If you cringe every month when your bank statement arrives in your inbox, it may be time to reassess your relationship with money. Especially if you’re juggling student loans or credit card debt on top of your living expenses, while still trying to have enough money in the bank for the occasional girl’s night out, you might feel like you’re living in a state of financial frenzy. It’s easy to see why a digital pile of bills and bank statements leaves your head spinning.
While achieving your long-term financial goals like paying off student debt or buying your first home won’t happen overnight, there are simple steps you can take every day to help you save up funds for your future. By incorporating these helpful budget hacks into your lifestyle, you can work toward financial wellness and peace of mind knowing you’re making an effort to make the most of your money.
1. Find Affordable Fashion Pieces
Being financially savvy doesn’t mean you have to forgo style; it just means you have to shop smart when you’re stocking your closet. There are times when a wardrobe update is essential—like when you start a new job that requires a week’s worth of business casual. But you don’t have to blow your budget to score some stylish new looks. Build your look for less by shopping at an affordable clothing boutique where you can buy pieces that will make you feel like a million bucks, but at a budget-friendly cost.
Another way to save on your style in the long-term is to invest in versatile pieces like comfy, classic tees that you can layer under blazers or tuck into jeans to create a number of unique looks with just one piece. By stocking up on affordable and timeless basics, you can create a solid wardrobe without spending a fortune or sacrificing style.
2. Keep Track of Your Spending to See How Much You Shell Out Each Week
One of the first steps to living a more budget-conscious life is tuning in to how much money you’re actually spending and where exactly your funds are going. And the quickest way to become more mindful of your money is by keeping a running tally of your weekly expenditures.
Whether you choose to keep your money diary on an Excel sheet on your laptop or opt for an old-fashioned notebook and pen to jot down your expenses, tracking your spending is an easy way to start re-evaluating your buying habits and seeing where you can cut back.
At the end of the week, calculate your total spending, and you might just be surprised to see how much money is leaving your wallet on a regular basis. Equipped with this knowledge, though, you can review your weekly spending records and adjust your financial habits accordingly, whether that means eating out less or taking a break from the nail salon.
3. Look Into Loyalty Programs Where You Shop for Essentials
The items you purchase at the grocery store and pharmacy are usually necessities, so, while you can’t cut back on essentials like food, personal hygiene, and medications, you can enroll in loyalty programs that help you save. Most major food store chains and pharmacies offer programs that reward you for shopping, either with coupons, exclusive discounts, or even deals on gas. And there’s no excuse not to browse for the latest ways to save since many of these retailers have an app, so you can access your rewards right from your phone.
4. Use Budgeting Apps to Simplify Saving
If you want a little more guidance with your finances, try utilizing a budgeting app that will help you keep your spending in check while also showing you where you can save. Check out free apps like Mint, PocketGuard, and Wally, which can notify you when you go over budget, find ways for you to save on your recurring service bills, and allow you to view your loans, savings, and credit card accounts together on one platform. Having a digital companion to help you reach your financial goals may just be the little extra nudge you need to start making moves toward better money habits.
5. Re-Evaluate Those Auto-Renew Subscriptions
While gym memberships and magazine subscriptions are great (and can be totally worth every penny), if you can’t remember the last time you broke a sweat in your fitness studio and frequently find those mags collecting dust on your nightstand, it may be time to rethink which subscriptions are worth your hard-earned cash and which ones to cancel ASAP.
Between streaming services, boutique fitness memberships and subscriptions to print or digital publications, you might not even realize how much of your funds are being funneled out of your account each month for auto-renew subscriptions—which is why it’s time to reassess these services, sorting them into “keep” and “cancel” categories.
Throughout the process, you may even discover less expensive alternatives to the subscriptions and memberships you can’t live without, whether it’s affordable workout classes at a local community center or checking out your favorite periodicals from the library.
6. Become Your Own Barista
It’s easy to dismiss a $3, $4 or $5 latte as a minor expense, but your daily coffee orders can quickly add up, eating up your budget. Even if you drop just $3 on your morning caffeine consumption Monday through Friday, you’ll be spending $15 a week and over $700 a year! That’s a good chunk of cash you could be putting towards your savings or an emergency fund.
So, while you don’t have to quit your favorite coffee shop completely, try making your cup of joe at home, at least a few days a week, and save the money you would’ve spent buying your brew. An added bonus to becoming your own barista? By using a reusable mug or to-go cup, you’ll be doing the planet a favor, too.
Establish Smart Money Habits Now for a Better Financial Future
Being financially savvy in your 20s is all about making small adjustments to how you spend and save to improve your economic well-being long-term. Make the effort to become more mindful of your money and try out a few of these helpful budget hacks, and you’ll be making strides toward achieving your financial goals.