A Guide To Start Saving Money This Summer

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Summer can be an awesome time to make and save money, especially if you’re home for the summer from college. But even if one of your goals this summer is to build up your savings account as much as possible, it can be really hard to know exactly where to start. Fortunately, saving is actually really simple once you get the hang of it, and there are plenty of tools readily at your disposal to help with the more confusing parts.

You’ve got your savings account ready, and you want to DO THIS THING, but you’re not sure where to start? This guide may help. It’s going to suck to put away your money instead of going shopping as much as you’d like, but it’s totally possible to save money without depriving yourself completely — and once you see that account start building up, you’re going to be so proud.

Find out what you have & where your money is going

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Before you can save the first cent, you need to know what you have and where it’s going, and that means getting honest with yourself. Open up your bank account and write down what you’ve got right this second. Then write down all your monthly expenses: your rent, phone bill, loans, gym membership, etc. Subtract your expenses from what you’ll make, and you now know what your disposable income is. Now is the time to figure out what percent of your income is right for you to set aside for savings each month. Pick a number, based on how much you’d like to have saved by the end of the summer, then stick with it – even when you’d rather use that money to buy concert tickets.

For some people, getting this all down on paper or in a spreadsheet is what works, but if you need to have this information at your fingertips, there are tons of apps out there that can help you. Download something like Mint, which connects to your bank account and guides you through making a budget.

Cut unnecessary spending right away

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While you’ve got your bank account open, take a look at where all of your money went over the last month — and yeah, this is probably going to be painful. Looking at your spending really drives the point home that $10 at Target here and $5 at Starbucks there really adds up over time. Figure out how much you spent on entertainment, like going to the movies and out to eat. Write those numbers down, and figure out how you can cut costs. If you spent $300 eating out last month, can you cut that down to $100 and save the rest? It’s time to decide what you can sacrifice.

It’s totally okay to go out to dinner or drinks or hit the drive-thru… on occasion. It shouldn’t be an everyday thing if you’re in savings mode, though.

At this point, you should also take a look at where you can cut spending. Are you paying for a monthly gym membership you’re not using? Are you still paying for that Amazon Prime membership you forgot to cancel after the free trial was up? Can you make coffee at home instead of grabbing Dunkin’ every morning? Make the change, and save the difference. Go to Dunkin’ on Fridays, bring coffee from home Monday-Thursday. It’s a compromise… and you’ll look forward to your iced coffee every week, making it more special.

Keep track of every dollar that goes in and out of your bank account

“There is a magic about money,” financial author Tiffany Aliche told Reader’s Digest. “When money is not planned for, tracked, and kept record of, it literally disappears.”

She’s totally right. While you’re saving, get into the habit of paying extra close attention to where your money is going when you get paid. It’s so easy to swipe your card and forget about it, but if you’re aware that the $4 you just spent at McDonald’s was paid for with your actual money and now, it’s $4 you can’t use for something way better than a Happy Meal, you may have better luck saving. For some people, this is where budgeting apps really come in handy.

Sell what you don’t need for extra money

It’s time to clean out your closet (and maybe even your entire living space) and find out what you don’t need. Hit eBay, Poshmark, the local consignment shop, or even have a garage sale, because it’s time to either sell or donate everything you have that you don’t use, need, or want anymore. Not only will you have a nice little pile of cash to get your savings account ~thriving~, but you’ll feel so much better having all that clutter out of your life. Seriously, you’re going to think so clearly now!

Pay yourself first

Remember that percentage we talked about that you decided you’re going to save? Every time you get paid, transfer that percentage from your checking to your savings account before you do anything else with that money.

“In other words, the goal of paying yourself first is to help make sure your future self’s key financial goals are covered, including building up an emergency fund, contributing to retirement and saving for any other long-term goals, like a down payment on a new home,” says LearnVest. “Bottom line: It’s important to have these bases covered before you spend any portion of your paycheck on, say, a happy hour with friends.”

Give yourself that money, and remind yourself it’s gone, because it is. Don’t transfer it back into your checking account to spend it. It’s off limits!

And of course, as soon as you hit milestones in your saving — like the first $100 or even $1,000 — it’s okay to celebrate. Go grab a venti Frappuccino from Starbucks and give yourself a pat on the back. Saving instead of spending isn’t easy, but you did it, and you should be proud of yourself. Go kill those summer goals!