6 Real-Life Budgeting Tips to Save More Money

UPDATED: September 11, 2023
PUBLISHED: January 28, 2023
woman paying for coffee at cafe

I make an average salary. I contribute to my 401(k) monthly. And I travel abroad every three months. While I’ve been financially frugal my whole life, knowing how to save money is a skill that can be easily taught.

I have friends who make three times what I do but still have difficulty saving money. What’s the difference between me and them? Well, practice. Growing up, I had a green tin box where I stashed all of my cushion-hunting treasures. Each shiny coin was my own little secret.

How to save more money

Now that I’ve upgraded from a piggy bank to a checking account, I’ve been able to identify the best ways to save money for the future without compromising my lifestyle in the present. Here are my secrets:

1. Make saving money exciting.

For me, saving money has always been sexy because of its secretive nature. Whenever my friends shared money gripes over drinks, I commiserated, but I couldn’t understand how they allowed hard-earned dollars to slip through their fingers.

Early on, I was told to put away at least 10% of whatever I made into a separate account—be it savings, 401(k), a Roth IRA or something else—and never touch it. I took this advice to heart and have realized that once it’s out of sight, I don’t miss the money. But boy, do I admire its growth.

2. Not all sales are created equal.

Everyone likes a deal, but I’ve found that there’s an art to it: practicing patience and timing. New York City spoils me with designer sample sales, but I have to be discerning. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean it’s worth the money. Some of the highest-quality clothes and shoes in my closet have cost less than a latté. Seriously!

After I started selling items on Poshmark, a popular buying and reselling app, my passion for shopping turned into a self-funded hobby.

3. Save money by treating yourself for less.

I have always been a haircare girl with a cabinet full of products to prove it. But I’m shocked when I see the cost of certain treatments and hair cuts. I can’t justify doing my hair for the price of a plane ticket, which is how I came across the website SalonApprentice.com.

Many hairstylists in training look for hair models to practice on. To put it simply, you can get your hair done professionally for the cost of a tip. Similarly, some stores offer complimentary mini-facials and makeovers, making it impossible to say no to a night out because of finances. There’s no shame in grabbing a deal!

4. Do the cool stuff you see online.

One of my favorite hobbies is collecting passport stamps. I’ve visited Iceland; Copenhagen, Denmark; Belgium; the Turks and Caicos Islands; France; Canada; Wyoming; Colorado; Minnesota; and New Mexico. The best part of traveling is being able to do it cheaply and often.

With low-cost carriers becoming more common, there are more affordable ways for you to take to the skies. My roundtrip, nonstop flight to Paris was $425. I only spent $60 on accommodations because I was able to pay for hotels with points earned from credit cards, and I even stayed at an ultra-luxurious hotel (typically $600 a night) for free by redeeming a reward from my points program.

For flight deals, I use a website called Skyscanner.com. It allows you to search the cheapest places to travel to by month. From there, you can specify dates. My friends are always asking how I travel so much. This is how.

5. Don’t feel pressured to spend.

I learned this financial lesson the hard way. In your 20s, there are birthday dinners, standing brunch reservations, shopping trips, drink dates and a hundred other money-sucking activities that are easy to become absorbed in.

If I said yes every time a friend wanted to “grab dinner,” I wouldn’t have your attention. When the occasion calls for it, I’ll splurge, but if it’s catching up with a friend, a great happy hour spot works just fine. Once I allowed myself to say “no,” it freed up a lot of time for me to read, catch up on shows and, best of all, sleep—all while saving money.

6. Be transparent with yourself about money you save and spend.

I have different credit cards for different rewards, but I only swipe a few of them on a daily basis. I track everything on Mint to streamline my bills and see all of my accounts in one place. It also keeps my spending in perspective so I know if I need to be a little more cautious in the upcoming month.

When I see how and where I spend my money, saving it becomes a controllable, mindful practice that keeps me optimistic about my plans for the future.

Collectively, these different behaviors have led to big savings. Part of becoming a good saver was trial and error. There is a ton of advice out there, but not all of it is practical. I had to make it personal in order for it to work. You will, too.

My favorite piece of literature on financial advice is The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason. It’s a collection of short stories set in ancient Babylon, in which the characters learn simple yet effective financial lessons. When I’m the richest woman in Manhattan, perhaps I’ll write my own.

—Sasha Mishkin

This post originally appeared on Girlboss.com.

This article was published in January 2018 and has been updated. Photo by ViDI Studio/Shutterstock

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