There are definitely some big changes you can make in your lifestyle to increase your savings. The problem is, it’s not always realistic for us to be able to make those changes. As much as we’d all like to be able to put the majority of our paychecks in our savings account each month or DIY every single home repair, we also need to be mindful of our expenses, time, and skills.
Fortunately, not every change needs to be drastic. Making just a couple of small changes could make a big difference in how much you’re saving each month. Don’t pressure yourself into trying to put more into savings than you can afford. Save what you can and try to be consistent over time—you’ll still see results.
1. Start with your energy bills
No matter what, you’re going to have to pay for your utilities each month. However, you can take some measures in your everyday life to make these bills hurt your bank account a little bit less. Recent research conducted in the United Kingdom found that making just one of the following small changes could save households £690 million each year.
- Switch up your bulbs. Still using incandescent bulbs? Switching to LED bulbs could allow you to see an 80 percent reduction in energy use.
- Embrace natural light. Why even turn the lights on? If you have natural light sources, make the most of them during the daylight hours.
- Use less water. Got a leaky faucet? Fixing that should be one of your first priorities. Shortening your showers and not leaving water running should also be near the top of your list. And speaking of water, don’t purchase bulk quantities of bottled water. Your tap will be just fine!
- Don’t just close your appliances. There’s a big difference between an appliance turned off and an appliance in standby mode. If your energy bills are higher than expected, try turning your appliances off or unplugging them completely when they’re not in use.
2. Upgrade your savings account
As we all know, not all bank accounts are created equal. If you don’t have a savings account, you can open one online in just a few minutes. You don’t need a massive fund to start out; deposit whatever you have and make a plan to build it up.
Even if you already have a savings account, this could be a good time to reassess what your current account offers and whether you could get more mileage out of another account. Next time you have some downtime, explore your other options. Another bank might be able to provide you with better interest rates for increased savings.
3. Be discerning with your leisure spending
You may not be able to cut your energy bills out of your monthly spending, but we don’t doubt that there are a few things that you could do without.
Go through your subscriptions with a fine-toothed comb and ask yourself, “Do I really use this? Is it worth what I spend?” Don’t let yourself meander into, “Well, I don’t really use it now, but I could use it more in the future.” If it’s not something you need right now, cut it from the budget. It’ll still be there if you want it again in the future.
If you like shopping online, try putting in a few measures to reduce impulse buys.
- Don’t save your payment information. It’s easy to buy things you don’t need when all you have to do is click a few times. If you need to get up, find your wallet, dig in for your credit card, and re-enter all of your billing information, it might be a little less tempting.
- Sleep on it. If it’s not a time-sensitive or necessary purchase, wait a day or two to see if it’s really something that you need to purchase. Odds are, you’ll forget about it.
- Time it with sales. If this is a purchase that could easily wait a few weeks or even months, wait until the site offers a sale. You’ll save money and limit how frequently you’re buying.
4. Be a smart grocery shopper
We cannot emphasize this enough: resist the urge to panic-buy. If you’re buying way more than your household needs or buying things that you never use just on the off chance that you might need them later, odds are you’re throwing money away, particularly if you’re purchasing perishable goods.
If you can, purchase foods and goods that will last a long time. If you are buying perishable goods, keep in mind that the “Best by…” date is not the date that the food is no longer safe to eat, but just when the food will be at its peak. The taste might be slightly affected, but you don’t need to immediately throw perfectly good food out.
5. Round up your payments
Some banks offer this service: every time you pay a bill or other charge, it will automatically round up your payment to the nearest dollar and put the remainder in a savings account. If your bank doesn’t offer this service, consider doing it yourself. Sure, it might not seem like much, but think of how often you make payments. Those small additions will add up before you know it.
It can be easy to get swept up in other people's opinions on exactly how much you should have saved and exactly how you should be doing it. But the most important thing is for you to do what works for you, your budget, and your lifestyle. Even if you can only afford to put 1 percent of your paycheck in savings each month, at the end of the day, you're still building your savings.