15 Financial habits you need to start now for ultimate money saving

Remember when you were little and your parents told you to do something you didn’t want to do?

You know, like when your parents told you that dinner comes before dessert?

Your parents were trying to teach you good habits so that you could grow up and *hopefully* feed yourself dinner and not pig out on ice cream.

You’re an adult now so there’s no one to stop you (except for your wife). If you want ice cream for dinner then the only thing stopping you is deciding on what flavor and what toppings you want! Hopefully, that lesson your parents were trying to teach you sunk in and you eat something healthy for dinner.

Now that your an adult, your finances are no different, only that no one ever really talks about finances. And if no one ever really talks about finances, then who’s to teach us about responsible money management?

Unfortunately, learning about responsible finances is usually a life skill that we have to learn for ourselves. Here are some helpful money tips that will help you save money if you can develop these habits.

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15 Financial habits you need to start now for ultimate money saving!

1. Pay yourself first

The difference between someone that saves money well and someone that doesn’t is the great money saver pays themselves first and then spends the rest. Someone who isn’t so great at saving money spends their money and saves the rest.

What does that mean?

If you are an awesome money saver, you’ll know that you want to save x number of dollars each month and ensure that money is saved. Whatever money is left is dedicated to other expenses or leisure. You make saving money for retirement your priority over having fun.

A good example is a couple that decides to budget expenses for one person’s income and saves or invest the other spouses. When you do budget for one income you can pay off more debt faster, save more money for retirement, and reach your financial goals faster.

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2. Build a budget that saves your family money

A budget is a plan for your money so that you know where every single dollar goes before you earn it. A budget ensures that you are saving money every month and allows you to financially plan your future.

People who live paycheck to paycheck rarely have a budget. They spend freely and tighten their wallet when their bank statements are empty.

A budget moves you from saying, “let’s go out to dinner tonight” to “I want to eat out tonight. Let me consult my budget and see if I have enough money saved for eating out.”

Let’s face it. Budgeting isn’t the most fun thing to do in the world and your parents aren’t going to be checking up on you to ensure that you’re budgeting. You have to want to be financially responsible and make good financial decisions and that is what a budget can help you with.

You can check out my guide to starting an awesome budget.

3. Live within your means

One of the easiest financial mistakes we can make is to live outside our means. It’s easy to spend money on things you want but it’s even harder to have self-control over our spending habits.

After a long day at work, it’s easy to grab fast food on the way home. It’s easy to justify buying something new now because it may make your life that much better.

It’s hard to live within your means these days. There are so many advertisements every day in our face, aimed at selling you a product. Couple these advertisements with our busy lifestyle, it’s easy to buy things that make your life more convenient.

A budget can help you live within your means. When you have a budget you can set savings goals for the items you want. Only when you reach your savings goals can you ever really afford the item.

A good budget helps you look ahead toward the future by saving for the items today. For example, you may have to use your old iPhone 4S while you save $25 per month towards a new phone. $25 per month isn’t much, but sometimes that’s all the room left in our budgets to put toward such things because you should be paying yourself first!

It’s hard to use something old and breaking down like an iPhone 4S. It’s hard to save money every month for a new phone, but the sooner you start the sooner you can afford it.

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4. Pay yourself more when you get a raise

It’s always exciting to hear you’re getting a raise! You did some good for your company and they’re rewarding you with more money! Before you run and start popping champagne bottles, make sure you decide how much of that extra money is going to be saved or invested.

It’s easy to increase our standard of living every time we get a raise. You now have $100 more in your bank account each month so why not have the freedom to eat out more right?

Wrong!

Look at your 401k. Are you currently investing 15-20% of your gross income? You may want to increase your contributions if you aren’t. It’s never a bad idea to take your pay raises and start investing at least part of your new money.

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5. Don’t borrow money. Pay with cash

There are usually only a couple times when borrowing money from a lender is acceptable. The first is when you’re buying a house and the second is when you’re starting a business with a solid business plan.

I recently heard someone say, “if you can’t afford two of them then you can’t afford one.”

Interesting thought!

The biggest areas people fall short with borrowing money are when they buy a house and a car. While you will probably need to borrow money for a house, we are always to quick to start looking at the next price range up. That expensive house is going to be your financial crutches for the next several years. Always look for a modest house to begin with.

Cars are no different. There is no reason to ever buy a new car unless you have piles of money just sitting around that you just want to soak in gasoline and light. However, if you are doing financially well for yourself you could buy a new car, but for most people used is the best route.

I recommend setting a savings goal for a car and then trying to find a used car for less than the amount you have saved. The remainder of money saved should go for auto repair just in case there was a problem with the car.

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6. Always pay off your credit card balance

Credit cards can be a good tool to earn cash back on the purchases that you would have made anyways. However, there are so many people that use credit cards so they can have now and ask questions later and it’s killings your finances.

A good rule of thumb is to always pay off your credit card before you’re charged interest. If you are being charged interest then you’re throwing money away each month.

Remember, if you have a budget and savings goals then you’ll know when you can buy something and when you can’t. Your budget will let you know that you have enough money to pay off your credit card each month.

