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Saving money is tough these days most especially if you are in a tough financial environment. Saving money is easier said than done and is a daunting task. Unfortunately, no matter how we tell ourselves to save money from now on, not all was able to make it come true. Why? Because there are challenges along the way making it impossible to save money and is a real challenge.

If there’s any parental question we all dread, it’s the biannual “So, are you saving any money?”  It’s a pretty important issue, in their defense, but what’s a guy or girl with an entry-level salary to do? (Besides live off peanut butter and Ramen, of course.) Plainly put, saving money is hard when there’s none left after you pay your monthly bills.

First thing that you need to do is to control your expenses. Make sure to create a reasonable objective when you plan to spend in order to get good value for your money. Don’t waste your hard earned dollar on something not worth every penny!

Spend only according to your needs. Yes I know it’s hard. But make it good practices that whenever you want to buy something, always ask yourself if you need it or not. Remember not to spend more than what you earn.

Identify how much money you earn in a month and list down your monthly expenses as well. I admire my mom for doing this. She has a notebook where she lists down our monthly expenses including monthly recurring charges. That way, she can keep track as to where the money went and how much money she have left. She always examines our expenses and even creates a budget list.

There are quick fixes, of course, like selling things you never use on the internet, but freeing up cash for saving each month requires you to do so constantly– not just every once in awhile. When the budget is tighter than your Hollister jeans from high school, it might seem impossible to find any spare quarters to direct at your savings account , but fear not: There are ways to contribute to your 401K without having to resort to donating plasma. Here’s what will help:

Trim the Fat

The first thing you need to do when you’re trying to save money? Take a good, hard look at your current spending. It’s the most difficult step (especially if you avoid your bank statement like the plague), but it makes the biggest impact in the long run. There are a few things to watch out for: Recurring bills and spending drains.

Are you still subscribed to Seventeen Magazine as a 24 year-old? It’s time to cancel your subscription, friend. Did you sign up for the dog treat version of Birch Box? You could probably do without that, too. If your subscriptions don’t give you a product you’re jazzed about (and you don’t use it frequently enough), you should cut the cord.
Then there are daily or weekly expenses that might not seem like much individually. We’ve all told ourselves that a daily trip to Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t frivolous when we’re purchasing plain ole ice coffee, but we’re lying to ourselves. We could easily make our own cold brew at home, take it to work in a tumbler and save close to $50 a month. Just saying– that’s a gym membership.

Rethink the Way You Shop

Shopping often gets a bad rap, but being able to express your style is pretty important. That said, hitting up Forever 21 once a month can be a huge income drain (and really, how many statement necklaces do you need?). There are a few ways to revamp your shopping routine without sacrificing style, but one cool one is called the Capsule Wardrobe, explained perfectly by the blogger at Unfancy.

The premise is simple: Get rid of everything in your closet that you don’t love, and create a three-month wardrobe consisting of 37 pieces. When those three months are up, rotate seasonally inappropriate clothing out and few new items in.

Not only will this cut down on how frequently you buy clothing (you can’t shop during those three months), it limits how much you buy when you do– and it makes sure every purchase is something you absolutely love and will wear frequently. Check out your bank statement at the end of that first season– you’ll be amazed by how much you saved.

Consolidate Your Debt

If you graduated college with more credit card debt than you’d like, you’re not alone– buying on credit is tough to get right in the early years. Instead of spiraling into a panic every time your bills come each month, try consolidating your debt. There are tons of ways to do this these days, whether it’s transferring all your credit to one card or seeking out a third party loan at a lower interest rate.

Getting all your debt on one bill makes you feel better, and lower rates will help you pay it all off faster. Eliminating your debt is one of the best ways to clear up cash for saving money– and truth be told, having to contribute such a substantial portion of your paycheck each month will prepare you for regular contributions to your savings account.

Get a Second Job

Not having any money to save is tough, but not having enough money to even cover your bills is tougher. Way more people find themselves in this debacle than you might think– it’s practically the hallmark of being young. Luckily, there’s one great solution for this issue: a second job.

While having one is exhausting over the long term, it’s a great relatively short-term solution that will help you stay afloat while you pay off debt, move to a less expensive apartment, and move up the ladder in your primary job. Best of all, it often boosts your income enough to drop a little into savings each month, too.

Eat at Home

Most people don’t think twice when they’re buying a breakfast sandwich at Dunkin’ Donuts every morning (case in point: me). You gotta eat, right?! Well, yes, but it’s important to pick the most cost effective way to do it if you want to cut down on spending.

Making your own meals at home is more than 50% cheaper than buying food out, which amounts to thousands of dollars each year. You don’t have to commit to a 100% pack-your-lunch lifestyle, but limiting meals out to a couple times each week will drastically reduce your spending.

Follow the 50/30/20 Rule

This rule is a tough one to implement when you’re in the middle of a lease, but it’s something you should start thinking about before your next move. This guideline sets up the optimal income allocation based on percentages: 50% of your income would go to mandatory bills (rent, cell phone, car insurance, student loans), 30% would be fun money (movies, food, vacations), and 20% would be savings.

This only works if you start with your rent, though. All of your recurring monthly bills should not exceed half your take-home pay, meaning that your rent should sit somewhere around 30%. If yours is way higher right now, don’t sweat it– that’s true for many young renters. If you can move to a safe area at a reduced rent next year, however, it’s certainly something to consider.

Don’t Spend Like Your Friends

Last but not least, remember this: Most people live outside their means and rarely discuss it. It may seem like your friends have it all together and are able to spend way more money than you, but this is usually not true. Live within your own means, and you’d be surprised how many of your amigos will take a cue from you and start saving money, too.

If you follow these simple steps, you will be able to save your money little by little. If you maintain this kind of thinking, you know your way to prevent financial issues in the future.

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