Saving Money as a Middle Class Family

Dude – it’s hard to save money. The economy is constantly changing and the lessons our parents and/or grandparents taught us are likely obsolete by now. The stock market ain’t what it used to be and pensions are nearly a thing of the past. So – how do you save money and still have a good quality of living in 2018 America?

1. Reduce Your Subscriptions

Yep – sorry, pal. Write down a list of E V E R Y T H I N G you automatically spend money on. Then, go down the list (preferably with your significant other if you have one) and identify which ones you can reduce or eliminate. Some, you may even be able to take a break from and begin again next month or some other time in the future. I just reduced my monthly spending by over $100 by reducing my cable package and pausing my Audible, MeUndies, and Dollar Shave Club subscriptions. This $100+ is going straight into savings that we will use for vacation next month.

2. Save Automatically

Sounds….. obvious, right? This one’s easier said than done (for my family at least). The best thing I can come up with is to look at your savings commitment as a “bill”. Say you want to save $200/month; commit to that. Mark it on your calendar. Whatever. Then transfer or deposit that money like you would any other bill. Oh – and please for the love of god make it an account that is difficult to access. The larger that stash of money becomes, the more tempting it will be to spend it.

3. Cut Out the Crap

Starbucks, bar nights, restaurants, movies – all the things we love and are addicted to need to go. Just like subscriptions, it may be a good idea to make a list of everything you regularly spend money on. Also might be a good idea to identify how frequently you spend money on it (daily, weekly, etc). Can you reduce a daily coffee on the way to work down to just a Friday treat? Maybe your Thursday thru Saturday bar crawl turns into a Friday/Saturday only affair and your weekly family night out moves to a monthly family night, replaced by stay-at-home game night weekly.

4. Control Impulse-Spending

We’ll, how in the hell do you do that when the very name implies it can’t be controlled? The best tips I have seen include making a list and sticking to it, and sleeping on the decision to make an impulse buy. Sticking to a list is pretty straightforward, but the “sleeping on it” tip was new to me. Studies show that if you don’t buy the off-list item, you are likely to not want it as soon as you leave the store.

5. Cash Budget

Ashley hates this idea but I found it highly effective – so take it with a grain of salt. I itemized our budget and figured how much we could spend on non-bills and non-savings. For us, this amount was about $800. So I figured we could withdraw $200/week and when we run out of cash, we’re done spending. Impossible to overspend. Simple, right? Explain that to Ashley.

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