First of all, you want to keep track of your purchases and automatic payments, as monitoring your spending is the most effective way of avoiding overdraft fees.
Easy Ways to Save Money
A smart consumer understands that there are easy ways to save money through everyday actions. While you don’t need to craft a stringent financial plan, you should be mindful of your spending patterns, look for creative ways to reign in excess spending, and create some kind of budget to help you achieve a healthier bank account, and consequently, greater security.
From how often you purchase movie tickets throughout the year to how often you splurge on expensive meals out, spending patterns affect your ability to properly and effectively manage your finances. In fact, you could go so far as to say that the spending patterns you have today will determine your financial future tomorrow.
How to Develop Smart Spending Patterns
The key to developing smart spending patterns is awareness. You should have at least a general understanding of how and when you are spending your money and why. Then, you can start thinking about money-saving options. For example, if you are currently spending 10 percent of your monthly income on taxi fare, consider opting into a carpool or purchasing a monthly bus pass.
Alternately, to cut down on food costs during the workweek, consider packing a lunch or taking advantage of daily deals advertised at local restaurants. You may also consider purchasing snacks in bulk and keeping several food items on hand in your desk or locker at work or in the trunk of your car. This could save you money throughout the day when unexpected urges for sugar or salt come on while you're on the job, or a wave of hunger overtakes you while you’re running errands in the city.
Reign in Excess and Nonessential Spending
Excess spending is the number-one contributor to debt. To reduce or eliminate excess spending, keep a mental or written log of regular expenses. Mark rent or mortgage payments, food, transportation, clothing, debt, child care and health insurance as top priorities. Pore over all your other expenses and look for areas in which you can reign in surplus and nonessential spending.
Consider common expenses for things such as entertainment, recreational activities and clothes shopping. The trick is not to eliminate such spending, but to reduce the percentage of your budget that goes toward nonessential items. For example, instead of paying for expensive films and video games, you may rent these items at the library for free. You can also participate in free sports events at the local YMCA or join a church or community organization that sponsors free events for locals.
Create a Budget
When creating a budget, write down the exact amount of money you pay for various items. If possible, budget a maximum and minimum amount for each item. Consider how much money you could save by using coupons for food, buying household items in bulk, and making purchases with cash back credit cards — although you should only use this last option if you can afford to repay the balance in full at the end of each billing cycle.
Set aside enough money to cover the price of an item as is, and deposit any money that you save from using coupons or taking advantage of other savings opportunities into a savings account. That way, you can afford the item if you don’t have a coupon, and can save money if you do!