How to save money is a key concern for many individuals and families. Learning to save money is not about buying books or software. It is not about joining programs. Saving money is about a mindset. If you have trouble saving money then you will need to change the way you think about money.
This means that you will need to find the ways that you sabotage your own financial goals. Do you equate money with happiness or love? Many people who fall into this category spend money in order to make themselves happy or to make those they love happy. Money does not buy happiness and it does not replace love. Keep your wallet in your pocket (or pocketbook) and focus on giving of yourself and your time. Those gifts mean much more. Do you believe that you deserve the best? Get over yourself. You do deserve food every day but that does not mean you deserve lobster or fillet mignon. You do deserve (and need) clothing but it does not need to bear a designer label. You deserve your basic needs for food, clothing and shelter and everything above that is luxury. Just because someone else has it does not mean you deserve it.
Understanding the root cause behind your financial problems can help you greatly with the first key strategy to save money — Think Before You Spend. This is all about evaluating needs and weighing those needs against desires. You need a winter coat but you want that cool leather jacket. When I was a college student living in London I had a pretty strict budget. I had to pay my rent plus purchase food. But I wanted to travel too. So I cut my food budget to the bone and sacrificed meat and rarely ate out except when traveling. My choice was to eat peanut butter so I could travel to Paris. What choices are you willing, and able, to make? It sometimes help to put off the purchase of those “desired” items. You may find that you do not really want that leather coat enough to brown bag it for a month. And sometimes, anticipation pays off and makes you enjoy the purchase all the more.
Another key strategy to saving money is simple — Keep Track Of Your Money. Credit cards are a wonderful convenience as are debit cards and checkbooks, but the problem is that unless you are handing over cold hard cash it is really easy to not pay attention to where your money is going and very difficult to keep track of how much you have left. You should never be shocked by your credit card bill and you should not be caught off guard by your bank balance. You may not have it down to the penny, but you should have a pretty good idea of how much money you have on hand.
Finally, the most important strategy for saving money — Earn It Before You Burn It. This means that whether you are shopping for essentials or luxuries you know that you have the money to pay the bill. Perhaps you choose to use plastic for convenience or rewards, but before you hand over that card to the clerk you better be sure that you have the money to pay the bill when it comes due. Once you start carrying balances and paying interest on your credit cards then you are destroying your ability to save money.
If you follow these three key strategies to save money then you will be ahead of the game. Think before you spend, keep track of your money, and earn it before you burn it to save money.