Living is expensive. It’s true – you have to eat, pay your rent or mortgage, and clothe yourself. Then there are all the added necessities of life nowadays- a smartphone, a laptop, the internet. Thankfully, though, saving money has never been easier thanks to your smartphone and the internet. There are many apps out there that can help you find discounts, but here are three that help you put cash back into your pockets.
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Financial success only comes from well-crafted strategies that you must pursue with steadfast focus. You must remember that it may take you years to achieve success for there are no shortcuts. Here are several steps which, if implemented well, will contribute to lifelong financial success.
Budget for Your Income
Have you ever found yourself broke just weeks after you received your salary, wondering where your money went? The first rule is to never spend more than you earn. Doing so will only lead you into debt and financial ruin.
On receiving your salary, develop a budget. Allocate funds to the most important things like food and rent, then work down to the least important items. Financial advisors recommend spending no more than 20-30% of your income on rent.
Record everything you purchase on paper or you can download budget apps for free on your phone. You will likely be shocked at how much you waste!
Eliminate Unnecessary Expenditures
Cook meals at home and reduce the number of times you eat out. For non-perishable goods such as soap and toiletries, buy in bulk to take advantage of discounts. Farmers’ markets provide good deals on fresh and nutritious supplies and pet food coupons, a good alternative to your local grocery store. Whenever possible, use coupons to reduce your overall expenses.
When you are thinking of a big purchase, it’s prudent to give yourself a couple of weeks to consider whether it’s worth the expense. Avoid impulse purchases by having a shopping list. Never buy something you didn’t plan for simply because it’s on sale. Leave your credit cards at home as studies have shown that you are likely to spend more than when you buy using cash.
Pay Your Debts Promptly
Before you start saving, pay up all your debt. It makes no sense to save and earn interest at a lower rate than your creditor’s charge. Start by repaying the debts with the highest interest rate, then work down. Clear student loans as soon as you can and check for payment holidays, deals and discounts for paying a lump sum.
Go For What You Can Afford
When online shopping, settle for what you can comfortably afford. You may have to buy generics instead of brand-name goods, so be prepared to experiment to find which replacements are worthwhile. Shop around to compare own-brand alternatives from multiple supermarkets and find the best quality-to-value choice.
Save Instead of Taking a Loan
For big purchases such as a car, it’s better to save rather than get a loan. The value of many large purchases drops very quickly and you’ll end up paying interest on a depreciating asset. Look for good deals in the second-hand market and, in the case of complex purchases such as a car, consider all the costs— insurance and maintenance are important for valuable items.
The money you spend is gone. You will never see it again, so save before you spend. Pay yourself first and allocate a portion of your income to savings. Don’t put the money into a savings account without considering investment: experts recommend saving and investing from 20% to 30% of your income.
You also need to set up an emergency fund, ideally with sufficient funds to maintain your lifestyle for several months. Emergency funds should be saved in a bank account as it is easier and faster to liquidate in the event of an emergency. You can use this fund for things like car repair, instead of getting into debt.
Use compound interest to your advantage. The earlier you start to save, the more interest you accumulate.
Invest Your Savings
Once you have the emergency savings, start to invest, use coupons. Let your money work for you as you worked for it.