Jean Chatzky (financial editor for the “Today” show) thinks saving money is simple. At least theoretically. And theoretically, I agree. It’s like losing weight: if you want to drop a few pounds, you must burn more calories than you consume. Similarly, to save money, you need to make more money than you spend.
However, we all know that the reality of saving money is much more difficult. There are a variety of hurdles we may have to contend with: low income, emergencies, bad habits, a lack of self control, etc. But while these hindrances can complicate our financial situation, we need to remember that saving money is inherently simple. If we see saving as complicated, our methods for saving may become overly complex, difficult to maintain over a long period of time, and ultimately discouraging and ineffective.
Chatzky offers four ideas to help you save. Again, these may not be easy to do, but they are simple.
Make it painless
There are two ways to make more money than you spend: increase your income or decrease your expenses. If you take the latter route, don’t cut expenses that you know you will struggle to stay away from. For example, a gym membership that you hardly use may be easier to drop than your your Netflix or Hulu Plus subscription.
Find easy swaps
Generic brands instead of brand names. Used instead of new. There are plenty of things that we need to buy but that doesn’t mean we have to pay top dollar for them. What goods and services can be replaced by a cheaper alternative?
Purge what you don’t need
Over the years, you’ve likely collected a myriad of sundries that you no longer need. Don’t just let them sit in your home to collect dust. Declutter your home and sell all your unwanted household goods. You will likely have to sell these things for much less than what their market value is. At the very least, you’ll probably sell them for a lot less than you paid for them. But you’ll end up getting nothing if you let them sit around your home.
Visualize your savings and goals
What are you saving for? Retirement? College? A vacation? A car? Whatever it is, make sure your goal is SMART and concrete. Know why you’re saving and let that motivate you.