budget

Many folks set their resolution to save money, but that's easier said than done. Learn lifestyle changes that will help you save substantial money over time.

Trying to save money can be overwhelming.

It's difficult to navigate which expenses of your daily routine can be eliminated for financial gain and which are necessities. Many people believe that in order to accumulate savings, sacrifices must be made. And while simple sacrifices such as minimizing your takeout purchases and online shopping habits may be necessary, there are ways to save that still allow you to live a comfortable lifestyle. Consider the following lifestyle changes that will help you save money so you can start striving toward your financial goals.

Establish a Budget

Just like anything else you hope to succeed at, saving money requires active effort. Create a budget based on your monthly income. Evaluate your typical expenses and set minor goals to help you stick to an intended budget.

If you're looking for budget guidance, try the 50-20-30 rule. This rule segments your income by percentages: 50 percent of income toward essentials like groceries and rent, 20 percent toward savings, and 30 percent toward fun, lifestyle expenses.

Know Your Tax Breaks

You don't have to be a tax savant to score a better tax deduction. Filing your taxes meticulously can save you trouble down the line and ensure you're getting the best outcome. Get familiar with the standard deductions and whether you're eligible for a larger one.

If you plan on donating this year, be sure to keep track. It turns out, giving back might be the first step to getting back! You can score a greater tax break with sizable donations and adequate documentation. Creating a charitable giving plan will help you manage your budget and your donation endeavors.

Adopt the 30-Day Rule

Looking to make a large purchase? Give yourself 30 days to reflect on whether you truly need the costly item. Construct a list of pros and cons to determine its necessity. Once 30 days have passed, consider again if you're ready to make the steep purchase. If you still feel it's necessary, then go for it!

Maintain Your Home and Car

Some lifestyle changes that will help you save money in the long run require initial minor investments. Proper home and car care can add up, but ultimately, they'll prevent you from having to make hefty damage fees in the future. A few things you can do to ensure the longevity of your home and vehicle include:

  • Enlist arborists to verify the sturdiness of tress surrounding your home.
  • Upgrade your home's siding, as necessary. Check your home's exterior for signs of excessive weathering.
  • Clean out gutters to prevent roof damage.
  • Perform auto-detailing tasks on your car frequently, providing a new coat of paint when needed.
  • Change tires and auto liquids as recommended by professionals and in the vehicle's manual.
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You work hard for your money—don't throw it away where you don't need to. Check out this list of things people regularly waste their money on.

There's an unfortunate trend nowadays where people who don't really have the luxury of excess money spend what they do have on things they don't need. This isn't completely the fault of those people; saving is hard. If you believe your money isn't really working for you, there are a few things you should reexamine. Here are some of the common things people spend too much money on.

Groceries

As an unavoidable part of living, many people don't put too much thought into how much they spend on groceries. If you're strapped for cash, you shouldn't frequent the more expensive grocery stores. Instead, try to focus on buying in bulk. While this may seem more expensive in the moment, the long-run savings you'll make by buying in bulk will actually end up saving you money.

Clothing

If you're always buying brand-new clothes from department stores, you are not working with your clothing budget at all. There are plenty of secondhand and thrift stores that you can get clothes from, often the same quality at much better prices. You don't have to give up your shopping trips, you just need to adjust where you're buying from.

Eating Out

Many of us treat going out to eat as the norm for most of our meals. However, you should try to rethink this. Takeout and delivery are great, but restaurants charge extra for the convenience that they bring to the table. To go along with buying in bulk as we said above, flex your cooking muscles a few more times a week and you'll have much more money in your pocket.

Gym Memberships

There's nothing wrong with paying for a gym membership, as getting equipment for your home can also be cost prohibitive. However, there are different levels of gym memberships. If you are subscribed to a gym that offers saunas, massages, hot tubs, and steam rooms but never use those services, you are letting your money slip away with every month that goes by.

Coffee

You can't talk about things people spend too much money on without mentioning coffee. If you are someone that gets coffee on your way to work every day, you are flushing money down the drain. Unless you're just desperate for a sugar high, buying and making coffee at home is a much more cost-effective way to get your early morning caffeine.

