system where you only purchase one gift for one person over the holidays. These limits tend to reduce expenditures and be greatly appreciated by family members with less financial flexibility.
  • Plan gift-giving well in advance.  That will give you time to decide on the most thoughtful gifts, which usually are not the most expensive ones. And if these gifts are products that must be purchased, you will have the opportunity to look for sales.
  • Don’t buy cheap clothes for cheap’s sake.  It sometimes make sense to prioritize quality over price when purchasing clothes for the family. An inexpensive shirt or coat is a poor bargain for older family members if it wears out in less than a year, but could make sense for quickly growing children. Consider fabric, stitching, washability, and other quality related factors in your selection of clothes. Thrift stores are amazing, You can find new or barely used BRAND name clothing for prices that are perfect.
  • Organize a neighborhood swap meet.  Here’s how it works: gather your friends and neighbors with kids around the same age and everyone brings gently used clothing, books, and school supplies, toys, etc., and receives a ticket for each item they bring. Each ticket entitles you to one item from the swap meet. If you contribute six books, you can leave with up to six new-to-you books. If you contribute seven items of clothing, you can leave with up to seven new-to-you items of clothing.  All leftover items are donated.
  • Designate one day a week a “no spend day.”  Reserve one night a week for free family fun. Cook at home, and plan out free activities such as game night, watching a movie, or going to the park. More about a no spend day (or even month) click this.

 

Food Savings Tips

  • Brown bag your lunch.  The reason you hear this tip so much is that it works! If buying lunch at work costs $5, but making lunch at home costs only $2.50, then in a year, you could afford to create a $500 emergency fund and still have money left over.
  • Commit to eating out one fewer time each month.  Save money without sacrificing your lifestyle by taking small steps to reduce your dining budget. Start off with reducing the amount you eat out by just once per month. Here’s more information on Eating more at home.
  • Plan your meals in advance and stick to a list while grocery shopping.  People who do food shopping with a list, and buy little else, spend much less money than those who decide what to buy when they get to the food market. The annual savings could easily be hundreds of dollars. I know this to be true.
  • Shop by unit price.  Many grocery stores list a cost per unit of each item, such as the price per ounce or pound. Use these stickers when comparison shopping for the same product, just in a different size.
  • Stick to water.  It’s standard in the restaurant industry to mark up the cost of alcohol by three to five times. So an easy way to cut down on your restaurant spending without changing your habits too drastically is to skip the beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
  • Save time and money by doubling the recipe.  Next time you make a family favorite, double the recipe and freeze the leftovers for another day. That way you can get two meals out of one and use the ingredients more efficiently with less waste. Aluminum pans of various sizes can be purchased on the cheap, especially when buying bulk, and make freezing and reheating a snap.

 

Health Savings Tips

  • Go generic.  Ask your physician if generic prescription drugs are a good option for you. Generic drugs can cost several hundred dollars less to purchase annually than brand-name drugs. And since physicians often don’t know the costs you incur for a particular drug, you often have to ask.
  • Comparison shop for prescription drugs.  Don’t just rely on the closest drugstore because the cost to you can vary significantly from pharmacy to pharmacy. Make sure to check out your local pharmacist, supermarkets, wholesale clubs, and mail-order pharmacies.
  • Purchase store brand over-the-counter medications.  Store brand medications often cost 20-40 percent less than nationally advertised brands, but are the exact same formula. The premium you’re paying on brand names is for nothing but the marketing.

 

Home Savings Tips

  • Audit your home energy use.  Ask your local electric or gas utility for a free or low-cost home energy audit. The audit may reveal inexpensive ways to reduce home heating and cooling costs by hundreds of dollars a year. Keep in mind that a payback period of less than three years, or even five years, usually will save you lots of money in the long-term.
  • Weatherproof your home.  Caulk holes and cracks that let warm air escape in the winter and cold air escape in the summer. Your local hardware store has materials, and quite possibly useful advice, about inexpensively stopping unwanted heat or cooling loss.
  • Keep the sun out.  Keep your blinds or curtains closed during hot summer days. Blocking the sunlight really does help to keep your house cooler.
  • Use less water.  Install low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators to reduce your water usage and water costs.
  • Cut laundry detergent and dryer sheet use in half.  The laundry detergent sold today is usually highly concentrated and powerful. Use the smallest suggested amount, and often you can use less than what’s on the bottle and still get clean clothes. In many cases, using less actually washes more effectively because there’s no leftover soap in your clothes. And tearing your dryer sheets in half gives the same result for half the price.
  • Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees.  For every 10 degree reduction in temperature, you can save up to 5 percent on water heating costs.

