During a tough economy or times of trouble, many people need to know how to save money fast. If you have lost your job or have suddenly accrued some unexpected bills, you need to figure out where to cut expenses immediately to redirect money towards essential costs (housing, food) or towards debt. With some evaluation of your budget and some quick action, you should be able save money quickly to help bridge your immediate financial situation and will hopefully also learn some valuable lessons in how to save money long-term.
Essentials vs Non-Essentials
If you want to learn how to save money fast, you will need to understand the difference between essential and non-essential spending. Your mortgage or rental payment is an essential expense, your cable bill is non-essential. Make a list of all your monthly expenditures and label each expense as essential and non-essential.
Prioritize your non-essential expenditures based how important they are to you and then begin cutting the least important ones out. If you have a gym membership that you use infrequently, cancel it. If you rarely watch TV, cancel your cable bill. Get rid of as many expenditures as you can that are unnecessary.
Making the Hard Cuts
After you have trimmed away the easy non-essential bills, it is time to look further at what is left. Can you cut costs on the expenditures you would like to keep? If you have chosen to keep cable, is there a cheaper package available? Do you pay for both a land line and a cell phone – could you get rid of the land line? Could you cut back on your cell phone plan and pay less per month for less minutes? These are the types of things to look for in your budget when you are learning how to save money fast.
Now that you have eliminated some bills and hopefully modified other bills to cheaper plans, start looking for areas of negotiation. Phone, cable, and internet plans are a good place to start, especially if you have a bundled package. Search online or call competitors of your current provider to see if you could get the same packages for cheaper. Even check with your own provider to see if they offer cheaper rates for new customers. With this information in hand, call your current provider and negotiate a lower price based on competitive prices.
Saving Money on Groceries
After cutting back on regular monthly bills, your grocery budget is the next good place to evaluate when you are looking at how to save money fast. If you eat out, stop. If you buy all name brand food items, begin to try generic brands. Start cutting coupons and checking the weekly grocery flier to try and buy mostly food items which are on sale and for which you have a coupon. Start keeping a price book where you list the lowest prices of common items in your pantry to understand what is the lowest cost you can pay for a particular item and pay no higher.
Besides groceries, learn to shop smarter all around. Try to only buy clothing or other necessities when there is a sale. Check out thrift stores and yard sales. If you are not use to spending within a budget, learn how to save money fast by learning to dislike spending.
Go Big if Needed
Finally, if you need to learn how to save money fast because of a very desperate time, start cutting out every extraneous expense you have. You may not think you can live without cable TV, but you can. If you cannot afford your car payment, consider selling your car and buying a cheap used car with cash. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and you will be better off making difficult adjustments to your lifestyle now than spending years trying to dig yourself out of debt.