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4 Ways to Save Money That you can Actually Stick to

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Taking control of your money is the first definitive step towards financial wellness. Joslyn Pickens/PEXELS

The truth is, saving money is easier said than done. More often than not, we find reasons or excuses not to pay ourselves first - monthly bills, the urge to dine out because cooking is just so inconvenient, the newly released smartphone that you just have to buy. Because of these seemingly trivial spending habits, we end up losing more money than we should and impair our future.

The thing is, we can only truly save money when we make the conscious effort to prepare for and prioritize our future needs, instead of spending it on frivolous wants. Nothing beats the satisfaction of knowing that you are free of debt, have substantial savings and emergency funds in place, and are well on your way to building a healthy retirement fund.

Let these tips aid and guide you in your journey to financial wellness.

Keep Your Debt Under Control

If you have debt, congratulations - you are normal! Yes, almost everyone has debt - the problem, however, is that some do not know how to manage debt, and tank their credit score. Unfortunately, debt is not something you can sweep under the bed because when it reemerges, it does so like your worst nightmare.

One of the most common kinds of debt is credit card debt, with the average household debt above $7,000. The good thing with credit cards is that it allows you to shop cashless and pay for these purchases at a later date. The bad thing, however, is that missing out on a payment can lead to late fees and additional surcharges that, if left unpaid, can literally leave you cashless.

To help jog your memory about your payment dates, it would help to pay your credit card bills at the same time every month until it becomes a habit. Make sure to keep tabs of your payment deadlines so that you can schedule your payment at least five days before the deadline.

Using a free mobile application like Tally, an automated debt manager, can also help as it keeps track of your credit card dues and creates a smart roadmap to a debt-free future.

After linking your credit cards, the free application organizes all your existing credit card debt. It develops a payment method that will allow you to save on interest fees by making a one-time monthly payment to Tally, usually lower than what you normally pay. And with interest fees ranging from 15% to 18%, we are talking about some significant savings here. You need a minimum FICO score of 660 for a low-interest line of credit from Tally.

Note Down Everything You Spend On

Out of sight, out of mind is perhaps the biggest mistake that you can make when handling your personal finances. By listing down all your expenses - even the smallest ones - can help you keep track exactly where your money goes. It could be as simple as jotting it down on a notebook or using a free mobile application like Wismo.

Wismo, which, quite aptly, translated to "What I Spend My Money On", helps you keep within your spending budget by asking you to indicate your monthly income, break down your expenses into specific categories - food, transportation, communications - and tells you how much you can safely spend.

Rein in Your Grocery Splurge

Did you know that manufacturers and distributors pay a hefty premium to have their most expensive products placed on shelves at eye level? And those grocery items are ideally arranged by grouping those that go well together? Yup, supermarkets, and grocery stores have several tricks up their sleeves to have you forking over more money without you batting an eyelash.

And because food is perhaps our most important basic need, it is very easy to spend more than we should, thinking that a couple bags of chips or an extra tub of ice cream isn't that big of a deal. Reality check - they are.

To save up on groceries, take stock of what you already have so that you can plan for the month ahead. Also, make a meal plan of what you intend to prepare for the week, and purchase the ingredients that you don't have. Prioritize items such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat, over junk food items, as these are more filling and nutritious.

You can also choose to eat or bring food from home instead of dining out. Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average household spends up to $3,400 per year on food outside - and that's a staggering $280 per month.

To get further discounts on food and grocery items, download a cashback savings application like Ibotta, which offers its users real money - not rewards points - from their in-store and online purchases. These cash rewards can be remitted through Paypal.

They have an expansive partnership with over 1,500 brands and retailers, ranging from popular clothing and footwear brands to suppliers of automobile parts and accessories, assuring its users of easy rewards almost everywhere they shop. Moreover, Ibotta has over 12 million users and has shelled out an impressive $600 million in cash rewards since then.

Ibotta is easy and convenient - you can either pay using the application by linking your preferred credit or debit card to your account, or by downloading an offer before purchasing an item from a partner merchant, and uploading the receipt to the app. You can also earn additional rewards by availing of bonus streaks, which are given to those that purchase items or brands several times in a row.

Automate Your Savings

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Thanks to modern technology, there are now a number of useful applications that can help you both save and grow your money. Artem Beliaikin/PEXELS

Out of sight, out of mind doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing, especially where your savings account is concerned.

You can actually make arrangements with your bank to automatically transfer a percentage to a separate bank account - preferably one that does not come with an ATM card - to automatically build up your savings.

However, if your income isn't exactly stable at the moment, especially with the ongoing pandemic, there is another painless way to jumpstart your savings journey - and that is through micro-investments.

Micro-investing is very much like maintaining a trading account that allows for deposits in smaller amounts, even if it's only a dollar or so. Think of it as a modern-day piggy bank, but one that could be your stepping stone into the world of profit and investing. In this case, using a mobile application called Acorns can help.

The Acorns app rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and uses the difference to make smart investments on your behalf. For example, you pay $14.70 for gas with your credit card - with Acorns, your credit card bill will instead reflect a purchase of $15. Acorns will save the 30-cent difference for you, and wait until your savings reach $5 before they offer you with varying investment options that depend on your risk tolerance.

Aside from making saving effortless, Acorns strives to understand your comfort level when it comes to saving by giving you the option to increase your round-ups.

At the end of the day, saving money does not begin with how much you make - after all, a big paycheck does not mean squat when you end up squandering your fortune.

What is important is a firm resolve to fully understand how you spend, how to improve these spending habits, and what measures you need to grow your assets and make money work for you.

The contents of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial or investment advice. It's important to perform your own research and consider seeking advice from an independent financial professional before making any investment decisions.

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