If you’re looking to save more money for college expenses, a comfortable retirement, or some other financial goal, it might be time to get started with an aggressive saving strategy. Learn how to aggressively save money here.
Posted By Jerry Graham
Posted In Spend Less Money
Last Updated: 09/07/2022
16 Smart Ways to Aggressively Save Money
If you’ve been neglecting your savings or you want to up your savings rate, you’re probably wondering how to aggressively save money.
An aggressive saving strategy comes down to making your savings a top priority, living below your means through budgeting, cutting expenses wherever you can, and maximizing your income. If you can do those things, you can build your savings quickly.
If you want to learn how to aggressively save money, here are 16 things you should do:
1. Pay Yourself First
You might approach saving money by waiting to see how much you have at the end of the month after all your living expenses and discretionary spending. If you only save what’s left, that amount will vary month to month. Some months you might save nothing at all.
That’s not a good way to maximize your savings or meet financial goals. A better approach is to pay yourself first.
Start paying yourself first by putting a percentage of your income or a fixed dollar amount into a separate account every time you get paid. That way, saving is taken care of before you spend on anything else.
It might be difficult to put a lot of money toward your savings right now, but you can start small with just a few dollars and then increase the amount when you can. The hardest part is just getting started.
Make your savings your top priority if you want to aggressively save money. Treat it like your most important bill. Whether you have an ambitious savings goal, like saving $5,000 in 6 months, or you just want to consistently put money aside for a rainy day, paying yourself first is the way to go.
2. Get Out of Debt
Being in debt is suffocating and stressful. Getting out of debt might seem like it should be your top priority.
But build a small emergency fund of at least $1,000 first. That will cushion you from going deeper into debt if an unexpected expense comes up.
You should also continue to save while you’re paying down debt. It doesn’t have to be a large percentage of your income, but put a little something into your savings account, emergency fund, or 401k every month. If your employer matches your retirement savings, you should at least do that as it’s free money.
Once you have your emergency fund established, focus on paying off high-interest debt. If you have a payday loan, a title loan, or a credit card with a high-interest rate, focus there first. Their high-interest rates will eat through your minimum payment and keep you in debt much longer.
3. Automate Your Finances
If overspending is the reason you’re not saving as much as you should, one way to ensure that your money goes where it’s supposed to is to automate as much as possible. To do that, you can:
- Ask your employer to direct deposit some of your pay in savings and the rest in checking. Most companies should have no problem handling your request, even if you spread the money to two different banks.
- Take part in your company’s 401k plan. You make contributions to your retirement plan with pre-tax dollars via payroll deductions, so you never see the money.
- Set up automatic payments through your creditors and service providers if the payment amounts fluctuate. You won’t miss any payments or short-pay your bills that way.
- Use auto bill pay through your bank if the bill amount is the same each month. That allows you to manage multiple accounts in one place.
If your bank offers email or text alerts when a bill is due or your balance is low, enable them. Automation should simplify your finances, and save you from overdraft fees. Don’t ignore the alerts.
It’s hard to decide how to spend your money when you live paycheck to paycheck. By automatically paying yourself first and auto-paying bills, you remove temptation.
4. Track Your Spending
If you’re looking for ways to squeeze more savings out of your current income, track your expenses for a week or two.
Note how much you spend on needs like rent, food, and utilities. Add up your student loan, credit card, car loan, and other debt payments. Keep every receipt for cash and credit card purchases and review your debit card usage online.
By tracking where your money goes, you’ll be forced to rethink your spending habits. You’re bound to find expenses you can reduce or eliminate. Put the money you were spending on things you don’t need toward your savings.
5. Get on a Budget
Once you’ve tracked your spending and have a sense of where your money goes, the next logical step is to create your first budget.
If you want to aggressively save money, you need a plan. Your budget is your roadmap to building your nest egg and achieving financial freedom.
For many people, myself included, budgeting sounds like a lot of pain, boredom, and forced mathematics. It’s really not that bad. A budget is simply a spending plan that reflects your priorities.
From the half payment method to the 50-30-20 budgeting technique, there’s a way to budget your money that will work for you in terms of time and effort involved.
6. Live Below Your Means
Now that you know where your money goes and you’ve built a budget to live by, living below your means will get you where you want to go financially.
Living below your means simply means spending less than you bring in each month. Your budget will help. All you have to do is stick to your budget.
7. Reduce Your Monthly Expenses
In tracking your spending and building a budget, you’ll no doubt spot some discretionary spending you can eliminate.
For example, you could:
- Cancel your gym membership. Work out at home instead.
- Cut the cable TV cord. Opt for streaming entertainment. If you can’t live without live TV, consider YouTube TV or another live streaming provider.
- Find a cheaper mobile phone carrier. Family plans and alternative providers could slash your cellphone bills.
- Stop buying coffee at Starbucks. Quitting coffee won’t make you rich, but it will put money back in your pocket.
- Start bringing your lunch to work. You can save a couple of hundred bucks easily if you’re in the habit of buying lunch every day.
