Want to save $10,000 this year?
If you’re already struggling to put away some cash, that might seem like an impossible goal. But when you do the math, it’s not so outlandish: It boils down to $833 per month, $192 per week or $27 per day.
If that still sounds tough, don’t worry. With two main choices in mind—increase your earnings or decrease your spending—we’ve compiled these 10 steps to help you get to the finish line.
Step 1: Create a Budget
We know, a budget seems a bit obvious, but it works because it creates a plan for your money. A budget can help ensure you have enough for the things you need—and hopefully something left over for fun and savings.
Budgeting doesn’t have to involve hours of fiddling with spreadsheets. Instead, try an app like Mint or YNAB. Track where your money is going for a couple of months, then look for changes you can make to cut costs. YNAB claims budgeters save more than $6,000 in their first year, so you could be over halfway to your goal with this tip alone.
Step 2: Automate Your Savings
Set it and forget it! Ask your employer to automatically deposit a portion of your paycheck into a savings account. When you put saving on autopilot, you commit to paying yourself first and make it easier to resist the temptation to spend.
Step 3: Ask for a Raise
The Great Resignation in 2021 made it tough for companies to find workers, so you now have a unique opportunity to open up discussions with your employer about your pay.
Research the salary range for your job to see where you fall. If your current salary is below average, ask for more money. If your boss says a raise isn’t possible, consider other benefits like paid travel or decide if you should look to earn more elsewhere. Loyalty is admirable, but it’s not always lucrative.
Step 4: Prepare Meals at Home
Dining out (or ordering in) can be fun and relaxing, but it’s also expensive. Pre-pandemic, the average household spent about $67 per week on food away from home, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That money can go a long way to helping you reach your goal. And note that you don’t have to eliminate dining out completely; even cutting back a little will help.
Step 5: Sell What You Don’t Use
Do you have holiday gifts you don’t want? Furniture, clothing or household items you don’t use? Look around your home or apartment and consider selling them on Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark or eBay to make some extra cash.
Step 6: Start a Side Hustle
The gig economy made starting a side hustle easier than ever. You can create an online course, drive for a rideshare service, deliver groceries or turn your hobby into a business via platforms like Etsy or Shopify. The possibilities are practically endless, so if there’s something you’re good at or passionate about, find out if there’s a way to monetize it.
Step 7: Shop Your Insurance Policies
It’s easy to become complacent when you have homeowners, renters or car insurance. But if you don’t shop around for a better deal occasionally, you could be paying more than you should. Find out when your insurance policies will renew and start looking at least a month prior. An estimated 30% of Americans who’ve weighed options for better insurance policies have saved $500 or more, according to Value Penguin. Plus, if you tell your provider you’re thinking of switching, that may prompt them to offer you more discounts.
Step 8: Consider Going Car-Free
While going car-free isn’t practical for every household, it can save you thousands of dollars—$9,282 per year, according to the American Automobile Association. If walking, biking and mass transit aren’t feasible, start checking your tire pressure monthly and changing your engine air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Both can help you get better gas mileage.
Step 9: Find the Cheapest Time to Use Electricity
Some utility companies offer time-of-use plans, giving you cheaper energy prices during off-peak hours. Call your utility company to see whether they offer these plans and when those hours are. Simply running your dishwasher during off-peak hours can save you $15 annually in energy costs, according to EnergySage. While that might not seem significant, repeat it with your washing machine and clothes dryer and the savings multiply.
Step 10: Hold On to Your Phone
Do you upgrade your smartphone every year or two? You can save a lot by paying off your phone and holding on to it for a few years. Today, the price of a smartphone is between $700 and $1,000. Waiting until your phone truly needs to be replaced before upgrading can save you hundreds of dollars—and it’s better for the environment.
Millie content is licensed from Meredith Corporation, publisher of Millie, Real Simple, InStyle and more.
Janet Berry-Johnson is a certified public accountant and a freelance writer who enjoys making complicated money topics, like accounting and taxes, easy to understand.