25 ways to save $250 a month that everyone is messing up

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When it comes to saving money, not every way is the right way. A lot of it depends on your lifestyle and the goals that youve established.

At the same time, there are plenty of mistakes we typically make when it comes to saving like the 25 ways listed below.

1. Not monitoring your budget

When it comes to saving some cash each month, nothing beats a budget. Heres the problem. You base your budget on your fixed expenses like rent, insurance, and utilities. But, what about those unexpected or variable expenses like a trip to the dentist, replacement of your broken iPhone, heat during colder months, the invitation to go on a last-minute weekend vacation, or gifts for birthdays or holidays?

If youve created a budget based on only your fixed month-to-month expenses, then its going to be a lot harder to save accordingly. Instead of saving money each month, youll actually be eating into your savings.

To successfully budget, you have to pay attention to trends and then reshuffle as needed. This way, youll have enough money to cover those unexpected or variable expenses without dipping into your savings. Remember, budgeting is a process. Dont expect to create a budget based on solely on one month. Track your spending over the course of a couple of months so that you can paint a more accurate picture.

2. Spending too much time on being frugal

Another way to save money each month is by being frugal. But, if youre spending more time on monitoring your budget, clipping coupons, or scouring the Internet for the best deal instead of enjoying your life, then its time to reevaluate the situation.

The purpose of saving is so that you have the money to take that family trip, make home improvements, or invest in new business. That doesnt mean that you eliminate the important things in life, such as spending time with your family, just for the sake of saving. By all means, be frugal but not when its consuming too much of your life.

3. Loyalty

When you think about saving money, you most likely think about reducing expenses like going out to dinner less often. But, when was the last time that you compared the rates and deals of your bank, insurance company, the Internet or cell phone provider? Theres a good chance that there are better options available. Switching your cell phone provider, for example, may not save you $250 alone per month, but you may find a plan thats $25 cheaper per month. Add that to your other saving methods and youll be on track to that $250 goal rather easily.

4. Youre uncomfortable

Being frugal doesnt mean that you have to sacrifice the things that you actually need or enjoy occasionally. It means that youre more cognizant of your spending so that you can make better financial decisions. It doesnt mean that you have to be uncomfortable and miserable by missing out on the things that you enjoy or need like that new mattress to replace your uncomfortable and torn-up mattress.

5. Buying on sale just because its on sale

Weve all been guilty of this. We purchase items just because theyre on sale. But, do you really need that new pair of jeans just because theyre 15% off? Instead of spending your money on the things that you dont need just because theyre sale, make a note of the what you do need and then wait for them to go on sale.If youre like most people, this adds up to be over $250 a month.

6. Cooking at home

Make no mistake about it. Cooking at home is definitely more affordable than eating out every night. But, what about the times that you want to make something that calls for ingredients that youll rarely use. Take Paella, for example. While its delicious, theres a chance that the saffron you purchased is going to go to waste.

When grocery shopping, try to think of meals that use similar ingredients so that nothing is going to waste. Another option would be to join something like Blue Apron or Sun Basket since they provide the right amount of ingredients needed for each recipe. Best of all? Plans start at around $10 per serving.

7. You cant let go

Do you have a house full of stuff that you never use but hold onto them because you might need that snow blower even though you live in Florida? Its time to let some of that clutter go. While I understand that you dont want to buy something if you already have it, take stock of the things that you know youll need.

If you keep accumulating stuff, youll potentially run into a situation where you need to rent storage space because you no longer have space in your home to store it. How is that going to help you save money each month?

8. Buying coupons youll never use

There are some incredible deals on Groupon or LivingSocial. But, are you really going to take that yoga class or eat at that new Italian restaurant outside of town before the voucher expires? If so, then purchase the voucher, but if youre uncertain, then skip the deal.

9. You jeopardize your safety

I dont enjoy throwing away food. However, Im not going to put myself or my family at risk by cooking dinner using expired ingredients. If something is bad, its better to chuck it then risk getting a bad case of food poisoning.

10. Signing up for a new credit card just for the rewards

In some instances, credit cards have perks like rewards, cashback on purchases, and 0% percent APR for balance transfers that make them worth considering. Before applying for that new card, review all of the fine print. This applies to businesses as well. The cost of annual fees and high-interest rates may not be worth those perks.

11. Cutting out all activities and socializing

One of the most expensive expenses youll incur is socializing and participating in activities. Instead of becoming a hermit and isolating yourself from your friends or family, make an exception here and there. If you go out for drinks or attend a concert on Friday night, then stay home on Saturday night. Youre still socializing, but youre also being responsible with your money.

12. You never indulge

Just like with socializing, its alright to indulge now and then. It can be used as a reward or help you experience new things. So, if youve brewed your own coffee at home all week, go ahead and stop by Starbucks on Friday morning. You earned it!

13. Youve taken DIY too far

Thanks to Pinterest and YouTube, weve been tricked into thinking that we can do anything from building furniture to repairing our cars. The problem is that this can lead us to potentially do more harm than good.