 

Transportation Savings Tips

  • Comparison shop for auto insurance.  Before renewing your existing auto insurance policy each year, check out the rates of competing companies.
  • Invest in car maintenance.  Keeping your car engine tuned and its tires inflated to their proper pressure saves money in the long run. Doing both can save you up to $100 a year in gas.
  • Check multiple sites for low airfares.  Don’t rely on a single airline search engine to show you all inexpensive fares. Some discount carriers do not allow their flights to be listed in these third-party searches, so you need to check their websites separately.

How’s your savings going?  What is something you’d like to add?

Weekly meal plan

This week should be easy for us.  A couple crock pot recipes and quick dinners.  Here’s what we have for this week’s dinners.

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Monday – Chili (with crackers, cheese, and pasta)  I love to sprinkle in the oyster crackers and a bit of cheese.  = $12

Tuesday – Burrito’s (Chipotle style) we do it all, Steak strips, corn, cheese, salsa, sour cream, black beans, green peppers, red peppers, onions, and rice.  = $15

Wednesday – Chicken noodle soup (crockpot) served with rolls = $12

Thursday – Beef stew (crockpot) A little pricier but easily feeds 8 and so we will have a little left over.  = $18

Friday – Mansaf (this one takes a while but worth it)  another of my husband’s cuisines.  Here’s the recipe. It is a delicious meal.  = $20

Saturday – Chicken parmesan – I make everything homemade for this one, with the Olive Garden recipe found here = $12

Sunday – Easy day.  Breakfast for dinner.  Pancakes, french toast, eggs, and turkey bacon. = $7.50

Here’s our weekly menu this week.  This menu will cost $96.50 and will feed our family of 6. We like these recipes and this will be my first time making beef stew in my crockpot. Pretty excited about it, actually.

I would like to make more recipes in the crockpot, My Mother bought it for me last year and I’ve really not used it hardly at all.  It makes sense for me to use it and I’m not sure why I don’t.  I have an entire recipe book for it, too!  There are breakfast, lunches, dinners and even dessert! Which I was surprised about. I’ve never had a dessert from a crockpot or even a breakfast.  I really need to get going on these recipes and try them.  Having 4 children you’d think I’d use it more since it makes it easier in the evening.  It cooks the food for you.  So I will be trying more crockpot recipes.

Do you use a crockpot?  Which recipes do you love to make in it?

 

3 Easy Tips for Saving More Money

I wanted to share these money saving tips with you this morning.  I read a great article on Motley Fool this morning, here. So I thought I’d make 3 easy tips for you on how to save money. 

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Saving money isn’t the easiest thing to do, and this is why Americans would be more financially secure. However, the fact of the matter is that 75% of U.S. adults are living check to check and the reason boils down to a lack of savings, as previously mentions 65% of Americans have little to no savings! Are you ready to stop the insanity?  Do you want to break that cycle?  You’ll need to train yourself to be more responsible with your money. Here are a few easy ways to get yourself to save.

1. Sticking to a budget:

It’s difficult to save money when you have no idea what you spend your paychecks on. If you’re eager to start banking some cash, make a budget that works so you get a sense of where your money goes month after month. To do so, go through your bank account statements and credit card bills, list your monthly expenses and what you typically spend on each, and see how your total monthly spending compares to your take-home pay. Then, start going through that list and figure out which expenses to slash.

You might choose to tackle a really major expense, like downsizing to a smaller home or getting rid of a car with a costly monthly payment. Or, you might trim a series of smaller expenses (think to downgrade your cable package and cutting back on store-bought lunches).  Having a budget will help you better understand where you have room to cut corners.

2. Don’t buy in the spur of the moment

Have you ever walked into a store in search of a few basic items, only to come out with a high-tech gadget you never planned on purchasing? It’s easy to fall victim to buying just because it’s staring you right in the face, so much so that a whopping 84% of Americans do so on the regular. But if you force yourself to follow things like the 

The rule goes like this: The next time you’re tempted to buy an item you weren’t planning to purchase at that moment, force yourself to wait a full 24 hours before moving forward. If, after a day’s time, you still really want that item, or are convinced that you need it, then by all means, move forward. If not, save your money for something more important (like retirement).

3. Eat at home

Food restaurants are famous for charging huge markups on the items they serve. So, you might find that replacing even one restaurant or takeout meal each week could put a huge amount of cash back in your pocket over the course of a year. 

Imagine you currently spend $40, on average, each time you eat dinner prepared outside your home, and that you do so three times a week. If you cut out one of those meals and make the equivalent dinner at home, you’ll save yourself a good $30 a pop. Over the course of a year, that’s $1,560 in savings.

You don’t need to be a personal finance hero to be a good saver you just need to make some smart decisions and get rid of the temptation to spend. Follow these tips, and with some time you’ll see and feel the difference. 

Really we’ve gone through these separately so I thought I’d put a top 3 list together of big ones. Did you see those staggering numbers? Wow.

What do you think?  What is the one thing you would like to get better doing?