Have you ever tried to reduce debt, improve savings, or make progress on your financial goals, but didn’t know where to start? It may have seemed like an impossible hurdle because you didn’t have the money to get ahead. You may have even thought that if something drastic didn’t change, then you would be stuck in a financial rut forever. The good news is that you don’t have to get a raise or hit the lottery to make progress on your financial goals. You can take a look at your life, assess where you are spending, make small tweaks, and then put that money towards your financial goals.
Sounds simple, right? It is, trust me.
Let’s take a look at 3 ways that you may be overspending:
According to US News, the average American spends about $2,746 on lunch annually. This presents a good opportunity to reduce spending. One way to reduce spending is to prepare your lunch at home. Plan your meals based on what is on sale, and look for ways to cook a bigger dinner and take the leftovers for lunch. Target a homemade lunch cost of $3 - $4 to maximize your savings. Also, track your spending. Visa launched a free app called Lunch Tracker that allows you to track your lunch spending, find ways to reduce it, and even have cost savings challenges with friends!
Food waste is essentially due to poor planning because we may go to the grocery store hungry, shop without a list, or don’t have a plan to use the groceries that were purchased. According to a study by the National Resource Defense Council, the average American family wastes about $2,200 of food per year. I recently cleaned out my fridge and easily threw away $200 worth of food. It made me cringe because I thought about how I could have better spent that money. You can avoid food waste by:
•Planning out your meals in advance
•Shopping with a list
•Sticking to your shopping list
•Shopping when you're not hungry
•Keeping your kitchen clutter-free to prevent repurchasing items that you already have
Regularly review your bank statements for monthly subscription costs. If you have reoccurring monthly charges, then ask yourself if you actually use the service that you are paying for. For example, do you need cable if you have Netflix or Hulu? Alternatively, do you need Netflix or Hulu if you have cable? Do you actually use the products in that monthly beauty box? Even if the monthly subscription cost is only $10 - $20 per month, it still adds up and the money is wasted if the product or service goes unused.
Now that you have identified where you are spending money, here are ways that you can use that money to bring you closer to your financial goals.
Increase Your Savings.
According to GoBankingRates.com 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and 21% don’t even have a saving account. This is super risky, because if there is an unexpected expense then they will have to rely on credit cards, family or friends, skipping a bill payment, going without, or taking an early withdrawal from a retirement account. At minimum, you should build your savings to $1,000, but ideally you should have about 6 months of expenses saved in an emergency account.
Invest In Your Retirement Account.
Contributing to your retirement is key because you cannot rely on social security to fund your retirement. It may seem like a long way off, but it is best to not delay. In the case of retirement, time is your friend, because you can save less over a longer periods of time and still have more than if you started saving more later. At minimum, you should be saving enough to receive your employer match.
Pay Off Debt.
Paying off debt has two major benefits. The first is that if you pay off debt then less of your current money is being used to pay off past purchases. If you eliminate that expense, then you can use your current income to pay for the things that improve your finances or you can even do something for yourself without the guilt. Second, once you pay off debt, then overtime you will see your credit score improve. This means that your cost of financing will go down and you can save money by qualifying for preferred interest rates for larger purchases.
When you are making changes to your finances, the small things matter. If you can get control of your spending, then you can reallocate your money into areas that mean the most to you. Doing this will increase your happiness and reduce your stress.
What are you going to do to reduce unnecessary spending? Leave a comment to let me know.