Saving money is there any topic in the financial world that gets fewer people excited than this one? It’s unlikely. One factor causing this is that money is an emotional issue, and society at large pressures us to buy more than we need, leading to insecurity and anxiety when we follow the crowd. Saving money isn’t exciting, but it’s essential.
That being said, it can be challenging to save because it requires discipline. Saving money is rarely taught in schools or families, so that’s why it is so important to learn from trusted sources, the greatest being God’s Word. Proverbs 10:4-5 reminds us: “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.” Here are five practical strategies for efficient, consistent saving.
- Designate space for saving in your monthly budget
Settling on a consistent monthly savings number can’t be overstated. According to recent research, nearly two thirds of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. Proverbs 13:11 tells us that “wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” Take some time today to establish where in your budget you can save 10-20 percent of your income, which is what experts recommend. You’ll be honoring God and protecting your future at the same time.
- Set up automatic savings and investments
Since you’re already putting in effort to save money, you may as well save money on autopilot! Nearly every bank these days can automatically transfer money from your checking account to your savings account, once you specify how much you want saved. This is a great way to build up your emergency fund, and after that’s completed, to keep saving for something like a well-researched investment or retirement.
- Save manually whenever you can
Setting up automatic savings is an excellent habit that you can supplement with manual saving. If you have money left over after Christmas shopping, a weekend getaway, or a night out, sock the extra cash away in a protected location. You’ll be amazed at how quickly spare change adds up over weeks and months. I once saved about $100 in spare change by tossing it all in a bucket over a year, and while $100 isn’t a ton, it was an effortless way to cover a future expense.
- Order modest meals when eating out
Just about everyone loves eating out with friends or family; getting to experience new dishes amongst conversation is a cultural staple. However, the fresh aromas, colors, and ingredients sometimes persuade us to spend a bit more than is prudent.
To save money when eating out, try foregoing a beverage and dessert. Researchers have confirmed that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that your stomach is full, which means if you eat gradually you don’t need more calories after the main course. Another way to implement this is to eat a light snack an hour or two before the full meal. This can ease up your expectations of how much food you’ll end up “needing.”
Better yet, try eating out only once or twice per week. You can save an average of $30–50 in this time frame, which can go towards an emergency fund or investing instead!
- Try out DIY gifts
We all know someone who is soon to finish a degree, get married, or celebrate a birthday. As a result, gift expenses add up quickly, especially where a significant gift is the social norm.
DIY gifts are the latest trend for when you need to provide a gift but have a smaller budget. Giving an herb or plant from your garden, a custom gift basket, or a decorative amenity are all great examples. You can even make a hand-crafted card! Look no further than Pinterest with your favorite DIY gift keyword to get you started.
Even though saving money seems nerve-wracking in the beginning, when we commit to practical, budgeted steps, it becomes a pleasure rather than a hassle. We no longer feel like we have to hold onto every last dollar when we choose to be wise with what the Giver has provided. Have some stellar money saving tips we missed? Send your ideas or questions to [email protected]reek.org.
If you are interested in participating in the next FPU or Budgeting Made Easy workshop, you can learn more and register here.
Written by Financial Stewardship Volunteer Brad Johnson.