Cable Television

Let's face it, when was the last time you really watched cable television? If you're like many, you're much more focused on streaming services for your viewing pleasures. Don't pay for something you never use. Drop the cable subscription and you probably won't even notice it being gone, but your wallet probably will.

Between buying a new home and transporting yourself and your belongings to it, moving can be an expensive process. One often underrecognized cost of moving occurs before one's original house has even been sold, and that's staging the house. Homeowners often spend hundreds of dollars making a home appealing to potential buyers. To ease the financial burden of moving, here are several tips for staging your home on a budget.

Downsize Instead of Storing

The goal of staging a home is to create a blank canvas that potential buyers can imagine their own lives painted upon. To accomplish this, homeowners should depersonalize the home as much as possible, removing items that are specific to their family and eliminating clutter. This is where homeowners often incur their first costs as they rush to put as many older things in storage as possible.

To cut costs, focus on downsizing rather than storing items. Look for items that you can sell, donate, or give away. For remaining items, look for alternative places to store them, such as a friend or relative's house. This will also reduce the cost of moving your belongings when it is time to go to the new house.

DIY What You Can

There are times when homeowners should bring in a professional to manage home renovations and decorating, such as when a task requires specialized skills. These types of jobs, when done incorrectly, will incur even greater costs if attempted on your own. However, many of the home improvement tasks that go into staging a home are simple enough that the homeowner can DIY them, such as painting, installing a backsplash, or refinishing the deck. Doing these tasks yourself will save you a significant amount of money.

Don't Redo, Update

Homeowners are often eager to make their houses look as appealing to buyers as possible. However, recall that the point of staging is depersonalization, making a home presentable so buyers can mentally impose their own style onto it. When staging a home on a budget, focus less on completely transforming the space and more on making what is there look presentable. For instance, if you wanted to give your bedroom a facelift, trying to replace the furniture and flooring would be pointless unless it was damaged or unkempt. Simply organizing the space and replacing the bed's comforter would be sufficient.

Maximize Space

Another way to update the space without entirely redoing it is to rearrange it to maximize the space that is already there. For instance, pulling the furniture away from the walls will make a room appear bigger and allows more space for those touring the house. Using window trimmings that maximize natural light and incorporating wall mirrors can also make a room seem more spacious.

Entering your 20s means you'll quickly need to learn how to navigate the world of personal finances, much of which you probably didn't learn in college or high school courses.

Without any previous lessons on finances, it can be challenging to know where to start. Follow this guide as we outline the financial decisions you'll need to make in your 20s.

Setting a Budget

The first step to being a fiscally responsible young adult is setting a budget. Your budget will determine many future financial decisions, from where you can live to what splurges you can make. Look at the expenses you currently owe every month and your projected income to determine how much you should be spending on bills, daily expenses, etc.

Tackling Debt

Getting rid of your debt as early as possible is a critical step for newly independent 20-year-olds. However, some may not be able to get rid of debt as soon as they hope. Once again, look at your budget, then decide if you'd like to put more toward tackling debt now or pay your loans as they come.

Getting Coverage

While you may be able to hold onto your parents' insurance until 26, you'll have to choose your own plans sooner or later. From health insurance to renter's and car insurance, you shouldn't skip an opportunity to cover yourself in the case of an accident. Find a provider and plan you're comfortable with, and get your coverage as soon as possible.

Saving for a Rainy Day

Navigating how to save is another critical financial decision you'll have to make in your 20s. Living paycheck to paycheck is not a sustainable course of action. Even putting a small portion of your wages into a savings account can make a big difference—especially if an emergency you didn't prepare for occurs.

Starting To Invest

Investing is a scary topic for young adults, but it's a great way to build wealth. Starting to invest as a young adult will set you up for success on your long-term financial plan. However, be sure to conduct research before jumping into the market to decide when, where, and how much you'd like to invest.

Your 20s are an optimal time to learn and grow. One area of life you'll undoubtedly learn a lot about is managing finances. Use this guide to help you get started on the path to becoming a fiscally responsible adult.