Sweating? Don’t. By making a few small tweaks to your budget you can see big results, says Cathy Derus, a CPA financial planner.
“You have to figure out what’s really important to you and then make that your focus,” says Derus. By prioritizing your spending—and keeping an eye on the prize—you can salt away your hard-earned money without sacrificing your iced matcha lattes all summer long.
Keep reading for easy ways to save money this spring so you can make the most of your summer, according to a financial planner.
1. Set it and forget it
Derus' top tip makes saving effortless. “I like to automate things wherever I can,” she says. Thankfully there’s an app (or 20) for that. Derus suggests trying out set-and-forget-it ones like Acorns—which rounds your spending up to the nearest dollar and invests the change—or Digit—which calculates the perfect (small) amount of money to save daily based on your income and spending. Some banks, like Bank of America, also offer keep-the-change programs, which round up your purchases and make saving just about as mindless as an evening spent swiping Bumble. (Just be sure to watch for fees. “You don’t want to be paying the app more than you’re saving!” says Derus.)
What if you want a little more control over the amount of money being funneled from your checking into your savings every month? (And you don’t want to visit your company's accounting department to fill out another round of direct deposit paperwork to do it?) Here, Derus recommends the app Qapital, which her freelance clients typically use to set aside a percentage of their income to pay taxes later. (Or in this case, to save for that trip to Croatia or your BFF’s nuptials.)
“[You set a] rule that says whatever money is deposited into your account you want to take a certain percentage and sweep it to a different account and it happens automatically,” she explains. “For summer stuff, maybe you automatically take 5 percent and then tap into it when it’s time to pay for your trip.”
2. Make a match
If you’d prefer a real old-school strategy, ditch the apps for your own matching program. Here’s how: Every time you make a big purchase (think: a new pair of Nike Flyknits), transfer an equivalent amount into savings. That way, you’ll not only beef up your piggy bank but you’ll become much more conscientious about the money you do spend since you’ll basically be forking over double every time.
3. Follow the 50-30-20 rule
Of course, you won’t be able to put any money away if you spend it all on pay day, so Derus recommends following a basic 50-30-20 budgeting approach: 50 percent of your paycheck goes to living expenses, 30 percent to wants, and 20 percent to savings. If your ratios are already in line, bump up your savings even more by flipping the script and setting aside 30 percent for savings and only 20 percent for wants.
And don’t worry: Your penny-pinching doesn’t have to be painful. It can be as simple as scrutinizing your bank account for forgotten spending. “Look at statements and see what some of those recurring expenses are,” says Derus. “Are you really using them? The subscription boxes or Netflix?” She also suggests calling your internet, cable, and cell phone providers to negotiate lower bills. If you’re feeling really ambitious, attempt a no-spend day (or even a no-spend weekend!) and transfer what you would have otherwise dished out straight into savings.
Remember: Spending less money doesn't mean you have to forego your healthy habits. Here's how one editor ate healthy for less than $4 a day. And here are 5 hacks for going on a retreat for a *lot* less.
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