Are you like millions of Americans who struggle to make ends meet each month? In a recent study, 79% said they were “somewhat or incredibly stressed about not having enough money to meet their needs today” [source].
This is no way to live. If you can relate, then there is good news: You can get a month ahead financially – even if you have little to no money in the bank. Follow these tips below, and you’ll be on track before you know it.
1. Track Everything You Buy
Have you ever reached the end of the month and realized there is nothing left of your paycheck? Do you spend time trying to figure out where all your money went? It’s easy to burn through your paycheck if you don’t pay attention to your spending. Let’s be real: A lot of money leaks out because we mindlessly make impulse buys, whether a high-priced coffee or soda pop.
Put an end to mindless spending by tracking everything you buy. Create a budget and stick to it. Don’t toss receipts or ignore “small” purchases. Instead, deduct these splurges from your budget and see how much money you have left. The goal is to track what you buy so you can ultimately spend less than you earn. Open your eyes to where your money is going and get ahead financially.
The Mindful Money Workshop is a 5-part video workshop designed to show you how to use money the right way. It teaches money awareness. It’s not that you need to learn to budget. It’s that you need to learn to spend your money correctly.
- Related: 7 Expenses to Cut in 2022
2. Cancel Everything You Don’t Need
The average U.S. household spends $47 a month or $564 a year on streaming service subscriptions [source]. This number does not include any other types of subscriptions, such as gym memberships or food or beauty subscriptions.
While these things may seem like a good idea at first, they add up quickly. And, sadly, many of them go unused. Save money by canceling old, forgotten subscriptions.
How to cancel forgotten subscriptions with your iPhone.
Open settings. Search, “Subscriptions.” Click “Subscriptions.” See your active Apple subscriptions.
Use Trim to Cut Unnecessary Subscriptions
How many subscription services have you forgotten about? How much money are you charged for services you don’t use? The Trim service finds and cancels old or unused subscriptions. Trim identifies recurring payments and asks if you want to keep the service or cancel it.
If you don’t want to comb through your bank statements, canceling each subscription one by one, try Trim. They only charge a one-time fee of 15% of what they save you.
Please note that Trim takes payment immediately. For example, if Trim saves you $10/month, they will request their 15% fee ($40) right away. But you keep 100% of the savings after that.
3. Be Intentional: Buy Only What You Need
Most people say they create a budget, but the truth is, they don’t follow that budget. And, the results ain’t pretty: They overspend by more than $140 a week. By the end of the year, the average person spent $7,400 more than budgeted [source].
If you want to get a month ahead, avoid overspending by being intentional with your purchases. Make it a goal to only buy what you need. Think of it as a contentment challenge. Every time you are tempted to buy something, ask yourself if it is something you need or something you want. Overspending is stressful. Mindful spending is calming. Buy only what you need.
Shop with Capital One Shopping and Save Even More
When you have something you need to buy (again, not want), use Capital One Shopping to save money. Capital One Shopping is a free browser tool that will automatically check for coupons, compare prices, and find rewards at retailers. This is simply smart shopping.
- Related: 5 Ways to Stop Worrying about Money
4. Squirrel Away Extra Cash for Growth
You know that frequent small purchases can wreak havoc on your savings. Flip the script. Small, frequent deposits into your savings really adds up. Try to save 5% of every paycheck. If you receive any financial gifts, put this money away in your savings account. Treat every bit of “extra” as a means to get ahead financially. Squirreling a little bit away at a time will help you save up quicker than you imagined.
Scoop Up Extra Change with Acorns
Acorns is a simple investment app that makes it easy to grow the money you’ve saved. Acorns scoops up the extra change from your everyday purchases and automatically rounds up your purchases to the next dollar, and then invests the extra money into stocks. Instead of buying that new handbag, invest the money you save and watch it grow.
5. Cook Your Own Meals
One of the fastest ways to get ahead is to cut back on dining out or avoid fast food drive-thru lanes. Instead, pack lunches for work and cook dinner at home. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual expenditure on groceries in the U.S. is $4,464 per person, while dining out runs Americans an average of $3,459 [source].
You would be amazed at how much you can save by cooking at home. The price markup in restaurants is significant because they have to cover the costs of all staff, benefits, insurance policies, building and equipment maintenance, and so many other items. The average food markup is about 60% and some beverages are marked up as much as 500% [source].
Subscribe to $5 Meal Plan to Save Money and Simplify Cooking
The $5 Meal Plan makes it easy to cook restaurant-style dishes inexpensively in your own home. For just $5 a month, you get meal plans where every meal costs approximately $2 or less. You also get complete recipes and organized grocery lists that make meal planning and saving money a breeze!
Get Cash Back Grocery Shopping with Ibotta
With Ibotta, you can shop for your groceries at several popular retailers to earn free money and receive cash back offers for certain products (including essentials). Plus, Ibotta also works for grocery delivery services and pick-up orders. If you’re going to cook at home, you might as well earn some money for your hard work.
Save more money! Read these next…
- The Top 9 Essential Dave Ramsey Tips
- Try These 11 Ways to Save Money on a Low Income
- 7 Bad Habits that are Keeping You Poor (without realizing it)
Save at your favorite stores:
- Learn These 7 Hacks Before You Shop at Trader Joe’s
- These are the 9 Target Hacks You Wished You Knew Sooner
- Try These 7 Whole Foods Hacks To Save Money
Want more life hacks? Check these out…
- Dealing with Stress? 7 Habits of People Who Are Always Stress-Free
- 7 Frugal Habits of the Super Rich to Add to Your Life
- 7 Ways to Make Your Home Look Expensive on a Budget
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*Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the Capital One Shopping extension using the links we provided*
Michelle Salater is a freelance finance writer with a passion for personal finance education. When she’s not in front of her computer, she’s reading biographies and exploring remote areas of the world. She also freelances for Wooster Media Group LLC.