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Simple Ways to Save More Money

If you're like me, you probably WANT to save more money right? You want to look at your bank account and see a comfortable stash there, just in case an emergency happens or you want to go on vacation.
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This article is the written version of episode 26 of Tiny Leaps, Big Changes. To listen to the full episode click here.

I've never been very good at saving money, it's one of the skills that I would argue I'm worst at.

It's interesting, I never really spend money on things. I rarely ever buy new clothes or shoes, I don't really spend much on my hobbies, and whenever I go out it's usually a pretty affordable time but somehow between the standard costs of living and the random charges that will pop up in a given week, my money just disappears.

Maybe you know this feeling...

If you're like me, you probably WANT to save more money right?

You want to look at your bank account and see a comfortable stash there, just in case an emergency happens or you want to go on vacation.

Just because we aren't naturally good at saving doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to get better at it right?

That's what I thought too. It's the reason I first started reading and learning about personal finance.

In this post I want to share three very simple things you can do to start saving more money today.

Even if you've never felt like you could afford to before.

These three extremely easy strategies have helped me drastically so keep reading because I think they can do the same for you as well.

Write Down and Record All of Your Expenses Immediately After Spending.

The original idea for this came from the book I Will Teach You to Be Rich by personal finance blogger and all around internet bossman Ramit Sethi.

Here's the recommendation:

Get yourself a small notepad, that's right a PHYSICAL notepad.

You want to have this on you at all times.

For the next week every single time you go to make a payment on something you have to immediately write down the purchase and how much it cost in your notepad.

Don't wait until you've gotten back to the office or until it's convenient.

If you spend money, you have to immediately write it down.

This does two really important things.

First, It allows you to make spending decisions consciously. We live in a world ruled by plastic cards. The reason it's so easy for us to spend money is simply because there is a psychological detachment between the swiping of that card and the money we have.

This is why it's so much harder to spend cash than it is to swipe a card.
By recording your purchase every single time you swipe, you consciously create that link between your purchases and your actual money.

Secondly, you create a running log of the things you choose to spend on. This allows you to go back through and identify the areas where your money is leaking out (a $10 purchase may not seem like much in the moment but it's very easy to do that 10 times in a single week and find yourself $100 shorter than expected).

Having this log gives you a basis to use when making decisions later on in regards to your expenses and where you should cut back.

Pay Into Your Savings Before Paying Your Expenses.

In a 2013 interview titled "The Truth About the Psychology of Saving and Spending", Mike Coady sat down with Dr. Peter Collett from Oxford University to discuss the research that had been done on why some people save and others don't.

When asked the question "isn't saving linked to the ability to save?" Collett replied:

When you sit people down and ask them why they don't save, one of the standard explanations they offer is that they can't afford to do so. That's because they're thinking of savings as what's left over after they've paid for essentials, rather than of essentials as what's left over after they've ear-marked money for saving -- it's their savings that get squeezed, not their consumption.

This statement is the inspiration behind my second recommendation. Pay yourself first.

"But Gregg," you might reply. "I have to pay my rent and bills and other expenses"

No one is telling you to stop paying those things. What I'm suggesting is a simple shift in your approach to savings.

When creating a budget for themselves most people will factor in their recurring living expenses and bills first, leaving the savings portion for whatever is left over.

What many of us find at the end of the month is that there simply isn't anything left over and so savings gets treated as a casualty of war.

A more effective approach would be to identify what we can save first and make sure we take that money out before anything else.

You still want to ensure that you budget enough to pay for your necessities, but by putting your savings in place at the top of the funnel rather than waiting for the end, you are ensuring that nothing will rise up throughout the money to slowly eat away at that money leaving you with nothing.

Put your savings into it's designated account first and you'll very quickly find yourself with an excess of cash and far less unnecessary expenses.

Save For a Clear Goal.

I talked about the idea behind goal setting a bit back in episode 8 titled "How to Achieve Your Goals and Resolutions". I recommend checking out the episode but the important part for the context of today's show is this:

When we set goals, our brains treat them as a part of our identity. We are just as attached to the idea of that theoretical thing as we are to any other part of what we consider our identity.

So what does this mean in terms of saving money?

Simply put having a set goal for your savings is a much more effective strategy than anything else.

Let's say you are saving to take a vacation to Paris. By making this goal clear and saying "I want to take a trip to paris" you are creating the connection between that idea and your identity.

All of a sudden it becomes much easier to take the actions necessary to move towards those things. When you think of spending money it becomes much easier to question it simply because the action would interfere with a part of your identity.

Saving money just to save money is a good thing and it can work, but if you lack discipline like I do, the key to giving yourself an unfair advantage is to tie it into who you are, your literal core. This way failure to take the actions required for that goal will become a painful process that you'll do everything to avoid.

Pretty straightforward right? Saving money doesn't have to be a complicated thing. The reason that we aren't able to is because of the way we approach it by trying one (or all) of the suggestions above you'll start to see a big difference in your situation going forward.

Next Steps

Here's a fun next step for you to take action on immediately. Identify one small area of your life where you could cut back on spending. Write it down and make this your goal for the next 7 days.

Want More?

This article is the written version of episode 26 of Tiny Leaps, Big Changes. To listen to the full episode click here.