Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. If only it really was that simple. Yeah, that may have worked for your grandparents. But, these days, saving money to help your family get ahead financially is an ongoing challenge.
In some ways, it’s never been harder. But we must carry on and keep trying. The very future of our families depends upon it.
By now, most people know that cutting expenses, paying off debt, saving some money, and investing smartly are the biggest keys for long-term financial success. Understanding that is pretty easy. Doing it? Well, that’s always the hard part.
There’s no need to fear, however. There really are some simple ways to make some easy cuts today and then put those savings to work in other areas. If you just follow these four tips, you will have thousands of extra dollars — this year alone — to start setting up your family for true financial success.
1. Cut Out Waste Each Month
There has been a large movement in recent years to declutter your home. Why keep ratty old T-shirts and junk you got six Christmases ago lying around when you never use them? The same goes for bills. Most of us have accumulated some random bills each month that we are simply too lazy to cancel. Now is the time to cut them off.
Do you really need Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and HBO Go? Are you actually getting anything useful out of that subscription box every month? Each individual expense you cut may not seem like much. But they do add up. And it’s pure waste if you aren’t getting anything out of it. So dump the junk and sock that money away into some savings or paying down some debt.
2. Cook and Meal Prep More Often
Eating out is one of the most frustrating ways for money to disappear into thin air. While we all know this intellectually, it can be hard to notice at times because each individual sandwich or pizza night doesn’t cost that much. Plus, we’re all so busy that it’s easy to convince yourself that you’ve earned a night off from the kitchen.
Regardless, you can save a ton of money that really will make a difference over time if you cook more often. And when you add meal prepping to the equation, you’ll get even more bang for you buck while staying healthier. It’s a win/win for everybody.
3. Use Your Cards Advantageously
A lot of people have gotten into trouble using credit cards when they don’t have the money to pay their balance. That behavior can be seen as taking on irresponsible debt. On the contrary, every month, millions of other Americans continue to use their bank cards and credit cards very successfully for as many transactions as possible.
And they are rewarded for their discipline and wise purchasing. Just by using certain bank cards that offer points, cash back and other incentives, you will immediately be able to benefit and make your money go a little farther. Just remember to be responsible and every swipe can come with upside.
4. Take a Budget Vacation
We all need rest and relaxation. What’s the point of earning money all year if you can’t enjoy at least a little time off? That’s a great mentality and one you should definitely not abandon. Still, at the same time, there are ways to unwind and have a great time with your family that don’t break the bank.
Try camping this year or renting a humble lake house for a week. Focus on swimming, BBQing, and fireside ‘smores rather than flying somewhere faraway and splurging on airline tickets, hotels, and three meals out everyday. You might even have a better time. Then find other ways to do it again for a subsequent budget vacation or two (or three or four). Especially if you’re accustomed to spending thousands and thousands of dollars each year on travel, this will give you a major chunk of change to use in other areas.
Making Savings Work for You
The key to making sacrifices is putting them to work for you. If you are carrying debt already, throw all this extra money at it. If you are lucky enough to have little or no debt (aside from a mortgage), then that’s even better and you can invest this money for the long term.
Start by cutting out waste, cooking more often, taking advantage of credit cards wisely, and getting creative with vacation ideas. Done right, these “sacrifices” don’t even need to be seen as hardships. Some can become actual improvements that help you live better. And if you do find these changes difficult, just remember: The savings you reap now really will make a difference and help set up your family for financial success.