Let's face it: like anything in the game of life there are rules to live by. If you don't exactly know the rules, it may be game over before you begin. When it comes to saving, we need to know when, where and how to get our game on.
Garrett Jay of Money Lessons for Life says, "We live in world that has taught us to spend, spend, spend and shop 'till you drop. Changing your behavior takes determination and patience, but it's not hard if you stay focused. Here's how to grab the bull by the horns. Sit down with a pen a paper or better yet, create a file on your computer so that you can easily edit and update your information."
When to save
It's never too early or too late to start saving. In fact, experts recommend starting this very moment. You don't have to be saving up to buy a brand new car or think about a home improvement someday in the future; it could simply be realizing that it's important to save regardless of your financial goals or current financial state.
Where to save
There are plenty of ways to save, you just need to be open to looking at situations differently. Take landscaping, for example. Jay mentions they're like haircuts: you can increase the time between cuttings to save money. If you pay $50 to your landscaper on a weekly basis that equates to $2,600 each year. If you switch it to every other week, costs are cut in half. "Some landscapers will try to charge you more if you ask them to come less often, but it still may be worth it. $60 every other week will cost $1,560 which would still save you $1,040 a year!"
How to save
As for the how-to guide on the saving to do list? Start by listing your current expenses. Jay says, "List all of your typical monthly living expenses (rent or mortgage, utilities, cell phone, groceries) and how much you spend on each. Then, list your expenses that change from month to month (eating out, clothing, gas and insurance for your car, movies, doctor visits, haircuts)." The next step entails making a plan. Select about five to ten expenses that you want to reduce and then calculate how much you can save each month by changing your spending behavior.
Once this has been done, it's important to focus. "Determine which of those expenses will really make a difference and for now, only focus on the costs that will save you a decent amount of money. If you buy a cup of coffee twice a week for $1.50, and you plan to cut it down to once a week, you will only save $78 for the whole year. Instead, focus on cutting expenses that will save you at least $20 a month which equals $240 a year. Now apply this concept to your other expenses. Making a few small changes to your spending can really add up!"
Lastly, Jay says to kick it up a notch and then reward yourself. Every month or two once you've calculated how much you saved on your target expenses, select one or two additional expenses as savings targets. He adds, "Be sure to reward you and your family as you achieve your goals. You can have an ice-cream sundae celebration at home for less than $15."
Don't miss the rest of the Mom in Charge series:Mom in charge: Part I, 6 Ways to take control of your family's expensesMom in charge: Part II, 5 Things you must know to survive a recessionMom in charge: Part III, 10 Tips from the experts on spending & savingMom in charge: Part IV, 25 Ways to cut living costsMom in charge: Part VI, 12 Ways to teach your kids how to save