It is no secret that everyone has trouble saving money. However, no matter how thin your budget is, anyone can save a bit of money that can start building up into that new car or house you always wanted. Here are five tips on how to get started. 1. Open a Savings Account Immediately To most, it is much easier to earn money than to save money. A big reason for that could be the lack of a savings account. If you want to save, you’ll need to open an account specifically for savings. Watch out for savings accounts at banks, because that money can be accessed with your debit card. Instead, use an online savings account—here, the money takes a few days to be transferred over to your checking account, so you can’t indulge money on a whim. 2. Set Aside $10 Every Month for the Savings Account Even if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you can find $10, or even more, to save per month. Get a water cup instead of a soda at McDonald’s. Rent at a Red Box instead of going to the movies. Consume home-cooked meals more often. One tip for saving that $10 is to go through every expense you had in a given month, and then rule out what you can live without. You’ll be surprised that it’s probably more than you think. 3. Save first, and spend what you have left After you get your paycheck, save some money right away before you can spend it all. Only once that money is safely put in your savings account should you start spending the rest of the money. “Necessary” expenses typically decrease as your available income does. When you realize you don’t have the money to get that cool new shirt or that delicious steak dinner, you realize that you can live without it. So calculate the cost for all the things that you actually need, like bills, groceries, or gas, and then decide how much you would want to spend on leisure activities. Subtract this all from your paycheck, and put that in your savings right away. By the time of your next paycheck, you’ll realize that your standards of living didn’t even change much, and you have extra money in your savings account! 4. Let Firefox find deals for you If you’ve got money to spend, you can stretch it pretty far by knowing (or just stumbling across) some great online deals. Like most savings tools, however, you have to go out of your way to take the time and remember to grab those deals. Luckily, the Firefox browser and a few extensions make it hard not to find coupons, rebates, and killer deals. RetailMeNot automatically pops in to let you know when a site you’re at has freebies and discounts available, while PriceDrop adds buttons to Amazon.com’s item pages to help you get notifications when prices go down. If you’re more prone to random browsing for killer discounts, the Woot Watcher helps you get the jump on those ridiculous deals on random items at Woot!. Make it hard for yourself to pay full price, and bank the savings however you choose. (Original posts: RetailMeNot, PriceDrop, Woot Watcher). 5. Master the 30-Day Rule Avoiding instant gratification is one of the most important rules of personal finance, and waiting 30 days to decide on a purchase is an excellent way to implement that rule. Quite often, after a month has passed, you’ll find that the urge to buy has passed as well, and you’ll have saved yourself some money simply by waiting. If you’re on the fence about a purchase anyway, waiting a while can give you a better perspective on whether it’s truly worth the money. Of course, saving money isn’t always easy, but the first step is always the hardest. Commit to your goal of saving money, and you’ll find yourself with tons of extra cash before you know it!
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