“The wise man saves for the future but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.”Proverbs 21:20
This verse provides a stark contrast to the common phrase, “the more you make, the more you spend.” With that mentality in mind, it shouldn’t be any surprise to us that the savings rate in America dropped from nearly double digits twenty-five years ago to negative one percent in 2006. As a nation, we spend more than we make. Poor consumption habits and inadequate savings have caused a lot of stress for families all across America. But cultural habits don’t have to be your habits.
If there is one basic principle that we can take from Proverbs 21:20, it’s this: the key to financial success has little to do with how much you make, and everything to do with how you spend it. When we step back and look at our spending habits, we can make adjustments, learn to live on less, and increase our savings with much more success than we can by focusing all our efforts on trying to increasing our income.
By learning how to save money in the small things, we can be more effective in saving for our long-term goals. The following list of 10 practical money-saving tips can help you set aside some money each month so that you can focus on saving for your retirement and other long-term financial goals. Try implementing some of these and track how much your family is able to save over this next year.
- Combine your cable, Internet and telephone service. Companies now offer combined services that not only cost less, but also offer the convenience of a single bill. Called a Triple Play Package (Cable, Internet, and Phone), these combined service deals can save you a bundle.
- Get rid of Private Mortgage Insurance. If your down payment was less than 20%, you are probably paying PMI. Paying extra on your mortgage may help you to reach a loan-to-value ratio of 80% or less. Check with your lender and work with them to cancel PMI if you meet the requirements.
- Pay car insurance semi-annually or annually. Many insurance providers provide a discount for semi-annual or annual payments as opposed to monthly payments.
- Increase insurance deductibles. Increasing your deductible can lower your premiums, which allows you to save more each month. Just be sure you have cash available to cover the higher deductible.
- Take advantage of employer matches to your retirement account. The fastest return on your money is to take advantage of an employer match. You can’t afford not to save here!
- Automate savings. Many banks allow automatic monthly transfers from a checking account to a savings account. Direct a portion of your paycheck right into your savings account and make your savings automatic.
- Avoid extended warranties. The only time a warranty makes sense is when it will be devastating to your budget. Extended warranties for products like kitchen appliances, cameras or electronics are often money down the drain.
- Sign up for a flexible spending account. Your employer might offer a flexible spending account that allows you to set aside pretax dollars to pay for medical expenses. By using pretax dollars on these medical expenses, you’re essentially getting a discount equal to your tax bracket.
- Make an IRA contribution. Making pretax contributions to an IRA or 403(b) means that you pay less in taxes today. Your saved dollar goes a little further as it grows for your retirement.
- Use retirement max provisions. For those savers over 50 in age, the IRS allows you to make a catch up contribution. This will boost your savings, may provide a tax break, and help you reach your retirement goals faster!