How I save 65% of my income is actually a very complicated strategy that can be summed up in two words: instant ramen. See, and you thought my ideas for easy ways to save money wouldn’t actually be easy!
This is actually a different strategy because if you do that, you’ll most likely be dead in a few years and won’t need to worry about saving.
But for realsies, I’m actually able to save 65% of my income because I’m aggressive in two areas: 1) minimizing how much I spend, and 2) maximizing how much I make. Below are some easy ways to save money, and suggestions on how to make more.
I don’t go overboard with my saving. We still spend a lot on lessons for the kids because it’s not fair for them to suffer. But my wife and I cut back on a lot of things we used to think were necessities. Below are suggestions on how to minimize costs and maximize revenue.
Easy Ways to Save Money
A lot of people need help differentiating between needs and wants. If you really want to save, you need to cut out the wants. Here’s a helpful hint: if you won’t die without it, it’s not a need. Once you have that figured out, saving becomes easy. Here are some other suggestions on easy ways to save money.
1. Cut Out/Minimize Recurring Expenses
Yes, food and rent are recurring expenses, but you can’t cut those out unfortunately. I’m referring to other recurring expenses, like cable bills, phone bills, or heating/electricity costs.
Investors love businesses with recurring revenue because it’s sticky. This is why software company multiples go up when they announce a transition to SaaS (software as a service). When somebody pays for a software license, they may or may not buy a new license down the road. But when somebody pays for something on a recurring basis, it becomes a force of habit, and it’s difficult to switch, because it requires effort.
I haven’t had cable since 2010. This alone has saved me $100/month. I thought I would miss it when I cancelled, but it hasn’t impacted by life at all. Instead, I feel like my life is so much better. Along with saving money, I have more time for other things, like learning, or working on this site, or spending time with my family.
Home phone? Please. Total waste of money. Another $30/month in savings. You need AC and heat, but does it have to be set to 65 degrees in the summer (I’m talking to you, honey), or 80 degrees in the winter? And you definitely don’t need the thermostat on when you’re not at home. You can easily save $50-100/month doing a better job controlling the temperature.
Gym membership? Only if you use it.
2. Cut Out Fees
Fees are charges created by companies to gouge people. I’ve never paid an ATM fee in my life. I’ve actually never paid a bank fee in my life. They’re making money off my assets, so why should I pay them?
Credit monitoring service fees? Try Credit Karma instead. You’d be surprised how many free options there are services people are used to paying for.
Late fees? Set up auto bill pay, or put reminders in your calendar. It happens on occasion, but you shouldn’t ever have to pay a late fee.
You can probably save $10-20/month cutting out fees.
3. Save on Food Costs
Going out to eat is expensive! A meal at McDonalds is at least 2-3 times more expensive than something you could make at home. If you go to a nice restaurant, where you’re actually tip, it’s going to cost a lot more than that. I’m not saying that you can’t go out to eat, but cutting back on dining out can save you a few hundred dollars per month, especially if you have a family. I’m guessing you could save $200-500/month by eating out less.
4. Cut Back on Entertainment
Entertainment can get expensive, fast. You don’t need to meet up with friends at bars. Sometimes it’s more fun and comfortable hanging out at somebody’s home. Vacations cane be ridiculously expensive. You need time to get away, but it doesn’t have to be on a plane and it doesn’t have to require hotel stays. You can save thousands by cutting back on a vacation and reducing entertainment expenses could save $100-200/month.
I’m referring directly to my wife for this one. I don’t care much about clothing and I’ll wear something until it falls apart, which is why I’m still sporting Jordache jeans and Hypercolor T-shirts. I’m practically a hipster.
Does everything have to be designer? You can save so much money buying clothes when they’re on sale, out of season (like 70-80% off), or at discount stores like TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack.
6. Maximize Rewards with your Credit Card
Most reward cards now offer 1-2% cash back on purchases. If you pay your cards on time, this is free money! I set up my credit cards for auto payment so I don’t need to worry about late fees. Then I set up other recurring expenses (like cell phone bills) with auto payment on my credit cards so I can get the rewards. If you spend $1,000-2,000 a month and you put it on your credit card, you could be getting $20-40/month back.
7. Use Coupons
My wife is an expert on this. She goes to coupons.com, redplum.com, and smartsource.com. It takes effort, but you can save a lot of money with coupons. There have been many times where people behind her are amazed by how much she saves. The key is to take advantage of double or triple coupons, or combine sales with coupons.
All combined, you could see easily save $500-1,000 a month just by cutting back on excess things you don’t really need.
How to Maximize Revenue
Let’s face it. You can’t save 65% of your income if you have family of 5 and you’re making $50k a year. There are only so many hours in a day so you have 3 options: 1) work more, 2) make more when you work, or 3) make your money work for you. Ideally, you’ll do all three.
1. Work More
Take advantage of overtime if you can. Get another job. Get a side gig. You could drive Uber. If you’re creative, sell stuff on Etsy. If you like to write and have something to share, create a blog.
2. Make More Money
I took the education route. I went back to school to get my MBA and now I make multiples more than when I first graduated. Is there a degree or certification you can get that will accelerate your career?
If you’re salaried, stay late and help out more to make sure you’re the go-to person for the next promotion. I know this is pretty lame advice, but the way I’ve always thought of it was, “if my current employer doesn’t appreciate it, I know my next one will.”
3. Make Your Money Work for You
You can’t get rich until you money works for you. If you have a regular savings account, put it in an online account instead. If you have excess savings (on top of your rainy day fund), start investing it.
The great thing about increasing revenue is there’s no limit to how much it can grow. This is why stocks go up when revenue goes up. Sometimes they’ll go up on cost cuts, but there’s only so much cost you can cut before you impact the business.