It is crazy to think how far we have come in just three years. Never did I think there would come a day that I would be planning to save nearly half our income each month. For so long I lived with a scarcity mindset. I thought only millionaires were able to live a financially secure lifestyle. Well, let me tell you, that’s is just not true. No matter what size your paychecks are, there are always things you can do to be smarter and save more. So let’s talk about what steps you can take to potentially start saving half your income and create financial security.
*This post contains affiliate links. Although I may make a commission, all recommendations are my own.
Why save half your income?
I’m not saying every single person should be saving half of their income. There isn’t a one size fits all cure to finances and that’s ok.
Personally, we are choosing to work toward saving half of our income because for so many years…we didn’t save anything.
I am 32 and my husband is 40 and with the exception of a 401K, we haven’t been able to keep a saving account if our lives depended on it. (Even the 401K was in jeopardy for a while.)
Our plan to save half our income is in order to help build up the savings we should have started years ago.
We want to make sure we are financially secure in case of emergency and hopefully, retire early and/or travel more.
Where should you save?
Emergency fund savings
We’ve personally decided to open a Savings Builder account through CIT Bank because it only requires $100 per month to gain an awesome interest rate of 2.45% — our current savings account offers .03%!
This is where we will first work to build up our 6 months of living expenses. Having an online savings account will be helpful to avoid the temptation of taking money out of savings unless it is actually an emergency.
Another area that we are working on saving is in retirement savings.
Tips for maximizing 401K retirement savings:
- Contribute what your employer matches (this is FREE money)
- Contribute at least 10% of every pay check
- See if your employer has a financial advisor who can work with you
- Work with a financial advisor to make sure you are diversifying your retirement and maximizing your savings
Working independently means I need to open my own retirement account. The account I’ve chosen to open for myself is an SEP IRA which allows me to save up to $56,000 per year (2019).
Of course we couldn’t forget to save for all the fun stuff in life. Things like travel and…well…travel.
We are big believers in paying for experiences over things and have worked really hard to allow ourselves the financial freedom to be able to do more together as a family.
What is the quick solution?
There is, of course, no quick solution especially if you find yourself with serious financial struggles.
I hate to break it to you, but saving half your income is going to take some work on your part.
Assess your financial situation
There are some basic percentages to live by when it comes to your budget. They look a little something like this:
- Housing: 25% – 35%
- Giving: 10% – 15%
- Savings: 10% – 15%
- Food: 5% – 15%
- Other: 20% – 50%
To really breakdown these percentages, and the rest of your budget, I have several printouts in my Fun Sized Budget Bundle that are designed to help you every step of the way.
If you are on the low end of these percentages, you’ll find yourself with 50% of your income left to spend! In a perfect world, with no medical bills, clothing, car repairs or debt, this would be a quick fix to saving half your income. Unfortunately, we all know, it’s not always that simple.
The higher end, you’ll find yourself with around 20% of your income left. That can make things a little tighter, especially if you do have medical bills and debt to pay off.
So what do you do?
Cut the waste
It’s time to look at your budget and see where you can “trim the fat” so-to-speak.
Reducing your monthly bills
With the categories listed above, the only budgeting section you probably aren’t able to make any simple changes with is your housing expenses.
Sure, you can turn off the lights more or try to save water, but you won’t be able to reduce your budget instantly. However, there are some ways that you can reduce the cost of your utility bills
$10 Phone Plans – You can save big on your phone bill by switching to Tello where you can get phone plans as low as $10 per month!
Get a cheaper payment – Trim is a company that will look at your recurring bill payments and will then find you areas where you could reduce your monthly payment. They will even negotiate this with your provider for you!
What about charitable giving?
Reducing your giving or savings amounts is never something I would recommend although sometimes it is necessary in order to help get you back on your feet.
I am a firm believer in the power of giving and saving…well…that’s what we’re here for, right?
Reducing grocery expenses
The best way to limit your spending on food each month is by coming up with a practical, sustainable grocery budget.
Personally, I love Jordan from Fun Cheap or Free’s super simple method of giving yourself a $100 per person per month food budget. I have stuck with this method ever since we began getting serious with our finances.
Checkout my exact grocery haul that was totally healthy, gluten free and under $100:
If you are not the greatest at meal planning, don’t miss The $5 Meal Plan. Created by a busy mom of 4, there are meal plans and grocery lists to match almost every diet need.
Cutting other expenses
The best way to find waste in your “other” budget is by literally busting out your monthly statements (you can usually do this online) and calculating all of your unnecessary spendings.
In the past, for us, this has meant alcohol, nail polish,
If you are not living your life on a budget, I guarantee you will be crazy surprised to find just how much money you are wasting each month on tiny little purchases under $5!
