With the new year comes a fresh start and a chance to save more money for those big dreams of yours. Whether you yearn for a tropical vacation, a new house, paid-for college tuition, or early retirement, we’ve got you covered with savings tips.
Here are our top tips for saving money to not only meet but also exceed your big financial goals on any budget.
1. Track expenses
The first step to savings is to know how much you spend. No list of top tips for saving money is complete without the foundation: know how much you’re spending.
2. Set a budget
Once you know what you’re spending each month, it’s time to set a budget for the essentials. These include housing, food, electricity, water, medical payments, and other basic living expenses. Be sure to include a monthly savings target in your budget, as well as a discretionary fund for emergencies. And something fun!
3. Define wants and needs
When you create your budget, be sure to separate wants from needs. Wants are things that would make you happy or fulfilled in some way but are not essential for living. It’s things like new sneakers when you have a pair that works or a trip to the movies instead of a movie night at home.
You don’t have to give up all your wants. Just decide ahead of time how much you will budget. You will pay for them from discretionary funds in your budget. If you’re saving for a bigger want, like a vacation, you might cut back on at-home wants to save more over time.
4. Plan a staycation
If you’re saving for a big goal or want to get more into savings this year, consider skipping the vacation and planning a staycation. Buy some special or unique food, plan hikes, and do other activities that you wouldn’t normally do.
You can schedule it around special events in your area, like museum discount days, outdoor summer concerts, or other low-cost activities. Consider inviting friends to join you on the staycation to increase the fun. Be sure to put everything you would have spent on an out-of-town vacation into savings!
5. Cook from scratch
Takeout and restaurant meals can add hundreds to your monthly costs. If you find yourself picking up takeout several times a week, consider cutting back. While a restaurant meal can cost between $10 to $100+, a meal cooked at home with high-quality ingredients can cost much less. Do your health and your wallet a favor and opt for meals at home this year.
6. Skip the coffee run
Like restaurant meals, our daily coffee fix can undermine savings goals. Coffee at a shop can cost you anywhere from $3 to $7. Taken daily over a month, that is $90 to $210 that could go into a fully managed MoneyLion Investment Account, — starting with as little as $5. Maybe consider making coffee at home and saving coffee runs for a special treat.
7. Use coupon apps
There are many apps, like Rakuten or Honey, that will automatically load current discounts and savings when buying online. You can ask friends for local recommendations. Pick one that integrates with your phone and computer to save a little on every purchase.
8. Wait a week
For any wants, consider putting the item into your online shopping cart or noting your in-store purchase plan, and then waiting a week before purchase. Often, after waiting you’ll realize you don’t really need it right now. This will help you reduce impulse purchases and unnecessary spending.
9. Save on water
Consider effortlessly reducing water usage for long-term savings. Install low-flow showerheads, add a brick to the water tank of the toilet, and reduce weekly laundry loads to reduce water usage. You can also consider planting a garden and lawn that doesn’t require watering in your climate. Over time, all of these ways to save water will lead to savings, while also protecting the planet.
10. Turn off the lights and turn down the heat
With energy prices rising in many regions, one way to reduce monthly costs is to start saving electricity and fuel like oil and gas. Turn off lights when you are not in the room. Unplug electrical devices you don’t use daily. Reduce both heating in winter and air conditioning in summer to save more. Even adjusting the thermostat a couple of degrees can lead to savings at the end of the month.
11. Reuse and repurpose clothes
Rather than running to the store, consider adapting clothes you already have. Go through your closet and put outfits together in a new way to give your wardrobe a refresh. Consider repairing what you can. A simple rip on a seam can be stitched in a couple minutes, and a hole is easily patched — or turned into a fashion statement!
If the clothes no longer fit, consider selling them on eBay, taking them to a store that offers credit for recycling clothes, or giving them to a friend or family member. There are also many tutorials online for how to repurpose sweaters1 and other clothing items.
12. Work out for free
While January is the month when most people sign up for a gym membership, resist the marketing. Instead, choose free workout options. Go outside for a walk, run, bike, or hike. Or choose from thousands of free workout videos on YouTube2. You can even set up a workout group and do the exercise videos together a few times per week.
13. Enjoy free entertainment
Take advantage of opportunities in your area. Many museums offer free entry to locals one to two days per month. In summer look for outdoor concerts, movie screenings, and other community events. You can also search on Craigslist or local Facebook groups for event announcements and opportunities.
Take the kids to a new park, or explore local hiking and other outdoor activities. Look up the state or national parks in your region and consider visiting them. Or you can host a potluck and invite your friends and family for a weekly get-together.
14. Reduce subscription
Subscriptions like Netflix, ApplePlus, Disney, and others add up. Take an inventory of how many subscriptions your family has and how much you’re paying monthly. Consider reducing the number of subscriptions, or rotating entertainment subscriptions throughout the year.
Round Up your purchases
Another good way to save is to put a little away every day. One easy way to do that is by doing your banking with an account like RoarMoneySM from MoneyLion, which can make saving easy and automatic. You can Round Up purchases to the nearest dollar, and put the rest aside into an account of your choice — either a MoneyLion Investment Account or a MoneyLion Crypto Account. For example, if you spend $2.50, $3 will be deducted from your debit card and $0.50 can automatically get put aside.
How much should I save each month?
Many financial experts recommend saving at least 20% of your monthly income, but that can really be a challenge. Your personal financial situation might mean you can save more, or you might need more of your monthly income for essentials. The first step to saving is to know how much you make and how much you spend. When you have a RoarMoney account, it’s easy to track your spending with Financial Heartbeat in the MoneyLion app.
Is it better to invest or save money?
In the long term, money invested in a diverse investment portfolio or mutual funds should generate greater interest and returns than a savings account. If you’re saving for short term goals, it’s usually better to use a savings account so you can easily withdraw it.
How should a beginner start saving money?
Use the strategies listed here to start saving on a regular basis. Even a little bit adds up over time. With MoneyLion Round Ups you can save when you make purchases with your MoneyLion Debit Mastercard® or RoarMoneySM virtual card. This is our top tip for saving money in 2022.