Then there are the major expenses to consider. It might be worthwhile to:
- Shop around for insurance
- Consider moving to a less expensive area to save money on housing
- Think about moving closer to work to cut transportation costs
- Get rid of that second car you barely drive
Just by reviewing your budget, you may free up hundreds of dollars. The more expenses you can reduce or cut out, the more money you can add to your savings.
8. Eat Out Less
If you’re eating out several times a month, it might surprise you how much you can save by cutting back on restaurant meals. Opt for healthy meals prepared at home instead.
The key to cutting back on eating out is to plan and prepare your meals for the week. Invest in some food storage containers and spend a weekend day or your spare time making lunches and dinners for the week.
Besides saving money, you might gain some health benefits by avoiding meals out and fast food.
9. Cut Your Grocery Expenses
Groceries take up a sizeable chunk of the budget for many families.
A few new habits, such as planning meals around sale items, couponing, and buying in bulk will significantly lower your monthly grocery bill. That means more money to put toward your savings.
10. Find Free and Low-Cost Activities
You can save a lot of money every month by reducing your entertainment costs.
If you’ve been to a concert, sporting event, or show recently you know you can easily drop a few hundred dollars on tickets, parking, food, drinks, and souvenirs. Even movie theaters aren’t the cheap form of escape they used to be with escalating ticket costs and ridiculous prices on snacks.
Fortunately, there are many fun and interesting things to do that cost little or nothing. But you have to know where to look.
Museums don’t have bright lights and a marquee outside touting their latest exhibit. Local beaches, libraries, and parks don’t show trailers on YouTube.
Scour your local newspaper and local websites for a calendar of activities or stories about upcoming events. You’ll find free and low-cost options like movies, concerts, festivals, lectures, and more.
Enjoy the outdoors. Hike, go camping, or spend the day at the beach. In the winter, build a snowman, go sledding, or go ice skating.
Stay home. Have a movie night or a game night. Host potluck dinners with friends.
Don’t dread cutting expenses to save more money because you think you won’t have any fun. It’s not true.
There are plenty of fun things for you and your family to do that won’t cost you much, if anything at all. Seek them out and get creative. You’ll save a bundle that can go right into your savings account.
11. Use the 30-Day Rule
The 30-day rule is a strategy for controlling your spending and making sound financial decisions. It works like this:
- When you feel the urge to buy something you don’t need, stop.
- Exit the store or close your browser if you’re shopping online.
- Wait 30 days.
- Put the money you would have spent into your savings account.
- If you still want to buy the item after 30 days and you can afford it, make the purchase.
You might discover that you can live without the things you thought you had to have right away.
If you spend too much on wants, following the 30-day rule helps with impulse control and eliminating unnecessary purchases. It forces you to think before you buy. Eliminating impulse buys keeps that money available for saving.
12. Try a No Spend Challenge
Doing a no-spend challenge means eliminating all discretionary spending for a length of time. You’ll still pay your bills and buy the essentials you need to survive, but you won’t be going out to eat, getting your nails done, or hitting the movie theater.
It’s easier than it sounds. Getting through an extended period without spending money will free up cash to put toward your savings. Whether it’s a weekend, a week, or an entire month, not spending any money you don’t have to might even change the way you look at spending and redefine your needs.
If you like challenges, give one of these fun money-saving challenges a go. The 100 envelope challenge is tough, but others like the 365-day nickel challenge, are mostly painless and add an element of fun to saving money aggressively.
13. Ask for a Raise
Another component of an aggressive saving strategy is earning more money. Making more money could probably solve some problems for you, provide a real boost to your savings, or at least make your financial picture a little brighter. One of the fastest ways to earn more money is to get a raise at work.
If your company is doing well and you’ve done enough to deserve a pay bump, ask for one. You can’t just ask and expect a yes, however. You must build a case and prove you’ve earned it during a one-on-one with your boss.
14. Get a Second Job
If you’re struggling to save money or make ends meet, getting a second job might be well worth it. If you need to build up your emergency fund, get out of debt, or save for a major purchase, you’ll reach those goals faster with the added income will from a second job.
The extra money will help, but there are downsides too. You’ll have less time to spend with friends and family. It also can be stressful and exhausting.
15. Start a Side Hustle
A side hustle is practically a necessity nowadays. Thanks to the gig economy, it’s easier than ever to make money on the side.
Most 9 to 5 jobs just don’t pay the bills. That’s especially true if you’re working an entry-level job or starting a new career. Side hustles enable you to make more money, meet your goals faster, and afford things you need or want.
If you have in-demand freelance skills, offering your services on platforms like Upwork or Fiverr gives you another income stream.
There are also plenty of side hustles with low startup costs you can start quickly. For example, you can sell your old clothes on Poshmark or deliver food for DoorDash.
16. Open a High-Yield Savings Account
You don’t need a high net worth or a six-figure salary to open a high-yield savings account. Many online banks have no minimum deposits, so all you need is whatever is in your couch cushions and the discipline to save.
High-yield savings accounts are a solid choice for parking your emergency fund or saving up for a near-term goal, like a vacation or down payment.
The return on your money is much higher than traditional savings accounts at local banks, your money is insured, and you can access your cash if you need it.
For more information on choosing the right high-yield savings account, check out Bankrate’s high-yield savings account comparison page.
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