Does saving money seem impossible? You’re not alone. Reportedly, more than half of Americans have less than $1,000 to their name.
While it’s hard to imagine keeping extra cash when you live paycheck-to-paycheck, there is hope. If you take a big-picture view of your spending habits, you’ll be surprised at the savings opportunities you might find.
Here are three reasons that may be preventing you from building a stronger financial future:
1. You don’t track your spending
If you’re feeling the pinch of limited income, tracking your spending habits is crucial.
Start by reviewing expenses from the past three months, and look for areas of excess.
How often are you buying coffee versus making it at home? Can you cut the cable cord and save? Re-assess necessities, too. Obviously you need groceries, but try trimming your bill with strategies such as choosing store brands over name brands or buying in bulk.
2. A big appetite for eating out
In 2015, Americans spent more money eating in restaurants than they did buying groceries at the supermarket. Eating out often, especially if you’re feeding a family, adds up fast.
One great way to save money is to simply eat at home more often. If you’re pressed for time, prepare meals during the weekend and defrost them for quick—and affordable—meals throughout the week.
3. The credit card curse
If you rely on credit cards to fund day-to-day purchases, stop; save them for emergencies only. The interest and credit fees can drive up your monthly expenses, keeping you in debt longer.
Instead, go old-school and try to exclusively use cash. That way, if an impulse purchase costs more than what’s in your wallet, you won’t be tempted to buy it.