7. Start an emergency fund

Life just happens. Your car breaks down, your child gets sick, or a water line breaks and floods your house.

You have two choices. You can react poorly, stress about how you’ll fix the problem, and then pay for it on credit OR you can know emergencies happen, set aside money every month solely for emergencies, and pay for your emergencies in cash.

An emergency fund should be around three to six months of expenses, but $1,000 is a good start. You should keep your emergency fund somewhere that is easily accessible in case you need money fast.

I keep my emergency fund full of six months expenses at all times, but I also have categories in my budget such as auto repair. If my car breaks down, I can usually repair my car from my auto repair savings so that I’m still covered for a big emergency such as a tree falling through my house or if I lose my job.

I’m not upset when my car breaks down, because I know it’s going to happen at some point. I simply prepare myself financially for the inevitable.

8. Buy quality items that last

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a minimalist at heart. I don’t like to buy a lot of things to clutter my house and collect dust. When I do buy something, I usually ensure that I’m buying a quality item that will last a long time and that I’ll actually use it.

If I need a computer, I won’t be going to Walmart and picking the cheapest item because it won’t last. Instead, I’ll do my research and spend a little bit more money on something nice.

Always shoot for buying quality over quantity when making a purchasing decision. However, don’t buy too many quality items at once because it can get expensive and you should always make sure you have the money saved up.

9. Become invaluable at work

I cannot stress the importance of becoming invaluable at work.

What does becoming invaluable mean?

Someone that is invaluable would cause the company significant grief if they left for another job. You are the person with the answers that can get the job done quickly and right the first time.

You need to be a hustler that makes your bosses job easier. If you can make your bosses life easier then they will keep that in mind when it’s time to evaluate your performance and financial incentives like raises or bonuses.

To become invaluable you need to know your job responsibilities, crank out deliverables faster than your peers, and take on challenging work that no one else wants and come out on top.

At one point my boss told me that I had made myself invaluable and that I could never leave the company without causing the company turmoil. As a result, my invaluableness actually saved my job during a serious bout of layoffs. Other workers that were considered to be “good and knowledgeable” were not so fortunate.

Strive to become invaluable at work and your work-related finances will take care of themselves.

10. Know the difference between needs, wants, and nice to haves

When your shopping it’s easy to run across the most fantastic item in the world and say, “OMG, this is the most fantastic item in the world and I must have it!” And while it may be the most fantastic thing you’ve ever seen it probably isn’t crucial to your survival as a human being.

We waste a lot of money on items we want when we don’t have the money to buy the item in the first place. Always buy what you need, but ask yourself if the item is a want or nice to have instead.

It’s ok to buy the things you want every now and then, but just make sure that you have the money saved up for it.

11. Stop trading up

One of the most costly mistakes we make is trading up. Stop trading your vehicle in every year for the newest model or selling your house to get something a little bit nicer.

If you can learn to be content with the things you already have you’ll live a much happier and more money filled life.

12. Learn self-control

I will admit that I struggle with self-control a lot. If my wife is driving I swear I can hear her thinking, “what route can I take that doesn’t take me by a TacoBell so my husband doesn’t ask if we can stop.”

I must say I love TacoBell’s bean burritos. I’m sure they love me back, even if my wife is starting to call me pudgy. However, the months I don’t go to TacoBell (usually because I’m busy) always end up being a better financial month.

Can you recognize your impulse buying? What is it that you buy without a second thought?

13. Stop watching TV and work on your life goals instead

If you’re looking to reach your financial goals in life (or any life goals) you’ll want to consider cutting out TV.

TV is a huge time waster that’s full of advertisements trying to convince you to buy a product. The more your exposed to these advertisements the more likely you’re going to want to buy something.

TV is a great activity to do when you’re tired after a long day of work because it literally requires you to do nothing. As a result, you stay up later than you should which makes you more tired the next day and creates a vicious cycle of always being tired.

Instead of watching TV, consider working on your life goals. If you’re too tired to work on your goals, try catching up on some sleep or reading a personal finance book.

14. Read more books

Books are severely underrated. I get the fact that most people would rather watch an action-packed movie or a drama-filled series, but it leaves no room for personal growth.

You may have heard popular sayings such as, “knowledge is power” or “the more you learn the more you earn.” These sayings are 100% true! If you want to earn more money, get a raise at work, start your own business, or develop as a person it starts by reading books.

Do you remember when we had studies that were full of books rather than everyone huddling around the TV?

Library cards are free and there is endless knowledge out there!

15. Take a financial education course

When my wife and I first met she wanted to drag me to a finance course. This course was held at the church we attended. I was not a fan of the idea because, “why would I need that?”

Thankfully, I listened to my wife! She dragged me to the church where we took financial peace university, a course by finance expert Dave Ramsey. The course changed our life’s! We learned to work together on finances and built a budget that worked for us.

That finance course helped us pay off 40% of our mortgage in two years! Personally, the course sparked an interest in finances and proper money management.

I would recommend every individual check out financial peace university. Another good option is to check out my free course on budgeting and saving money.

The course is aimed at helping you build a better budget. It will also help you identify and correct troublesome areas that people face in finances. It’s a great course to take no matter your situation.