Spend Less. Save More. Repeat

Justin Weinger

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Want a workable strategy for spending less money, saving more, and building long-term financial security? Fortunately, there are several uncomplicated, painless ways of getting the job done. The best part is that all the tactics are based on common sense financial principles that have been used by millions of people for decades. What’s the first step? Putting everything down on paper is the initial move you’ll need to make. After that, explore other money hacks like refinancing student loans, getting serious about setting savings goals, opening a retirement account, and changing spending habits in realistic, practical ways. Here’s how to begin.

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Put Everything in Writing

There’s a general rule about financial plans in that nothing comes from them unless all the details are in writing. Take the time to sit down and construct a realistic but honest monthly budget that lists every expense and income category you have. For most, the income side of the task is simple, but the expenses can be a challenge. If you want to be thorough, keep a meticulous list for one month of every penny you spend.

Then, use that data, along with income information, to build a monthly budget that allows for at least some savings. Don’t worry if you can only set aside 1% of your income each month. The idea is to create a savings habit. For now, get the monthly budget into writing and follow it closely. Most working people discover that once they build savings into their financial routines, it’s possible to increase the amount they regularly set aside. As income increases during a person’s career, a 5% contribution can go a long way toward building significant wealth and security.

Deal with Student Loans ASAP

One of the fastest, most effective ways of chopping a chunk out of monthly bills is to refinance student loans into a new, single obligation. Not only do borrowers get a simpler arrangement with one payment and on one fresh loan, but they also gain access to more favorable interest rates, more lenient terms, and customized repayment periods. The immediate effect is a reduction in monthly expenses as a direct result of refinancing. One of the best things about the process is that you can do it all online in a matter of minutes. There’s no reason to let student loans haunt your finances in the form of unmanageable payments. Explore the potential of refinancing.

Set Realistic Savings and Retirement Goals

There are two savings categories: retirement accounts and emergency funds. Before starting on an IRA, be sure to build an emergency fund that contains about three months of income. Only after you’ve performed that step should you begin contributing to a retirement account. Strive to automate all forms of saving and investing by setting up payroll deduction plans through an employer or bank. Discuss the topic with your financial professional to decide whether a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA, or a self-directed IRA makes the most sense for your long-term goals. Self-directed accounts, or SDIRAs, are specially designed for savers who want to add tangible assets, like real estate and gold bullion, to their retirement nest eggs. Plus, when you opt for an SDIRA, you can choose to make pre-tax contributions or after-tax deposits.

Get a Grip on Spending

Reducing spending is one of those things that falls into the “easier said than done” category of life. However, it’s not an impossible task, and millions of working people successfully do it every year. The first part of the process is an attitude adjustment. It’s essential to be willing to change a few behaviors in order to win the battle against unnecessary spending. Once you acquire the right attitude, everything else is just detail work. For example, you can join a wholesale shopping club to save about 20% on groceries and household items. Likewise, consider using coupon apps to save on every visit to your favorite stores.

Other effective and painless tactics include trying to cut down on expenses by tracking every penny you spend for an entire month, using a programmable thermostat to slice about 10% off utility bills, driving less, making weekly menus for at-home meals, shopping strategically for everything you buy, and minimizing the number of times you dine at restaurants. It all adds up, and there’s a very low pain factor associated with the effort if you work consistently over a period of several months.

SEE ALSO: How to Pay for an Expense Out of Your Monthly Budget