It’s easy to lose sight of building a savings fund when everything is going right. You’re earning a decent salary, you’re getting promoted, receiving raises, and everything seems to be headed in the right direction.
So, you decide to use your money on things that matter now. You may upgrade your car, remodel your home, or finally invest in real estate.
All seem to be wise choices. I mean, you aren’t squandering your money on shopping sprees or gambling it away, so why can’t you upgrade your lifestyle a little now that you can afford it?
Any of this sound familiar?
This happened to me, many times. I’d find myself finally living comfortably, affording everything I’ve ever wanted, so I relax a little, spend a little, and a plan to save money kinda goes out the window…or at least on the back burner for a while.
That is…until something changes.
You lose your job, they suddenly cut your hours, your debt starts to catch up with you, or the plumbing in your 1959 house completely busts and to fix it, you need to pay $12,000.
That last one, totally happened to me.
We were doing great financially, even became debt free and had a budget. But, in our big accomplishments, we lost sight of the need to save for a rainy day.
Or a wet plumbing disaster, whatever you want to call it.
It’s easy to lose sight of building a cushion when things go bad because we want to think positive and keep up the momentum of all the great things happening right now in our lives.
But, you and I both know that bad days will come eventually. Something will break, something will change, and both will cost money in one way or another.
If you’re here right now, in a situation where you need to spend money and don’t quite have a savings account to help you through it, you’re not completely out of options, my friend.
Before you start to quickly save money, you need to know exactly where you stand with your money. The easiest way to get a snapshot of where you are financially is to create a basic budget. If you need some help getting started, you can join the Budget Workshop here.
Here are 5 easy ways to quickly save money, for times like this when you need it most.
1- Eat From Home
Now, more than ever, eating from home has proven to be one of the quickest ways to save hundreds of dollars per month.
Anything that you crave from a restaurant or fast food place can be recreated at home with the help of Pinterest, YouTube, and even just googling a recipe.
You’ll still eat really well, all the things you love, but you’ll save a lot of money in the process. You’ll also notice that you have leftovers more often, which you can take to work instead of buying lunch.
This is a small step that makes a huge impact on your monthly spending and will help you quickly save money.
It takes just a little planning and a bit more time in the kitchen. But, cooking at home saved our budget dozens of times, so I can attest to how much we’ve saved over the years. And this comes from someone who LOVES eating out.
2- Reduce Entertainment Expenses
I promise, cutting back on entertainment won’t make your life boring. In fact, it will free up some time for other things that you’ll find enjoyable.
There are so many options for watching your favorite shows, you can quickly save money and still have great entertainment.
When we cut out cable in 2010, I was nervous that I’d miss out on my beloved Food Network and HGTV. But, I realized that even network television (which is absolutely free) had shows very similar to both of those networks.
In fact, some Food Network chefs were also hosting cooking shows on PBS Create, did you know that?
My kids don’t even miss it. They quickly found their favorite shows on Netflix and recently Disney+ and we’ll never go back to cable.
Cutting the cable saved us $120 per month. That’s $1,440 each year. That’s a family vacation cruise for 5 days to Mexico. Or, the cushion you need to fix your car or repair something in your house that can’t wait.
3- Find Better Insurance
By better insurance, I mean look for a policy that has decent coverage while getting a lower deductible and lower premium payment.
You should shop annually for insurance on your car and home. The more you shop, the better deals you find.
The problem with many of us (including me) is that we find an insurance company, pay the annual or month premiums and just stick with them forever. We get comfortable and stop looking for better deals. And our rates continue to increase gradually and subtly.
Before you know it, you’ve been with the same insurance company for 10 years and never realize that this whole time you could have been paying less.
So, be sure to shop and then negotiate the rates with your current insurance provider. If they reduce your rate, great! Stick with what you know. But, if they don’t, it’s time to change insurance carriers.
You’ll get the same coverage at a lower price, which saves you money every month.
There are also several insurance discounts you’re probably missing out on. Here are 17 auto insurance discounts you might be eligible for.
4- DIY Monthly Services
I know it’s easier to go get a car wash or get a salon to dye your hair. It’s easier to have take your clothes to the dry cleaners.
But, it’s costly, and it can be done easily by you.
So, get a small bucket, put some dish soap and water and wash your car. It’s take about 45 minutes and you’ll save $15 each week, $60 per month.
Drugstore hair dye has become super easy to use now, so it’s not hard to DIY your hair color.
Highlights a little more complicated, so if you’re not comfortable and would rather have it done at a salon, then just reduce the number of visits you have each year.
Instead of touching up every 6-8 weeks, make it every 12 weeks. It will cut down on 1-2 salon visits per year and that will still save you a lot of money (especially since highlights tend to be pricey).
With anything that you are currently paying for in services, look for alternative ways to either do it yourself or at the very least reduce the amount of times you pay for the service.
A few tweaks to your everyday spending goes a long way to building your savings fund.
I personally love manicures and pedicures and I used to go religiously every 2 weeks to get the service. But, when we were really tight on money, I had to make the decision to cut it out for a while.
That forced me to look for other ways to get the same result. I taught myself (before YouTube) to give myself manicures and pedicures and with time I got really good at them. I also started getting creative with nail art and had fun creating new designs.
Now that we’re financially stable and debt free, I go get them done on special occasions.
But, twice a month, I do my own gel manicures and they look professional without costing $35 every time.
5- Stop Shopping
The fastest way to save money is to stop spending it. Stop going to the mall when you’re bored. Stop browsing Amazon online and add things to your cart you don’t really need.
Shopping has become a pastime that costs way too much money every month.
You probably have a closet full of clothes and shoes that would last you for at least a decade.
You have enough handbags and sunglasses too.
It’s hard to hear it sometimes, but we shop when we don’t need anything. We spend money on impulse purchases instead of buying something because it’s going to serve a needed function in our lives.
We need to get back to shopping on occasion, instead of shopping as a hobby.
There, I said it. Don’t hate me.
But, really, think of how many hundreds of dollars you spent on things that were barely used.
All of that could be money saved for a day when you really need it.
Take a Step Back and Look at Your Spending
It’s not easy to do, but really looking at your spending will give you some insight on what other ways you can reduce your expenses.
Saving $500 this month is a great start, but you can save so much more if you tweaked your habits to build a lifestyle that saved you money every single month, without depriving you of living a life you love.
It’s all about your mindset and your habits. When you start making small changes, other areas of your finances wills start to change. And you’ll create some breathing room so that you’re prepared in times you need some financial backup.