For example, changing the oil in your car may sound like a good idea, but by the time that you purchase the oil and filters, it may cost you more money than going to a mechanic. Even worse, if youve never changed the oil in your car and make a mistake youll now have an additional expense: paying a mechanic to repair the damage that youve done.

14. Cord-cutting

One of the most popular trends when it comes to saving money is through cord-cutting. The thing is its not for everyone. If you enjoy watching local sports or shows like Game of Thrones, you may end up paying more money each month since youre still paying for Internet service, a local TV package, and a premium channel subscription. Unless youre not a TV-watcher, cord-cutting may not be your best option.

15. Not calculating your retirement

Saving for your retirement is never a bad idea. Going into it blindly is, however. You wouldn’t purchase a car or home without knowing how much its going to cost you, right? In order to plan and save for your retirement, you need to first calculate how much youre going to need to set aside each month. NerdWallet has a handy retirement calculator that can help you get started on the right path.

16. Putting money into modest growth plans

One of the biggest mistakes that even the savviest savers make is putting money into modest growth plans, such as low APR savings accounts, CDs, bonds, mutual funds, or simple 401(k)s. Thanks to Fintech, your bank or financial adviser will be able to send you personalized investment recommendations so that you can get the most bang for your buck.

17. Not harnessing the power of Fintech

Speaking of Fintech, financial institutions are using this technology so that you can also automate investing and savings by adjusting your budget and notifying you of any changes in your accounts. You can receive customized financial advice through chatbots to make more informed financial decisions.

18. Avoiding cash

Theres a belief that if you have cash on-hand youll be tempted to spend it. The thing is if you only have $45 in your pocket, you cant spend more than that. However, if youre carrying plastic or a digital wallet downloaded onto your phone, you may be tempted to spend money on stuff that you dont really need. In the end, cash may be the better option to keep you financially disciplined.

19. Not automating your savings

Dedicating a percentage of your paycheck to your savings is a given. However, what happens when you place that echeck into your bank account? After your expenses have been paid, you may be tempted to spend that excess cash. To prevent that from happening, you should automate your savings where a small percentage of your paycheck is withdrawn and transferred to your savings account. This way, youre not spending that excess money since its already been placed into your savings account.

20. Buying cheap, not value

You may think that in order to save $250 a month you have to buy products or service that are the cheapest. Just remember, you get what you pay for. For example, if you need a new pair of sneakers and purchase a pair from a local dollar store, theyre probably not going to last as long as a quality pair of sneakers. Sure, spending over a hundred bucks on a pair of shoes may seem like a tough pill to swallow, but theyre more likely to last you several years.In other words, always go value over price. It will be worth it in the long-run.

21. Buying in bulk

Buying in bulk can be a smart move when it comes to items that you use frequently and wont spoil. For instance, household items like toothbrushes, toilet paper, or light bulbs are cheaper when bought in bulk. Food items are a different story. In fact, food waste costs between $1,365 to $2,275 per year for the average American household.When it comes to perishable items like food, buying bulk isnt always the most cost effective solution.

22. Linking your checking and savings accounts

Gone are the days having only one bank account. Today, there is a wide range of ebanking options for your specific needs. For example, you could use one bank for your main checking account because you arent charged any maintenance or minimum balance fees. However, there could be another bank that has a higher interest rate on saving accounts. By separating these two accounts youre not only avoiding fees and getting a better return, but youre also preventing the chances of spending the money that you’ve set aside for that emergency fund or savings plan.

23. Assuming theres a quick fix

When you start saving you first look at reducing your spending. Chances are that reducing your trips to Starbucks or changing your cell phone plan arent enough to add up to $250 in savings each month. After that, you make another cut, then another, and then another until you’ve reached your goal.

The point is when it comes to saving, there aren’t just one or two quick fixes. Its a process that takes time.

24. Focusing on saving while considering how to also make more money

Income is arguably the most important factor when it comes to saving. If youre living paycheck-to-paycheck, then how can you put aside a couple hundred of dollars each month? Reducing the amount of money that you spend each month is only part of the solution. The other part is having additional income that can be placed into your savings account.

Thankfully, there are hundreds of ways for you to make some extra cash on the side even if you have a full-time job. Here and there, working some evenings or weekends can help you easily hit that extra $250 per month and maybe even more!

25. Saving solely for needs

Most financial advisers suggest that you save for needs like a new car, health emergency, or college education. While thats sound advice, when you only save for your needs, you tend to get frustrated and resentful of the entire saving process.Instead, set aside some of your savings for something fun, such as a dream vacation or new TV. You earned that money, so make sure that you enjoy from time-to-time and reward yourself for becoming more fiscally responsible.

John Rampton is serial entrepreneur who now focuses on helping people to build amazing products and services that scale. He is founder of the online payments company Due. He was recently named #2 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine. Time Magazine recognized John as a motivational speaker that helps people find a “Sense of Meaning” in their lives. He currently advises several companies in the bay area.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/04/21/25-ways-to-save-250-a-month/