Take note of this excess spending and just imagine for a second what it would mean for your family if you started saving that money instead of carelessly spending it!
Pay off any debt
Now it’s time to tackle that debt! This is the absolute best way to get more money permanently back in your budget!
Just like you took the time to look at your “other” spending, take a moment to add up how much you spend each month on your debt payments.
Once you have calculated how much you are spending on debt each month, you’ll know just how much money you could be saving each month instead.
How do you start debt payoff?
There are many different methods that work to pay off debt. My personal favorite is the Debt Snowball. Using this method, you don’t have to be great at math. It’s a simple, easy to follow process that works!
With the Debt Snowball, we were able to pay off $6,000 of debt in only 6 months! Then (like fools) we took a break from debt payoff!
When we started up again, we paid off over $17,000 of debt in 12 months! Now, for the first time in our entire adult lives, Tom and I can say we are debt free!
For the full guide on how the Debt Snowball works, check out my YouTube video that explains it all and
Create a budget
Now that you’ve gotten to really dive into your finances, the next thing to do is get started on a budget!
As I said, I have all the budget, debt payoff, and savings printouts you could ever possibly want in my Fun Sized Budget Bundle. So if you feel like you would really benefit from some hands-on budgeting materials, you don’t want to miss this handy bundle.
How to start a budget
To get a basic budget started, simply start with how much you make each month. If your income is inconsistent, you can take the average of 3 months worth of pay.
Next, do the same 3 month average to determine your gas expenses. Doing this will help give you a more practical idea of how much money you should be planning on spending on gas each month.
- Once you have your monthly pay and gas determined, subtract all of your bills and payments for the month including gas expenses and additional debt payments.
- After this, subtract the amount you decided on for a grocery budget.
- Now you should have an idea of just how much money you have left at the end of the month that you could potentially start saving. This might also be a rude awakening if you find yourself with very little money left or negative money.
- Should I Save Money or Pay Off Debt?
- 38 Things You Might Not Be Budgeting For But Should Be
- What to Do When Budgeting Goes Wrong
Now that your eyes have been opened to how much money you’re wasting and where you are wasting it, use this as an opportunity to make some serious changes.
Instead of carelessly spending your money each month, start taking steps toward being more frugal.
Never miss an opportunity to save on a planned purchase.
What does this mean?
This means that hitting up every SALE you see is not being frugal. It means that when you have thought long and hard about a purchase, take time to also explore your best money saving options. Can you buy the item at a discount? Could you purchase a refurbished version of the item?
Being frugal does not mean you buy things just because they are on sale!
My favorite savings app that you can download on your phone is Dosh.
The reason Dosh is my favorite is
This is great because you are less likely to spend money on things you wouldn’t otherwise need. Instead, you make some extra cash only on the things you were already planning to purchase. Download Dosh here.
Stop living above your means
We’ve all heard about the dangers of trying to “keep up with the Joneses'” but are you guilty of it?
Checking your budget percentages should have given you a pretty good idea as to whether or not you are living above your means.
Are you house poor?
If you are spending more than 30% of your monthly income on housing expenses (rent/mortgage/utilities) then, you are definitely pushing your lifestyle to the breaking point.
When we bought our “big house” 5 years ago because we could afford it. —At least on paper. We were approved for the loan amount, we had enough monthly income to pay for it…but we quickly found ourselves house poor.
If this sounds like you, it might be time to have a talk with your spouse and consider a change.
Downsizing doesn’t mean that you failed. It means that you see more value in other areas of your life and you want to make sure you are financially secure.
Must read posts:
- 12 Signs That Downsizing Right for You
- How to Downsize Your House and Debt at the Same Time
- How to Plan a Big Downsize Without Moving
Bring in additional income
So besides reducing wasteful spending, revamping your budget and paying off debt, the best way to have additional money is to work for it!
What do ya know!?
Finding small, easy ways to make extra cash is the best way to either help you pay off debt or start saving half your income in order to create financial security.
Easy start ways to make money
While there are tons of ways to bring in additional income to help save half your income, I have compiled a list of the most practical, easy start options available:
- Start a blog – This is how our family started making additional income. While there is definitely a learning curve to blogging, it’s possible to make a small amount of extra cash in a few short months. How to Make Your First $1,000 Blogging.
- Instacart – Get paid to shop! Set your own hours and choose how involved you want to be! Get started today!
- Rover –
Watch dogsor walk dogs and get paid for it!! Apply for Rover.
- Uber – Become a driver with Uber. Set your own schedule and get paid up to 5 times her day along with chances for additional incentives in your city. Apply for Uber!
- UberEATS – Earn extra money when you need it, day or night and deliver food instead of people! See if UberEATS is in your area.