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The Easiest Way to Stay Under Your Monthly Budget

Saving money is like going on a rigorous diet, with no better time to start than today to reap benefits later. And like dieting, most people abhor the idea of saving money as they feel deprived. You cannot carry your money to the grave, so enjoy it! As prices skyrocket, without signs of slowing down, saving money today ensures you enjoy life much more, later. Here are tips on saving money without feeling deprived.

Quit smoking, Record Expenses and Switch off the TV

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The first step is to know what you spend. Keep a track of all your expenses including coffee, household items and cash tips. Then organize expenses by categories, such as gas, groceries and mortgage. Verify using credit card, bank statements for accuracy using a free spending tracker for starters. A digital program or app helps automate this work. Bank of America clients can use a tool called Spending & Budgeting, which will automatically categorize transactions for easy budgeting in their mobile app or even online. $1,800 a year is spent on your pack of smokes. Quitting smoking allows using that money for utilities, besides avoiding unwanted medical expenses. Turning off the television saves money with lower electric bills, less expenses and reduces exposure to home shopping ads that entice buying, which you regret later.

Budget for savings and cut your spending

After assessing monthly expenditures organize expenses in workable budgets, factored to your income, to limit overspending. Factor in irregular expenses such as car maintenance, mobile bills and save 15% of your monthly income. If you can’t save as much, reduce expenses on entertainment and dining out. Trim daily expenses by using community event listings and find free/ low-cost events to reduce spending. Cancel subscriptions and memberships not used, especially those renewed automatically. Eat out once a month and “cheaper eats” category places. When tempted by inessential purchases, wait a few days. You will be glad you passed or save up for it.

Open a different bank account and take advantage of loyalty programs

Many banks charge monthly checking fees for savings accounts. Though low, this adds up over a long period of time. Some banks do not charge a monthly fee on savings and checking accounts, and provide better interest rates and sign-up bonuses. Loyalty programs enable earning points every time you shop or pay your bills, besides allowing use of points to redeem discount coupons for use on future purchases. Some allow their use as cash to pay for next purchases.

Generic grocery shopping and Follow the 10-second rule

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Most supermarkets offer off-brand versions of your fave food items, for far less than branded ones, and tasting just as good. Carry a list for groceries, to avoid impulse buying, very common in the supermarket. Prepare a list of things needed for the home and stick to it. Before picking up any item, stop for 10 seconds to verify if you really need it. With no correct answer other than it is on sale or that it looks good, step away.

Sometimes the toughest thing about saving is just beginning. Develop a simple, realistic strategy, to save for all short-term and long-term savings goals. Decide on your priorities and pick the right tools to make savings grow automatically. Record your expenses and set monthly savings goals.

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