To meet my savings goal for the year, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to save money without having to sacrifice quality or time. I’ve tested a number of different methods over the past two years and below I share 5 strategies that I have found to be very help for me.

Tip 1: Make a list of all your expenses from last month and go through it line by line.

Although you may feel like you’re saving as much money as possible and there isn’t possibly anything left to cut out, I encourage you to give this one a shot. Sit down and write out every single expense you’re aware of and how much it’s costing you each month. Are you paying for a pricey gym membership you rarely use? Are there online subscriptions that you signed up for but don’t need? There’s most likely something that you’re buying or subscribing to every month that can get eliminated or isn’t needed.

Tip 2: Meal Prep to Avoid Eating Out.

I’ve written before about how my biggest struggle with saving money is resisting the temptation to eat out or grab a quick snack from the corner store. One thing I do to combat this is to meal prep all of my lunches and dinners on Sunday and have them stored and ready to go in Tupperware containers. It’s an extremely satisfying feeling going to bed on Sunday night knowing nearly all of my meals are already prepared. Doing this forces me to acknowledge that I don’t need to eat out or buy snacks throughout the day. Plus, I’m saving loads of money at the grocery store by buying in bulk rather than making several stops throughout the week to buy enough for one meal.

Tip 3: Find Free or Low-Cost Activities to Do With Friends.

A challenge you may face is struggling between wanting to be social with friends and stay home and save money. You can definitely do both, it just takes a little creativity. Rather than meeting friends out for happy hour, offer to host them for a girls night that’s BYOB and you can watch a favorite film together. Take advantage of your town or city’s free attractions, such as museums, parks, festivals, etc. I’m fortunate to live in a large city, where there’s nearly always something in the community taking place that is low-cost or free of charge.

Tip 4: Increase Automated Savings by 1$ This Month.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again a thousand times: If you’re not automating your savings right now, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity tuck money away without even noticing. When I started working full time, I set my automated savings to 3% to go to my retirement account. Over the course of 2 years, I have increased that percentage to 20%. While this was more aggressive than the average pace, it goes to show that it is easier to save money when you don’t even see it in the first place.

Tip 5: Wait One Week Before a Purchase.

Whether it’s something small like a last minute purchase in the checkout lane at the store or a new piece of furniture, write it down. Then, wait a week before deciding if you really need it. I’ve used this practice several times in the past to great effect. More often than not, I’ll find that I don’t need or even want that item anymore.

These are five tips I have found very helpful when saving money to meet my goals. It may not always be easy but in my experience, starting small is the best way to go. It helps to know that every little bit counts, too! What are strategies you use when trying to save money?

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