Today I’m delving into a subject that is very different from the normal posts I write about, but its a topic that is very familiar to me because I actually work in private banking as my day job. My dream is to write full-time one day, but in the meantime I’m satisfied with the impact I make on my clients lives as well as the amount of financial experience I gain while working in the banking industry.
So today I wanted to share my top 5 tips for saving money that are the simplest and easiest to for you to incorporate into your life right now.
- Pay all of your bills as soon as you receive them
No one needs the drama and stress of getting late payment fees and a ding on their credit report. The simplest way to avoid this is to pay your bills as soon as you receive the bill in the mail. This way, the funds are out of your account immediately so that you can’t spend it, or if you prefer paying all of your bill with a credit card to rack up rewards (like me) you will see the charge immediately on your card so you can adjust your budget for the rest of the month.
2. Set up automatic payments for your bills
This is a way to make tip number one completely fool proof. Most billers will allow you to pay your bills automatically and this gives you one less thing to remember so that you can put your focus and energy for more important things — like writing!
3. Set up automatic transfers to a savings account
You notice a pattern yet? Yes, when possible automate your banking. You can set up automatic transfers to your savings account and decide how much and when these transfers should happen. You can also have your paycheck be split between your checking and savings account as well instead of once it reaches your account, if that is what you prefer. Personally, I have a portion of my paycheck deposited into a savings account at a small, local bank and not the one that I have my main accounts at. I only have a saving account there and no ATM card or online banking so that I am not tempted to use any of it because it would be too much of an inconvenience. There are very few branches for me to visit, so the only way I can find out how much is there is the old fashioned way — calling on the phone. I don’t call often since I can’t be bothered, but when I do I am pleasantly surprised!
4. Avoid credit cards — if they are not right for you!
I use a travel rewards credit card for everything — bills, groceries, gas, purchases — and I’ve racked up a ton of points on it so that I can travel for free when I want. However, I also pay it off completely every single month and have never paid a cent of interest on it. If you have a the discipline to stick to a budget, then using your credit card for purchases is an awesome way to get some real benefits as well as boost your credit score. But, if you’ve found it difficult to pay off the balance each month or are currently in credit card debt — avoid them. Credit cards have the highest interest rate of any credit product so they are notoriously difficult to dig yourself out of should you fall in.
5. Create a realistic budget and check on it often
No matter how much you make, you have a budget. Budgets are for everyone. I don’t care if you work a minimum wage job or are an ER surgeon, if you don’t know how to manage your money, you will eventually find yourself living paycheck to paycheck or living in debt — trust me, I’ve seen it. Anyone who has an interest in living in financial stability and prosperity will follow a budget. It’s all about creating cash flow and savings and this requires your frequent attention. This means you need to check your account often and know if any adjustments need to be made. Try to limit how much your lifestyle expands as you inevitably earn more and save more throughout your life. If your paycheck is $4000 a month and currently save $500 a month and you get a raise and now earn $5000 a month, set up an automatic transfer to save that extra $1500 a month. The numbers are inflated, but you can see how you can use your raise to save faster and do more intelligent things with your money than giving it Nordstrom’s or Best Buy.
These 5 tips are easy and simple, which is what saving needs to be in order for it to get done. We all have enough to deal with in our lives and your personal finances should be as simple as possible to leave space for deepening and discovering your real passions. Money is not the answer to everything, but life is better with it than without it.