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5 Smart Ways to Help Yourself Save Money

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Saving money is something anyone can do, even if it’s just a dollar or two at a time. Tight budgets and uncertain finances can make it tempting to spend whatever you have when you have it. But if your goal is to build up a savings account, this may be closer than you realize. There are many, many different techniques for saving money but the most important thing to remember is that saving is a skill. Some people are better or worse at saving, but it is something you can learn.

At Southern Careers Institute, many of our students are working toward practical life goals while also holding down a job and supporting a household. We know that a savings account will mean a lot to you, and we are here to help with the same level of detail and commitment that we build into every lesson. Let’s dive into 5 ways to help you save money this year that anyone can implement.

1) Always Save Off the Top (& Bottom)

Put money in your savings account before you start to spend. This is the single best way to ensure that you really do build your savings, no matter how tight money feels closer to the end of the month. Let’s break this strategy down into its basic components to make it easier for you to implement.

  • Set a Savings Amount

First, decide on the amount you will save “off the top” every month. this might be 5% of your paycheck, or a set amount like $50 per paycheck. Even if you are currently making minimum wage and can only put in $10 per paycheck, at least something is going in. After a few months, your savings account will reach a size you can do something with — no matter what.

  • Manual Scoop vs Direct Deposit Savings

If your employer and bank are cool, you might be able to arrange a direct deposit into your savings account. This is when your employer sends the paycheck, your bank will automatically take the set amount off the top and place it into a separate savings account.

Alternately, you might gain satisfaction and resolve from doing this process on your own.

  • Automate Essential Bills

The next thing to take “off the top” are your essential bills with automatic bill pay.  Not only will you avoid late fees, but you will also limit your spending when you see how much is really left after utilities are paid.

  • Save What’s Left Before the Next Paycheck

If you have any money left over when you are next paid, drop it directly into your savings account.


2) Audit Your Bills and Subscriptions

When trying to save, don’t pay more than you must. This is a good policy for any time, but especially important for your savings goals. Here are a few smart tactics to reduce your costs to the essentials.

  • Cancel What You Don’t Use/Need

If you know you are not using a subscription like Hulu or Spotify because you’ve been enjoying other media, cancel or “pause” those subscriptions you are not using.

  • Comb Your Credit Card Statements

For the subscriptions and sneaky recurring payments, you forgot about, check your credit card statement. You can also block further payments through your card carrier if canceling gives you the run-around.

  • Auditing Utility Bills

Check out your utility bills. Make sure you’re not paying for a hidden water leak and that your expenses are about the same as this time last year. Consider switching providers for the year of discounted service.

3) Minimize Monthly Spending

You probably already know that one of the best ways to save money is to spend less, but this is trickier than it sounds. Most people on a tight budget have already cut out extras and saving beyond that requires the skills to optimize essential purchases.

  • Put Off Non-Essential Purchases

If you want to buy something but don’t really need it today, put off the purchase. If you’re still thinking about it a week or a month later, it may be worth the buy. But this method can really cut back on impulse shopping in response to financial stress.

  • Try Store Brand Over Name Brand

Did you know that many store-brand products are made in the same factories using the same ingredients as name brand? While not always true, many store brand products are just as good and cheaper than the name-brand originals.

  • Shop at the Culture-Specific Grocery Store

Did you know that many store-brand products are made in the same factories using the same ingredients as name brand? While not always true, many store brand products are just as good and cheaper than the name-brand originals.

  • Learn a Few All-Week Recipes

All-week recipes can take a small number of groceries into meals for a week. Casseroles, soups, and stews are great budget meals. This can help you focus on low-cost ingredients and avoid the temptation to order food from restaurants.

  • Save What You Save

Lastly, put what you don’t save into your savings account. Put off a $15 purchase? Put $15 into savings. Bring your grocery spend down by $50? Put that $50 in your savings instead of leaving it in your bank account to be spent in the future.

4) Bring In Extra With Side Jobs

Side jobs can really change the equation when it comes to savings because they add extra income – even just a little – to the household budget. Ideally, you want to choose something you do recreationally that could make money if sold online or through a gig economy app.

  • Relax With Crafts? Sell the Result

If you like to relax with handicrafts like crocheting or painting birdhouses, sell what you make on Etsy and take custom orders.

  • Good at Driving? Deliver or Rideshare

If you’re a great driver and enjoy rolling around the city, sign up for a delivery app or ride share during the few hours you have free.

  • Unusually Well Organized? Virtual Assistant Hours

Even very organized people can sell their services as a virtual assistant – doing mental and document work for busy professionals.

5) Vision Board and “Swear Jar”

Give yourself a little boost with tactics like a vision board or a habit-changing “swear jar”. This can help to inspire you and help you see your savings grow as you pursue personal goals.

  • Visualize Your Savings Goals

A vision board is a collage of concepts and inspirational imagery that help you visualize your achievable goals. Whether that’s buying a car or putting yourself through school, a good vision board will help you stay inspired and focused on your dream.

  • Change Your Habits With a “Swear Jar”

A “swear jar” is a jar you put pocket change or dollars into for swearing. But really, you can choose any habit you want to control. This could be your “phone not charging” jar, your “dirty dishes” jar, or your “stayed up too late scrolling” jar, and it doesn’t have to be a jar.  Get roommates and family in on it if you share a savings goal.

Bonus: Remember to Treat Yourself Occasionally

Our final tip is to remember to treat yourself every now and then. Saving up can start to feel brutal if you have successfully cut out all non-essentials. If you’ve been reaching your goals (or just had a tough week), splurge just a little to make yourself feel better. Get a boxed cake mix or a pint of ice cream. Go to one of your favorite places or plan a night out with friends.

Not only is the occasional treat good for the soul, but it can also help you stick to your savings goals for the rest of the month instead of feeling stressed.

Southern Careers Institute

Southern Careers Institute trains students in a variety of programs to prepare them for their future in Texas. With eight campuses in Texas along with online programs, it is SCI’s mission to provide employer-tailored programs to students. To learn more about the programs, start dates, and financial aid, visit



This article was published on: 02/21/23 6:37 PM

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