This week we have a guest post from Jon blogs at MoneySmartGuides with some tips on how he and his wife are able to save 40% of their income each month.
To get ahead financially, you have to save some money. But how do you do this with wage growth slowing and expenses continuing to rise?
Over the past 5 years, my wife and I have been able to save 40% of our income each year. We don’t make millions annually, but we practice a handful of tricks that allow us to save a large amount of our income.
[Editor Note: By the way, don’t just save in a bank account, but consider investing the savings. Investing is one of the best ways to grow wealth – even if you are investing small amounts of money at a time.]
And saving this amount has paid off. We are on track to retire by age 55.
So what are these tricks and can you use them in your life to improve your finances? They are outlined below and I think you will find more than a handful that you can start using today.
10 Simple Steps To Saving 40% Of Your Monthly Income
#1. Save First
The greatest finance tip I ever received was about paying myself first. So from every paycheck, we pay ourselves first, twice.
First, we contribute as much as we can into our 401k. As the years passed and we earned raises and reduced our expenses, we increased the amount we put away.
After saving in our 401k plan, we save in our savings account. We take around $100 or whatever we can afford and move it into our savings account.
Once our savings account hit an amount we needed to feel comfortable, we kept saving. Only this time we invested our money into the stock market.
Then after we saved twice, we created a monthly budget based on what was left. This is what we live on until the next month.
Just from this tip, we are saving 30% of our income. Into our 401k goes 20% and 10% is put into our savings account or investment account.
Tied into the tip above was that we automated all of this savings. We knew that there would be times when we were paid and would have plans with friends and would forget to transfer some money to our savings account.
So I logged into our bank account and set up the transfer for every two weeks since we get paid bi-weekly. Now we didn’t even have to think. All of our saving was being done for us.
Our 401k contributions were being taken from our paycheck and invested and our savings were being transferred to our savings account for us.
Automating our finances ensured that over the long term, we would continue to save money.
#3. Shop Around
Whenever we need to buy something, we rarely buy it at the first place we find it. We use that price as a baseline and start searching to see if we can find a lower price.
Many times, without much effort, we can find a better price or even a similar price but with a coupon code to reduce the price we pay.
The internet is a tremendous help in this regard. You can search for coupons and even compare prices right from your home.
This has helped us save countless amounts of money over the years.
#4. Practice Patience
Related to shopping around, we practice patience when shopping. We know that advertisers get people to buy on impulse. This is why so many people regret a purchase they made days later. We fell for this trick many times in the past.
But now we wait. If we see something we want, we wait for a sale or for a coupon. For example, I like to ride my bike. In the winter, I can’t get out much to ride, so I wanted an indoor trainer. I found the one I wanted on Amazon. The problem was it was still more money than I wanted to pay.
So I set up a price alert on camelcamelcamel.com to let me know when the price dropped. A few months later, I got the email that the price dropped and I bought the trainer. Doing so saved me close to $100.
Other times we would just wait. And in many of those situations, we would completely forget about the item we wanted so badly. This tells us it was an urge and we really didn’t need it.
Try this and you will be surprised at how much less you buy and how your happiness hasn’t decreased because you don’t have the thing you thought you needed so badly.
#5. Save What’s Left
At the end of the month when I review our finances, I take a look at our checking account. We typically like to keep a buffer of around $1,000 in the account just in case. If I find that we have more than this in our account after the month end, I will take the difference and transfer it over to savings.
In the months when we drop below the $1,000 limit we don’t do anything. The next month we might cut back on something small so that we can get the buffer back up to our limit.
Most months we are only transferring an additional $50 or $100 into a savings account, but that adds up over time. If we would leave it in our checking account, there is no doubt we would spend it.
#6. Shop Sales
We rarely pay full price for something. We always try to find a sale. If shopping online, we use sites to find coupons. Other times we will log into a cash back website and shop through their portal to get cash back.
When it comes to grocery shopping, we page through the circulars when they come in the mail. We tend to know what stores have the best price for produce and what stores have the best prices for meat. It’s just a matter of waiting for the right sale to come along to stock up.
And when you look at the circular every week, you begin to notice a pattern. The sales will repeat every so often. This helps you to know when a sale is truly a great deal.
For close to a year we wanted to buy a new comforter for our king size bed we bought. But we couldn’t justify the price. So we kept using the queen size comforter we had. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked.
One weekend we were out shopping and noticed a sale on bedding. The price was good and we happened to get a 10% coupon in the mail earlier that week. So we made the purchase.
#7. Take Care Of Things
This one is overlooked by many people. We take great care of the things we buy. This allows us to get much more use out of an item than might be considered useful.
For example, I have some work shirts that are over 10 years old. You would never know by looking at them. My car looks as great as it did on the day I bought it.
Yes, it takes time to take care of things, but it pays off. I sell most things rather than trash them. We make a decent amount of money by selling them on Craigslist, which we throw right into savings.
This even applies to our cars. I’ve sold a few cars that when potential buyers come to look at it, most comment on the amazing condition it is in. This allows us to sell the car for more than what others are selling for.
#8. Ask For Discounts
In this day and age, you should never be paying full price for something. If you don’t have any coupons or a sale isn’t going on, ask for a discount. The worst thing they will say is no.
And we rarely get that answer. Most times the cashier is able to find a coupon behind the desk that they can apply to our purchase, saving us 10%.
Other times, we might get a 5% discount for paying in cash as opposed to using a credit card. Be polite about asking for a discount and don’t keep pestering the cashier. Try once or twice and if you strike out, so be it.
But don’t let that deter you from asking the next time you go shopping.
#9. Negotiate Income
This tip is huge. You have to negotiate your income. It matters so much in the long run. For example, let’s say you are offered a job for $40,000. If you negotiate you could easily get it to $41,000. Is the $1,000 worth it to you?
Here is how that measly $1,000 adds up over the next 10 years assuming a 3% annual raise.
Surprised? In 10 years, negotiating for $1,000 more means you are making close to $1,500 more a year and in those 10 years, you’ve earned over $11,000 more. It makes a difference, so try to negotiate for more.
The reason is thanks to compounding. When you get a raise, your 3% is added to your salary. Just $1,000 means each raise you earn is more money and this adds up over time.
We never accept a job offer based on the salary the employer suggests. We always counter for something more, within reason.
Every time we end up with a starting salary higher than the original offer. It’s not always the amount we ask for, but it is always more than what was initially offered.
#10. Make It A Game
Finally, we make managing our money a game. We try to save as much as we can each month. We look at our net worth and try to get the value up to the next $5,000 as quickly as possible.
This helps when both of us are on the same page. Our goal is to retire early, so this takes a lot of the stress out. If one of us wanted to retire early but the other one wasn’t interested in that goal, then things might be tough.
The key is to sit down and talk through your goals with your partner as they relate to money and life. Then you can work on getting on the same page so you can jointly work together to reach your goals.
To some reading this, it might sound like a lot of work. Once it becomes a routine like it has for us, it just happens.
But don’t think you have to do all of these steps in order to grow your wealth.
You could just do the first step and pay yourself first. If you can put 20% into savings each month, you are going to see a huge improvement in your finances.
In fact, if this list seems like too much for you, here are the 3 tips you should follow that will have the biggest impact on your finances:
#1. Negotiate your salary
#2. Pay yourself first
#3. Delay purchases
If you can do these 3 things, you are going to see great improvements in your finances.
Author Bio: Jon blogs at MoneySmartGuides, where he helps readers pay off debt and start investing for their future. There you will find actionable advice for getting out of debt and growing your wealth.